The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Is it a coincidence that Trump uses the language of white supremacy?

U.S. Border Patrol agents with apprehended illegal immigrants near McAllen, Tex., shortly after they had crossed from Mexico on March 26.
U.S. Border Patrol agents with apprehended illegal immigrants near McAllen, Tex., shortly after they had crossed from Mexico on March 26. (Loren Elliott/AFP/Getty Images)

“This is not normal,” James B. Comey said this last week after President Trump threatened him with jail.

If I had a nickel for every time somebody said that, I could repay the national debt. There is so much abnormality from this president that we’re numb.

I’d like to pause, therefore, to reflect on just one thing the president did this last week that, amid Russian hookers and his assaults on truth, law and decency, got little attention: his talk of immigrants “breeding” in America’s sanctuary cities.

“There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept,” the president tweeted on Tuesday.

What could he mean? Immigrants are breeding thoroughbred horses? Prize- ­winning cattle?

Or perhaps Trump was using “breeding” in the sense now popular among white supremacists?

Hmm. I wonder . . .

Follow Dana Milbank's opinionsFollow

The image of Latinos breeding makes them not quite human, parasites among a host people, an enemy within given sanctuary when they should be cast out. The aliens among us are not like us, but, unfairly protected, they breed and bring danger.

Where have I heard this before? Maybe it was 1919: “Through thousands of years of the closest kind of inbreeding, Jews in general have maintained their race. . . . Thus comes the fact that there lives amongst us a non-German, alien race which neither wishes nor is able to sacrifice its racial character or to deny its feeling, thinking and striving. Nevertheless, it possesses all the political rights we do.”

Adolf Hitler continued, recommending “elimination of the privileges of the Jews” and eventually “the irrevocable removal of the Jews in general. For both these ends a government of national strength, not of national weakness, is necessary.”

The notion later became a staple of Nazi propaganda. From 1944 : “Jewry is the product of the inbreeding of asocial, ­criminal, sick, degenerate, and rejected ­elements. . . . [It] leads a rootless, parasitic life at the expense of the host peoples. Its current homeland is largely the criminal neighborhoods of the great cities of the world.”

Sanctuary cities, if you will.

Some object to Nazi comparisons, however apt, because they tend to silence debate. So let’s look at the modern custom in this country of likening immigrants and minorities to breeding animals.

Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigned after the publishing of his earlier complaints that black women think “breeding is a form of government employment.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) has spoken of immigration policy as “allowing any kind of vagrant, or animal . . . to come in.”

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a Trump ally, described the screening of immigrants: “You get the pick of the litter and you got yourself a pretty good bird dog.”

Dan Stein, the president of the anti- ­immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform, famously said immigrants are conducting “competitive breeding” to dilute the white majority.

White nationalist Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute frets about white “displacement by the subject race through differential fertility rates and interracial breeding.”

Alex Jones’s Infowars, which Trump has also celebrated, has published headlines saying things such as “Top Imam: Muslim Migrants Should Breed With Europeans to ‘Conquer Their Countries.’ ”

Dive into the fever swamps of the Internet and social media and you will find the conspiracy theory that minorities’ higher birthrates are designed to bring about “white genocide” in America: “We can’t let the Muslims and Mexicans outbreed us . . . Their goal is to come here and breed whites out of existence . . . What they will do is breed like rats and displace white people and white culture. . . . They’re outbreeding us and outvoting us.”

Perhaps it is just coincidence that Trump used the language of white supremacists; the White House claims the president is concerned with sanctuary cities breeding crime, not people. Presumably, then, it was also happenstance that he called Mexican immigrants rapists, demanded a “shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” said a federal judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican ancestry, defended the use of anti-Semitic imagery during his campaign, declared that Haitian immigrants all have AIDS and that African countries are “shitholes,” said there were “very fine people” marching with the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, called for firing “son-of-a-bitch” black NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, shared anti-Muslim videos, and warned that those removing Confederate monuments are “trying to take away our culture.”

A day after Trump’s “breeding” tweet, he visited a drug-interdiction operation and declared that “human trafficking is worse than it’s ever been in the history of the world.”

Thus did the president erase three centuries of American history, during which millions of Africans were captured and enslaved in this hemisphere.

Trump is a breed apart.

Twitter: @Milbank

Read more from Dana Milbank’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Read more on this issue:

Jennifer Rubin: Trump loses again on crusade against ‘sanctuary cities’

David Bier: The Trump administration failed to study immigration vetting. So I did.

The Post’s View: America needs more workers. Trump’s war on immigration won’t help.

Eugene Robinson: Trump is hoping you’re too stupid to notice