Donald Trump is a white supremacist, which is why it’s no coincidence that that language he uses to demonize people of color—Mexican immigrants, in particular—is the same language of self-avowed white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Columnist Dana Milbank:
“There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept,” the president tweeted on Tuesday.
What could he mean? Immigrants are breeding thoroughbred horses? Prize-winning cattle?
Or perhaps Trump was using “breeding” in the sense now popular among white supremacists?
The answer, yes. Like racists before him, Trump uses this kind of language to strip his targets of their humanity. When they stop becoming living, breathing people and starting becoming “things” and animals, it becomes easier to mistreat them, abuse them and deport them.
And, it mirrors language used by KKK leaders like David Duke and neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer, who “frets about white ‘displacement by the subject race through differential fertility rates and interracial breeding.’” Spencer’s mindset is the White House’s mindset—Stephen Miller, current advisor to the president and immigration hardliner, was a college friend of Spencer’s.
It’s true that slurs originating in the disgusting recesses of white supremacy have worked their way up into the White House, and it’s true that they have also gone from the top down. After Trump “all lives matter”-ed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients at his State of the Union speech earlier this year by stating that “Americans are Dreamers, too”—this line was almost assuredly penned by Miller—white supremacists adopted it:
Former KKK grand wizard David Duke also thanked Trump for including the line in his speech. “Thank you President Trump,” he wrote. “Americans are ‘Dreamers’ too.”
“The image of Latinos breeding makes them not quite human,” Milbank continues, “parasites among a host people, an enemy within given sanctuary when they should be cast out. The aliens among us are not like us, but, unfairly protected, they breed and bring danger”:
Where have I heard this before? Maybe it was 1919: “Through thousands of years of the closest kind of inbreeding, Jews in general have maintained their race. . . . Thus comes the fact that there lives amongst us a non-German, alien race which neither wishes nor is able to sacrifice its racial character or to deny its feeling, thinking and striving. Nevertheless, it possesses all the political rights we do.”
Adolf Hitler continued, recommending “elimination of the privileges of the Jews” and eventually “the irrevocable removal of the Jews in general. For both these ends a government of national strength, not of national weakness, is necessary.”
The notion later became a staple of Nazi propaganda. From 1944 : “Jewry is the product of the inbreeding of asocial, criminal, sick, degenerate, and rejected elements. . . . [It] leads a rootless, parasitic life at the expense of the host peoples. Its current homeland is largely the criminal neighborhoods of the great cities of the world.”
Journalist Maria Hinojosa also made this connection in 2016, when a Trump advisor attempted to dehumanize undocumented families by referring to them as “illegals”:
After Cortes said it is "more unfair for legal immigrants to allow for illegals to hop in front of them and cheat the system," Hinojosa retorted: "illegals is not a noun ... what you can do is say an immigrant living illegally or an immigrant living without papers or without documents in this country. But what you cannot do is to label the person illegal."
Hinojosa said she didn't learn that "from some radical Latino or Latina studies professor when I was a college student. I learned it from Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust, who said, 'you know what? The first thing they did was that they declared the Jews to be an illegal people.'"
Trump has taken the racist dogwhistle and turned it into a racist bullhorn, and hate groups once confined to the margins now have open ears in the White House, meeting with Miller, the force behind Trump’s anti-immigrant proposals. Milbank:
Perhaps it is just coincidence that Trump used the language of white supremacists; the White House claims the president is concerned with sanctuary cities breeding crime, not people. Presumably, then, it was also happenstance that he called Mexican immigrants rapists, demanded a “shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” said a federal judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican ancestry, defended the use of anti-Semitic imagery during his campaign, declared that Haitian immigrants all have AIDS and that African countries are “shitholes,” said there were “very fine people” marching with the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, called for firing “son-of-a-bitch” black NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, shared anti-Muslim videos, and warned that those removing Confederate monuments are “trying to take away our culture.”
The late poet and author, Dr. Maya Angelou, once wrote that “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” History, already lived, is again looking us in the face, and too many remain in danger of not listening.