President Donald Trump, while touring a Ford Motor facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on Thursday, offered controversial praise for the company’s anti-Semitic founder.
Trump complimented Henry Ford’s genetics in an ad-libbed statement during a speech at the plant.
“The company founded by a man named Henry Ford,” Trump described Ford Motor Company as being. “Good bloodlines, good bloodlines. If you believe in that stuff, you get good blood.”
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Many blasted Trump’s comments as being insensitive, as they seemed to ignore the bigoted views that Ford himself held, especially about Jewish people.
Bend the Arc, a progressive Jewish organization, condemned the president in a tweet Thursday evening.
“Henry Ford was a Nazi sympathizer who wrote ‘The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem,'” the organization noted. “Hitler called Ford an ‘inspiration’ & gave him the highest Nazi medal for foreigners. Trump praising Ford’s ‘good bloodlines’ = a dog-whistle to antisemites & white nationalists.”
Ford’s personal history is rife with examples of hatred for Jewish people. He infamously purchased a newspaper in Dearborn, Michigan, where he promoted his bigotry in print to a large circulation. His words against Jewish people even caught the attention of fascists, including Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“You can tell Herr Ford that I am a great admirer of his,” Hitler once said. “I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany.”
Although eugenics has been discredited as pseudoscience, in some ways Trump has expressed a tacit endorsement of its tenets, as Ford is not the first person he has praised for ostensibly having superior genetics.
In the past, Trump has touted a group of British business leaders as having “such good bloodlines” as well. The president himself bragged about his own genetics, stating that he was “proud to have that German blood” in 2017.
“The [Trump] family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development,” Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said in 2016. “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 a superior offspring.”
The president has also made questionable comments in the past that have been criticized for being anti-Semitic.
In December, while talking to a group of Jewish business leaders in Florida, Trump attacked Jews in the U.S. whom he believed “don’t love Israel enough,” invoking the anti-Semitic trope of “dual loyalty.” Trump made a similar claim last summer about Jewish people being disloyal to Israel if they voted for Democrats.
At the same event in December, Trump further suggested that members of the audience were obsessed with money, another anti-Jewish stereotype. “A lot of you are in the real estate business, because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all,” the president said.
During a speech last year before the United Nations, Trump promoted himself as a nationalist who is against “globalists” whom he believes are trying to control the world. The term “globalist” itself is a recognized anti-Semitic term that has been embraced by bigoted individuals who describe themselves as part of an “alt-right” movement in recent years.