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Trump’s ‘poisoning the blood of the country’ slur alarms critics: ‘Parroted Hitler’

After testing his anti-immigrant agenda and increasingly violent rhetoric in his social media, in interviews and on campaign rally stages, Donald Trump returned to New Hampshire on Saturday with a phrase that echoes the pages of Mein Kampf and white supremacist manifestos.

“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.”

After leaving New Hampshire, he turned to his Truth Social account with an all-caps post to declare “illegal immigration is poisoning the blood of our nation.”

He claimed – once again without evidence, of which there is none to defend his inflammatory statements – that “they’re coming from prisons, from mental institutions” and into the US.

The frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president has accelerated volatile, dehumanising language and embraced his label as a “day one dictator” while his allies and campaign laugh off and reject warnings from political opponents and critics about amplifying fascist language.

After Mr Trump’s rally in New Hampshire, President Joe Biden’s campaign said his likely 2024 rival was “channeling his role models and “parroted Adolf Hitler”.

Mr Trump “praised Kim Jong Un and quoted Vladimir Putin while running for president on a promise to rule as a dictator and threaten American democracy,” spokesperson Ammar Moussa said.

“He is betting he can win this election by scaring and dividing this country,” he added. “He’s wrong. In 2020, Americans chose President Biden’s vision of hope and unity over Trump’s vision of fear and division – and they’ll do the same next November.”

Donald Trump’s supporters in New Hampshire on 16 December hold a picture of his mugshot from criminal charges in Atlanta for an alleged scheme to overturn 2020 election results. (EPA)
Donald Trump’s supporters in New Hampshire on 16 December hold a picture of his mugshot from criminal charges in Atlanta for an alleged scheme to overturn 2020 election results. (EPA)

The comments have been roundly condemned as a warning of his increasingly violent and authoritarian rhetoric, echoing Mein Kampf’s screeds against the “contamination of the blood” and “the poison which has invaded the national body” from an “influx of foreign blood”.

Neo-fascist groups chanted “blood and soil” at a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, and the words have fuelled the so-called “great replacement” conspiracy theory behind white supremacist groups, racist mass shootings and far-right media commentary.

“Yes, this is fascist rhetoric,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a scholar of authoritarianism and author of Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.

“The Nazis made the fear of ‘blood pollution’ of their master race and their civilization a foundation of their state. Italian fascists talked about the threat of nonwhite immigrants coming in to ruin white civilization,” she said on Sunday. “Trump is referencing and prolonging and echoing fascist rhetoric.”

Mr Trump and his allies have signalled a radical overhaul of US immigration, if he returns to the White House, building on his hard-line policies that his successor has sought to reverse.

He has promised to revive a more expansive ban on immigration from majority-Muslim countries that he implemented in his first term. He also would reimpose a ban on entry at the US-Mexico border for people seeking asylum; round up undocumented people living in the US and detain them at camps before they’re expelled; prohibit children born in the US to non-citizen parents from being granted citizenship; and end legal status for thousands of people in the US for humanitarian reasons, among other proposed policies.

In New Hampshire, he also proposed “ideologically screening” people entering the US.

His increasingly demonising language against immigrants – which easily goes viral and is repeated endlessly – is priming his supporters for the “retribution” he has promised, Ms Ben-Ghiat said.

“Americans will see immigrants be rounded up and treated badly, with violence, so he’s trying to dehumanise this group now, over and over again, to get Americans used to the idea that they should be persecuted, so they won’t resist when the repression comes later,” she said.

“We should think about not only the content of what he’s saying, but why he’s saying it,” she added. “Everytime you hear it, think about its intended audience and its very chilling intended goal.”

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on 16 December. (EPA)
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on 16 December. (EPA)

Jennifer Mercieca, an historian of American political rhetoric and professor at Texas A&M University who wrote 2020’s Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump, warned Mr Trump “sees American democracy as a sham and he wants to convince his followers to see it that way too.”

“Putin hates western values like democracy and the rule of law, so does Trump,” she told The Washington Post.

Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and one of Mr Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination, called his latest remarks a “dog whistle” to his supporters.

“What he’s doing is dog-whistling to Americans who feel absolutely under stress and strain from the economy [and] blaming it on people from areas who don’t look like us,” he told CNN on Sunday.

But Mr Trump’s campaign and allies have largely brushed aside any criticism of his remarks and have refused to forcefully condemn his degrading statements.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, among Mr Trump’s chief allies in the US Senate, repeatedly dismissed concerns about Mr Trump’s dehumanising language.

Asked on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday about Mr Trump’s rhetoric and criticism from the Biden campaign, Mr Graham pivoted to the US-Mexico border.

“To the Biden administration, you’re talking about Donald Trump’s language as you sat on the sidelines and allowed the country to be invaded,” he said.

Asked whether he is “comfortable” with Mr Trump using those words, Mr Graham said: “We’re talking about language. I could [sic] care less what language people use as long as we get it right.”

Republican US Rep Tony Gonzales appeared to blame what he labeled the “open border crisis” on Mr Trump’s rhetoric.

Asked on CBS Face the Nation whether he endorsed the former president’s statements, he deflected, saying “I think immigrants are the lifeblood of our country.”

“What this open border crisis has done is it has put legal immigrants to the back of the line and it’s encouraged illegal immigration, and it’s created this rhetoric and it’s created this anger,” he said.

The defence from congressional Republicans around Mr Trump’s anti-immigrant statements comes as the Biden administration negotiates US-Mexico border policies in an effort to get GOP lawmakers to support expanded aid to Ukraine and Israel.

The president’s willingness to support “significant compromises” on immigration policy – after sending a bill to Congress on his first day in office with a pledge to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system” – marks a seismic shift in White House and Democratic platforms that will head into 2024 on terms that will be dominated by Republicans, with Mr Trump likely to lead them.