With this racist warmup complete, Trump then veered into an open endorsement of eugenics — the discredited theory that the human race can be improved with selective breeding for superior traits. The theory has an ugly history in America. And Hitler’s embrace of eugenics in Nazi Germany gave rise to the program of “race hygiene” that culminated in the extermination of millions of Jewish people and others at death camps. “You have good genes, you know that right?” Trump said to the nearly all-white crowd. “A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it? Don’t you believe? The racehorse theory,” Trump said. “You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”
Watch the troubling segment below:
The Trumps’ belief in eugenics has long been whispered about, but the president has perhaps never announced it so publicly. In a Frontline film that aired in advance of the 2016 election, a Trump biographer revealed the family’s “very deep” attraction to eugenics, beginning with Trump’s father, Fred, who introduced Donald to the “racehorse theory.”
NARRATOR: Fred had theories. He shared them with his kids. Donald especially liked one of them.
MICHAEL D’ANTONIO, Author, The Truth About Trump: This is a very deep part of the Trump story. The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development, that they believe that there are superior people, and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get superior offspring.
It doesn’t take a secret decoder ring to understand what Trump was aiming at in Bemidji. The idea that white Minnesotans, like racehorses, have superior, inheritable genes is white supremacy — embraced not as a cultural construct, but as if it were based in hard science. In another moment, Trump’s remarks would have made for a front-page scandal. But on Friday, as America reeled from the death of a feminist icon whose departure threatens to accelerate a generation-long right-wing takeover of America’s highest court, as well as from a death toll in the coronavirus pandemic that has surpassed 200,000, the president’s open embrace of eugenics hardly sparked notice.
But it is time to wake up to the threat before us: We have an aspiring authoritarian president who romanticizes martial law and dreams of locking up his political opponents. Trump does not recoil from the most dangerous ideology of the 20th century, but instead celebrates it on the campaign trail in increasingly explicit terms. These may be dark times in America. But if Trump is not stopped at the ballot box in November, our democracy is in plain danger of fading to black.
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