Concentration Camps

Just to be clear: ‘Concentration Camps’ is the exact right term to describe the cages into which Trump is herding ‘illegal’ immigrant children on the Texas-Mexican border, after separating them from their parents. They were invented by the British during the Boer War (1899-1902) – or perhaps copied from the Spanish – in order to incarcerate, allegedly for their own protection, the womenfolk and children of their enemy. They were appallingly unhealthy places, with a high mortality among the inmates, and on these grounds provoked a substantial protest movement in Britain at the time (google ‘Emily Hobhouse’); but this wasn’t part of their original purpose. Unfortunately for the British Empire’s historical reputation, the term later became applied to Nazi extermination camps, which is why it sounds so bad in both the British and the modern American contexts. But it’s literally and historically accurate. ‘Concentration Camps’ exist to concentrate elements of a population. (John Field will bear me out here.)

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