Comparisons between Nazi concentration camps and U.S. internment camps for immigrant children separated from their parents has triggered much debate on Twitter, with the term #TrumpCamps trending in recent days.
The term seemingly originated last week when John Weaver tweeted, "The internment camps for children of color must be called #TrumpCamps."
His suggestion soon gathered momentum. "Great idea. Put big signs with TRUMP CAMP in gold letters, just like the rest of his garish real estate. Let it be representative of his brand" and "#trumpcamps are a testimony to the evil that @realDonaldTrump and the @GOP are capable of. They draw their evil from a seemingly bottomless well" were two-such responses.
However, the term really took off on Saturday when former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden tweeted an image of Birkenau concentration camp with the words "Other governments have separated mothers and children." Later, he tweeted, "This is Birkenau. Then Germany. Now Poland. NO ONE who now walks through that portal on that siding can casually believe that civilized behavior is guaranteed."
When Fox News contributor Guy Benson responded to him, "Maybe we can oppose & criticize the new, heavy-handed zero tolerance policy & support legislative corrections...without going Full Godwin?" – a reference to the law that an online argument will inevitably invoke the Nazis and Hitler as it grows increasingly heated, Hayden shot back, "Like viewing Kristallnacht [SIC] or the Reichstag fire as just bad nights."
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In a separate tweet, activist Amy Siskind continued the analogy: "Wonder what you would have done in 1934 in Germany, as Hitler rose to power? You’re doing it now. Except it’s happening more quickly here!"
Communications professor Joshua Scacco, meanwhile, quoted Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech from 1986: "It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.”
As #TrumpCamps went viral – aided by former First Lady Laura Bush's Op-Ed in the Washington Post criticizing the current administration policy –the analogies to the Holocaust only increased, even if apologetically. Next to an image of confiscated items from immigrants, for example, Tahar wrote: ''These are rosaries taken from undocumented migrants by U.S. Border Patrol Agents. I don't want to go there, but the historical parallel these horrible, inhuman and morally reprehensible images invoke is damning."
Media strategist Paul Goldstein, meanwhile, wrote: "It's an obvious comparison anyone with an understanding of history should understand. This president has decided to forcibly confiscate children of color from their parents and imprison them in #TrumpCamps. While he's not gassing them, the comparison is unavoidable."
American Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt did not use the term #TrumpCamps, but did tweet an image of an internment camp in Brownsville, Texas, writing: "These stories show just how inhumane @TheJusticeDept policy of separating families at the border really is."
Others were more direct, however:
Some descendants of Holocaust survivors were unafraid to invoke the Shoah, with writer Nadine Van der Velde tweeting, "This small boy is my Dad Rene van der Velde who survived the Holocaust because the Haarsmas, a heroic family, put their lives at risk to rescue him. Are we a nation of passive bystanders who will watch? Or upstanders who will take action for humanity & for life? #TrumpCamps."
But while some prominent showbiz Jews such as Debra Messing were using the #TrumpCamps hashtag, and Rob Reiner compared ripping children away from their parents with fascism, others were questioning the validity of invoking the Holocaust.
Rachel Kaplan, for example, tweeted, "This constant hyperbole lately that is trivializing everything is making me pretty sick to be honest. There were even people on CNN saying concentration camps with a straight face. Something can be bad without falsely comparing it to genocide, thus watering down actual genocide."
And Seth Mandel blasted Hayden for his approach, tweeting, "The ignorance of history required to proudly minimize the Holocaust is not one you should advertise on twitter."
Finally, Nathan Wurtzel criticized NBC host Joe Scarborough for a similar tweet: "During Shabbat, Joe decided to invoke the Holocaust to describe what definitely is a bad situation, but also one where no one dies."