Donald Trump's darkening language sparks fears of violence

Palm Beach, Florida - Donald Trump's populist, politically incorrect language is often framed as an asset, but a troubling escalation in his incendiary rhetoric is prompting fears over the potential for violence among his inflamed supporters.

Donald Trump is well-known for his charged rhetoric, but as his words become darker, they have sparked fear of violence in those that oppose him.
Donald Trump is well-known for his charged rhetoric, but as his words become darker, they have sparked fear of violence in those that oppose him.  © imago/Everett Collection

In recent days, the former president and 2024 candidate has implied that the country's top military officer should be executed and joked about the elderly husband of a political foe being attacked in a home invasion.

Critics say he hit a new low last week with comments about illegal immigrants so extreme that the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, saw echoes of Nazi rhetoric.

"Nobody has any idea where these people are coming from, and we know they come from prisons, we know they come from mental institutions, insane asylums, we know they're terrorists," Trump told conservative news site The National Pulse.

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"Nobody has ever seen anything like we're witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It's poisoning the blood of our country."

The ADL's Jonathan Greenblatt told MSNBC that Trump appeared to have been fed the line by someone familiar with Hitler's infamous complaint of Jews "causing a blood poisoning of Germany."

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Donald Trump has sparked increasing concern with his most recent comments.
Donald Trump has sparked increasing concern with his most recent comments.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Trump's exhortations to violence are nothing new - he suggested that protesters should be "roughed up" at a rally in 2016 and that looters should be shot during the 2020 racial protests over the police murder of George Floyd.

His months-long campaign of lies claiming that he had been cheated in his 2020 election loss culminated in addressing an angry crowd in Washington on January 6, 2021, which then went and attacked the US Capitol.

Many participants in the ransacking of the seat of US democracy later told investigators that they considered that they were acting on Trump's orders.

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Trump's inflammatory remarks used to shock America, generating days of coverage. His language no longer raises the stir it once did in a fatigued political and media establishment watching him cruise to the Republican nomination as the 2024 presidential election candidate.

Yet recent comments - such as him calling on his MAGA base and law enforcement in California to shoot shoplifters on sight - have provoked outrage.

Last week, the judge in Trump's civil fraud trial in New York even imposed a gag order after the Republican smeared a court clerk on social media and posted a link to her Instagram account.

Donald Trump's recent comments pose a danger, experts say

The 77-year-old is often accused by opponents of "stochastic terrorism" - an academic term meaning the public demonization of perceived adversaries to incite statistically probable but individually unpredictable acts of violence.

Many of Trump's targets in Congress and the government - from Republican Senator Mitt Romney to recently retired top government scientist Anthony Fauci - have disclosed having to take on private security after threats from the presidential candidate's supporters.

Gerard Filitti, senior counsel at US-based Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy group The Lawfare Project, believes Trump's comments on immigration "recall the worst racism of 1930s Germany," adding, "It is troubling that Donald Trump at times appears to use inflammatory rhetoric that injects a measure of divisive ethnonationalism into what would otherwise be straightforward discussions of policy."

"Language like 'poisoning the blood of our country' is cringeworthy at best, and at worst sows doubt among voters as to what Trump's true beliefs are."

Cover photo: imago/Everett Collection

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