Ocasio-Cortez Showcases the Left’s Reverse McCarthyism

My grandmother spent World War II in a concentration camp in Transnistria. Growing up in Israel, we were encouraged in school to ask our grandparents what it was like to live through the Holocaust, but my grandmother was always understandably sparse on the details. The only thing she ever spoke of was the terror of living day to day on the edge of starvation, being forced to eat grass at one point when hunger overwhelmed her. I later learned that she was almost taken by an SS officer to Auschwitz; the only thing that saved her life was a kindly high-ranking Romanian officer who refused to send those under his protection to the gas chambers.

Being raised with these stories, it’s frustrating to see politicians like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) make insulting comparisons between ICE detention centers and Nazi concentration camps. To make such a comparison, you’d have to be an idiot who is clueless about history, or a vicious cynic who callously uses the experience of Holocaust survivors to score cheap political points.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell into which category Ocasio-Cortez falls, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that her rhetoric is aggressively divisive, hypocritical, toxic to our political discourse, and completely disrespectful to the memory of the Nazis’ victims and Holocaust survivors who are still alive today.

Unfortunately, moronic comments of this variety are not limited to Ocasio-Cortez. Whether it’s in the media, academia, or our entertainment industry, we hear Trump compared to Hitler all the time. Last year, Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, used similar language in comparing ICE detention centers to Auschwitz.

And lest we think that constant leftist cries of “fascist!” are a modern phenomenon, we should remember that the American Left has a long and proud tradition of seeing echoes of Hitler in anyone slightly to the right of Lenin.

In the 1948 election, President Harry Truman compared his Republican opponent, John Dewey, to a Nazi, warning that “a Republican victory on election day will bring a Fascistic threat to American freedom that is even more dangerous than the perils from communism.” Journalists, policy experts, and pundits at various points compared Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and even Mitt Romney to Hitler. Every few years, America seems to be just on the brink of transforming into a dark fascist tyranny, according to the histrionics of the Left.

These Nazi comparisons are a farcical form of reverse McCarthyism. Backing up one’s arguments with facts and sound reasoning is difficult and time consuming, especially when you try to defend a demonstrably bankrupt ideology like socialism. It’s much easier and less time consuming simply to yell “Nazi!” at all conservatives and draw half-witted historical comparisons as Ocasio-Cortez did.

It’s sad that we’ve come to the point where we need to dignify these emotional effusions with a response, but such are the times in which we live. Ocasio-Cortez insisted her comparison “is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.” Even assuming that all the leftist talking points about ICE detention facilities are true—that living conditions are awful, there is no adequate bedding, there is not enough food, etc.—we’re supposed to believe that Trump’s immigration policy is equivalent to the systematic murder of millions of innocents in the most gruesome ways imaginable?

Concentration camp victims were torn away from their homes and imprisoned by the Nazis, whereas the very reason illegal immigrants are detained in ICE facilities is because they broke the law in coming here uninvited; there is no equivalence.

When American officials start starving millions of illegal immigrants to death, or inviting people to take showers in gas chambers, or conducting human experiments like the Nazis did, then we can start making comparisons to concentration camps.

If the Left wanted to see an example of real concentration camps, they would do well to look to Communist China. China, in its current quest of ethnically cleansing minorities under the euphemistic banner of “Sinicization,” has imprisoned up to 2 million Muslims from the province of Xinjiang in concentration camps that sadly merit that label. In these camps, Muslim Uyghurs are forced to praise the Chinese Communist Party, even as the Party subjects them to horrific tortures that leave many prisoners dead.

If any political organization in the world today can be appropriately compared to the Nazi Party, it would be the Chinese Communist Party. Yet so far, we haven’t heard a peep from Ocasio-Cortez about the plight of China’s Muslims, which shows that she’s more interested in popping off with clichés and parroting talking points than she is about legitimately defending human rights.

What’s particularly rich about all of this is that leftists persistently call conservatives Nazis, but get defensive when they themselves are labeled socialists. We hear many accusations that Republicans are “scaremongering” about socialism, that implementing socialism would never lead to the problems that plagued Venezuela and the Soviet Union, that right-wingers are just using socialism as a boogeyman to stop people from enjoying government-mandated healthcare and longer vacation days.

But is this really scaremongering? Leftist warnings about rising fascism ring hollow, considering that there are zero card-carrying Nazis in Congress, but there are plenty of members of Congress who either are openly socialist or fellow travelers. The most radical leftists today openly proclaim their desire to implement a Marxist vision in America; just read the official platform of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Socialism has been legitimized in the past few years at an unimaginably quick pace. Actual neo-Nazis, on the other hand, are limited to a couple of thousand losers who have no political legitimacy and no real power. Yet it’s somehow become normal to pretend that Nazis are on the cusp of completely taking over America, whereas anyone who correctly points out the rising popularity of socialism is labeled a McCarthyite.

The hypocrisy is staggering and disgusting. The rhetoric coming from socialists like Ocasio-Cortez comparing Trump to Hitler cheapens the suffering of Holocaust survivors like my grandmother and downplays the worst tragedy of our recent past in order to further a radical socialist agenda. Ocasio-Cortez, and everyone in the media, in Congress, and in our universities who continues with the moronic Hitler comparisons should be called out as the shameless fools they are.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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About Elad Vaida

Elad Vaida is currently enrolled in the Heritage Foundation’s George C. Marshall Fellows Program, and the America’s Future Foundation Writing Fellows Program. He has a Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University, and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Penn State University.