Democrats are split over Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comments earlier this week equating American immigrant-detention centers with the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, some in her party defending the remarks while others spoke against them.
“The U.S. is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are,” the 29-year-old New York Democrat said during an Instagram Live stream on Monday. “I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday cautioned freshman Democrats that they are responsible for remarks they make.
“They come to represent their districts and their point of view,” Pelosi said. “They take responsibility for the statements they make.”
“The President must walk away from these cruel, ineffective and discriminatory policies, and work with Democrats to support smart, effective immigration reform that honors our values and keeps families together and safe,” Pelosi added in a statement.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Ocasio-Cortez was “wrong” to make the comparison.
“They are entirely different realities,” de Blasio said on MSNBC. “Of course she was wrong,”
“You cannot compare what the Nazis did in concentration camps,” he said. “It was a horrible moment in history. There is no way to compare.”
However, Senator Brian Schatz, who is of Jewish heritage, defended Ocasio-Cortez’s use of the comparison.
“Every American Jew that I know is disgusted by the cruel treatment of children and families at our southern border,” the Hawaii Democrat wrote on Twitter. “If you want to show solidarity with American Jews, help us to stop this, and don’t feign outrage at the language that people use to describe this tragedy.”
The Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, who is also Jewish, also defended Ocasio-Cortez.
“One of the lessons from the Holocaust is ‘Never Again’ – not only to mass murder, but also to the dehumanization of people, violations of basic rights, and assaults on our common morality. We fail to learn that lesson when we don’t callout such inhumanity right in front of us,” he wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers made no secret that they found the New York representative’s comments distasteful.
Representative Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, took to Twitter to ask Ocasio-Cortez to “do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.”
The Jewish Communities Relations Council (JCRC) also issued a condemnation of the remarks.
“As concerned as we are about the conditions experienced by migrants seeking asylum in the United States . . . the regrettable use of Holocaust terminology to describe these contemporary concerns diminishes the evil intent of the Nazis to eradicate the Jewish people,” the JCRC said in a statement.