‘I’m here to speak truth to power. And if it’s wrong, it’s wrong. I frankly don’t care what president does it…’
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Ocasio–Cortez reasserted that she’s calling detention centers “what they are” by referring to them as concentration camps.
Ocasio–Cortez—who frequently has been fact-checked by the press and even compared to President Donald Trump due to her over-the-top rhetoric—previously clarified that she was not referring to Nazi death camps, although the lines between those and the work camps where Jewish prisoners were sent often blurred.
Regardless, Tapper noted that it was a problematic claim to make since previous Democratic presidents also relied on them.
“Using that definition, there were also concentration camps under Obama and under Bill Clinton. So, did you call them concentration camps at the time, when Obama was president?” Tapper asked the freshman Democrat.
“Well, at the time I was working in a restaurant, but I do—I absolutely was outspoken against Obama’s immigration policies and the detention of families then,” Ocasio–Cortez replied. “I think it’s a remarkably consistent position, and I’m not here to defend wrong actions just because they happened under a Democratic administration. I’m here to speak truth to power. And if it’s wrong, it’s wrong. I frankly don’t care what president does it.”
Tapper continued to press her: “What do you say to Americans, especially survivors of the Holocaust or individuals who are related to survivors of the Holocaust who say, ‘Look, academically you’re right, the term concentration camp did not necessarily mean death camp, but colloquially, when most people hear it, they think ‘death camp,’ they think, Holocaust. And you’re undermining your argument and you’re hurting us. You’re hurting our feelings, hurting our emotions, hurting our memories.'”
Ocasio–Cortez responded and said that her Jewish constituents haven’t opposed the comparison because “if we do not talk about the many times this has happened in the history of humanity, the we also erase the suffering of those people.
“We have to learn from the slow process, the slow dehumanizing process that leads to horrible things happening to people. And I know that my folks back home and in my district in Queens and the Bronx, our community has rallied around it,” she continued.
“We absolutely and absolutely have communicated with survivors to indicate that this is not the same thing, as you have mentioned, academically, as an extermination or death camp.”