Donald Trump, who launched his 2016 presidential campaign by descending his golden escalators and slandering Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists, has managed to take his nativism and fearmongering in an even more extreme and horrific direction. In an unhinged post sent on Veterans Day, Trump attacked his critics as “vermin,” echoing Nazi propaganda that dehumanized Jewish people by equating them to rodents and parasites.
The Washington Post described the event in a headline that read, “Trump calls political enemies ‘vermin,’ echoing dictators Hitler, Mussolini”. Does Republican Rep. Jen Kiggans (VA-02) have the moral clarity and courage to stand up to her party’s leader in defense of the immigrants, Jewish people, and all the other constituents he represents and condemn such rhetoric?
“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,” Trump wrote at his far-right Truth Social website. “They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream.” This is not the first time that Trump has echoed Nazi rhetoric. This past October, he claimed that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.” The New York Times described it as “language with echoes of white supremacy and the racial hatreds of Adolf Hitler.”
Rep. Kiggans must state where she stands on Trump’s dangerous and incendiary rhetoric. This language is vile, unacceptable in any part of society and politics, and has the potential to spark more violence. She knows this perfectly well. Yet when far-right colleagues like Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar have shown white nationalist sympathies or promoted conspiratorial “invasion” rhetoric, Rep. Kiggans refused to denounce or disagree with her colleagues.
Rep. Kiggans can no longer avoid taking a public stand on this extremism. Trump’s dangerous and incendiary rhetoric, along with his explosive and chilling plans to deport millions of immigrants with deep roots in this nation, should be a flashing red alert for what’s at stake for our nation. Will Rep. Kiggans condemn Trump’s rhetoric, which is unmistakably reminiscent of Hitler and other authoritarians? Or will she yet again fail to stand up for her constituents, nation, and common decency?