Trump hints at deportation of Communists if he’s re-elected
Trump is again leaning on old anti-communist tropes to trash his allies and rally his fundamentalist religious base. | Photos: AP / Photo illustration: C.J. Atkins / People's World

WASHINGTON—Attempting to deflect attention from his criminal indictment on charges of violating the Espionage Act, former President Donald Trump is escalating his use of anti-communist and anti-Semitic red-baiting rhetoric to smear opponents and investigators.

For years, Trump has wielded accusations of left-wing radicalism against anyone who challenged him, but over the past week, he slid further into fascist-like language. Speaking to supporters at a series of campaign rallies, he alleged that a supposed coalition of “communists,” “socialists,” and “Marxists” had combined as “a powerful force” targeting him and plotting the downfall of the United States.

His revival of McCarthy-era attacks reached new heights this weekend during a 90-minute speech at the far-right Evangelical “Faith and Freedom Conference” in Washington. Speaking to a crowd of Christian fundamentalists, Trump alleged that the Democratic Party was “trying to impose their woke communism on every man, woman, and child.”

Trump addresses the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington on June 24, 2023. | AP

Urging the audience of religious zealots to stand by his side in 2024, Trump declared, in near-apocalyptic terms, “Together, we’re warriors in a righteous crusade to stop the arsonists, the atheists, the globalists, and the Marxists!” The word “globalists” has long been used by the right as a code word for Jews, similar to how “cosmopolitan” was deployed in the past.

Trump raged about the supposed persecution of Christians under President Joe Biden and implied that investigations of his own crimes were punishment for standing up for Christianity. “They want to take away my freedom because I won’t let them take your freedom,” he said, reminding listeners about how his Supreme Court appointments cemented the majority that repealed Roe v. Wade.

“No president has ever fought for Christians as hard as I have,” Trump told his rapt adorers. “I got it done,” he said, referring to stripping women of their constitutional right to an abortion.

Describing his supposed sacrifices in almost Christ-like terms, Trump portrayed himself as a modern-day martyr for the cause. “Every time the radical left Democrats, Marxists, communists, and fascists indict me, I consider it a great badge of courage—I’m being indicted for you,” he said. The irony of a fascist posing a false equivalence between Marxism with fascism was lost on those attending the Christian conference.

The anti-communist tirade was paired with a racist revival of Trump’s now-standard anti-immigrant bigotry. Recalling the restrictive border proposals of his first White House run—when he labeled all Mexican migrants “rapists” and “murderers”—Trump said he would bring back policies like separating migrant children from their parents, blocking asylum seekers from entering the U.S., and finishing his border wall.

But the old policies are not enough, apparently, given the danger of an imaginary communist threat.

Related Stories:

> Republicans’ rabid anti-communism is a sign of their political weakness

> Trump knows McCarthyism: His mentor helped create it

> Communists like my uncle were sent to prison because they fought for democracy

“Using federal law, section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, I will order my government to deny entry to all communists and all Marxists,” he said. “Those who come to join our country must love our country. We don’t want them if they want to destroy our country…. So, we’re going to be keeping foreign Christian-hating communists, socialists, and Marxists out of America. We’re keeping them out of America.”

He said, accurately, that the law already “prohibits the entry of communists” into the U.S. Federal immigration law does indeed say that any immigrant “…who is or has been a member of or affiliated with the Communist…party (or subdivision or affiliate thereof), domestic or foreign, is inadmissible.” It’s an old, undemocratic leftover from the first Red Scare dating back to 1918.

But that’s not enough for Trump. Going further, he asked, “But my question is, what are we going to do with the ones that are already here, that grew up here?”

The packed auditorium erupted with screaming chants of “Deport them! Deport them!”

The revival of deportation threats recalls the notorious Palmer Raids of 1919 and 1920 when the Justice Department arrested and deported foreign-born anarchists, communists, and radical leftists. They were part of the same period of hysteria that saw the implementation of the communist entry prohibition.

To facilitate such deportations today, Trump said he would issue an executive order repealing birthright citizenship. This is the provision in the 14th Amendment which says any person born on U.S. soil unless they’re the child of a foreign diplomat, is automatically a U.S. citizen.

The president has no authority to override this guarantee, so any executive order trying to do so would be obviously unconstitutional and dictatorial. It would be nothing out of the ordinary for Trump, though. His anti-democratic ravings at the Christian conference came immediately after his attendance at a fundraiser for jailed right-wing Jan. 6 coup participants. There, he defended those who attacked the Capitol on his behalf as “great patriots” who would receive pardons if he is elected again.

He also repeated the lie that Black Lives Matter activists and “Antifa” were really responsible for the violence that happened when he tried to orchestrate the overthrow of the government in the last days of his administration.

Extending his anti-communist threats to the international arena, Trump said he would put a 24-hour deadline on China from the moment of his inauguration to remove its “military installations” from Cuba—installations which are not confirmed to even exist. He criticized the Biden administration for supposedly allowing the establishment of Chinese “listening posts” 90 miles from Florida.

His remarks concerning the Sunshine State’s security came just a day before Florida Sen. Rick Scott made his own anti-communist headlines by saying Reds of any variety were not welcome to visit. “We like freedom, liberty, capitalism, things like that,” Scott said, rambling off a list of three items, two of which are not necessarily connected to the third.

Anti-communism is nothing new for Trump. The seeds of his extreme right politics were probably planted in him by his father, Fred Trump—a past Ku Klux Klan supporter and notoriously racist New York landlord. Unconfirmed rumors have long swirled that the elder Trump was also a backer of the German-American Bund, the American outpost of Hitler’s Nazi Party in the 1930s.

President Trump also learned anti-communist witch-hunt tactics from one of their original practitioners. His chief political mentor early in life was lawyer Roy Cohn, sidekick of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who made a name for himself “exposing” supposed Communist infiltration of the U.S. government in the early 1950s.

Trump’s zealous audience of Evangelical adorers. | AP

As chief counsel to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Cohn built a career helping to send the Rosenbergs to die in the electric chair and as a union-busting attorney going after the left-led United Electrical Workers (UE). He pushed McCarthy’s search for communists and later helped Nixon get elected president.

After McCarthy was gone from the scene, Cohn became the right-hand man of Donald Trump in the 1970s. Cohn defended Trump and his father in court against government charges that they were discriminating against African-American and other minority tenants who applied to rent at their properties.

Periodically over the decades, Trump has dredged up charges of “socialism” and “Marxism” against political opponents, so the tactics on display at the Faith and Freedom Conference are not necessarily new. The 2020 Republican National Convention also made anti-communism a featured theme, but this weekend’s display certainly represents an escalation.

While Trump’s brand of anti-communism is sensationalist and often focuses on individual politicians or public officials he hopes to trash, it is part of a larger right-wing and capitalist project of demobilizing the entire progressive and union movement. Historically, anti-communism has been used to divide and distract, putting roadblocks in front of labor, civil rights, women, LGBTQ, and other struggles.

As Trump’s attacks this week show, even those who are not subscribers to socialist views are not immune from being targeted. Successfully resisting anti-communism, therefore, requires unity among all the forces fighting for democracy—not just those on the left.

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!


C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left.