Trump's racist campaign ad will look and sound familiar to students of history.

In the immediate wake of Donald Trump’s horrific TV ad today, which juxtaposes footage of Luis Bracamontes, an illegal immigrant completely unrepentant for murdering two policemen, with the so-called “migrant caravan,” I thought of this quote by Anne Frank:

“The war isn’t even over, and already there’s dissension and Jews are regarded as lesser beings. Oh, it’s sad, very sad that the old adage has been confirmed for the umpteenth time: "What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does reflects on all Jews."

Anne Frank

I would advise anyone even remotely persuaded by Trump’s propaganda to play a game of Mad Libs: Bigotry Edition.

How to play: Take this quote, written by a victim of the Holocaust, replace the word “Jew” with “Illegal Immigrant,” and then ask yourself: is this ad participating in the same line of thinking that facilitated the murder of six million people?


Because that’s what Trump is doing, here. He shows one illegal immigrant—a glee-filled sociopath—and immediately cuts to a crowd. The camera follows the crowd at a distance, from behind, so the viewer sees only the backs of heads. No one has a face. These are not individuals with their own unique histories, differences, and inner worlds, but herd animals, an insect swarm, the zombie horde: they exist en masse. The behavior of one, is the behavior of all.

In film, special effects editors create enormous crowd scenes through a technique called “crowd duplication,” in which they film a handful of extras, and essentially “cut and paste” until the few transform to multitudes, filling the frame.

It’s an apt metaphor for what Trump attempts here—the camera gives us a lingering close-up of one terrifying person, and then quickly cuts to a raucous crowd, leaving the viewer to reflexively “cut-and-paste” the one face we are given—Luis Bracamontes, conveniently adorned with a devil’s goatee—over and over.

What’s more, the crowd appears to be a happy one—we hear cheerful hollers, the repeated blast of an air horn. But this comes right on the heels of Bracamontes, smiling unrelentingly as he brags about his crimes—in this context, their glee reads as menace. Clearly, their joy and Bracamontes’s are meant to share the same source: a psychotic pride in their capacity for evil. And just to add an extra layer of xenophobic flavor, their cheers are mingled with the sound of tribal drums.

What one illegal immigrant does, this ad tells us, reflects on all illegal immigrants.

How does Trump square “honoring” 11 people who died at the hands of an antisemite, with an ad that capitalizes on the same kind of thinking?

In the mind of their murderer, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger were not individuals. They were “Jews.” Interchangeable figures in a faceless crowd. A bogeyman he cut-and-paste and cut-and-paste until they filled the screen.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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via Matt Radick / Flickr

Joe Biden reversed Donald Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the military earlier this year, allowing the entire LGBTQ community to serve for the first time.

Anti-gay sentiment in the U.S. military goes as far back as 1778 when Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin was convicted at court-martial on charges of sodomy and perjury. The military would go on to make sodomy a crime in 1920 and worthy of dishonorable discharge.

In 1949 the Department of Defense standardized its anti-LGBT regulations across the military, declaring: "Homosexual personnel, irrespective of sex, should not be permitted to serve in any branch of the Armed Forces in any capacity, and prompt separation of known homosexuals from the Armed Forces is mandatory."

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