White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to dismiss criticism of President Trump’s use of the words “breeding concept” in a tweet last week in which he blasted “sanctuary” laws in California that protect undocumented immigrants — a term that was widely interpreted as a racist dog whistle meant to dehumanize immigrants.
“There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
“When he used the term ‘breeding,’ was he making a derogatory term about Latinos in California, that they breed a lot, or that they’re prone to breeding?” asked CNN’s Jim Acosta on Monday.
Sanders denied Trump intended for the tweet to be derogatory, and said he was merely “talking about the problem itself growing and getting bigger.”
Later, American Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan asked Sanders to explain exactly what Trump meant “by breeding.”
Sanders said that Trump recognized sanctuary cities as a major problem.
“What does breeding mean to this president?” Ryan pressed. “Because when you think of breeding, you think of animals.”
“I’m not going to begin to think what you think,” Sanders said. “Certainly I think that it could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But the president is talking about a growing problem.”
As CNN notes:
Fear of immigrants from certain countries “breeding” has been a staple of nativist thought for hundreds of years. The “breeding” fear has been affixed to Jews from Eastern Europe, Catholics from Ireland and Italy, Chinese and, now, Latinos, Filipinos, Africans and Haitians. This is dog-whistle politics at its worst.
“Breeding” as a concept has an animalistic connotation. Dogs and horses are bred. So his use of it is, at best, dehumanizing to the immigrants he appears to be referring to.
Seth Abramson, an Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, responded to Trump’s tweet, saying that’s “exactly how Germans saw Warsaw.”
A day before the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a U.S. president messaged 50 million people to complain that certain "infested" areas of his country are serving as "breeding" sites for a minority population he disfavors. That's exactly how the Germans saw Warsaw. https://t.co/62tJf93j70
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) April 19, 2018