WASHINGTON — The son of US presidential candidate Donald Trump alleged recently that the media would “warm up the gas chambers” for his father if he acted like Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, drawing accusations that he was belittling the Holocaust.
Speaking to Chris Stigall on a Philadelphia radio station, Trump Jr. argued that his father is covered differently than his rival, who he said has been given a pass.
The media, he said, has protected Clinton from critical coverage, and that if Republican candidates acted like her, news outlets would be “warming up the gas chamber right now,” invoking a tactic Nazis used to murder Jews during the Holocaust.
“The media has been her number one surrogate in this. Without the media, this wouldn’t even be a contest, but the media has built her up. They’ve let her slide on every indiscrepancy [sic], on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of this thing,” he said.
“If Republicans were doing that, they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now,” he added.
The interview, aired Thursday, is the latest in a growing list of incidents in which the Trump campaign has been accused of being insensitive to minorities and harboring support from anti-Semites and white nationalists.
Critics often cite Trump senior’s reluctance to immediately disavow former KKK grand wizard David Duke, his tweeting an image of Hillary Clinton with a six-pointed star superimposed with money and a caption that read “Most corrupt candidate ever!” and his refusal to unequivocally denounce his supporters who harass Jewish journalists on social media, most notably Julia Ioffe, who wrote a critical profile of Trump’s wife, Melania.
The Anti-Defamation League quickly responded to the gas chamber comment on Twitter, scolding the would-be first child for not taking the gravity of the Holocaust enough with his remarks.
— ADL (@ADL_National) September 15, 2016
“We hope you understand the sensitivity and hurt of making Holocaust jokes. We hope you retract,” the organization tweeted. “Trivialization of the Holocaust and gas chambers is NEVER okay.”
Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin also weighed in on Twitter, saying the comments exposed the true face of the “‘alt-right’ movement’s presidential campaign.
An unsurprising Nazi reference from the "alt-right" movement's presidential campaign. This is the real Trump. https://t.co/HOUgRC8343
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) September 15, 2016
While the Clinton campaign did not immediately comment, it shared McMullin’s tweet.
The National Jewish Democratic Council also took the occasion to castigate the Trump campaign for seemingly attempting to use the horror of the Holocaust to score political points.
“Donald Trump Jr.’s reference to gas chambers is outrageous. With its allusions to the Holocaust, remarks such as these have no place in a presidential campaign,” the organization send in a statement.
“Yet, it is not surprising that the Republican nominee’s son would use such language, given the pattern of frequent dog-whistling to anti-Semites and that both Trump the elder and Trump the younger previously have retweeted postings from known anti-Semites. Both father and son should apologize immediately for this completely inappropriate and offensive reference.”
The comments come on the heels of an incident in which Donald Trump Jr. ignited controversy for suggesting he was proud of tweeting an image that was widely seen as anti-Semitic.
On Sunday, he promoted his once sharing a meme that is oft-shared by white supremacists. “Apparently I made the cut as one of the Deplorables,” he wrote, referring to controversial comments by the former secretary of state, who referred to Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables” the previous week.
Also this week, Trump running mate Mike Pence was pilloried for refusing to say Duke was “deplorable” in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
When asked by Blitzer if he would designate the white supremacist as such, he responded, “I’m not in the name-calling business, Wolf. You know me better than that.”
With less than two weeks before their first debate, Trump and Clinton appear to be in a tight race for the White House, a national poll showed Wednesday.
A CBS News/New York Times survey found Clinton had just a two-point edge (46 to 44 percent) over her Republican rival in a two-way matchup among likely voters. Among registered voters, the Democratic nominee was five points ahead, at 46 to 41 percent.