It’s Wrong And Offensive To Compare Border Separation To The Holocaust

It’s Wrong And Offensive To Compare Border Separation To The Holocaust

Everyone has a right to be outraged by the separation of families, but no one should trivialize history’s most horrific tragedy while expressing dissent.
Ethan Katz
By

The Left’s latest rhetorical assault on President Trump’s hardline immigration policy has gone too far. Democratic pundits and activists compared the separation of families at the Mexican border to the Holocaust. They compared the migrant detention centers to the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

This tactic is nothing new. Democrats have compared Trump to Hitler countless times. But they have gone too far this time, and insultingly so.

The recently departed Ellie Wiesel surely would have opposed Trump’s border policy, but just as surely would have been appalled by these grotesque comparisons. The Holocaust was the single greatest tragedy the world has ever witnessed. To equate the death of 11 million with the temporary separation of 2,000 families is preposterous, immoral, and inconceivably myopic.

Yet former general Michael Hayden, director of the CIA under President Obama, tweeted an image of a concentration camp with the ominous caption, “Other governments have separated mothers and children.” Joe Scarborough of MSNBC said, on the air, “I don’t have to compare [the separation of families] to previous regimes in other horrific countries. That conclusion, actually, is too obvious.”

Scarborough is painfully mistaken. Regardless of how unconscionable forcibly separating children from their parents is, to compare that to the Nazis’ Final Solution is even more unconscionable, and shows a disturbing lack of respect for history and tragedy. These migrants illegally crossing the border need to be treated with dignity, as all people should, but we must not forget they’ve committed a crime. As Attorney General Jeff Sessions—someone I rarely, if ever, agree with—has noted, the Jews were trying to escape Germany, not illegally enter.

The situation at the border is heart-wrenching, and people’s immense sense of outrage is understandable, as is their instinct to grasp for any comparable historical scenario. But the horrors of the Holocaust are light-years from this. If any parallel can be drawn, Laura Bush’s comparison to the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is far more similar.

The Nazi regime systematically, brutally murdered millions of innocents they deemed unworthy of membership in their “perfect race.” Any comparison of the two situations is preposterous and insulting to the memory of those millions who perished at the hands of the Nazis. The survival of these children is certain. Conversely, the Jews held in concentration camps hopelessly awaited the inevitable day they’d be led to the gas chambers.

All of this is not to say the Trump administration’s policy of separating families is necessary, prudent, or moral. It’s none of those things. There are far better ways to deter illegal immigration, which Sen. Ted Cruz has suggested in new legislation, including mandating families be kept together while they are processed. President Trump responded to these legitimate complaints by issuing an executive order requiring families to be kept together while they are detained awaiting legal proceedings.

Democrats also said family separation constitutes child abuse. While that argument can certainly be entertained, the initial blame lies with the parents. The parents, though with laudable intentions to seek a better life for their children, are knowingly and irrefutably breaking the law. Had these parents never brought their young children with them to illegally cross the border, they would have never been separated.

Jews were systematically murdered in killing factories for daring to practice their faith. Illegal immigrants, most of whom are Latino, are not being punished for their identity. They are being punished for a self-evident crime.

Everyone has a right to be outraged by the separation of families, but no one should trivialize history’s most horrific tragedy while expressing dissent. Further, this unfathomable trivialization serves no purpose: most of the country already mobilized in opposition to Trump’s border policy, which prompted him to change it. That is not the action of a dictator.

The Holocaust is not a token tragedy to be casually tossed around for political optics. This false equivalency goes beyond hyperbole and shows Democrats are willing to openly disrespect the memory of the Holocaust and its victims just to score quick political points. I encourage these dubious individuals to visit a Holocaust Museum, or, better yet, Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance, to remind themselves of the horrors and magnitude of the Holocaust before they abuse its memory in the name of politics.

Ethan Katz is a graduate student at the University of Florida studying political campaigning. He currently works in Washington, DC for the summer. This piece was written in his personal capacity and the views expressed are his own. He can be reached for comment at [email protected], and on Twitter @EthanKatz14.

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