SEMANTICS

It’s Wednesday, June 19, 2019.

It’s the 154th anniversary of the day on which slaves in Texas found out about the Emancipation Proclamation. 

As far as the United States was concerned, they had been free for about two years. But their captors, fighting for a treasonous group known as the Confederacy, disregarded President Lincoln’s order.

If you’re wondering why you’re seeing mentions of Juneteenth today, that’s the reason.

The people who hate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez found something else to generate bile this week.

The congresswoman from Queens referred to the places where desperate people seeking asylum from poverty and violence in Central America are being kept as “concentration camps.”

The wording offended the people easily offended by Ocasio-Cortez. They said it implied that our government is akin to that of Nazi Germany in its massacre of millions of Jews and others in what it’s doing. And they believe it’s disrespectful to those victims to use such terminology.

Even some of those who normally support Ocasio-Cortez found her terminology disconcerting – they believe it’s inflammatory and gives the people on the other side of this issue cover.

But it is hardly disrespectful to call something what it is.

And, in fact, it would be disrespectful to sugarcoat the disgraceful conduct of Trump and his henchmen – there, I’ve used another inflammatory word – in regard to the treatment of these desperate people.

As you could see in the Trump campaign kickoff rally last night, the hyenas who support this guy couldn’t care less about the well-being of the migrants. 

Let’s face it – the idea here is that any suffering in these camps will discourage people from trying to enter the country. They support the whole concept of separating children from parents, thinking that somehow the information network to the villages of El Salvador and Guatemala is sophisticated enough to get the message.

We’ve had opportunities to solve the problem of people trying to enter the country without documentation. There were bipartisan efforts more than a decade ago – George W. Bush and John McCain were among the Republicans who sought common ground with Democrats trying to solve a problem that threatened to rend the fabric of this republic.

The forces of denial had other plans. “Just say no” was about as successful for curbing immigration as it was in curbing drug use.

So we have this mess. And Trump, a grifter who capitalizes on goading the people he believes will keep him in power, who himself runs businesses that have utilized undocumented immigrants until they were discovered, is flogging it as hard as he can.

These immigrants are concentrated in camps, in hopeless conditions. They’re concentration camps.

What would be more offensive, what would be reason to get angry, what would be a crime against humanity, is if these camps became the seeds for mass death and pestilence. 

And if the Trump and the scurvy that supports him aren’t rooting for that, they’re not doing a great job of hiding it.

I think everyone should follow the Auschwitz Museum Twitter feed. It’s run by the folks who operate the site of the infamous camp the Nazis built when they occupied Poland.

The feed isn’t focused on the mass numbers of people who died – between 1 million and 1.5 million, most of them Jewish

It focuses on individuals. It shows their pictures, which means you have to look the horror of the lives destroyed by hatred in the eye. The fact that they had names and jobs and family that was often destroyed with them.

Because they were Jews, or Roma, or homosexuals, or any other group that Hitler could name to get a rise from his adoring crowds.

In a way, saying a million people died at Auschwitz is numbing. You can’t wrap your mind around that easily. But seeing the individuals makes you realize the devastation, person by person, that the kind of mass incarceration we’re seeing at the border has on its victims.

If you think we’re far away from that, you’re deluding yourself. We’re a lot closer than any of us could have imagined.

This is an Auschwitz Museum tweet from November. It’s been brought to the fore in recent days:

When we look at Auschwitz we see the end of the process. It’s important to remember that the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers. This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanisation & escalating violence.

AOC called it out. Even if you think “concentration camp” is a strong term, she put down a marker that Trump and his sycophants are on notice.

We need to make them know we – and civilization – are watching. 

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