Democrats and Republicans debated this week just how to describe the massive immigration raids President Trump promised in a tweet this week.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired up Republicans when she called ICE detention centers “concentration camps” Tuesday. She refused demands that she apologize for the comment, leading to another round of Republican recriminations the next day.
It was another episode of the classic American political game show “Who Said ‘Nazi?” It’s the IRL version of Godwin’s Law — the longer and more embittered a political fight in the U.S., the more likely someone will try to compare their opponents to the Nazis.
Political professionals generally frown on these kind of comparisons. Invoking the Third Reich is tends to distract from the subject at hand, they say, and gives opponents something to be outraged about instead of responding to what people are actually discussing.
But this is not a time when a lot of people running for office follow political rules. Marianne Williamson, the spiritual teacher and bestselling author running for the Democratic presidential nomination, invoked the Holocaust when talking about Trump’s promised immigration action at n event in New Hampsire Tuesday, and did it more strongly when asked about it afterwards.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m a Jew,” Williamson told a small crowd on the campus of Southern New Hampshire University. “And we are raised to say ‘never again.’ It’s happening again.”
The crowd applauded.
“There are some people who would say to me, ‘now Ms. Williamson, I think this Jewish analogy, you’ve really gone too far there. This is not the same situation at all,’” she went on, doing an impression of a tut-tutting critic. “But ladies and gentlemen some of those people will be deported to places so dangerous that it actually is no different.”
In an interview after the rally, Williamson added some nuance, but mostly doubled down.
“[Trump is] announcing it, he’s celebrating it like it’s something to be proud of,” she said of Trump’s tweet. “I don’t know about you, but I have visited the Anne Frank House. I’ve been to those places where people hid Jews in the basement. When I think of the fear that some people are going through right now after the president made that announcement, you know, where are they going to go?”
“‘Never again’ is never supposed to mean ‘never again to us.’ It’s supposed to mean ‘never again, period,’” Williamson continued. “Some people would say ‘well, Marianne, that’s a false analogy because yes there might be mass arrests, yes there might be mass deportations, but they’re not being sent to the gas chambers.’ Yes, that is true. However, when we really allow ourselves to consider where they are going, to some of them they will be returned to almost certain violence and deep injustice.”
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Cover: Democratic presidential candidate and self-help author Marianne Williamson speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner on June 9, 2019 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)