Jake Tapper Pushes AOC on Concentration Camp Comments: Is That What You Called Them When Obama Was President?


When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to ICE detention facilities as “concentration camps” recently, she caused a huge and continuing controversy in which she has tripled and quadrupled down despite negative reactions from the right and even some on the left.

On Twitter Wednesday night, the freshman Rep. tweeted again about it, saying that she is calling them “what they are.” CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed AOC on that topic in an interview on Thursday’s The Lead.

“Two questions here,” said Tapper after reading the Tweet. “One, you’re taking credit for calling these camps, detention centers — you’re taking credit for those developments by using the term ‘Concentration camp.’ And two, 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.'”

“What do you say to those Holocaust survivors?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” said Ocasio-Cortez for some reason. “Well, you know, I have many in my district and our Jewish community has kind of rallied around this issue, because when we talk about concentration camps, if we do not also talk about Japanese internment, if we don’t talk about the Boer war, if we don’t talk about the many times this has happened in the history of humanity, then 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 said. “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.”

“In fact, this is an opportunity for us to talk about how we learn from our history in order to prevent it from ever happening in any form, at any step, whether it’s a concentration camp, or whether it is the final steps of that phase, from happening and even at the earliest steps we have to make sure that dehumanizing, and that never again means never again for everyone,” she said.

Tapper pressed on the issue, bringing up another tweet from the representative.

“When you retweeted a story from Esquire magazine discussing all this, talking about the academic definition versus the definition that most people think of, the colloquial definition, that doesn’t mean the concentration camp but just a concentration of individuals, but a Nazi death camp,” he said pointedly repeating that nearly everyone associates the term with Nazis rather than the technicality upon which AOC has based her defense.

“One of the points that was made in that very story was that, using that definition, there were also concentration camps under Obama and under Bill Clinton. That is in the story that you retweeted,” said Tapper. “So, did you call them concentration camps at the time, when Obama was President?

“Well, at the time I was working in a restaurant,” replied AOC. “But I do — I absolutely was outspoken against Obama’s immigration policies and the detention of families then. 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.”

Watch the clip above, courtesy of CNN.

Have a tip we should know? tips@mediaite.com

Filed Under: