Friday, December 06, 2019

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Mr. Sragow’s response to the article “Detention Centers on Southern Border Are Most Definitively Not Concentration Camps” misses the point (“Not Trivializing the Holocaust,” July 25, 2019). Using the term concentration camps is designed to equate the detention centers with Nazi camps. Few people know or care about the origin of the word concentration camp. When they hear the phrase they immediately associate it with the Nazis.

Mentioning Elie Wiesel to refute the assertion that detention centers are not concentration camps is absurd. Where is the proof that he would equate the two experiences? My personal relationship with him began in 1977 and continued throughout his life. No doubt, he would have been deeply concerned about the plight of these people, but it is inconceivable he would compare the two in any way.

To suggest that America is engaged in Nazi-like behavior is a lie and distortion of history. Comparing the detention centers to concentration camps during the Holocaust demonstrates ignorance and bias. No detained illegal migrant will be starved, worked to death, shot, or murdered in a gas chamber. They are viewed as undocumented migrants who have crossed into the U.S. illegally, and, like all persons who have defied the laws of the United States, they should expect to be apprehended and returned peacefully to their country of origin.

Continuing to link every injustice we witness deprives us from learning anything from history. As historian Henry Feingold noted, “This is not a contest to measure pain or degrees of victimization. History is not democratic, it does not assign equal import to like events. To forget that difference, to permit it to be subsumed in facile
comparisons with every trespass human flesh has been heir to, is to risk losing the possibility of retrieving some meaning from the event.”

Not every act of barbarism, every injustice in the world today has to be a Holocaust to justify our profound concern and serious response. That is what Professor Wiesel wanted us to learn.

Dr. Alex Grobman