By Joel B. Pollak
Beltway pundits who dislike President Donald Trump seem to agree that the Holocaust is now fair game when it comes to attacking the administration’s immigration policies.
On Friday, left-wing hosts on MSNBC, such as Joe Scarborough, compared U.S. Border Patrol agents to “Nazis.” The White House objected, but others continued.
Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele referred to the facilities used to detain and shelter illegal alien children as “concentration camps for kids” and warned that the Trump administration could target the children of U.S. citizens as well.
It was not the first time Steele has abused the Holocaust: in 2006, as lieutenant governor of Maryland, he had to apologize for comparing stem cell research to Nazi experiments on humans.
Over the weekend, retired General Michael Hayden, who served as Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief in the Bush administration, and as National Security Agency (NSA) chief in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, tweeted an image of the death camp of Birkenau as a comment on Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration, which often results in the children of arrested migrants being held separately and sent to shelters.
Hayden was hailed by Trump’s critics — but criticized by other observers, such as Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who called his tweet “a form of Holocaust denial.”
Hayden tried to defend his use of the image on CNN on Monday morning, saying he wanted to “grab people’s attention.” He apologized, somewhat: “If I overachieved [sic] by comparing it to Birkenau, I apologize to anyone who may have felt offended,” he told CNN.
The Holocaust analogy is deeply offensive to Jews, six million of whom were murdered by the Nazis merely for being Jews. They had not crossed an international border illegally; in many cases they were patriotic citizens of Germany and other nations that collaborated in their murder.
When the U.S. Border Patrol separates children from parents who are arrested, it is to protect the children, and help them, with the intention of reuniting them with their families. When the guards at death camps like Birkenau separated children, it was to lead them to the gas chambers.
Citing atrocity, falsely, not only makes civil debate impossible, but insults Jews and others who have been the real victims of historic injustice.