Jan. 27 marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day — designated by the United Nations to fall on the anniversary of the day the Auschwitz death camp was liberated — and though President Donald Trump acknowledged the day in a statement, he announced a policy just days ago that eerily echoes a tactic the Nazi regime used to target and vilify Jewish citizens.
As part of an executive order signed on Tuesday, the Trump administration ordered the Department of Homeland Security to release a weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
The text of the order said that the secretary of homeland security will now, "on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens," the Hill reported on Wednesday.
Setting aside the fact that, as the New York Times reported, research consistently indicates that "immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States," the political tactic of using a list of crimes to target an oppressed group will raise red flags for history buffs.
Andrea Pitzer, author of the forthcoming One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, explained in an email on Friday that "we've seen these kinds of patterns before, and they don't lead to good places."
"Gathering and distributing a log about a particular religious, racial or ethnic group's crimes — whether it's Jews in Nazi Germany or minority groups today — is about finding a way to splinter a nation and vilify a vulnerable minority in order to move against them," Pitzer said.
Pitzer assured she is not drawing a direct line between Trump and Adolf Hitler, but also that these actions don't bode well for future policymaking.
"The president has already repeatedly embraced torture and revoking citizenship in certain cases," she noted. "Taken together, these things raise several jumbo-sized red flags."
And the public way in which Trump is planning to release his weekly crime list is, Pitzer said, also a strategy that was employed by Nazi propagandists, who released similar information about Jews and other "inferior" groups as a way to condition a listening public to accept their oppression — and, eventually, their deaths at the hands of the state.
As Emily Hilton, a blogger and a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, wrote in an op-ed for the Independent Thursday that the red flags are too flagrant to ignore.
"When those warning signs erupt, be it a member of the alt-right as the chief of staff, or the campaign advisor talking about 'alternative facts' or the lists of crimes committed by immigrants, we can begin to think about our choices over the next four years," Hilton writes.
In the case of Nazi Germany, these "warning signs" were steps on the way to the systemic murder of 11 million Jews, LGBTQ people, disabled people, Roma, political dissidents and other "undesirables" who died at the hands of the fascist, totalitarian Nazi state.
In his statement acknowledging Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, Trump decried the "depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror." If he really means what he says, he would do well to avoid any policies that echo the ones that led to such horror.