Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Call out Trump on his pattern of disturbing rhetoric

This past weekend, in his Veterans Day (!) remarks in New Hampshire, former president Trump said, “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 and will do anything possible, they’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American dream.”

This type of remark is in line with two fascist authoritarian goals. One is to change the way people see violence, making it into something necessary and even patriotic. Here Trump references “rooting out” several classes of people. I shudder to think what that means. The second goal of fascist authoritarians is to change how people view their targets, using dehumanizing language. Trump uses “vermin” here. Hitler referred to Jews as parasites.

Trump also called himself a “very proud election denier.” According to CNN, in August 2023, as many as 69% of Republican voters believed Biden’s 2020 election was illegitimate, in spite of there being no evidence to support that. The continued promotion of “the big lie” undermines public confidence in our electoral process, and some have even questioned whether we should have an election at all. Autocrats would like us to lose confidence in elections as a valid way to choose our leaders.

Naming several classes of citizens as vermin and pledging to root them out is not standard political discourse. We should not turn a deaf ear to this kind of dangerous rhetoric, or ignore it as meaningless fluff. The press and our leaders at every level should be denouncing these remarks. Our Republican leaders, especially, should be speaking out, as their leading candidate for president rejects our electoral process and spouts fascist authoritarian language.

Historically, people did not take Hitler seriously until it was too late. Then he took Germany from a democracy to a dictatorship. It’s ironic that these remarks were for Veterans Day. Have we forgotten what our oldest surviving veterans were fighting? Let’s call this out for what it is, and refuse to stand by silently. Don’t believe for one minute that it can’t happen here.

Dorothy Mammen

Middlebury

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