Gitmo Is Not A Gulag, From One Who Knows
I share the opinion, held most of the right of center blogosphere, that regardless of the problems with Gitmo, comparisons to concentration camps, killing fields or gulags are not only factually inaccurate but are downright insulting to the survivors of those atrocities. But don't take my word for it, this article by former Soviet dissident Pavel Litinov, who served hard time in Siberia, details why it is ludicrous to compare Gitmo with a gulag. (Interesting sidepoint: The author Pavel Litinov was my office-mate's high school physics teacher. So, Hat tip: My office-mate.)
"By any standard, Guantanamo and similar American-run prisons elsewhere do not resemble, in their conditions of detention or their scale, the concentration camp system that was at the core of a totalitarian communist system." He adds some detail as to why.
My own commentary is that, in addition to being downright historically inept and offensive to survivors to throw these words around, the integrity of language is worth respecting and preserving. There are precious few terms and phrases which refer to distinct historical events of human cruelty. It devalues the terms and phrases, whether it is "Nazi," or "gulag" or "Pol Pot" or "Holocaust," or even "atrocity," to apply those phrases to other, unrelated events. For humans to truly preserve, remember and learn from the memory of what happened to innocent people in 1930's-40's Germany, for decades in the Soviet Union, the early 70's in Cambodia, etc. -- we must preserve the integrity of the language associated with those events. I don't want my children growing up using the term "Nazi" loosely, it should always and forever retain its association with perhaps the greatest systematic mass infliction of human cruelty in history.
Maybe that's too abstract of a point, but I think it is worth stating.
Final point being that Dick Durbin is clearly incapable of making basic moral distinctions, but censuring him for something he says in the Great Debate Chamber is silly. The best antidote for bad speech is more speech.