As noted yesterday, Democratic politicians have now joined the cacophonous chorus of Trump haters attempting to place his “crimes against humanity” right up there with Adolf Hitler’s. The equation is ridiculous on its face, in no small measure due to the mountain of evidence recently amassed that shows conclusively that Barack Obama was guilty of the same offenses as president.
In fact, many of the photographs of children in “cages” and the like that have been dredged up by critics of the current administration were actually taken during the Obama years. That likely includes the images in this tweet by Democratic California Representative Jackie Speier posted on Thursday.
CBP takes away rosaries, shoes, wallets and toothbrushes from detained immigrants; what they call “non-essential” personal property. The images in these photos shockingly resemble the shoes collected from Auschwitz – and it’s revolting and chilling. https://t.co/DgX1LbACKK pic.twitter.com/YTSyHa0FiU
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) June 22, 2018
The inspiration for Speier’s tweet is a 2017 New Yorker article that profiles a janitor with Customs and Border Protection whose job was to cart “away bags full of items confiscated from undocumented migrants apprehended in the desert.” In 2007, he began rescuing these items from the garbage and storing them in his home garage as a “startling testament” — in the words of New Yorker author Peter C. Baker — “to the lives of those who had been detained or deported.”
Melodrama aside, there is something at least mildly troubling about collections of items separated from their owner. As an illustration, try to arrange a visit to your local post office’s dead letter office.
But the Holocaust?
According to the Digital Humanities Project at William and Mary the piles of shoes collected from those sent to the “showers” were symbolic:
For Nazis, the shoe piles acted as a visual representation of the success of their final solution. Every pile and overstocked warehouse represented a death toll; each pair of shoes represented a captured or murdered body. Left on display the in camps, shoe piles disempowered and threatened those imprisoned within. People in the camp saw overwhelming, ever-growing piles of shoes that emphasized their mortality. Tall enough for large swaths of prisoners to see, the overbearing piles of shoes spread the threatening message through the camp. Jews, Romani, disabled people, homosexuals and others were made aware of their inferiority and inhumanity in the eyes of the Nazi regime.
Not what you’d call a spot-on match with confiscated toothpaste tubes.