An annoyingly common form of self-righteous virtue signaling in these days is to compare the hideous actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), especially after widespread reports of disgusting, inhumane conditions for detainees in CBP camps, to the Nazis. Such comparisons are almost always facile and ill informed.
Any law enforcement agency that takes a person into custody takes, thereby, responsibility for that person’s well being. The alternative, in effect, is to declare that every offenses merits the death penalty because a person in custody cannot ensure their own access to food and medical care. If a person who is on death row — sentenced to death and awaiting execution — exhibits suicidal impulses or behavior, the prison will put him on suicide watch to prevent him from killing himself before the state can kill him.
The conditions certain members of the House described after visiting CBP camps are inhumane and inexcusable. Those people would be better off in any prison in the United States. The Trump administration’s indifference to those conditions and to the suffering they cause is despicable and only more evidence of how grossly unfit Trump is to be president. Too many people have died in CBP custody. No one should die in CBP custody. It is reasonable to call the installations “concentration camps.”
But they are not Nazi concentration camps. Some observers distinguish between Nazi concentration camps and Nazi death camps, death camps being more explicitly designed to kill as many of their inmates as efficiently as possible. But both types of camps existed within a policy regime the explicit purpose of which was to eliminate entirely the types of persons the Nazis chose to incarcerate at them.
Without getting into speculation about Trump’s own twisted imagination, it is not, under U.S. law, it cannot be, the purpose of CBP camps to eliminate entirely the population in their camps. It is a fig leaf, and it rests on a deliberate, tendentious misreading of the relevant law, but the inmates in the CBP camps did at least notionally violate a federal law. The validity of that law is open to discussion and the administration’s manner of enforcing it is reprehensible, but there is a difference between what the U.S. is doing now and what the Nazis did.
The one thing that ties them together is Christian belief. It seems doubtful that Donald Trump believes anything other than that he should immediately get whatever he wants, in the style of a two year old, but his trusty deputy, Mike Pence, is emphatically a good Christian. Trump won because of the Christian vote. Christians in ever category, except African Americans and Hispanic Catholics, voted over 55% for Trump. Had only Christians voted, Trump would have won the popular vote easily.
The pretext for holding persons in CBP camps is that they crossed the border into the United States unlawfully. That border only exists because of the Christian invasion of “the Americas.” Before Christians showed up, there was no “Mexico,” nor no “United States.” Christians established their hegemony in “the Americas” by raping, pillaging, enslaving, and murdering millions of Natives and Africans.
Similarly, there is debate about what religion, if any, Hitler himself subscribed to and what, if any religion, the Nazi Party adopted. The undeniable point remains, however, that the vast majority of the non Jewish population of Germany acquiesced, more or less silently, in the political and policy program of the Nazis, including extirpation of the Jews and other “undesirables.” Jews as scapegoat is an obvious giveaway. By the time the Nazis took power in Germany, good Christians had been persecuting Jews for nearly 2,000 years.
Except that there is nothing funny about any of this, it would be pretty funny that the same people who want engage in self-righteous virtue signaling by claiming that current U.S. policy is like Nazi policy also want to invoke Christian morality to condemn U.S. policy.
This is the best possible indication that such persons are relying on half baked conventional wisdom rather than thinking at all carefully the situation. Whatever is the human impulse that leads some of us to want to oppress others of us and to wield any superior power we have in violent, discriminatory ways stems from, or at least finds no constraint or limit in, Christian belief.
Whether the atrocity is Nazis or the Trump administration, Christianity is much more on the side of the oppressors than the oppressed.