President Donald Trump took heat on social media for praising the “good bloodlines” of Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford, who had a history of promoting anti-Semitic views.
“The company founded by a man named Henry Ford – good bloodlines, good bloodlines if you believe in that stuff. You got good blood,” Trump said Thursday during a tour of a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
“Henry Ford was an anti-Semite and one of America’s staunchest proponents of eugenics. The President should apologize,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote on Twitter in response to a reporter’s post about Trump’s remarks.
Former White House ethics chief Walter Shaub denounced Trump’s comments as “gaslit dog whistling” as the term bloodlines is often used in eugenics.
Ford published a set of anti-Semitic pamphlets called, “The International Jew.” He also spread conspiracy theories through his newspaper the Dearborn Independent.
The Henry Ford museum describes how Ford “saw Jews present in everything that he viewed as modern and distasteful” including the First World War, jazz, and short skirts. Ford used the network of Ford dealerships across the country to distribute the Dearborn Independent, building the newspaper to a circulation of 900,000 in 1926.
Ford apologized for the articles and closed the newspaper in 1927 after being sued for defamation by attorney Aaron Sapiro, a target of anti-Semitic attacks by the Dearborn Independent.
Ford, however, accepted an award, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, from Nazi Germany in 1938.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
William Clay Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. and the great-grandson of Henry Ford, had attended the tour and had urged Trump to wear a mask during his visit.
“Bill Ford encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived,” the company said in the statement. “He wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years. The President later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit.”