Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
On Thanksgiving Sunday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the soon-to-be Democrat congresswoman from New York, continued her uninterrupted trek into the land of offensiveness and ignorance by tweeting, "Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime. It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany. It wasn’t for targeted families fleeing Rwanda. It wasn’t for communities fleeing war-torn Syria. And it isn’t for those fleeing violence in Central America.”
Unlike other ignorant comments Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has made, her comparison of the plight of Central American migrants to those of the victims of genocide is so horribly offensive and devoid of any validity that it is wholly unworthy of a response, but I will; not because Ms. Ocasio-Cortez's comments merit it, but because of the importance of never forgetting the evil that humans can impose on each other.
In 1935, as part of Adolf Hitler's perverted plan to rid Germany of Jewish influence, a series of laws were enacted that would ostracize Jews from German society. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The newly captured Jews were placed in segregation camps. By 1942, Germany's anti-Semitic policies had progressed to an overt effort at eradicating the Jewish race. Government run death squads were mobilized and used to round and systematically murder Jews. Initially, the Jews were killed via mass shootings, but finding these techniques to be too bloody for Hitler's taste, a change in policy was implemented that would call for rounding up all Jews, place them in freight trains and transport them to extermination camps. Those who survived the starvation, disease, the trek, torture, and the human experimentation were placed in gas chambers and gassed to death. Over the span of seven years, over six million Jews were systematically exterminated by the direct and affirmative actions of an evil regime.
In Rwanda, the Hutu government systematically undertook the extermination of the members of the Tutsi as part of a civil war. Between April 7, 1994, and July of that year, the Hutu ordered Rwanda's military to identify all Tutsi and kill them. It was ordered to spare no one, not even Tutsi babies. People were identified as Tutsi, either through personal knowledge or official identification and shot on the spot. In total, between 500,000 and one million Tutsi were killed accounting for approximately 70% of the Tutsi population. The extermination was the fastest in human history. When the Tutsi successfully fought back and took control of the nation's capital, it was the Hutu's turn to flee.
In Syria, over twelve million people have either fled or been killed since the internal war for control of the regime began seven years ago. Not the least of the atrocities associated with the war in Syria is the gassing of citizens by the relentlessly cruel President Bashar al-Assad. Compounding this situation was the infiltration of eastern Syria by ISIS with its allegiance to the most radicalized version of Islam and its vicious methods of enforcing it. ISIS routinely engaged in the capture, rape, torture, and decapitation of its perceived enemies, and noncombatant religious adversaries, especially women and gays.
A comparison of the conditions in Syria during its Civil War, Rwanda in the Tutsi extermination campaign, and Germany during the Holocaust with the economic plight of Central Americans is simply unconscionable to entertain. The people leaving Central America are not leaving because they are being exterminated. They are not fleeing because their governments are oppressing them. They are not seeking refuge from recurrent chemical weapons attacks or being gassed in gas chambers. With few exceptions, they are not even in danger of being killed. Interview after interview of Central American migrants reveal that these people are largely seeking entry into the United States because they are hoping for an opportunity. Some have openly said they are looking for a job. Others speak of obtaining healthcare. And at least one needed to get to the United States to get a prosthesis.
I don't mean to minimize the trials, tribulations, and suffering of the people of Central America. I am certain that the living conditions in Central America are dire. In fact, I have previously written about the terrible conditions in El Salvador as a result of the turf battle between MS 13 and Barrios 18. But to compare the conditions in Central America, the motivations to flee the region, and the consequences of failing to leave with the greatest acts of systemic evil of the past 100 years is truly an insult to those who endured it. What's worse, the comments of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and others like her who trivialize the reality of human evil for the sake of a political jab is about the cruelest, most disingenuous and offensive rhetoric in which one can engage.
Ms. Ocasio Cortez is about to take her place among the ranks of America's most elite elected officials. It's high time she started acting like one, if she's even capable of it.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He is the author of The Federalist Pagesand served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2014-2018. He can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com to arrange a lecture or book signing.