On HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, the host criticized the use of the explosive term "concentration camp" for the facilities used by Presidents Trump and Obama to detain individuals and families attempting to enter the United States illegally or as refugees.
Part of the liberal Maher's argument that it is an ill-advised fight to have for a party hoping to win at the ballot box, that it's unhelpful. Part of it was about the difference between the technicalities of definitions and the realities of implication. And part of was just that he thinks AOC is flat-out wrong.
Maher began by briefly recounting how this became a thing, that it first was an editorial at the LA Times and then AOC said they definitely are concentration camps. He pointed out she "even invoked the term 'Never Again'." That's an important part of what she said that her defenders have repeatedly glossed over.
Maher argued that the immigration detention centers are "horrible places" and, said that maybe they fit the definition of concentration camp "technically."
"But there are certain words," he said. "that we just associate with something truly at the ultimate end of horrendous."
"Holocaust just means a big fire," he pointed out, "but we don't use the word, hey! Let's go have a holocaust. I'll bring the wieners."
During the consequent debate with Savage he went beyond the technicality and to what we all understand as true, even people making every effort to pretend they don't.
"Come on, when we think of concentration camps, I don't know what you think, I think of mass graves, I think of experimenting on human people," said Maher. This is an abundantly true and apparent point that requires willful disregard to miss.
The clip below is isolated specifically to Maher's comments, for the sake of clarity. But if you can stand to hear Dan Savage for more than a few seconds, the whole clip is definitely worth watching. The absurd claims by Savage and the matter-of-fact crushing of his claims by Liz Mair was great TV.
Savage literally said no one called Trump a liar for two years, which either makes Savage a liar himself, or shows he's been in another solar system for some undetermined purpose. Mair called out that nonsense.
Savage also not only said border detentions are concentration camps, but that concentration camps are "a step on the road to death camps."
"You really think we're on the road to death camps," said Maher. "Wow. And people call me an alarmist."
Anyway, here it is boiled down to the argument from Maher that everyone should have understood from the start, including /Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
That closing point is excellent, too: "If you want to run a campaign based on reparations and concentration camps… it's going to be very hard to win the election. I'm not saying you can't do it, but very hard to argue that this is helping."
People on the right are fond of saying that all the Democrats have to do to win elections is not be crazy, and they just can't do it. It's kind of hard to argue with that point after watching Dan Savage on Real Time.
Also Thom Hartmann was there, but nothing he said rose to the level of my typing it.