Neonazi dog whistling by Trump’s Homeland Security department?


This video from the USA says about itself:

16 January 2018

‘Your silence is complicity’: Corey Booker spits fire at DHS secretary for covering up Trump’s racism.

From daily The Forward in the USA:

Are ‘14’ And ‘88’ Nazi Dog Whistles In Border Security Document — Or Just Numbers?

Aviya Kushner

June 28, 2018

Sometimes a dog whistle can be a number, not a word. The number “88” appeared in a strange context in a press release from Homeland Security calling for building a border wall, along with a headline that had a total of fourteen words — but until today, no one seems to have noticed.

Today, the press release, originally issued in February, is getting some attention from journalists covering the “hate and extremism” beat. Here is an example, from Christopher Mathias, who covers hate and extremism for The Huffington Post.

What is happening, for those needing a translation, is this: The number “88” is code for Heil Hitler. And 14 is white-supremacist shorthand.

Like in the Ukrainian neonazi gang Combat14, C14.

In the C14 name, the C alludes to C18, the (originally English, later international) neonazi terror gang Combat 18. In which 18, the first and eighth letters in the alphabet, stands for ‘AH’=Adolf Hitler. The 14 in the C14 name stands for the ’14 words’, a racist neonazi slogan.

“One of the most common white supremacist symbols, 88 is used throughout the entire white supremacist movement, not just neo-Nazis. One can find it as a tattoo or graphic symbol; as part of the name of a group, publication or website; or as part of a screenname or e-mail address,” the ADL’s hate symbol database notes.

Most of the press release, titled “We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again”, uses percentages, as do many statistical reports.

But the second-to-last line is what is drawing attention on Twitter, because it has this curious wording: “On average, out of 88 claims that pass the credible fear screening, fewer than 13 will ultimately result in a grant of asylum.”

That’s odd. Normally, a report might say something like “less than 15 percent ultimately result in a grant of asylum.”

It may just be coincidence, and on a day when journalists are shot, everyone with a connection to media is understandably on edge. But there is one other factor to consider, say those who hear a dog whistle: what if this “88” is read in conjunction with the headline, which has 14 words?

The 14-word thing is its own signal. As the ADL hate symbol database explains in its unpacking of 88:

The number is frequently combined with another white supremacist numeric code, 14 (shorthand for the so-called “14 Words” slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) in the form of 1488, 14/88, 14-88, or 8814.

That slogan can be understood as something not very far from the press release headline: “We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again.”

Coincidence? Maybe.

But a numerical system of interpretation can be a way for a group to communicate with itself. In Jewish tradition, gematria is one system of Biblical commentary. Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value, and some commentators use this symbol of numbers to arrive at additional meanings. Some see profound meaning in this, others have always dismissed it as mere coincidence.

In the case of the DHS press release, it may be coincidence — or it may be more, a signal to those who know the system of codes.

What can be said for sure is this: It is unusual to use the statistic “13 out of 88.” It could, of course, be a typo. And the headline bearing the requisite “14 words” is not soothing for anyone who has spent time with hate databases.

But right now, those are the only definite take-aways.

In a time of fear and anxiety, it is important to take extra care before drawing conclusions. Still, from now on, it may be wise to watch the numbers, not just the words.

Aviya Kushner is The Forward’s language columnist and the author of The Grammar of God.

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33 thoughts on “Neonazi dog whistling by Trump’s Homeland Security department?

  1. Pingback: Neonazi dog whistling by Trump’s Homeland Security department? | Dear Kitty. Some blog | sdbast

  2. URGENT: We must speak out now and oppose any bill that threatens immigrant communities and constructs the border wall »

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    Immigrants are an integral part of the fabric of our communities and our country. Thank you for speaking up in defense of immigrants and ensuring we remain a free and welcoming country.

    Yours in resistance.

    Elizabeth Jacob
    Digital Advertising Coordinator
    League of Conservation Voters

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  3. Three weeks ago today, I was in the Federal prison in SeaTac meeting with 174 women asylum seekers who had been transferred from the Texas border. Many were mothers who had been forcibly separated from their children and forced to sit in a room and hear their children scream next door without being able to go and comfort them or even say goodbye. They had not seen their children and did not even know where they were. They wept and wept, and as we hugged, I promised them I would do everything I could to get their stories out, free them, and reunite them with their children.

    I was haunted by their stories of escaping rape, persecution, and violence, of doing everything they could to bring their children to safety, and then being locked up and separated from children as young as one year old. As I told their stories on every news outlet I could find, people responded with horror and desperation. Everyone was asking, “What can we do?”

    Exactly two weeks ago, after another sleepless night, I knew we had to channel the outrage I was hearing from people everywhere. We needed a mass mobilization in the streets to call for an end to Donald Trump’s “Zero-tolerance, zero-humanity” policy. At 7am on Saturday morning, I called my friends Anna Galland, the Executive Director of MoveOn, and Ai-jen Poo, the Executive Director of National Domestic Workers Alliance and said, “We need a mass mobilization in the streets — right away.”

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    Yesterday, I was in Washington, DC marching with tens of thousands of activists from across the country and from all across the globe. The energy we saw was awe-inspiring. We marched from the White House to the Department of Justice to demand an end to the Trump administration’s horrific policies. Actors read the stories of those in prison seeking asylum, and Lin-Manuel Miranda sang a song he had written. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents were out in the streets yesterday — because what is happening is beyond politics. It is about right and wrong.

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    I’m inspired by you — stay strong, stay loving, stay human. We WILL win.

    If you’re ready to help us take back the House, sign up today.

    In Solidarity,

    Pramila Jayapal

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