Former President Donald Trump said in a recent interview that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country,” using language that is often employed by White supremacists and nativists in comments that have drawn rebuke from one prominent civil rights group.
“Nobody has ever seen anything like we’re witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country,” Trump told the right-leaning news site The National Pulse in a video interview published last week. “It’s poisoning the blood of our country. It’s so bad, and people are coming in with disease. People are coming in with every possible thing that you could have.”
Trump’s comments, which gained traction online this week, drew condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League, whose leader called the remarks “racist, xenophobic and despicable.”
“Insinuating that immigrants are ‘poisoning the blood of our country’ echoes nativist talking points and has the potential to cause real danger and violence. We have seen this kind of toxic rhetoric inspire real-world violence before in places like Pittsburgh and El Paso. It should have no place in our politics, period,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.
He continued, “And when anyone has a large platform, they need to be careful with their voice, but when you’re the former president of the United States, you absolutely need to recognize your responsibility because this kind of rhetoric is explosive and must end, full stop.”
Since launching his first campaign for president in 2015, Trump has often derided immigrants in inflammatory terms, but the phrase “poisoning the blood” echoed language used by White supremacists, who fixate on so-called blood purity. Adolf Hitler wrote about the “contamination of the blood” or “blood poisoning” in Mein Kampf.
“That’s a normal phrase that is used in everyday life – in books, television, movies, and in news articles. For anyone to think that is racist or xenophobic is living in an alternate reality consumed with non-sensical outrage,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement.