Trump compared to Hitler after ‘vermin’ attack

Donald Trump drew the ire of historians after he referred to his political adversaries as “vermin” in a speech in Claremont, New Hampshire, to mark Veterans Day 2023.

The former president, 77, told his audience that his own domestic opponents represented a greater threat to the US than the likes of China, Russia and North Korea.

The remarks prompted comparisons to authoritarian leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, according to The Washington Post.

Mr Trump addressed the New Hampshire in his familiar grievance-laden parlance, telling them: “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.”

The former president has continually refused to accept the results of the 2020 election and continues to push the falsehood that victory was stolen from him at every possible opportunity.

“They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream,” Mr Trump said.

“The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within.

“Our threat is from within. Because if you have a capable, competent, smart, tough leader, Russia, China, North Korea, they’re not going to want to play with us.”

The Republican referred to himself as a “very proud election denier”.

He also lashed out about his deepening legal woes, again targeting the judge in his civil fraud trial in New York and going after Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, claiming that the prosecutions against him were politically-motivated.

Mr Trump employing the word “vermin” was particularly criticised by historians speaking to The Post, troubled by its disturbing historical resonances.

Timothy Naftali, a senior research scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, told the newspaper that “the language is the language that dictators use to instil fear” and added: “When you dehumanise 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.”

New York University historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat wrote to the paper to say that “calling people ‘vermin’ was used effectively by Hitler and Mussolini to dehumanise people and encourage their followers to engage in violence”.

She added: “Trump is also using projection: note that he mentions all kinds of authoritarians ‘communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left’ to set himself up as the deliverer of freedom.

“Mussolini promised freedom to his people too and then declared dictatorship.”

Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, 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 White House and the Biden campaign also criticised Mr Trump for his use of “vermin,” with the former’s spokesperson Andrew Bates saying in a statement: “Using terms like that about dissent would be unrecognisable to our founders, but horrifyingly recognisable to American veterans who put on their country’s uniform in the 1940s”.

Biden spokesperson Ammar Moussa said in a statement of his own: “On a weekend when most Americans were honoring our nation’s heroes, Donald Trump parroted the autocratic language of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini – two dictators many US veterans gave their lives fighting.

“Donald Trump thinks he can win by dividing our country. He’s wrong, and he’ll find out just how wrong next November.”

The Republican front-runner has since been rebuked again by the White House on similar grounds after stating in another speech in the same state that immigrants were “poisoning the blood of the country”.

“They’re poisoning the blood of the country. That’s what they’ve done,” the former president said.

“They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world. Not just in South America. Not just the three or four countries we think about. But all over the world they’re coming into our country, from Africa, from Asia.”

A spokesperson for Mr Biden suggested Mr Trump had “channelled his heroes and parrotted Adolf Hitler” in making those comments, which historians again likened to the the “contamination of the blood” rhetoric espoused in Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

The White House in turn accused him of “echoing the grotesque rhetoric of fascists and violent white supremacists” and “threatening to oppress those who disagree with the government.”