Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar took a chapter out of buddy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s playbook to add her two cents to the debate over whether the detention centers on the southern border can fairly be called “concentration camps.” Asked in the halls of Congress by a reporter on the fly whether she agreed with Ocasio-Cortez’s characterization, she replied:
There are camps and people are being concentrated. This is very simple. I don’t know why this is a controversial thing for her to say. We have to really truthfully speak about what is taking place, and that’s why it’s really important for us to abolish ICE. …
She goes on to repeat the heavily debunked lie that “kids are being caged,” among other Democratic talking points, pretending that none of the current conditions under which illegal aliens are being detained existed before the Trump administration.
Ilhan Omar says that because people are being “CONCENTRATED” in “camps” they are therefore “concentration camps.”
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) June 21, 2019
But let’s go back to her definition of concentration camp. I have no doubt that her desire to equate detention facilities with the death camps dreamed up by Adolf Hitler is borne of her hatred of Jews, who in her mind likely had it no worse than the Central American migrants being apprehended at our own southern border. But what about her own experiences in “camps where people were concentrated.” When she and her family fled Somalia in 1990 to escape the war, they spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya, near the Somali border. Only eight years old at the time, Omar nevertheless remembers her experiences there vividly, a number of which are recounted in a story that appeared in The Guardian shortly after her Horatio Algeresque election:
The Utango camp was isolated and rudimentary with limited sanitation. Omar collected firewood and water for the family, and has described how she enviously watched similar-aged children going to school in uniforms, and asking her father if she could resume her education.
They were among the first to reach the Utango camp, which had just opened. Arrivals were housed in tents or makeshift huts before the facility was closed, in about 1996.
Omar, a former community organiser and policy analyst, remembered the rough conditions. “It was isolated … in a jungle setting. There were deaths from malaria,” she said.
Is that how she “really truthfully” views the conditions of facilities at the southern border? If so perhaps she needs a strong pair of eyeglasses.
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