Senator Lindsey Graham on Monday suggested Congresswoman-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) visit Wahington, DC’s Holocaust Museum to learn the difference between the genocide committed by the Nazis and the use of tear gas on asylum-seekers in Mexico.
“I recommend she take a tour of the Holocaust Museum in DC,” wrote Graham. “Might help her better understand the differences between the Holocaust and the caravan in Tijuana.”
I recommend she take a tour of the Holocaust Museum in DC.
Might help her better understand the differences between the Holocaust and the caravan in Tijuana. https://t.co/05vCexiClE
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) November 26, 2018
Graham was fuming over a Sunday tweet in which Ocasio-Cortez compared the Republican Party’s demonization of migrants fleeing political violence to other instances of discrimination in recent world memory.
“Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime,” Ocasio-Cortez posted. “It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany. It wasn’t for targeted families fleeing Rwanda. It wasn’t for communities fleeing war-torn Syria. And it isn’t for those fleeing violence in Central America.”
Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime.
It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany.
It wasn’t for targeted families fleeing Rwanda.
It wasn’t for communities fleeing war-torn Syria.
And it isn’t for those fleeing violence in Central America. https://t.co/qhv7Rr1itn
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 25, 2018
Holocaust remembrance organizations rushed to Ocasio-Cortez’s defense.
The Auschwitz Memorial Museum noted that the Holocaust was not an overnight process and that people dying in gas chambers was the result of “gradually developed” hate.
“When we look at Auschwitz we see the end of the process,” the museum tweeted. “It’s important to remember that the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers. This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanization & escalating violence.”
When we look at Auschwitz we see the end of the process. It's important to remember that the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers. This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanisation & escalating violence.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 26, 2018
Twitter tore into Graham for making an enemy of the Auschwitz Memorial Museum.
When Auschwitz is subtweeting you, you may be on the wrong side of history. pic.twitter.com/howS3ImOPi
— Janet Johnson (@JJohnsonLaw) November 27, 2018
They are the experts, and Graham should pay attention.
Might help you if you actually listened to people with knowledge on this matter. https://t.co/vYzYJFi2ti
— Debbie Russell #Kamala2020 (@eyeofthegoddess) November 27, 2018
I recommend that you step back and try to grasp the similarities in the two events. Just because todays victims have brown skin makes it no less similar. Stop being so short sighted.
— sarah (@swilliamssc1) November 27, 2018
Been to the holocaust museum. The holocaust began not with gas chambers but with those in power calling a group of people animals, disease carriers, criminals. We r definitely repeating history in our treatment of immigrants and refugees
— zeckle3 (@zeckle3) November 27, 2018
From the Holocaust Museum-the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers. This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice . Chew on that Lindsey!
— Oliver P. Archibald, M.D.,DTM&H (@oarchibald) November 27, 2018
Lindsey, the similarities of rhetoric and scapegoating are present and obvious. If you need a specific example of how we failed in the 30s learn about the St. Louis. We failed in the 30s and we are failing now.
— Christine Olson (@historygeek203) November 27, 2018
I would suggest you do the same, the whole point of the museum is that the Holocaust didn’t start with gas chambers, it ended with them. The parallels to today you see when you first enter the museum are frightening.
— Theresa Bailey (@MTkbailey8) November 27, 2018
Many people said Graham should follow his own advice.
I think you better join her. Jews from Europe were turned away if not outright refused entry to the U.S., thanks to the antisemites in Congress and in the State Department. (e.g., Otto Frank, HMS St. Louis). There are more similarities than differences.
— Sharon Gibson (@SharonGibson3) November 27, 2018
Sadly I don't need a museum reminder as my parents lived through the rise of the dictatorship of Gaddafi.
They saw the public lynchings, lack of trust in the press and zero social services take over the country.
Now our family is reliving history.
— A Crafty Arab #RepealTheBan (@acraftyarab) November 27, 2018
Senator, we all understand the differences. It's the similarities that we find so disturbing.
— WendyT (@WendyTSRQ) November 27, 2018
You sad, sad man. I’m assuming you’ve not been to Yad Vashem. Spend an hour there and you’ll see very quickly how few “differences” there are.
— Not Mad Just Disappointed Libs (@TheLibAubuchon) November 27, 2018
Does your museum cover this history you are repeating? In May 1939 more than 900 Jews fled Hitler's Germany on SS St Louis; hoping to reach the US, but were turned away. The passengers were forced to sail back to Europe, where more than 250 of them were later killed by the Nazis.
— Patrick Whitnall (@VilliersDeBoer) November 27, 2018
Some noted the eerie similarities between the genocide of the Jews and how the United States is treating asylum-seekers in Central America.
The use of tear gas over Thanksgiving weekend and the bigoted rhetoric from Trump and the GOP are dark harbingers of our past.
Heartbreaking to read amid this week’s tear gas attacks by U.S. border guards on Mexican people & families at the border this week, which included mothers w children in diapers & no shoes. Shattering to think the proud Mexican ppl have been so dehumanized in U.S. news & media
— Fereshta Kazemi (@FereshtaKazemi) November 27, 2018
Further, the murder of nearly a dozen Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue last month was a deadly reminder of the hate that continues to fester.
As a Jewish American, I wrote a blog after Pittsburgh on this exact topic. We can stop hate in its tracks if we stop it at discrimination and bias, not wait for it to reach genocide. This requires us to see each other as human instead of dehumanize: https://t.co/A2sgP3xSFd
— Jaclyn (@JaclynNCP) November 27, 2018
That's important. We cannot forget that the Holocaust started as small acts of hate that gradually normalized the bigger acts of genocidal violence.
— Danielle Wallace (@StarTrekFan2015) November 27, 2018
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum also bucked Graham and backed Ocasio-Cortez’s historical parallels, alluding to a statement it put out in 2017 after President Donald Trump vowed to limit the number of refugees entering the United States.
“The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is acutely aware of the consequences to the millions of Jews who were unable to flee Nazism, as noted in our November 2015 statement on the Syrian refugee crisis. The Museum continues to have grave concern about the global refugee crisis and our response to it. During the 1930s and 1940s, the United States, along with the rest of the world, generally refused to admit Jewish refugees from Nazism due to antisemitic and xenophobic attitudes, harsh economic conditions, and national security fears.”
Vice President Melanie Nezer of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society sided with Ocasio-Cortez as well, noting that today’s international laws governing the treatment of refugees were written with the Holocaust in mind.
“The laws we have today in this country were based on the UN convention of 1951, which was based on Jewish refugees being turned away during World War II,” said Nezer, agreeing with Ocasio-Cortez’s assessment. “The point she was making, and I think it was an appropriate one, was that countries must hear asylum claims.”
The spat between Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old Congresswoman-elect and Graham, a seasoned Senator at 63, continued Monday night when Ocasio-Cortez fired back at Graham for not understanding the purpose of the Holocaust Museum.
“The point of such a treasured museum is to bring its lessons to present day,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “This administration has jailed children and violated human rights. Perhaps we should stop pretending that authoritarianism + violence is a historical event instead of a growing force.”
.@LindseyGrahamSC, the point of such a treasured museum is to bring its lessons to present day.
This administration has jailed children and violated human rights. Perhaps we should stop pretending that authoritarianism + violence is a historical event instead of a growing force. https://t.co/aGJMrPTqNT
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 27, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez then suggested Graham, who last month joked about not wanting to have Iranian DNA, visit the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture to learn some history.
While we’re recommending museums @LindseyGrahamSC, I heard your “joke” about ethnic DNA preferences last month.
Perhaps you would enjoy a visit (or revisit) to the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture (@NMAAHC). It’s a great educational experience.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 27, 2018
Those who deny history are destined to repeat it.
“It happened,” wrote Holocaust survivor and author Primo Levi. “Therefore it can happen again. And it can happen everywhere.