After President Donald Trump lamented earlier this year that undocumented immigrants would “infest our Country” and as hostile rhetoric toward migrants becomes increasingly commonplace, it is imperative that Americans remain aware of the danger such words present.
A Monday morning Fox & Friends segment about the caravan of migrants headed to the southern U.S. border from Central America offered a stark reminder of just how dehumanizing conservative rhetoric has become.
“What about diseases?” Kilmeade asked Fox News contributor Dan Bongino. “I mean, there’s a reason you can’t bring a kid to school unless he’s inoculated.”
Setting aside the fact that a growing number of American parents are opting against vaccinating their children, Kilmeade employed the same trope used in Nazi Germany against Jewish people: they carry diseases.
Put together with Trump’s term, “infest”, the picture becomes clear — Americans should fear migrants because they are diseased vermin who will infest our land.
Characterizing people as vermin has historically been a precursor to murder and genocide. The Nazis built on centuries-old hatred of Jews as carriers of disease in a film titled “Der Ewige Jude,” or “The Eternal Jew.” As the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum notes on its website, in a section helpfully titled “Defining the Enemy:” “One of the film’s most notorious sequences compares Jews to rats that carry contagion, flood the continent, and devour precious resources.”
For anyone familiar with Nazi history — the exhibit of “Degenerate Art,” the film “The Eternal Jew” and the persistent campaign to paint Jews as vermin or animals, and certainly not human — the word “infest” is not only remarkable, but terrifying.
This is the same vitriol espoused by the likes of Kilmeade, who worries thousands of migrants will flood the country, bringing crime and disease.
Such language is disturbing when used by everyday bigots and racists, but when it comes from the highest places of power in the United States — and spread far and wide by the Trump-friendly media — anti-immigrant rhetoric moves from disturbing to dangerous.