A Trump campaign spokesperson is threatening critics who are comparing the ex-president’s Veterans Day remarks to those made by Hitler or Mussolini, saying they will be “crushed” when he returns to the White House.
Many responded with outrage after Trump, in a speech on Saturday, likened opponents on the left to “vermin,” and promised to target them if he wins in 2024.
“We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections,” Trump said, claiming the threat from them is greater than the threat from countries like China, Russia, or North Korea, as The Washington Post reported.
“Trump’s use of the word ‘vermin.’ both in his speech and in a Truth Social post on Saturday. drew particular backlash,” The Post added, citing several experts.
“The language is the language that dictators use to instill fear,” Timothy Naftali, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, told The Post. “When you dehumanize an opponent, you strip them of their constitutional rights to participate securely in a democracy because you’re saying they’re not human. That’s what dictators do.”
The paper also spoke to noted NYU historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, who said that, “Calling people ‘vermin’ was used effectively by Hitler and Mussolini to dehumanize people and encourage their followers to engage in violence.”
Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung, who also worked on the 2016 campaign and in the Trump White House, told The Post, “Those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and their entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.”
The New York Times’ Peter Baker summed up The Post’s report, writing: “Spokesman denies that Trump rhetoric echoes that of dictators like Hitler and Mussolini and declares that those who say it does will find ‘their entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.'”
Also responding to The Post’s report was author and MSNBC analyst Jonathan Alter, who wrote: “As we learned from Mein Kampf, when a demagogue tells you what he is going to do, believe him.”
Former Wall Street Journal managing editor Bill Grueskin, now a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, remarked: “In denying that Trump sounds like a Nazi, his spokesman sounds a lot like .. Goebbels.”