U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) traded barbs on Monday in discussing an incident involving immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border this weekend, in which men, women, and children were hit with tear gas from border patrol agents.
Ocasio-Cortez sent a tweet in response to that event, writing that applying for asylum status, as the migrants on the southern border are doing, is not a crime. She cited historical examples similar in her mind to what’s presently happening at the border.
“It wasn’t [a crime to apply for asylum] 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,” she wrote in her tweet, per reporting from the CBS News.
Graham responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s statement, quoting her tweet and writing in his own that he believed she should become more educated on the matter.
“I recommend [Ocasio-Cortez] take a tour of the Holocaust Museum in DC. Might help her better understand the differences between the Holocaust and the caravan in Tijuana,” Graham wrote in his tweet.
Ocasio-Cortez saw Graham’s tweet, and responded to it in turn, pointing out how the senator’s friend in the White House, President Donald Trump, might benefit from such a visit instead.
“[T]he point of such a treasured museum is to bring its lessons to present day,” she wrote in a separate tweet. “This administration has jailed children and violated human rights. Perhaps we should stop pretending that authoritarianism + violence is a historical event instead of a growing force.”
In yet another tweet, Ocasio-Cortez suggested that Graham, who made jokes about it being “terrible” if his DNA revealed he had Iranian heritage earlier this year, said he could “enjoy a visit (or revisit) to the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture (@NMAAHC). It’s a great educational experience.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s and Graham’s back-and-forth will likely draw supporters from both sides of the ideological divide to support one or the other. As far as the U.S. Holocaust Museum goes, comments from that organization in the past seem to support Ocasio-Cortez’s vision rather Graham’s.
Reacting to Trump’s then-policy seeking to keep Muslim refugees out of the United States, the museum wrote in January 2017 that “American policy should fully address national security concerns while protecting legitimate refugees whatever their national or religious identity.”
Other Holocaust remembrance organizations chimed in this week. The Auschwitz Memorial tweeted out its own subtle jab toward Graham as well, pointing out that egregious actions that seem small can coalesce into larger concerns and even oppressive policies down the road.
“When we look at Auschwitz we see the end of the process,” they wrote in their own tweet. “It’s important to remember that the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers. This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanisation & escalating violence.”