In a Veterans Day speech that was both shocking and sickening, Donald Trump used terminology straight from the Nazi playbook, describing his opponents as “vermin” and promising that he would “root out” this internal threat. His speech drew on explicitly antisemitic themes as he promised a return to the worst horrors of the past century.
“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. He followed by saying that the threat from Russia, China, and North Korea was “less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within.” Trump repeated these words in a post on his Truth Social platform.
This language directly mirrors that of both Hitler and Mussolini, who used the term “vermin” to describe their opponents and to dehumanize Jews ahead of the Holocaust. Trump’s use of “vermin” came in a speech that not only included language from another antisemitic conspiracy theory but also featured Trump explicitly expressing his admiration for the “iron hand” of authoritarian rulers.
Calling opponents “vermin” isn’t just shocking and dehumanizing; it is a term that was explicitly at the center of the Nazi’s antisemitic rhetoric. The Nazi state produced “documentaries” in which Jews were called the “vermin of mankind.” Nazi cartoonists depicted Jews as rats scurrying to escape from genocide.
In his speech, Trump also revived another theme used to support the rise of Nazism in saying that veterans had been “backstabbed and betrayed.” The “stabbed in the back” narrative not only was used to rally the military to Hitler’s cause but was also attributed to a conspiracy of international Jews.
Trump’s use of these narratives is not just an attempt to dehumanize his opponents. These are explicitly, overtly antisemitic themes at a time when events in the Middle East have generated a rising tide of violence and open expressions of hate that seemed impossible only weeks ago.
This is far from the first time that Trump has used terminology lifted directly from Hitler’s speeches and writing. In October, Trump said that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of the country,” a phrase that echoes Adolf Hitler’s statement in “Mein Kampf” in which he warns that contamination from other races was killing Germany through “blood poisoning.”
Trump is not being subtle. He’s not disguising his intent. He is using the same language that Hitler used in promising his followers a purge of all those they saw as unworthy. And he’s doing it while proclaiming that Hungary has no crime because “very tough strong guy” Viktor Orbán “didn’t allow millions of people to invade his country” like other European leaders, and China has no drug problem because Chinese President Xi Jinping “controls 1.4 billion people with an iron hand.”
So how did the “paper of record” report on all this? This is how The New York Times headlined this event.
After an uproar, the Times has changed that headline to “In Veterans Day Speech, Trump Promises to ‘Root Out’ the Left,” still avoiding using the term Trump used to describe opponents and still refusing to make the obvious comparison. A New York Times reader would have to search to find the article since it didn’t come close to the front page on either Sunday or Monday. Even then, they would find no notice that Trump’s language came with an ugly and terrifying historical context.
Compare this with the headlines from The Washington Post:
This comes right after the Times turned coverage of Trump’s fraud trial over to a fashion writer who did get a front-page article in which she described the Trumps’ color palette and called Ivanka Trump “the picture of gentle, pulled-together professionalism and good will.”
It’s reassuring to know that no matter how many times The New York Times gets everything wrong about the rise of fascism, at least they’ll have exquisite articles describing the uniforms.