Things That Matter

Historians And AOC Agree That Detention Centers Look Like Concentration Camps But Conservatives Don’t Want To Hear It

In the years since Donald Trump took up the role of president of the United States, the front pages of newspapers and media sites have depicted images of starving children behind bars and parents being separated and detained from their infants. Social scientists and historians specializing in internment camps and have said that today’s U.S. detention centers look pretty similar to the dawn of earlier historical atrocities and yet the question of what these images evoke are still being questioned.

Conservatives aren’t happy with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez once again after the novice representative for New York’s 14th congressional district likened Trump’s actions to the early phases of the Holocaust.

During a recent streaming on Instagram Live, Ocasio-Cortez said that “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border.”

“The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are — they are concentration camps,” Ocasio-Cortez said to an Instagram Live audience on Monday. “And if that doesn’t bother you … I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not, that ‘never again’ means something… The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it.” The phrase “never again” has become used by Jewish people when talking about the Holocaust.

During her stream, Ocasio-Cortez also pointed to the thousands of migrant children were being held in facilities that had been used to detain Japanese Americans during World War II. 

Ocasio-Cortez’s reference relates to last week when the Department of Health and Human Services, which is meant to care for unaccompanied migrant children, announced that it would begin to use Fort Sill Army Base, located in Oklahoma, to hold minors. The base was formerly an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. It was also used previously by the Obama administration as a base for detaining migrant children.

Ocasio- Cortez referred said that how we proceed in addressing the current “crisis” as a country will work as a reflection as to whether or not we are losing our principles and values to an “authoritarian and fascist presidency.”

“I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is,” Ocasio- Cortez said. “A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist, and it’s very difficult to say that, because it is very difficult to accept the fact that that is how bad things have gotten, but that is how bad things have gotten.”

In response, Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, accused the democrat of disrespecting the Jewish people killed during the Holocaust.

“Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this,” the Wyoming Republican tweeted.

Ocasio-Cortez quickly responded “Hey Rep. Cheney, since you’re so eager to ‘educate me,’ I’m curious: What do YOU call building mass camps of people being detained without a trial? How would you dress up DHS’s mass separation of thousands children at the border from their parents?”

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After Haters Came For The Harry Styles Vogue Cover, AOC Is Rushing To His Defense

Entertainment

After Haters Came For The Harry Styles Vogue Cover, AOC Is Rushing To His Defense

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Few people have faced as much criticism for such ridiculous things as has Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s even come under fire herself for a magazine cover. So it made sense when she reached out to Harry Styles over the weekend to tell him not to worry about the controversy over his recent Vogue cover.

AOC just recently faced a similar situation, when she received backlash over an expensive loaner suit she wore on the cover of Vanity Fair. So she was speaking from experience when she took to her Instagram Stories to take questions from her followers and offer up her take on all the brewing drama over Harry in a dress on the cover of Vogue.

Harry Styles appeared in Vogue while wearing a dress and the Internet took notice.

It was just week that the world was blessed with another history-making Vogue cover. For the first time ever in the magazine’s 127 year history, the cover featured a solo male. And it wasn’t just any male…it was pop star Harry Styles.

Inside the magazine, we were given more incredible images of Harry Styles in a big dress and, of course, controversy ensued. The pop star had just become the first man ever to cover Vogue all on his own, styled in a Gucci gown and shot by photographer Tyler Mitchell for the occasion. The accompanying profile discussed Harry’s love of clothing and general disregard for gendering garments.

Overall, the response seemed positive – with many celebrating his embrace of a more fluid future and the production of the images. But many conservative voices came out against the shoot, with firebrand Candace Owens taking the chance to complain about the cultural demise of “manly men.”

Now, even New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has waded into the fray. For the record, she thinks he looks hot.

But Rep. AOC was quick to defend the singer and assured him that “it looked bomb.”

Having faced her own drama related to magazine covers, AOC can be considered a bit of an expert on the matter. So it was no surprise when she took to her Instagram Stories over the weekend and spoke up about the Styles’ Vogue drama.

Her Instagram followers got right to the point: “What do you think abt Harry Styles wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue?” To which the Congresswoman replied, per Harper’s Bazaar: “It looks wonderful. The masculine and the feminine elements are balanced beautifully — the hair and jacket styling give me James Dean vibes too.”

“Some people are mad at it bc some folks are very sensitive to examining and exploring gender roles in society. Perhaps for some people it provokes some anger or insecurity around masculinity/femininity/etc. If it does, then maybe that’s part of the point. Sit with that reaction and think about it, examine it, explore it, engage it, and grow with it,” she added.

She then went a little deeper and examined the meaning behind creativity and art, asking “What’s the point of creating things if they don’t make people think? Or feel or reflect? Especially as an artist or creative? Who wants to see the same things all the time? And never explore their assumptions?”

“Anyways it looks bomb so,” she concluded with a shrug emoji. 

A lot of other celebs, and Harry’s mum, agreed with AOC, with everyone from Sara Bareilles to Olivia Wilde, Elijah Wood, Kathy Griffin and others posting praise for the singer for once again pointing out that strictly defined, traditional gender roles are merely a social construct.

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Student Loan Debt Relief Is Trending But What Can We Expect From An Incoming Biden Administration?

Things That Matter

Student Loan Debt Relief Is Trending But What Can We Expect From An Incoming Biden Administration?

Salwan Georges / Getty Images

We still have over two months until President-Elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20, 2021. However, that hasn’t prevented people and pundits from discussing what needs to change (and how quickly) once he’s sworn in.

Obviously, the new president will have a lot on his plate. Thanks to an unprecedented four years under a Trump Administration which has largely gutted several government agencies and enacted dangerous policies for Americans, Biden will have to act quickly and decisively.

One possible agenda item for Biden’s first days in office involves the student loan debt crisis. Currently, our collective student loan debt stands at $1.7 trillion (the second largest debt behind mortgages), so it’s no surprise that the Biden team are looking to address the crisis.

Biden signals he’s open to student loan debt relief but is it enough?

During a Monday press conference, President-Elect Biden confirmed his support for forgiving some student debt “immediately.”

He repeated his support for a provision passed as part of the HEROES Act, which the Democratic-controlled House updated on Oct. 1. The provision calls for the federal government to pay off up to $10,000 in private, nonfederal student loans for “economically distressed” borrowers. Biden specifically highlighted “people … having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent,” and said the debt relief “should be done immediately.”

Student debt forgiveness was a major campaign plank of some of his more progressive rivals for the Democratic nomination, but it remains controversial even among some Democrats. 

However, many point to it as a plan he can execute quickly and on his own. Attorneys at a Harvard legal clinic argue that the power to cancel federal student loan debt rests with the president and his or her education secretary, since it’s the Education Department that actually originates these loans. That means it can be done regardless of who controls the Senate without passing any new laws.

According to many experts, canceling student debt could have a major positive impact on the economy.

Credit: Tom Williams / Getty Images

Although it sounds like forgiving student load debt would be an easy move, some are asking should it be done? Most economists agree that canceling student debt will boost the economy, freeing up younger people to start businesses, buy homes and even start families. 

In fact, Elizabeth Warren, in her presidential campaign proposal, cited arguments that debt forgiveness would reduce the racial wealth gap, reverse rural brain drain and allow more people to complete their educations.

Activist groups such as the Debt Collective go further, arguing that student debt is wrong in principle. “We must return education to the status of a public good,” the organization says on its website.

Progressives like AOC and ‘The Squad’ are pressuring Biden to expand his plan.

The Squad (the nickname given to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan) have strongly supported wiping $30,000 off student loan debts, which they outlined in their Student Debt Emergency Relief Act in March.

The bill aims to provide immediate monthly payment relief to those who have taken out federal student loans and crucially prevent those with student debts from having to make involuntary payments during the coronavirus pandemic.

And in response to many who are against the idea, AOC had the perfect clap back. In a tweet on Tuesday, she dismissed arguments against canceling hefty debts accrued in further education.

“‘Things were bad for me, so they should stay bad for everyone else’ is not a good argument against debt cancellation – student, medical, or otherwise. #CancelStudentDebt,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley further contributed to the debate, adding: “Student debt cancelation will ensure an equitable economic recovery from COVID-19, jumpstart our economy & close the racial wealth gap. One more thing,” she said.

But why are so many others so upset about canceling student debt?

Many opposed to canceling student debt claim that it would create resentment in those who spent a long time paying off their own college debts. The argument goes that they had to sacrifice and suffer and it wouldn’t be fair that current and future college grads might not have to sacrifice and suffer in the same way.

Other critics of debt forgiveness state that a bailout will simply redistribute the debt to other Americans, and will largely benefit those who can afford to go to college, disproportionately helping a well-off segment of society at the expense of the taxpayer. 

Something those people should keep in mind, though, is that their experience of massive student loan debt is not one shared by every generation of students. From 1988 to 2018, the cost of college increased by 213%. Wages, unsurprisingly, did not increase by 213% in that period — in fact, they’ve pretty much remained stagnant since the 1970s.

Perhaps most importantly, canceling student debt doesn’t negatively affect those who’ve already paid off their student loans. Insisting that other people pay off their loans in full, no matter how much of a hardship, is demanding suffering for the sake of suffering. 

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