Trump's Xenophobia Is Nothing New

[ Posted Monday, December 18th, 2023 – 17:05 UTC ]

Donald Trump loves to whip up fear of "the other." He's been doing it for decades, in fact. So the news that he's continuing to do so out on the campaign trail -- in the most vile language possible -- shouldn't really come as that big a shock to anyone, really. But it is being widely covered in the media mostly as if it were some sort of recent development. My response to this reaction is simple: "Where have you been for the past eight years?!?"

The shock and outrage have a focus: Trump used a term originally written by Adolf Hitler, in his book Mein Kampf. Trump, from both a recent speech and social media post: "Illegal immigration is poisoning the blood of our nation." Hitler, from Mein Kampf: "All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died out from blood poisoning." By "poisoning the blood," both men meant the same thing. "The other" was intermarrying with the citizenry and diluting the pure genetic strain of the populace. This is all undeniably racist, and undeniably dangerous. It dehumanizes "the other," and that supposedly makes it OK to do pretty much anything to them, because (another Trump quote) they are not actually human but instead "vermin."

Maybe he's picked up some new phrases to express his racism and xenophobia, but Donald Trump has always been racist and xenophobic. He personally paid for full-page ads in New York newspapers which called for the death penalty for five Black men (the "Central Park Five") who, it turns out, were wrongly accused of raping a White woman. That was back in 1989.

He didn't change at all when he decided to run for president. From his very first political speech, where he rode down a golden escalator and announced his candidacy for president:

When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best.... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

And this is from a speech Trump just gave in Nevada:

This is an invasion. This is like a military invasion. Drugs, criminals, gang members and terrorists are pouring into our country at record levels. We've never seen anything like it. They're taking over our cities.

Nothing has changed except, as I mentioned, a slight update of his phrasing. And none of it is anything new -- anti-immigrant xenophobia and racism both have a long history in America. The target of those who whip up hatred of "the other" changes over time, including (in different periods): Irish immigrants, Italians, Blacks, Chinese, Middle-Easterners, Eastern-Europeans, Jews, and (of course) Mexicans and other Hispanics. That is not a comprehensive list, I just wrote it off the top of my head -- since there are many other ethnic or racial or religious groups who have been targeted and scapegoated for supposedly causing all of America's ills, stretching throughout our entire history.

Trump's racism and xenophobia are not new for him, and they are (sadly) not new for America either. To express surprise at his recent words is a denial of both of these facts. This ugly undercurrent in American society has always existed, regularly tapped into by demagogic politicians to spread and whip up hatred, fear, and scapegoating.

Trump using language straight from Adolf Hitler is indeed newsworthy. He is ratcheting up his rhetoric for the purposes of trolling outrage in the media and in the political world. Well, I should say "the political world outside of his MAGA faithful," since he's already got Republicans out there not apologizing for Trump using Hitler's words but instead defending him for supposedly "telling it like it is."

But in all the articles expressing outrage that a major candidate for president would echo Adolf Hitler, there should be a lot more focus on what Trump actually plans to do (rather than just weighing precisely how vile his language is). He wants not only to militarize our southern border, he also wants to launch the largest deportation program ever. He wants to round up millions of people, ship them to internment camps which he plans on building, and eventually dump them across the border. These plans should be prominently featured in every "Trump's Talking Like Hitler!" article written. Trump wants to conduct massive numbers of raids, with the help of local police. He wants to round everyone up. And he wants to institute an ideological test for people to gain entry to America (which should be frightening, when you consider what questions he'd ask them, and what answers he'd deem unworthy). These would all be radical changes in American society, it almost goes without saying.

Next time around, merely banning people from Muslim countries isn't going to be enough for Trump. He wants to see federal agents kicking in doors and raiding businesses all across the country. Or at least, that's what he's now promising he'd do.

As I said, none of this is really new for Trump. Or for America, really. The urge to scream: "Look! Over there! Those guys! They are the reason for [fill in the blank]!!!" Any of society's ills can be used to complete that rant, since it is so much easier to blame a scapegoat than it is to actually try to fix any problem (real or perceived). Trump loves such a blame game, and (again, sadly) millions of other Americans support it too.

But let's keep our eyes on the ball here. Sure, go ahead and express outrage that Trump is using Hitler's racist terminology. But please put it in the correct context. Because it's not just the specific "poisoning the blood" language that people should be outraged over. It should also include the racist thinking behind such language and the policies Trump is promising to deal with it all.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


4 Comments on “Trump's Xenophobia Is Nothing New”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Alas, the same MSM that’s all agog of the “Presidential horse race” that won’t even begin for six months is fixating on “Trump’s Hitler-like statements” are not focused on what he wants to do if re-elected.

    You would think that they would have figured some of this out by now. *smh *

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    IMO that’s why team Biden isn’t sweating it like so many hand-wringing soil themselves Democrats. Don’t forget that Joe has politically owned the Repugs since before he was elected. Master politician, in action.

  3. [3] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Worth mentioning here that "Hitler-speak" worked fine for the guy who invented it (meaning he took over politically at the time).

    Evidemtly Trump thinks it could work again!

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    there's no doubt that it works. we also know HOW it works.

    "Those," I said, "are the words of my friend the baker. ‘One had no time to think. There was so much going on.’"

    "Your friend the baker was right," said my colleague. "The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway.
    Milton Mayer - They Thought They Were Free

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