GOP Venality Open Thread: Kiddie Concentration Camps, Not Polling Well


Small comfort for the children now suffering — or dead — but if Senate Majority House Minority Leader ‘There’s two people Putin is paying’ McCarthy and Erik ‘Voice of the Gated GOP Community’ Erikson are alternately blustering and pantomiming Christianist concern about Trump’s concentration camps… it’s not good news for conservatives.

Clearly the GOP had assumed that enough voters were indifferent to human suffering that they could afford to tickle ‘the Base’ by kicking the untermenschen. Fortunately for the survival of our GOP-battered commonwealth, they seem to have miscalculated. Trump folds when he’s put under pressure, especially the pressure of being publicly shamed… and Trump’s enablers know that the I-was-only-following-orders defense doesn’t work in courts of law.

EvenTheVerySeriouslyBipartisan NYTimes has jumped ship on this…

108 replies
  1. 1
    MazeDancer says:

    Tonight, a huge all star cast is performing the Mueller report live on stage.
    And it is being live streamed. 9 Eastern/6 Pacific.

    Live stream and list of starry participants here:

  2. 2

    Yeah. I have two friends from when I was little who are Trumpers. I’ve been posting a lot in Facebook lately about the baby concentration camps, and this is the only time I can recall that neither one has even tried to defend Trump on this, or defend the policy itself. All they try to do is make weak-ass cases for why it’s somebody else’s fault, anybody else’s fault.

  3. 3
    debbie says:

    It’s not like we haven’t been here before. Remember when it wasn’t torture if there wasn’t organ failure? //

  4. 4
    lurker dean says:

    @MazeDancer: thanks, hadn’t heard about this.

  5. 5
    kindness says:

    Excuse? Please forgive me but this is a feature for Trump. not a bug.

    He thinks treating brown people with contempt will get him elected again.

  6. 6
    Bullet-headed saxon mother's son says:

    I know I should expect it, but it is truly appalling to read some of the Republican/conservative/Nazi responses at the various editorials (NYT, New Yorker, etc). They simply refuse to acknowledge that 1) this is uniquely Trump’s policy and execution thereof and 2) that torturing and killing children is inherently wrong, regardless of policy motivation.

    I understand point 1, but think about point 2. They are actually arguing that child abuse and child murder is sometimes a necessary evil, an outcome that, while somewhat regrettable, is unavoidable if those immigrants won’t stop coming.

  7. 7
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Anne Laurie up top:

    Senate Majority Leader ‘There’s two people Putin is paying’ McCarthy

    House Minority Leader McCarthy.

    In the huge, infuriating, heartrending context of this post, it’s a minor quibble….

  8. 8
    Brachiator says:

    Clearly the GOP had assumed that enough voters were indifferent to human suffering that they could afford to tickle ‘the Base’ by kicking the untermenschen.

    Trump is teaching his base to be cruel and to accept debasing The Other. Immigration hard liners wanted the undocumented to be deported, but it was Trump and his staff who decided to dehumanize these people and to assert that non-citizens deserve no consideration at all.

    Fortunately for the survival of our GOP-battered commonwealth, they seem to have miscalculated. Trump folds when he’s put under pressure, especially the pressure of being publicly shamed…

    This is simply not true. Trump does not feel shame, shrugs off or evades criticism and deflects blame onto others.

    He fired people who didn’t implement his cruel policies quickly enough.

    Even when warned or challenged by the courts, he continues to put children in camps and deny them fair treatment.

    And because he is stubborn and stupid, he keeps compounding the problem, because his core policy is to capture as many immigrants as he can and refuse to let them out of the trap that he has created for them. He has not relented or backed down from this.

    And, as always, he is aided and abetted by the GOP leadership and by Fox News and right wing pundits.

  9. 9
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @kindness: @kindness: Exactly!

  10. 10
    rikyrah says:



    and, they are trying to justify why they can’t get soap, toothpaste, hot food, and a place to sleep.

  11. 11
    Van Buren says:

    Cruelty to brown people and wildly profitable. It’s the perfect encapsulation of Trumpism.

  12. 12
    Ohio Mom says:

    @MazeDancer: Lots of big names on the cast list. I’m going to give it a listen but will probably fall asleep before all ten acts are completed.

  13. 13
    debbie says:


    Also, a decent meal at Mar-a-Lago. //

  14. 14
    cintibud says:

    Notice the tweet about sending people to the Hague for trial. I’ve wondered about that myself. You know that any way a Dem administration tried to bring folks to justice would be framed as “persecuting political enemies”. Well let’s send them to the Hague to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

    I know, pipe dream. USA likes to set the rules, but doesn’t believe in following them when it’s inconvenient.

  15. 15
    JR says:

    It’s worth reminding these Trump flaks that there are lampposts at every street corner.

  16. 16
    Ksmiami says:

    @Bullet-headed saxon mother’s son: The Hague, jumpsuits and scaffolding are looking better everyday. I don’t care about understanding the other side or hearing them out- if they think child torture is ok I just want them marginalized and their leaders imprisoned

  17. 17
    Yutsano says:

    @cintibud: We’re not a signatory to the International Criminal Court. We have no standing to bring the perpetrators to trial. Not that it should stop some enterprising Spanish prosecutor from trying.

  18. 18
    bobbo says:

    “Question: Is there a charity we can donate to that helps provide supplies and aid to those detained at the border, e.g. diapers, stuffed animals, food, etc.?”

    Because nothing says “Limited government!!!” like asking for private charities to clean up after ICE does the torture stuff.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: I don’t really think that base needed to be taught to be cruel. What’s he’s done is given them permission to be cruel in public.

  20. 20
    HRA says:

    When someone shows how he acts to his own children and grandchildren, you cannot expect them to act differently towards other peoples children. The respond I am sure will be his 3 children work with him. Yes, they do it for their own reasons. They have even taught their children to stay away from him. It is all on tape.
    To note the difference look at how Bill and Hilary react towards Chelsea. Barack and Michelle with their children.

  21. 21
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yutsano: But we are signatories to a number of Geneva Conventions pertaining to appropriate treatment of migrants. As well as a series of war crimes and crimes against humanities international conventions we shepherded through post WW II and in the wake of the Nuremberg Trials.

  22. 22

    Have you heard the excuse the deplorables overwhelmingly make? That the kids’ parents shouldn’t have brought them? The thing is, this isn’t some weak diversion to them. One of the cores of Republican thought is ‘The bitch had it coming.’ Apply to all victims of all kinds. They are mean, abusive shits, and they get off on cruelty combined with stroking their own egos by blaming the victim. Reports have been consistent that Trump has wanted this kind of sadism and brutality since day one. It is both political and it pleases him on a personal level, because he is the apotheosis of his followers.

  23. 23
    cintibud says:

    @Yutsano: Ah, never signed. But of course.

  24. 24
    A Ghost To Most says:


    Trump is teaching his base to be cruel and to accept debasing The Other.

    Nah, he’s just encouraging them to be their base selves.
    T is a symptom; they are the disease.

  25. 25
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @bobbo: It won’t matter. DHS has made it clear that they will not accept donations and distribute them. The best thing you can do is give to RAICES.

  26. 26

    @A Ghost To Most:
    This. All Trump is doing is forcing us to notice evil that was already there. While I would much, much rather have the children involved not suffering, in the process he’s erased any chance liberals would be unmotivated in the 2020 election.

  27. 27
    randy khan says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    All they try to do is make weak-ass cases for why it’s somebody else’s fault, anybody else’s fault.

    The ones I’ve seen essentially blame the parents. On a certain level there’s no answer to that, because someone who would punish the children for the parents’ behavior is a monster.

    But, as always, the cruelty is not some side effect – it is the point.

  28. 28
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: The base is an HIV infection. T is Kaposi’s Sarcoma.

  29. 29
    Jeffro says:

    First Dem politician to point out that just one of trumpov’s dozens of golf trips could give these poor kids toothpaste and soap from now until the heat death of the universe wins…well, okay, only consolidates the Dem base…but STILL.

    First one to buy a 30-minute block of time on cable to do this at least breaks out of the…okay, breaks into the top 12 Dems running…but STILL.

    First one to challenge trumpov to co-visit the concentration camps…

    First one to challenge corporate America to quit making donations to the GOP, at any level, until the child deaths stop…

    First one to challenge GOP Congressmen to sleep on concrete floors with foil blankets and see who lasts longer…

    Hey, it’s all worth a shot.

  30. 30
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jeffro: For that $775 a night the government is currently paying to house and feed for each of these kids we could book every Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, and Marriott in the US at the government rate and feed the kids at the buffet and still save money.

  31. 31
    Jeffro says:

    On another note, you know what would be absolutely awesome: a Harris/Duckworth ticket. I’d love to see Warren as VP but we need her in the Senate (her replacement would be nominated by a Republican). Duckworth would absolutely kick both trumpov’s AND Pence’s ass

  32. 32
    rikyrah says:

    I can do a weekend at the Peninsula, with spa services and only eat at the hotel restaurants for what they are getting paid for those migrants.

  33. 33
  34. 34
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Ok, so hopefully the D candidates will pick one or the other example or both.

    And then follow up with, “So who IS profiting off of these concentration camps? Who’s trumpov paying to do this in our name?”

  35. 35
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jeffro: Survey says: Most likely not.

  36. 36
    debbie says:


    Erik Prince has to be in the mix.

  37. 37
    rikyrah says:

    Like there weren’t FIFTEEN OTHER ACCUSERS 😠😠

    Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) Tweeted:
    NYT admits that they were too cautious in reporting E. Jean Carroll’s story, acknowledging critics who said they “showed too much deference to the president’s denials”

  38. 38
    NotMax says:

    OT. FYI.

    A phone scam has resurfaced: Beware phone scammers who warn of iCloud hack (more). Hang up on them. Immediately.

    Just now received such a phishing call – and I do not possess anything Apple or Mac.

  39. 39
    Jager says:

    $273,750 a year per child, you could put each kid in trump’s hotel in Vegas, hire each one a nanny and feed them 3x a day and save 50 grand a year

  40. 40
    Jay says:

    Comparing migrant detention centers to concentration camps where millions of Jews were slaughtered cheapens the Holocaust. What @AOC said will not be tolerated. Sign our petition to show what her ineptitude means to us— American Jewish Congress (@AJCongress) June 23, 2019

  41. 41
    Betty Cracker says:

    @rikyrah: We’re up to what, 22 women on the record now? Maybe public hearings on that are warranted? 🤔

  42. 42
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Yup. This is the core of the policy. Didn’t Stephen Miller or someone of that ilk explicitly say so? The point is to making coming to America so horrific that They, you know the ones, Those People, The Other, etc… just stop trying. Abracadabra, the immigrant problem solves itself. It’s sick but that’s what they believe, affirmatively, not by accident, not by ignorance.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rikyrah: It’s a scam for GOP campaign donors

  44. 44
    Mike in NC says:

    If the government is spending $775 per detainee per night, how much gets skimmed by the Trump Crime Cartel?

  45. 45
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Betty Cracker: It’s not that we’re up to 22 women now. It’s that because of how NY state law is written, there is no statute of limitations on what Carroll has accused the President of and she is in possession of what she was wearing that day and it has been unlaundered since the alleged attack. That should completely change the discussion here.

  46. 46
    Jeffro says:

    @Betty Cracker: That’s a good start. So are TV ads with, “22 women? 22? 22 women have come forward and accused president* trumpov of sexual assault and/or rape…”

    And then the ads could finish with
    – “…how many women have to come forward before his supporters realize he’s lying to them and has been a lifelong abuser of women?”
    – “…aren’t you proud, GOP?”
    – “…don’t even white supremacists and IGMFU billionaires deserve a president without a history of rape?”

  47. 47
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Bullet-headed saxon mother’s son: I wonder how any of the so-called “pro-life” among them can possibly square their fetus fetishization with their callous and murderous attitude toward living (brown) children. Or if they even bother to try.

  48. 48
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    The base is an HIV infection. T is Kaposi’s Sarcoma.

    Ugliest Metaphor EVAH!

    But devastatingly accurate.

  49. 49
    Adam L Silverman says:


    Auschwitz, Dachau, the Warsaw Ghetto… These are names that resonate with anyone who knows the story of the Holocaust. Most people are shocked, however, to learn just how many camps, ghettos, and other sites of detention, persecution, forced labor, and murder the Nazis and their allies ran: over 42,000. Likewise, few people know much about the conditions in those places, or how broad the range of prisoner experiences was.

    In order to fill this vast gap in our knowledge, the Museum and Indiana University Press are compiling and publishing an Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945. Specifically, the work aims to answer basic questions about as many individual sites as possible; to provide scholars with leads for additional research; and to memorialize the places where so many millions of people suffered and died.

    Work on this enormous project began in 1999; it involves a small team of editors, writers, and researchers at the Museum, plus hundreds of volunteers and scholars from all over the world. Three volumes have already appeared, and four more are in preparation. When it is complete, the Encyclopedia will be the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide to the Nazi camp system in existence.

    The Museum would like to thank the following donors, without whose support the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos could not exist:

    The Helen Bader Foundation
    The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc.
    The Stiftung Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft
    The Benjamin and Seema Pulier Charitable Foundation, Inc.
    Diane and Howard Wohl
    The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous

    Note that volumes I and II of the Encyclopedia are now available free, online, in their entirety. Download the PDFs.

    Early Camps, Youth Camps, and Concentration Camps and Subcamps under the SS-Business Administration Main Office (WVHA)

    Geoffrey P. Megargee, Editor
    Foreword by Elie Wiesel

    Volume I Contents (PDF)

    Volume I Places Index (PDF)

    This volume contains entries on 110 early camps, 23 main SS concentration camps (including Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau), 898 subcamps, 39 SS construction brigade camps, and three so-called youth protection camps. Introductory essays provide broader context, while citations and source narratives offer the basis for additional research.

    Volume I has received the 2009 National Jewish Book Award, the 2010 Judaica Reference Award (external link) from the Association of Jewish Libraries, and Library Journal’s Best of Reference 2009. It was also designated a Choice magazine 2010 Outstanding Academic Title.

    1,796 pp., 192 b&w illustrations, 23 maps
    Hardback (two individual books) 978-0-253-35328-3
    Volume I purchasing information (external link)

    Ghettos in German-Occupied Eastern Europe

    Geoffrey P. Megargee, General Editor
    Martin Dean, Volume Editor
    Introduction by Christopher R. Browning

    Volume II Contents (PDF)

    Volume II Places Index (PDF)

    This volume provides a comprehensive account of how the Nazis conducted the Holocaust throughout the scattered towns and villages of Poland and the Soviet Union. It covers more than 1,150 sites, including both open and closed ghettos. Regional essays outline the patterns of ghettoization in 19 German administrative regions. Each entry discusses key events in the history of the ghetto; living and working conditions; activities of the Jewish Councils; Jewish responses to persecution; demographic changes; and details of the ghetto’s liquidation. Personal testimonies help convey the character of each ghetto, while source citations provide a guide to additional information. Documentation of hundreds of smaller sites—previously unknown or overlooked in the historiography of the Holocaust—make this an indispensable reference work on the destroyed Jewish communities of Eastern Europe.

    2,096 pp., 192 b&w illus., 20 maps
    Cloth 978-0-253-35599-7
    Volume II purchasing information (external link)

    Camps and Ghettos under European Regimes Aligned with Nazi Germany

    Geoffrey P. Megargee, General Editor
    Joseph R. White, Volume Editor
    Mel Hecker, Contributing Editor

    Volume III Contents (PDF)

    Volume III Places Index (PDF)

    Germany was obviously central to the Holocaust, but it did not act alone. Volume III of the Encyclopedia describes over 700 sites in Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia, as well as in French and Italian colonies in Africa, and in Italian-occupied territories in Europe. These were the places where allies of Germany, satellite states, and collaborationist governments imprisoned, enslaved, tortured, and killed the people they and the Germans considered enemies: Jews, Roma and Sinti, political opponents, and colonial subjects, among others. Experts on and from the countries in question drew on records in 14 different languages, from a multitude of archives, in order to write the entries. Introductory essays on each of the countries provide background information on broader developments having to do with the various camp systems. This volume is the one single source for information on these sites, in any language.

    1,016 pp., 124 b&w illustrations, 22 maps
    Hardback 978-0-253-02373-5
    Volume III purchasing information (external link)

    “This magnificent collective effort, uniting the research and expertise of leading scholars from around the world, provides a fundamental new reference for the history of the Holocaust. Anyone who wishes to understand the variety of Jewish experience in the ghettos and the scale of the destruction of a whole European world must consult this encyclopedia.”

    —Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands

  50. 50
    ThresherKk says:

    From NYT Editorial Board (last linked tweet):

    Speak up. Donate. Educate yourself. Vote.

    Yeah, NYT. If only there was a news organization which had more abliity than any 10,000 commoners put together to do something about this.

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @FlipYrWhig: It was Miller.

  52. 52
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    It feels all summery and Junal.
    I’m ready for a nice tribunal.

  53. 53
    Jeffro says:

    God help us, Chris Matthews is saying trumpov was good for ‘hesitating’ on striking Iran.

    As if there was a lot of deep thinking going on in that process…as if our country is in the hands of a wise person…

  54. 54
    Jeffro says:

    @debbie: via the same shell companies used to pay off porn stars, no doubt

  55. 55
    joel hanes says:


    NYT admits

    Too little. Too late.


  56. 56
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    My post was more along the lines of the Nazi’s and “Good Germans” outing themselves on social media.

    The American Jewish Congress just outed themselves.

  57. 57
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    As if that is the least bit surprising coming from Tweety.

  58. 58
    Chris T. says:

    @randy khan:

    … someone who would punish the children for the parents’ behavior is a monster.

    Of course, many of them believe their God does exactly that.

  59. 59
    Barbara says:

    @Jay: The comments on the AJC petition tweet are scathing.

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    What a Christian😠😠😠

    Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) Tweeted:
    WATCH: Mike Pence Snickers As Jake Tapper Repeatedly Asks Why They Won’t Give Kids Soap and Toothpaste via @mediaite

  61. 61
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I am just starting a book that bears the following dedication:

    To Donald J. Trump, for infuriating Americans to the point of caring for America once again.

    Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing that in every book of any description published between now and the day he leaves office.

  62. 62
    Bex says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: “If your response is, “The parents should have not brought their children here illegally,” know this: I pray to God that you never have to flee violence or poverty or persecution with your children. And, if the day comes that you must and your babies are forcibly removed from your arms, I will fight for you too.” Brene Brown

  63. 63
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: Gotta keep Adelson happy or his donations dry up.

  64. 64
    ThresherK says:

    @rikyrah: Calling it now: Someone, like Seth Myers or Stephen Colbert, will give a state dept guest a little bag of hotelieries from a Best Western, including the disposable shower cap.

  65. 65
    burnspbesq says:


    The United States signed but did not ratify the Rome Statute, which established the ICC. Trump et al owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dick Chaney.

  66. 66
    Baud says:


    66 million Hillary voters cared about America.

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @rikyrah: I would suggest avoiding the term migrant and using refugee or asylum seeker instead.

  68. 68

    @rikyrah: 24 adults have died in immigrant detention since T took office and some of those people have been as young as 21. What are they doing to these people?

  69. 69
    burnspbesq says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Dead wrong. At the time of the alleged crime, the statute was five years. It’s black-letter law that statutes of limitation can’t be extended retroactively.

  70. 70
    Jay says:

    J.P.Morgan Chase
    SouthWest Key
    MVM Inc.
    Cayuga Centers
    Nakamoto Group
    General Dynamics
    CSI Aviation

    Amongst others,

  71. 71
  72. 72
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I agree. I think he has in mind the many millions who didn’t vote at all in 2016.

    Of course, the sad thing is that these are the people who will never read this book.

  73. 73
    Kathleen says:

    @debbie: I’m old enough to remember when NPR refused to use the word “torture”. And when Alberto Gonzales sang this oldie but goody:

    “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions,”

    Life was so much simpler then.//

  74. 74
    James E Powell says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Or we could call them people. Or men, women, children.

  75. 75
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    What are they doing to these people?

    Maintaining voter roll purity.

  76. 76
    Baud says:


    Yeah, that wasn’t directed at you. I just get frustrated that we can’t spend every day screamimg at people because we need to do what it takes to win in 2020.

  77. 77
    Kathleen says:

    @bobbo: I thought I had read where local churches and organizations took supplies to the facility and facility would not accept them. Sorry I don’t have a link for that.

    ETA: See Adam’s info at Comment 25.

  78. 78
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @burnspbesq: I try not to argue with you legal types, but I was going off of what Maya Wiley said Friday. She has since corrected herself.

  79. 79
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @James E Powell: Does that come with a particular legal status at our borders?

  80. 80

    @Miss Bianca: Because “prolife” is only for certain kids.. Also this is the noxious fruit of White Fundamentalism: These children, descendants of those who were colonized, are not the right kind of Christian: Catholic. We are literally fighting the same religious wars here as overseas.

  81. 81
    Jeffro says:

    MSNBC guest making the point many of you have made…would be VASTLY cheaper to either put refugee kids up in trumpov hotels or send them to relatives in the US while the adults work out their asylum/immigration issues.

  82. 82

    @SiubhanDuinne: It was going to be a long time before they could have voted, in the happy case of getting their asylum petitions approved.
    OT Local Politics Update: Local Ds active in politics in my neck of the woods are all in for Warren, last cycle many were Bernistas.

  83. 83
    Kathleen says:

    @Miss Bianca: I posed that very question to my right wing Rethuglican Right to Life proclaiming Congressman Chabot (Ohio First) via email. I also asked him to think about what he would tell his grandchildren when they asked him what did he do to prevent this cruelty to children.

  84. 84
    Baud says:


    Chris Hayes is so weak when he has a Republican on. It’s depressing.

  85. 85
    Jeffro says:

    GOP rep on Chris Hayes now about to have a stroke defending trumpov…”are we under any obligation to make sure that children brought here illegally go where they’re supposed to go?” “Democrats’ hatred for this president* is so intense who knows what to believe?” “Those children arrived with lice” and then he threw in the “intense hatred” line with a bonus…

    …”and you know what Chris? He’s going to be your president* for another four years, too.” (Head bobbing, eyes whirling)

    Fuck these people. Let’s start those Nuremberg Trials, stat.

  86. 86
    Jeffro says:

    @Jeffro: This is Rep. Michael Burgess of TX btw

  87. 87

    @Baud: Is he still on the Berning Train

  88. 88
    Jeffro says:

    Dem rep now pointing out that company running much of the concentration camps has Kelly on as a board member

  89. 89
    Baud says:


    I haven’t watched enough recently to know.

  90. 90
  91. 91

    @Baud: Then we should just ignore him.

  92. 92
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mike in NC:

    If the government is spending $775 per detainee per night, how much gets skimmed by the Trump Crime Cartel?


    Its the new government math.

  93. 93
    Aleta says:

    From ‘Some Suburb of Hell’: America’s New Concentration Camp System in NYRB, by Andrea Pitzer 1/2

    Even with incomplete information about what’s happening along the border today and what the government plans for these camps, history points to some conclusions about their future.

    Mass detention without trial earned a new name and a specific identity at the end of the nineteenth century. The labels then adopted for the practice were “reconcentración” and “concentration camps”—places of forced relocation of civilians into detention on the basis of group identity.

    Other kinds of group detention had appeared much earlier in North American history. The US government drove Native Americans from their homelands into prescribed exile, with death and detention in transit camps along the way. Some Spanish mission systems in the Americas had accomplished similar ends by seizing land and pressing indigenous people into forced labor. During the 245 years when slavery was legal in the US, detention was one of its essential features.

    Concentration camps, however, don’t typically result from the theft of land, as happened with Native Americans, or owning human beings in a system of forced labor, as in the slave trade.

    Exile, theft, and forced labor can come later, but in the beginning, detention itself is usually the point of concentration camps. By the end of the nineteenth century, the mass production of barbed wire and machines guns made this kind of detention possible and practical in ways it never had been before.

    Under Spanish rule in 1896, the governor-general of Cuba instituted camps in order to clear rebel-held regions during an uprising …. After women and children began dying in vast numbers behind barbed wire because there had been little planning for shelter and even less for food, US President William McKinley made his call to war before Congress. He spoke against the policy of reconcentración, calling it warfare by uncivilized means. “It was extermination,” McKinley said.

    Without full records, the Cuban death toll can only be estimated, but a consensus puts it in the neighborhood of 150,000, more than 10 percent of the island’s prewar population.

    Today, we remember the sinking of the USS Maine as the spark that ignited the Spanish-American War. But war correspondent George Kennan (cousin of the more famous diplomat) believed that “it was the suffering of the reconcentrados, more, perhaps, than any other one thing that brought about the intervention of the United States.” …

    As part of the larger victory, the US inherited the Philippines. The world’s newest imperial power also inherited a rebellion. Following a massacre of American troops at Balangiga in September 1901, during the third year of the conflict, the US established its own concentration camp system.

    Detainees, mostly women and children, were forced into squalid conditions that one American soldier described in a letter to a US senator as “some suburb of hell.” In the space of only four months, more than 11,000 Filipinos are believed to have died in these noxious camps.

    …. [South Africa, British camps] …

    By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the first camp systems had all been closed, and concentration camps had nearly vanished as an institution. Within months of the outbreak of World War I, though, they would be resurrected—this time rising not at the margins but in the centers of power.

    Between 1914 and 1918, camps were constructed on an unprecedented scale across six continents. In their time, these camps were commonly called concentration camps, though today they are often referred to by the more anodyne term “internment.”

    Those World War I detainees were, for the most part, foreigners—or, in legalese, aliens—and recent anti-immigration legislation in several countries had deliberately limited their rights


    Even after the war, new camps sprang up from Spain to Hungary and Cuba, providing an improvised “solution” for everything from vagrancy to anxieties over the presence of Jewish foreigners.

    Some of these camps were clearly not safe for those interned. Local camps appeared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, after a white mob burned down a black neighborhood and detained African-American survivors. In Bolshevik Russia, the first concentration camps preceded the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 and planted seeds for the brutal Gulag system that became official near the end of the USSR’s first decade. 

    While some kinds of camps were understood to be harsher, after World War I their proliferation did not initially disturb public opinion. They had yet to take on their worst incarnations.

  94. 94
    Aleta says:

    @Aleta: 2/2

    In 1933, barely more than a month after Hitler was appointed chancellor, the Nazis’ first, impromptu camp opened in the town of Nohra in central Germany to hold political opponents. Detainees at Nohra were allowed to vote at a local precinct in the elections of March 5, 1933, resulting in a surge of Communist ballots in the tiny town. Locking up groups of civilians without trial had become accepted.

    Only the later realization of the horrors of the Nazi death camps would break the default assumption by governments and the public that concentration camps could and should be a simple way to manage populations seen as a threat.

    It is not necessary, however, to step back a full century in American history to find camps with links to what is happening on the US border today. Detention at Guantánamo began in the 1990s, when Haitian and Cuban immigrants whom the government wanted to keep out of the United States were housed there in waves over a four-year period—years before the “war on terror” ….
    … [Much more on Guantánamo and how its use for Haitians readied it for its transformation after 2001.]

    This process of normalization, when a bad camp becomes much more dangerous, is not unusual. …

    Without a significant government effort to reverse direction, conditions in every camp system tend to deteriorate over time. Governments rarely make that kind of effort on behalf of people they are willing to lock up without trial in the first place. And history shows that legislatures do not close camps against the will of an executive.

    Just a few years ago there might have been more potential for change spurred by the judicial branch of our democracy, but this Supreme Court is inclined toward deference to executive power, even, it appears, if that power is abused. It seems unlikely this Court will intervene to end the new border camp system; indeed, the justices are far more likely to institutionalize it by half-measures, as happened with Guantánamo.

    The Korematsu case, in which the Supreme Court upheld Japanese-American internment (a ruling only rescinded last year), relied on the suppression of evidence by the solicitor general. Americans today can have little confidence that this administration would behave any more scrupulously when defending its detention policy.

    What kind of conditions can we expect to develop in these border camps? The longer a camp system stays open, the more likely it is that vital things will go wrong: detainees will contract contagious diseases and suffer from malnutrition and mental illness.

    We have already seen that current detention practices have resulted in children and adults succumbing to influenza, staph infections, and sepsis. The US is now poised to inflict harm on tens of thousands more, perhaps hundreds of thousands more.

    Along with such inevitable consequences, every significant camp system has introduced new horrors of its own, crises that were unforeseen when that system was opened. We have yet to discover what those will be for these American border camps. But they will happen. Every country thinks it can do detention better when it starts these projects. But no good way to conduct mass indefinite detention has yet been devised; the system always degrades.


  95. 95
    Aleta says:

    @Aleta: (Cont. )

    When, in 1940, Margarete Buber-Neumann was transferred from the Soviet Gulag at Karaganda to the camp for women at Ravensbrück (in an exchange enabled by the Nazi–Soviet Pact), she came from near-starvation conditions in the USSR and was amazed at the cleanliness and order of the Nazi camp. … The death camps were still two years away.

    The United States now has a vast and growing camp system. It is starting out with gruesome overcrowding and inadequate healthcare, and because of budget restrictions, has already taken steps to cut services to juvenile detainees. The US Office of Refugee Resettlement says that the mounting number of children arriving unaccompanied is forcing it to use military bases and other sites that it prefers to avoid, and that establishing these camps is a temporary measure.

    But without oversight from state child welfare inspectors, the possibilities for neglect and abuse are alarming. And without any knowledge of how many asylum-seekers are coming in the future, federal administrators are likely to find themselves boxed in to managing detention on military sites permanently.

    Is it possible this growth in the camp system will be temporary and the improvised border camps will soon close? In theory, yes. But the longer they remain open, the less likely they are to vanish. … Once there are concentration camps, it is always probable that things will get worse.

    The Philippines, Japanese-American internment, Guantánamo… we can consider the fine points of how the current border camps evoke past US systems, and we can see how the arc of camp history reveals the likelihood that the suffering we’re currently inflicting will be multiplied exponentially. But we can also simply look at what we’re doing right now, shoving bodies into “dog pound”-style detention pens, “iceboxes,” and standing room-only spaces. We can look at young children in custody who have become suicidal. How much more historical awareness do we really need?

  96. 96
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Aleta: @Aleta: Fair use?

  97. 97
    BigJimSlade says:

    The only ones going are Democrats, and DHS won’t let them into the concentration camps. </blockquote)
    So I guess the silver lining is they're not putting Democrats in concentration camps… yet.

  98. 98
    rikyrah says:

    That is what they admit to. I believe that the true death count is far higher 😪😪😪

  99. 99
    Procopius says:


    And then follow up with, “So who IS profiting off of these concentration camps? Who’s trumpov paying to do this in our name?”

    Well, from a year ago there’s a graphic. There’s a warning at the bottom that it’s not comprehensive, but I’m pretty sure it names all the main profiteers. I don’t know how to embed a graphic, but the URL is
    Lot of pigs at the trough. I’m sending a copy to my Congressman and asking that the House conduct hearings into why these goniffs aren’t providing the materiel and services they’re being paid for. I’ll send copies to my Senators (both Democrats), too, but don’t expect much at the Senate.

  100. 100
    Kay says:


    ”are we under any obligation to make sure that children brought here illegally go where they’re supposed to go?”

    They are. The minute they took custody of those kids they took responsibility for them. That’s how it works, both legally and ethically.

    a person who has responsibility for or looks after something.

    Donald Trump and his low quality, incompetent hires took custody of a huge bunch of kids and now they can’t care for them properly. They took that duty the moment they separated them from the adults.

    When job and family services goes in and removes children they are absolutely, 100% responsible for everything that happens to those kids from that moment forward. Everyone knows that. Except the people Donald Trump hires.

  101. 101
    Kay says:


    Chris Hayes makes millions of dollars a year. Perhaps he could prepare for these interviews by reading the laws:

    The Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) Program provides UAC with a safe and appropriate environment and the highest quality of care. Our goal is to help the UAC’s succeed both while in care and after discharge from the program, either to sponsors in the U.S. or in returning to their home country.

    They are responsible for the children. Why is he debating this?

  102. 102
    TenguPhule says:


    The minute they took custody of those kids they took responsibility for them. That’s how it works, both legally and ethically.

    And we all know how much the GOP respect laws and ethics. //

  103. 103
    TenguPhule says:


    the system always degrades.

    This entire shitty timeline can be boiled down to this.

  104. 104
    debbie says:


    Gonzales is singing a different tune today. He’s no Trump lover.

  105. 105
    laura says:

    @rikyrah: so your link reveals a few things, the GEO group includes retired CDCR director Scott Kernan, warden in New Folsom and Mule Creek prisons and while he’s the lowest ‘paid’ at 157K, the board was noted as averaging stock trades every 43 days.
    They are in it for the money. Every damn one. The money.

  106. 106
    bobbo says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thanks Adam, just donated to RAICES

  107. 107
    Aleta says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: bee in your bonnet?

  108. 108
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Aleta: No, if you want to post huge swathes of text and have people scroll through it, knock yourself out.

Comments are closed.