Around six hundred scholars penned an open letter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in response to its recent statement on concentration camp comparisons related to the migrant crisis at the U.S. southern border, calling for the museum to withdraw the statement.
“We are deeply concerned about the Museum’s recent ‘Statement Regarding the Museum’s Position on Holocaust Analogies.’ We write this public letter to urge its retraction,” the open letter said.
“By ‘unequivocally rejecting efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary,’ the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is taking a radical position that is far removed from mainstream scholarship on the Holocaust and genocide. And it makes learning from the past almost impossible. The Museum’s decision to completely reject drawing any possible analogies to the Holocaust, or to the events leading up to it, is fundamentally ahistorical” it continued.
The scholars warned the museum administrators against the possibility that the Museum may lose its position as a credible, leading, global institution dedicated to Holocaust memory and genocide studies.
It was stated in the letter that the core of Holocaust education was to alert the public to dangerous developments paving the way for human rights violations, adding that “pointing to similarities across time and space is essential for this task.”
The letter was addressed to Director Sara Bloomfield, Director of Communications Andrew Hollinger, Mandel Center Director Dr. Lisa Leff and Academic Committee Chair Dr. Wendy Lower.
The number of signatories, many of which teach about the Holocaust, was 580 on July 3 by noon, when the collection of signatures ended.
In June, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York likened the detention of migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border to “concentration camps.” Her remarks sparked backlash from politicians, who stated that the term is used for Nazi camps during the Holocaust.
And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps.
Concentration camps are considered by experts as “the mass detention of civilians without trial.”
And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 18, 2019
A statement from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum followed the other reactions, saying it “unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary.”
Ocasio-Cortez defended her comments by saying that she intentionally used the term “concentration camps”, rather than “death camps,” because the former is different than the latter and it is defined as “the mass detention of civilians without trial.”
These are concentration camps.
According to concentration camp experts, people begin to die due to overcrowding, neglect, and shortage of resources.
We saw all three of those signs on our trip yesterday. Another person died yesterday.
And those are the deaths we know about. https://t.co/MhujNAYohJ
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 2, 2019