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Holocaust scholars ask DC museum to stop rejecting border camp comparisons

Migrant children who have been separated from their families can be seen in tents at a detention center in Homestead, Florida on June 27, 2019. - Public outcry over Trump's handling of the border crisis has increased dramatically after a migrant rights group revealed alarming detention conditions of migrant children in Texas, where children were deprived of showers and clean clothes for weeks. (Photo by RHONA WISE / AFP) (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Nearly 150 scholars, many who teach about the Holocaust, urged the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to retract its recent statement rejecting comparisons of the situation at the US southern border to concentration camps.

“The very core of Holocaust education is to alert the public to dangerous developments that facilitate human rights violations and pain and suffering; pointing to similarities across time and space is essential for this task,” the open letter reads, according to The New York Review of Books.

“The Museum’s decision to completely reject drawing any possible analogies to the Holocaust, or to the events leading up to it, is fundamentally ahistorical,” the letter reads.

“It has the potential to inflict severe damage on the Museum’s ability to continue its role as a credible, leading global institution dedicated to Holocaust memory, Holocaust education, and research in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies,” the scholars write.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York in June accused President Donald Trump’s administration of running “concentration camps” in its detention of migrants at the southern border.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle quickly slammed Ocasio-Cortez for her use of the term, which is often associated with Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.

The US Holocaust Museum put out a statement days later that says it “unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary.”

The letter from the scholars asks the director of the museum, Sara J. Bloomfield, to retract the statement, and states the museum “is taking a radical position that is far removed from mainstream scholarship on the Holocaust and genocide.”

“We hope the Museum continues to help scholars establish the Holocaust’s significance as an event from which the world must continue to learn,” the letter reads.

The Department of Homeland Security inspector general found expired food and broken-down bathrooms during unannounced visits to four immigrant detention facilities in 2018, according to a report released Thursday.

The report came amid a worsening situation along the US-Mexico border, where the number of migrants crossing the border illegally has surpassed previous years.

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