Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker blasted former President Donald Trump on Sunday over the Republican’s decision to describe his perceived enemies as “vermin,” stressing that such language is the same dehumanizing rhetoric that was used in Nazi Germany.
Earlier this month, Trump held a rally in Claremont, New Hampshire, where he pledged to “root out the Communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections.” The 2024 GOP front-runner also posted a similar statement to his social media platform, Truth Social.
Pritzker, a Jewish progressive, said on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki” that Trump’s rhetoric, which gets echoed by his followers and far-right extremists, is the same rhetoric that “was used in the 1930s in Germany.”
“I am very concerned about the direction of the country if we see policies like what Donald Trump is espousing come to light for our country.”
Before his tenure as governor, Pritzker helped plan and fund the Illinois Holocaust Museum, aiming to create an institution in the Midwest dedicated to educating the public on the Holocaust and other genocides.
Trump has used similar rhetoric in the past to dehumanize and target marginalized populations for his followers to direct their anger towards. For years, the former president has specifically used dehumanizing language to describe Black and brown migrants in order to stoke fear about the U.S.-Mexico border.
Pritzker said that Trump’s use of the term “vermin” is “just one in a long series” of words that the former president has used “that are unfortunately reminiscent of the past.”
“I don’t know where it’s going with Donald Trump. What I can tell you is that the things that he talks about are frightening to those of us who know the history of Europe in the 1930s and ’40s,” Pritzker said.
“And I’m deeply concerned about his predilection for revenge and what that will mean for, you know, groups of people that didn’t support him in the 2024 election, if in fact he gets elected.”
Trump’s dangerous rhetoric comes at a time that the U.S. is seeing a rise in hate-fueled violence, specifically antisemitic and Islamophobic attacks in the wake of the violence in Gaza. The governor said he is “deeply concerned about the rise of hate in the United States,” citing the October killing of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy in Plainfield, Illinois.
“It’s just something that none of us should even fathom,” he said. “And yet, it happened, and it happened in the wake of this war that’s happening overseas. And this young boy, killed, murdered, because someone had been radicalized by right-wing radio and right-wing television; that’s something we all need to pay attention to.”