“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Those are the infamous “14 Words” you may have heard about that serves as the guiding principle of sorts for all the various subsets of the White Supremacy movement.
The iconic phrase is the innocuous-sounding rallying cry that unites everyone from hood-wearing Ku Klux Klan members and swastika-tattooed Neo-Nazis, to more subtle but equally dangerous suit and tie wearing alt-right ‘nationalists’ who try to conceal their racism behind a twisted devotion to the Constitution.
So well-known and potent is this line of text that white supremacists don’t even need to recite or write them all out. A simple tweet, tattoo or t-shirt with “Fourteen Words” or just the number “14” will suffice to let other white supremacists that they’re a member of the kkklub, like a secret password or handshake.
Only it’s not a secret at all. The Anti-Defamation League has long flagged the phrase as the dog whistle that it is meant to be. The ADL website says in part:
The slogan was coined by David Lane, a member of the white supremacist terrorist group known as The Order (Lane died in prison in 2007). The term reflects the primary white supremacist worldview in the late 20th and early 21st centuries: that unless immediate action is taken, the white race is doomed to extinction by an alleged “rising tide of color” purportedly controlled and manipulated by Jews.
There’s another coded message popular in these same circles, and that’s the number 88. It’s shorthand for ‘Heil Hitler,’ with each 8 standing for the letter ‘H,’ as in the 8th letter of the alphabet. The 88-millimeter cannon was also the iconic artillery piece of Nazi Germany’s army throughout World War II. This number appears regularly in the posts and tweets of modern-day alt-right social media warriors trying to make a name for themselves.
With the meaning and the message behind both the 14 words and the number 88 now fully exposed, and watchdog groups on constant watch for their employ in public discourse, an elected official would have to be either really stupid and/or careless to try to sneak either of them into a speech or a tweet, let alone something more official like press release or a policy directive.
In one of the most brazen ‘hold my beer’ moments of this frat house of a presidency, Trump’s Homeland Security Department released a statement on its website with a peculiar 14-word headline that begins with the words “We Must Secure The…”
The press release entitled “We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again” details the administration’s argument for the militarization of the border that we’re seeing today. It went largely unnoticed until intrepid Twitter activists uncovered it recently.
“Walls Work,” the statement begins. “When it comes to stopping drugs and illegal aliens across our borders, border walls have proven to be extremely effective. Border security relies on a combination of border infrastructure, technology, personnel and partnerships with law enforcement at the state, local, tribal, and federal level.”
Later in the press release, the number ’88’ makes completely superfluous, contextless cameo. The second to last bullet tries to make the case for severe limits on asylum requests at the border by stating, “On average, out of 88 claims that pass the credible fear screening, fewer than 13 will ultimately result in a grant of asylum.”
This administration’s record on racist policies and rhetoric is deplorable, to say the least. The West Wing has been staffed from the beginning with known or suspected white supremacists like current Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller and former policy guru and alt-right icon Stephen Bannon.
The president himself has not been above the fray, either. He famously said that a mob of Neo-Nazis that initiated a deadly riot in Virginia was composed of “very fine people,” and he’s made frequent and sustained attacks on Muslims, Mexicans, and anyone from “sh*thole” countries a fundamental pillar of his presidency.
Through all of this, Trump insists he’s not a racist, and doesn’t think he employs any, either. This disgusting homage to white supremacy, however, should make it clear to everyone that there are Neo-Nazis working in this administration, or at least those who sympathize with them and/or see political value in employing these heinous dog whistle tactics. This can no longer be denied.
The DHS press release goes on for many more paragraphs, but the message this was meant to send is clear. You may not have seen it right away, and even after seeing it you may not even understand it. The people this was intended to impress and mobilize, however, heard it loud and clear.