Jemele Hill, writer for the Atlantic and host of the “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” podcast, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that the United States was just as bad as Nazi Germany in the context of systemic oppression.
What did she say?
“Been reading Isabel Wilkerson’s new book, ‘Caste,’ and if you were of the opinion that the United States wasn’t nearly as bad as Nazi Germany, how wrong you are,” Hill wrote Sunday afternoon. “Can’t encourage you enough to read this masterpiece.”
What’s this book about?
“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson was released earlier this month and was recommended by Oprah for her book club.
The premise of the book is that looking at race and class doesn’t go deep enough to understand the divisions and oppression that have impacted black people in America. Wilkerson suggests that a caste system exists in America that serves as the infrastructure within which racial oppression exists.
In the book, Wilkerson draws parallels between the caste system in the United States and the caste systems of India and Nazi Germany.
“I have to say that my focus was not initially on the Nazis themselves, but rather on how Germany has worked in the decades after the war to reconcile its history,” Wilkerson said in an interview with NPR. “But the deeper I got, and the more that I looked into this, the deeper I searched, I discovered these connections that I never would have imagined.”
Did she clarify?
Some people who read the tweet assumed Hill was saying America is currently as bad as Nazi Germany, which Hill later clarified was not the case.
“Nowhere in my tweet did I say the current state of America is like Nazi Germany,” Hill wrote in response to one critic. “I was referring specifically to our racial history. The parallels have been pointed out by plenty of historians, not just Isabel Wilkerson.”
Hill said the comparison was based on the book’s assertion that the Nazis studied America’s Jim Crow laws when formulating the Nuremberg laws.
“What would you call it when a country that murdered millions of Jews learned their systems of genocide by watching America, and studying our history of radicalized slavery, and great knack for racial terrorism?” Hill wrote in another follow-up tweet.