“Good Grief!” as my childhood friend Charlie Brown would say. Now we’re fighting over the use of the word concentration camp. Can you believe it? I do not agree with my Jewish friends and colleagues who feel this term, like Holocaust, belongs to the uniquely and solely to the Jewish historical experience. I’m good with Holocaust, though I prefer Shoa. The fact remains that no one other than Adolf Hitler contemplated the annihilation of an entire people from the face of the earth but built the infrastructure to accomplish it. But concentration camp? For this. we have the dictionary and almost universal experience, not just Jewish experience.
By dictionary definition what we have put immigrant children and adults into is a concentration camp. Disagree? Go argue with Mr. Webster. Nor is this the first in the seamy side of American history. Native Americans before subjected to forced removal and forced marches were rounded up and penned up. The Japanese, American citizens all, were rounded up and penned up. There is no doubt in my mind that the will was afoot to do the same to Muslims if the post-9/11 period had gotten out of hand. Go “On Demand” and pull up Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis’s brilliant performances in “The Siege” and tell me that couldn’t have become America after 9/11.
There is an unusual mixture of racism, political ugliness, and incompetence in what is being done to hundreds of young children, separated from their families “deep in the heart of Texas.” And its not like this country doesn’t have the money for toothbrushes, mattresses, and soap. As one judge commented, “After all it doesn’t have to be a Dove bar, just a bar of soap.” ICE has admitted they don’t even need an appropriation bill for such items. They routinely take the money from their operating budget. That leaves the question, “So why aren’t they?” That leads to another question: “Who is telling them not to?” Teeth not brushed for 3 months? No showers for weeks if not months? Sleeping on concrete? As another childhood friend, Tweety-bird would say, “My doodness drayscious!” The medical mess that is going to result will cost far more than a ton of the most expensive toothbrushes made.
Let’s return to the ire of some over the use of the term concentration camp. It is true, those set up for the Jews were part of the genocidal infrastructure of the Nazis. People were starved on purpose. People were forced to do hard labor in the harshest of conditions. People were beaten and flogged all in the hope that they would die. If they had the misfortune to live they went to labor camps and then death camps, which were sometimes the same i.e. Aushwitz-Birkenau. But while these camps were other things, they were concentration camps with evil add-ons.
It’s all poppycock, this argument. It is a diversion from the unconscionable treatment of fellow human beings by this nation of ours. Let’s argue about the fix for that because a concentration by any other name is a concentration camp still. As Lilly Tomlin’s Ruth Ann would say, “And that’s da troot!” at least from my perspective.
This concentration of logic is brought to you by Bill Gralnick, whose new book, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales From Brooklyn” will appear at this month’s end. Amongst others it has been endorsed by TV journalist and news icon Lynn Sherr, The 11th Hour’s star Brian Williams, Peter Bavasi son of Brooklyn Dodger owner Buzzy Bavasi and himself having been several times a baseball GM, Dodger greats Carl Erskine, Diamond Jim Gentile, as well as university presidents, an ambassador and small potpourri of others. Stay tuned for more on the release date.
Gralnick’s logic, and occasional illogic appears here ‘most every Sunday. If you haven’t had enough of it check the website http//:www.atleastfrommyperspective.net
And remember Bill’s favorite line: “Read! It’s good for both of us.”