Former President Donald Trump is raising concerns and historical comparisons with his recent use of the term “vermin” to describe his political opponents. The choice of language is reminiscent of how figures like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini dehumanized their enemies during the 1920s and 1930s.
Authoritarian Tradition and Dehumanization
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present,” points out that dehumanizing groups to encourage collaboration with or tolerance of state persecution is a characteristic tactic of authoritarians. She notes that Trump’s use of “vermin” aligns with this tradition.
Trump’s Veterans Day Pledge
In a Veterans Day post on Truth Social, Trump pledged to “root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country.” Similar language was reiterated during a subsequent speech in New Hampshire.
Criticism from Biden’s Reelection Campaign: Vermin
The Biden reelection campaign criticized Trump’s language, drawing parallels to autocratic rhetoric from history. Aamer Moussa, a campaign spokesperson, stated that Trump echoed the language of Hitler and Mussolini, dictators U.S. veterans fought against.
White House Response and Historical Recognition
The White House, through spokesman Andrew Bates, expressed that using such terms about dissent would be unrecognizable to the country’s founders but horrifyingly familiar to veterans who fought in the 1940s.
Trump Campaign’s Dismissal of Criticism: Vermin
The Trump campaign dismissed criticism, attributing it to those fearing an election loss. The campaign labeled detractors as suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and predicted their “sad, miserable existence” would be crushed when Trump returned to the White House.
Republican Silence and Cheney’s Condemnation
While Republicans, including RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, remained notably silent, former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney condemned the lack of condemnation. Cheney accused party members of collaboration for not speaking out against language reminiscent of Nazi propaganda and warned that history would judge those appeasing Trump.