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‘A precursor to genocide’: Language expert explores the dark history of Trump’s dehumanizing immigration rants

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that undocumented immigrants are “infesting our country” — and language expert Aviya Kushner says this should set off alarm bells.

Kushner, whose book The Grammar of God offers a deep exploration of the use of language in the Bible, has written a column for Forward that explains the dark history of such dehumanizing rhetoric.

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“The President’s tweet that immigrants will ‘infest our Country’ includes an alarming verb choice for anyone with knowledge of history,” she writes. “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.'”

In particular, she notes that the connotations of the word “infest” implies that undocumented immigrants are insects who can be exterminated.

“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,” she writes. “The verb ‘infest’ is… language at its clearest.”

For good measure, Kushner also quotes Amherst College linguist Ilan Stavans, who has similarly been waving red flags about the dangers of Trump’s rhetoric.

“The Trump Administration’s policy of separating children of their asylum-seeking Hispanic parents is spiteful,” Stavans wrote on Twitter this week. “It is reminiscent of the Nazi strategy to divide Jewish families.”

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Read Kushner’s whole column here.


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Stephen Colbert hilariously mocks Oklahoma governor ‘Stitt for brains’ for catching COVID-19 after ignoring masks

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) revealed Wednesday that he is positive for the coronavirus. It could have been the exposure he incurred at the Trump rally. Or it could have been all of those times he went out without a mask saying he was "social distancing." Either way, it was something "A Late Show" host Stephen Colbert found to be a hilarious example of schadenfreude.

"All the people in charge who told us the pandemic wasn't a big deal are looking big dumb right now like Oklahoma governor and chunky Dracula Kevin Stitt, cuz remember Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma full of unmasked open mouth screamers," said Colbert. "Lots of people called it a terrible idea, said it should be canceled. Not Governor Stitt."

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The problem isn’t the campaign manager — it’s Trump: Republican analyst

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Switching up the campaign manager four months before the election when the latest poll shows you 12 points down has nothing to do with the campaign's leadership, Republican analyst Amanda Carpenter explained on CNN Wednesday.

"The problem isn't that Donald Trump has a bad campaigner," said Carpenter in an interview with CNN's Don Lemon. "They're raising tons of money. They have a boatload of surrogates. The problem is that he has a bad presidency. And no one -- no one, no spin master, not Kellyanne Conway, not Brad Parscale can spin the most important number of this election, and that's -- at present, 137,000 dead and rising. And so what we need to see if Donald Trump wants to turn this around is to turn around his white house. And I have four words of advice: More Fauci, less Kayleigh."

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Here’s what you need to know about Bill Stepien — the man who just took over Trump’s fledgling campaign

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President Donald Trump announced that his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is being shoved out of his role given the failures the campaign has suffered over the past seven months.

In his place, for now, at least, will be Bill Stepien.

If that name sounds familiar, it may be because Stepien was part of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal, where, as punishment to Mayor Mark Sokolich, two of three toll lanes were closed during a Monday morning rush hour and weren't reopened until Friday.

The court case quoted Bill Stepien's name over 700 times, including an email in which he claimed, "It will be a tough November for this little Serbian." The mayor was born in Fort Lee, and his lineage isn't Serbian, it's actually Croatian.

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