The Daily Telegraph Published This Comparison Of Nauru And Auschwitz, And People Are Furious
First the racist cartoon, now this. It's been a big day for the Daily Telegraph.
Today really hasn’t been a great day for the Daily Telegraph. First, the newspaper was slammed for publishing a racist cartoon about asylum seekers. Now, it’s being slammed on a similar note, for publishing an appalling table comparing some extremely selective conditions on Nauru and Auschwitz.
Seeing a theme here?
The comparison of Nauru and Auschwitz features a picture of an idyllic tropical beach, and a comparison of the “facilities” available in Australia’s offshore detention centre and the Nazi extermination camp. Specifically, it compares the availability of six facilities: television, air conditioning, “hospital with $30 million upgrade”, freedom to come and go from the camp, permission to start a business, and uniforms. Nauru is listed as having all of the above except uniforms, while Auschwitz has nothing other than uniforms.
No mention at all is made of the deaths, illness and human rights abuses present both on Nauru and at Auschwitz.
Wtf is this from @dailytelegraph if you are making comparisons to Auschwitz you've already lost the argument. There's plenty of good quotes for this but I like 'It didn't start with gas chambers but with division and fear'. #auspol #Nauru pic.twitter.com/7rdCXdk3bT
— Jack Gaffney (@JackGaffney86) February 12, 2019
Now, the Daily Telegraph and its adoring fans have rightly pointed out that there’s some context to this table: it appears above an article slamming a doctor who compared Nauru to Auschwitz the previous day.
The article criticises Dr. Paul Bauert of the Australian Medical Association for “comments suggesting people living in detention are worse off than those killed in Nazi gas chambers during World War II”. Specifically, it quotes a sentence from an interview Dr. Bauert gave to Sky News, where he said that “even those [at Auschwitz] that finally knew they were about to be condemned at the gas chamber at least found some sense of relief in knowing what was happening.”
Bauert did say this, but once again, there was context. In his original interview with Sky News, Bauert’s comment about people at Auschwitz feeling relief was not intended to imply that conditions on Manus and Nauru are worse than Auschwitz. Instead, he was making a point about how at Auschwitz, some of the greatest psychological harm was done to the people who weren’t killed but instead survived, sometimes for years, in that environment of bleak uncertainty. Rather than saying Nauru is worse than Auschwitz, he was making a point about how some of what we learned from Auschwitz is relevant to Nauru.
You can read the full quote below. Dr. Bauert has also apologised to the Jewish community.
Here's what he actually said: "The main problem these people have is the lack of meaning, the lack of any end to what is going on. A lack of certainty." pic.twitter.com/SGbH2Z3QXu
— Kemal Atlay (@kemal_atlay) February 12, 2019
In any case: regardless of where you stand on Dr. Bauert’s comments, the Daily Telegraph response is cooked. To portray Nauru as a beachy paradise with television, air conditioning, a hospital, freedom to move, and permission to start a business — but to omit the well-documented facts of sickness, death, resignation syndrome, sexual assault, child mental illness and suicide attempts present at the offshore detention centre is obscene.
Plus, let’s not forget that the Tele was trying to criticise the trivialisation of Auschwitz. Seems to us that printing a summary of the access to air conditioning and TV at a concentration camp is pretty trivialising.