As you wander the internet today — especially if you commingle with lots of people who are sensitive to immigrant-bashing — you may run into lots of images from a Nazi newspaper called “Der Sturmer.”
No, this isn’t another case of people directly comparing Trump to Hitler. But they are comparing his new plan to publicize crimes committed by illegal immigrants to Hitler’s plan, via Der Sturmer, to publicize crimes committed by Jews.
In his speech to Congress on Tuesday, Trump welcomed four people whose loved ones had been killed by undocumented immigrants. In doing so, he made murderers the face of illegal immigration. You can read the stories of the Trump guests whose relatives were killed by illegal immigrants here.
Democrats, on the other hand, invited immigrants who have contributed to the country in positive ways. You can read more about them here.
It’s easy to use the worst members of any vast group to wrongly slander everyone in that group. It also insults the intelligence of everyone, since it’s an obvious appeal to straight emotion based on isolated anecdotes. You can click here, here or here for studies showing that illegal immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the population at large. That last link, from the libertarian Cato Institute, calls the research “fairly one-sided.”
But mass-slander-by-anecdote has a long tradition. As The Atlantic explains:
In The Nazi Conscience, Duke historian Claudia Koonz notes that the Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer ran a feature called “Letter Box,” which published readers’ accounts of Jewish crimes. When the Nazis took power, the German state began doing something similar. Frustrated by the failure of most Germans to participate in a boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s government began publicizing Jewish crime statistics as a way of stoking anti-Semitism.
Trump introduced a new government entity Tuesday that will similarly flag and highlight crimes by illegal immigrants — without, of course, providing any context about how many crimes they commit compared to U.S. citizens, or how illegal immigrants as a group might contribute positively to American society.
“The office is called VOICE — Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement,” Trump explained. “We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.”
Some news outlets and people on social media almost immediately compared VOICE to Der Sturmer, which delighted in anti-Jewish propaganda, including stories of Jews sexually assaulting Christian women. And so, by Wednesday morning, an obscure Nazi tabloid from the 1930s began popping up on Facebook and Twitter, with those who posted images from Der Sturmer comparing it to VOICE.
Trump, we should note, began his speech by saying the United States “stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”
Here are some of the tweets about Der Sturmer.