NBC’s Chuck Todd Calls out Ocasio-Cortez as She Continues to Defend ‘Concentration Camp’ Remarks

June 20, 2019 Updated: June 20, 2019

NBC host Chuck Todd has called out Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for her recent comments comparing U.S. border facilities with “concentration camps,” saying that the freshman congresswoman is doing “the people there a tremendous disservice.”

“You can call our government’s detention of migrants at our southern border many things depending on how you see it,” Todd said during his “Meet the Press” program on June 19. “It’s a stain on our nation, maybe, a necessary evil to others.”

“But do you know what you can’t call it?” he said, before showing a clip of Ocasio-Cortez’s comments she made in an Instagram video on June 17:

“The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and… that is exactly what they are,” Ocasio-Cortez says in the clip that was livestreamed on Instagram on June 17.

Todd continued: “After being criticized, Ocasio-Cortez tried to make a distinction between concentration camps and Nazi death camps, where the industrialized mass slaughter of the Holocaust occurred.”

“But Congresswoman, tens of thousands were also brutalized, starved, and ultimately died in concentration camps,” he added.

“Be careful comparing them to Nazi concentration camps because they’re not at all comparable in the slightest.”

He also criticized Democratic leadership for not condemning Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

Nadler wrote on Twitter on June 18, “one of the lessons of the Holocaust is ‘Never Again.’ … We fail to learn that lesson when we don’t callout such inhumanity right in front of us.”

“Jerry Nadler surely knows migrant detainment camps are not the same as concentration camps,” Todd said. “So why didn’t he just say that?”

“Why are we so sheepish calling out people we agree with politically these days?” He added that it was an issue that occurs on both sides.

“Are we really so ensconced in our political bubbles—liberal versus conservative—that we cannot talk about right versus wrong anymore?” Todd asked. “Some things are bigger than partisanship, or at least they used to be.”

Ocasio-Cortez reacted to Todd’s comments on Twitter, saying that she did not refer to Nazi concentration camps when she mentioned concentration camps in her June 17 video.

“Well, [Chuck Todd] – the fact that you slipped in ‘Nazi’ when I never said that is pretty unfortunate. Almost as unfortunate as the fact that you spent this whole time w/o discussing DHS freezers, “dog pounds,” missing children, & human rights abuses that uphold use of this term,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

The congresswoman did not specifically mention “Nazi” in her comments, but she referenced the Holocaust by using the famous “Never Again” phrase, which is synonymous with crimes committed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany during World War II.

In subsequent posts, Ocasio-Cortez continued to defend her use of the term “concentration camp.”

“We are calling these camps what they are because they fit squarely in an academic consensus and definition. History will be kind to those who stood up to this injustice. So say what you will. Kids are dying and I’m not here to make people feel comfortable about that,” she wrote.

Earlier on June 19, the freshman congresswoman said she would not apologize for her Instagram video comments after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) condemned her remarks and called on her to apologize for them.

“She does not understand history. She does not understand what’s going on at the border at the same time. But there is no comparison, and to actually say that is really embarrassing,” McCarthy said during a press conference on June 19.

Similarly, other network hosts have slammed Ocasio-Cortez for her comments, including Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer.

“I tell you, she’s not afraid of throwing out these phrases,” Hemmer said during his show on June 18. “I don’t know if she’s been to the border yet.”

“She used the extermination of 6 million people,” Hemmer later said. “She used the phrase ‘who are concerned enough about humanity that “Never again” means something.’ Has she ever been to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, or Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland, or Dachau in Germany?”

“‘Never Again’ is the phrase that Jews use all over the world to make sure that the extermination between 1939 and 1945 never happens again, and she is using ‘concentration camps’ to describe what is happening on the southern border. How in the world is that acceptable? Does she not owe every Jew on this planet an apology?” he continued.

Despite the backlash, some have chosen to defend her comments, including MSNBC host Chris Hayes.

“If you spend a few minutes learning some actual history, you will find out that concentration camps are different from death camps and have a history that both predates and extends far past the Nazis,” he said, in reply to one of Ocasio-Cortez’s critics.

Meanwhile, Jewish group JCRC of New York criticized Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks in a letter on June 18.

“We urge @AOC to refrain from using terminology evocative of the Holocaust tonvoice (sic) concerns about contemporary political issues, as per our letter below,” the group wrote.

In a letter to the lawmaker, leaders of the group wrote that they were “deeply disturbed by the language used in your recent Instagram live video which seeks to equate the detention centers on America’s southern border with Nazi-era Concentration Camps.”

“The terms ‘Concentration Camp’ and ‘Never Again’ are synonymous with and evocative of the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, in which six million European Jews were systematically denied civil and human rights due to their race and ultimately murdered in state-sponsored genocide,” the leaders wrote.

“As concerned we are about the conditions experienced by migrants seeking asylum in the United States … the regrettable use of Holocaust terminology to describe these contemporary concerns diminishes the evil intent of the Nazis to eradicate the Jewish people.”

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan
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