Trump Anti-Immigrant VOICE Initiative Has Nazi Roots

Trump proposes VOICE - program with Nazi roots

During his first speech before a joint session of Congress last night, Donald Trump brought up an initiative that has overt ties to Nazi Germany. Called VOICE (Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement), the initiative would publicize crimes committed by immigrants within the borders of the United States.

Addressing those gathered, Trump rationalized his new police force explaining, “We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.”

The call to implement VOICE follows an executive order Trump signed on his fifth day in office outlining the design of the program. In that immigration order he stated in part:

To better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions, the Secretary shall utilize the Declined Detainer Outcome Report or its equivalent and, on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.

Placing such a spotlight on a community that commits crime at levels significantly lower than the general U.S. population will have a chilling effect on many voices – particularly those of people who look or seem “different” than Trump’s vision of conservative America.

The New York Times touched on this in their analysis of Trump’s speech commenting:

But Mr. Trump also used those he invited to send a darker message. In a passage on immigration, he pointed out four relatives of people murdered by undocumented immigrants; he had invited the victims’ families to sit in the box with his wife, Melania.

This was showmanship, too, but of a much darker kind, meant to whip up fear against undocumented immigrants by implying that they’re more dangerous than native-born Americans. Study after study shows that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born Americans.

But if you skew the publicity, you skew the impressions. Put “immigrants” and “kill” in the same sentence often enough and people hear, “Immigrants kill.”

Moreover, no evidence exists that media refuses (or fails) to report crimes committed by immigrants. Roping press into his anti-immigrant narrative merely feeds into his ongoing attack on free press (something that ties explicitly into this next part).

Perhaps the most concerning part of Trump’s proposed initiative is its explicit ties to Hitler and Nazi Germany. Just as Hitler rose to power publicizing the notion that Jewish people, immigrants and refugees were ruining his country, so too did Trump win the November election in part based on his demonization of “otherness” whether it was calling Mexicans rapists or painting all Muslims with a broad terrorist brush.

And now with VOICE, Trump is implementing a program that existed in Nazi Germany which played a key role in Hitler’s targeting of Jewish people.

Der StürmerCalled Der Stürmer, Hitler’s publication targeted Germany’s Jewish population weekly by publishing alleged Jewish-committed crimes in addition to caricatures of the Jewish community in order to further demonize them in the eyes of non-Jewish Germans. It was aimed at “lower class and less-sophisticated” Germans (translation: under & non-educated).

In the book Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress written by professor Richard Weikart, use of anti-immigrant propaganda to stoke hatred and fear is examined in detail.

As a biological determinist, Hitler believer that moral character was not shaped primarily by upbringing and education. Rather, he thought hereditary traits were the most important factor determining one’s behavior and character. This is important to grasp, because many scholars have ignored this equation of biology and behavior that is crucial for understanding Hitler’s anti-Semitism.

As the burgeoning literature on Nazi eugenics has shown – and as I demonstrate below – Hitler (and many other Nazis) did not draw such a dichotomy between biology and behavior. What the Jews did, Hitler thought, was a product of their heredity. Yes, Hitler and the Nazis painted the Jews as criminals, but they thought criminality was rooted in their biological fabric. In 1943 a Nazi directive to the German press declared, “Jews are criminals…Jewry as a whole springs from criminal roots and is criminal by disposition. The Jews are not a nation like other nations, but bearers of hereditary criminality.

It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump not only uses tactics lifted from Nazi Germany to delegitimize the press, but also tactics to demonize those he views as lesser or opposition. Moreover, both Trump and Steve Bannon subscribe to the same ‘hereditary criminality’ belief.

We discussed this during the presidential campaign, in fact:

Whether using dog whistle language to speak to his ‘good genes’ leading to success (rather than being born into his white, wealthy privilege) or outright supporting it, Trump is on record making similar egregious arguments about some genes being superior to others.

Mother Jones reported on this in June:

Trump, who has campaigned as a champion of the little guy, has often stated his belief that only certain humans have the potential to be achievers. In a video for a 2006 book he co-wrote, Why We Want You to Be Rich, Trump was asked, “Do you think anybody can be rich?” His answer was no, and, in explaining this, he dumped on the most famous line of the Declaration of Independence:

No, I don’t think anybody can get rich. I think unfortunately the world is not a fair place. I think you have to be born with a certain intelligence. And it doesn’t have to be a super intelligence, it has to be a certain intelligence. You can’t take somebody that’s not a smart person and say, “By the way, this is what you do, and here’s your little card, and you’re gonna follow these rules and regulations and you’re gonna become a rich person.” The world is not fair. You know they come with this statement “all men are created equal.” Well, it sounds beautiful, and it was written by some very wonderful people and brilliant people, but it’s not true because all people and all men [laughter] aren’t created—now today they’d say all men and women, of course, they would have changed that statement that was made many years ago. But the fact is you have to be born and blessed with something up here [pointing to his head]. On the assumption you are, you can become very rich.

Trump’s all-folks-are-not-created-equal view was nothing new. In a 1990 Playboy interview, he noted that when it came to success, “I’m a strong believer in genes.” Years later, in a CNN interview, Trump noted, “I think I was born with a drive for success. I had a father who was successful. He was a builder in Brooklyn and Queens. And he was successful and, you know, I have a certain gene. I’m a gene believer. Hey, when you connect two racehorses, you usually end up with a fast horse. And I really was, you know, I had a good gene pool from the standpoint of that.” And at a Trump rally earlier this year in Biloxi, Mississippi, the mogul proclaimed, “I have Ivy League education, smart guy, good genes. I have great genes and all that stuff which I’m a believer in.”

They added:

It seems that Trump does view the world as divided between those who have the genetic potential to succeed and those who don’t. In a 2010 interview, he remarked, “I really believe that a leader is born more so than made.” During a speech the following year in Australia, he asserted that dealing with pressure is a key to succeeding in business and that “some people cannot genetically handle pressure.” In another speech that year on how to succeed, Trump observed, “A lot of you people have a certain factor that make you successful. A lot of people don’t…I will talk about people that shouldn’t even be in the room. Because there are people that can’t do certain things. They can’t be entrepreneurial…Not everybody’s cut out to be an entrepreneur.”

Trump didn’t pivot or soften his policy positions last night. In fact, if anything, he recommitted to engaging in the same surgically precise demonization he’s engaged in since the day he labeled Mexicans as rapists. That he has a speechwriter to make his abominable policies sound palatable shouldn’t mask the raw truth that he wants to demonize immigrants as a part of his overarching “America First” isolationism policy.

The Atlantic noted:

If, however, Trump’s goal is stigmatizing a vulnerable class of people, then publicizing their crimes—and their crimes alone—makes sense. It’s been a tactic bigots have used more than a century.

Using crime to incite hatred has a long history in the United States. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, a professor of history, race, and public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, notes that for at least a century after the end of slavery, northern newspapers generally identified African Americans accused of committing crimes as “negro” or “colored.” Southern newspapers generally referred to the offender as a “negro criminal” in bold—using the individual’s name and “the negro” interchangeably in the story. White criminals, by contrast, were not identified by race. (This tradition continues at Breitbart, which has a special category for “black crime.”)

Government crime statistics reflected ethnic and racial fears too. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, notes Muhammad, when native-born Americans were growing alarmed by mass immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, big city police forces broke down crime statistics by European nationality: Russian, German, Italian, etc. As nativist fears receded following the shutdown of such immigration, the FBI began lumping all European nationalities into the category “foreign born” beginning in 1930. By 1940, the European foreign born were subsumed into “white.”

Trump is doing this with immigrants now and has the full standing-applause-support of the Republican Party.

The Atlantic added:

In The Nazi Conscience, Duke historian Claudia Koonz notes that the Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer ran a feature called “Letter Box,” which published readers’ accounts of Jewish crimes. When the Nazis took power, the German state began doing something similar. Frustrated by the failure of most Germans to participate in a boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s government began publicizing Jewish crime statistics as a way of stoking anti-Semitism. In Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, the historian Saul Friedlander notes that, until 1938, Hitler’s Ministry of Justice ordered prosecutors to forward every criminal indictment against a Jew so the ministry’s press office could publicize it.

Trump’s defenders might claim that what he’s doing differs from these prior examples. He’s publicizing the crimes of a legal group—illegal immigrants—not a religious, ethnic, or racial one. But in the United States in 2017, talking about “illegal immigrants” is like talking about “welfare mothers” or “crack dealers” in 1987. The racial implication is clear. Trump made it so himself in his announcement speech when he said that, “When Mexico sends its people…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

They concluded:

Trump is scapegoating in the classic sense. He’s taking the sin of crime and associating it with one, already stigmatized, group, thus allowing native-born Americans to consider themselves pure. In Leviticus, the high priest takes a goat, “confess[es] over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites” and then sends it into the wilderness so it won’t contaminate them. When it comes to unauthorized immigrants, Trump is reenacting that ritual. Americans will soon learn just how harsh his legal and moral wilderness is.

Lest anyone still disbelieve Trump and his team aren’t using Hitler’s Germany as a best practice manual even after seeing his policies on press, immigrants and propaganda, consider this: both of his most popular slogans (Make America Great Again and America First) have historical roots in oppression and Nazi support.

Specifically, the phrase ‘America First’ was used during World War II by Nazi sympathizers. Explicitly.

The Atlantic addressed this previously noting:

But the phrase “America first” also has a darker recent history and, as my colleague David Graham pointed out Friday, was associated with opponents of the U.S. entering World War II.

The America First Committee (AFC), which was founded in 1940, opposed any U.S. involvement in World War II, and was harshly critical of the Roosevelt administration, which it accused of pressing the U.S. toward war. At its peak, it had 800,000 members across the country, included socialists, conservatives, and some of the most prominent Americans from some of the most prominent families. There was future President Ford; Sargent Shriver, who’d go on to lead the Peace Corps; and Potter Stewart, the future U.S. Supreme Court justice. It was funded by the families who owned Sears-Roebuck and the Chicago Tribune, but also counted among its ranks prominent anti-Semites of the day.

At this point the Trump administration’s anti-Semitic ties have been well laid out. We’ve covered them extensively, as have other outlets. That Trump is using Nazi Germany tactics to not only gain support in the right-wing but to consolidate power while demonizing disenfranchised populations should concern anyone who is familiar with recent history and authoritarian regimes.

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Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he’s worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.

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