Hundreds of scholars urge Holocaust Memorial Museum to stop rejecting border camp comparisons

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More than 300 scholars have signed on to an open letter urging the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to retract its statement that rejects comparisons between migrant detention facilities and concentration camps. 

“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,” the scholars wrote in a letter published in The New York Review of Books. “It has the potential to inflict severe damage on the Museum’s ability to continue its role as a credible, leading global institution dedicated to Holocaust memory, Holocaust education, and research in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies.”

{mosads}The letter, which is addressed to museum director Sara J. Bloomfield, goes on to argue that the “very core of Holocaust education is to alert the public to dangerous developments that facilitate human rights violations and pain and suffering; pointing to similarities across time and space is essential for this task.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) last month sparked massive pushback after equating migrant detention facilities near the U.S.-Mexico border to concentration camps.

Many Republican lawmakers called for Ocasio-Cortez to apologize, but the freshman lawmaker stood by her comments and said she would “never apologize for calling these camps what they are.”

The museum said in a statement at the time that it “unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary.”

“The Museum further reiterates that a statement ascribed to a Museum staff historian regarding recent attempts to analogize the situation on the United States southern border to concentration camps in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s does not reflect the position of the Museum,” it said on its website

The museum did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter from The Hill. 

The scholars take issue with the museum’s stance, saying it represents a “radical position that is far removed from mainstream scholarship on the Holocaust and genocide.”

“It makes learning from the past almost impossible,” the letter says before concluding that it hopes the museum will continue to be a place from which the world can learn. 

Nazi Germany erected concentration camps in the 1930s to hold Jewish people and other political prisoners under harsh conditions, ultimately killing millions. 

President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration has led to the expansion of migrant detention centers along the southern border and has drawn scrutiny for overcrowded facilities. 

Ocasio-Cortez on Monday was one of several Democratic lawmakers who visited a migrant detention facility as Customs and Border Protection faces criticism over the conditions to which detainees are exposed.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Border crisis Donald Trump Illegal immigration Immigration

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