I did my dissertation on #ConcentrationCamps, so I have a few thoughts about @AOC’s use of the term to describe the build up of camps on the US southern border. For those in a hurry, here’s the take-home message: By any reasonable definition, these are concentration camps.

Why are they called concentration camps? Well, to state the obvious, it’s because large numbers of people are “concentrated” in camps. A better question is, why don’t we just call them prisons? We don’t say “prisons” because prisons are a part of the formal legal system.

Follow me on this: the immigrants detained in concentration camps are intended to be OUTSIDE the formal legal system. Once removed from the #CriminalJusticeSystem the state is largely free to do whatever it wants. As Hannah Arendt might say, “everything is possible.”

And this is what makes #ConcentrationCamps so terrifying. Detainees have no Privilege of habeas corpus (i.e. to be charged or let go). They can be held indefinitely, unable to see their family & denied the psychological comfort of knowing when & if they will ever see them again.

It gets worse though. Because detainees of #ConcentrationCamps are outside the formal legal system, they are vulnerable to a whole host of other abuses. The history of #ConcentrationCamps is a history of people experiencing abuse, from torture to experimentation to sterilization.

When people hear about #ConcentrationCamps they think about the Nazis, but here’s a bit of U.S. history (I’m looking at you @LizCheney), many of the ghastly practices that found their way into Nazi concentration camps were inspired by the US

It may be uncomfortable for Americans to think about, but the fact is that not only do the camps on the US southern border fit the definition of #ConcentrationCamps, the U.S. has a well documented history of creating such spaces outside law.

The German American internment camps of the early 20th century, the Japanese American camps of the mid-20th century, and the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base at the turn of the new century–these are all examples of #ConcentrationCamps.

But the detainees in these camps are all guilty, right? Well, no, but I would also submit that people can’t be guilty if they’ve never been charged with a crime and have never stood trial. @AOC is right. We should all be deathly afraid of the proliferation of these camps.

~ @landrist


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Mostly, I write stuff. And, like the Egyptians and the Internet, I put cat pictures on my walls. Also, I can read your Tarot.