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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.

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“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.”

Read Kushner’s whole column here.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Has anything changed since Burning Man’s sex assault and labor issues were exposed?

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The last weekend in August marks the start of Burning Man, a week-long, festival in the Nevada desert consisting of freewheeling performance art, fanciful costumes, and a lot of drugs. The anarchic party with more than 50,000 attendees constitutes a pilgrimage for many attendees, lured by the promise of leaving the “default world” behind in exchange for a transformative or even spiritual experience.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

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Truckers are facing a ‘bloodbath’ in their industry — and it’s turning many in the pro-Trump group against him: report

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Truckers are numerous, conservative, and hurting. And despite their widespread support for Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016, a new report from Business Insider suggests the pain in the industry might be turning these workers away from the president.

The political trends in trucking are not insignificant. According to the American Trucking Associations, there were an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in 2018. RTS Financial has found that there are 7.4 million jobs total “tied to the trucking industry.” And Business Insider reported that nearly 90 percent of truckers are registered voters, higher than the general population.

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WATCH: Trump’s collusion with Russia is now a topic for impeachment — along with obstruction and racism

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President Donald Trump's interactions with Russia are now a topic of the impeachment investigation.

"There was an important development in support for impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives today," MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported Tuesday. "Important both in who the new support comes from and what that support is based on."

"Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois is one of the freshmen Democrats who flipped a Republican district last year in winning her election. She brings the total number of House Democrats supporting impeachment now to 126 -- a majority of the Democrats' 235 members of the House," he explained.

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