America has an evil president, a man whose every instinct summons evil.
A thoughtful essay from Salon.com by Chauncey DeVega explores the evil at the heart of this animal. It begins with Australian journalist Lenore Taylor's account of how the American media massage Trump's ramblings to present him as coherent, borderline normal.
"In most circumstances, presenting information in as intelligible a form as possible is what we are trained for. But the shock I felt hearing half an hour of unfiltered meanderings from the president of the United States made me wonder whether the editing does our readers a disservice …
"I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies — the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence."DeVega concurs that the American media have been complicit in 'normalizing' Trump.
The American media has “massaged” the truth in Trump's favor by waiting almost three years into his presidency to finally describe him as a racist and a white supremacist.At this point DeVega turns to Susan Neiman, a professor of philosophy at Yale and Tel Aviv universities, now the director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany. Her most recent book is "Learning From the Germans, Race and the Memory of Evil."
...There is another word that can and should be used to describe Donald Trump. He is evil. By implication, Trump's policies and those who enact and support them are stained by his evil.
The cruelty, the violence, the greed, the selfishness, the racism, the sexism, the nativism, the bigotry, the destruction, the lying, the assault on reality, the contempt for human dignity and civil rights, rejection of the rule of law and democracy, the summoning and mainstreaming of chaos and nihilism and a panoply of other social pathologies are more than the absence of good. They are evil.
Neiman also sees evil in this president and eerie parallels between how Trump wields power and the early practices of the National Socialists.
"Donald Trump meets every single criterion for using the word evil — and he keeps meeting it every day. Evil is a word that should be used with caution. ...Unfortunately, the description of “evil” has been so overused that many people just believe that it is a type of name-calling. I disagree. When we relinquish the use of language like “evil” we are leaving the strongest linguistic weapons that we have in the hands of the people who are least equipped to use them."Neiman sees a parallel between Trump's refugee camps and the concentration camps of the initial Nazi era. Not extermination camps, concentration camps. There is a difference.
"What we need to examine and publicly discuss in much more detail and much more often in America, is the beginning. How the evils of the Holocaust came to be, the process. We need to look at the 1930s, that time before Hitler was elected.
"Obviously, these are not one-to-one comparisons between America now with Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. No two historical events are ever identical. Unfortunately, there are many parallels between Trumpism and the rise of the Nazis and Hitler. The demonizing of minorities, the demonizing of the Other, the telling a lie loud enough and often enough and people will stop caring whether or not it's true. These are fascist tactics."The moral obligation to fight back, to resist.
"At this moment in time in America and other parts of the world it is incredibly important for all of us to not to feel overwhelmed. We must not surrender. This American nightmare under Donald Trump is going to come to an end in November 2020. However, for Trumpism and this nightmare to end we must act.
"As far as the person who finds their father’s or grandfather’s MAGA hat or other Trump regalia feeling ashamed, one thing we must consider is, has that person ever traveled outside the United States? Because in most places outside the United States, Donald Trump personifies the caricature of the ugly American.
"Donald Trump is that thing which everyone was afraid that America really was and is. Trump is Incredibly stupid, incredibly arrogant and just mind-numbingly wrong about everything. Donald Trump has created a sense of enormous shame for Americans who live or travel abroad. In contrast to Barack Obama and his family who are loved abroad and were and are a source of great pride for America, Trump is the opposite."If you want to explore pre-Nazi Germany, Wiemar, and pre-war Nazi Germany there are two excellent books I'm sure you can find in your library - "They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1933-45," by Milton Mayer, 1955 I think - and "Defying Hitler," Sebastian Haffner's memoir of coming of age during Wiemar and eventually getting his wife, a Jew, and their child to safety in Britain. Reading them brings out parallels between the rise and early years of National Socialism and not just Donald Trump but a substantial segment of the American people also. It is chilling to discover how evil spreads across a country and its people, blankets them and eventually suffocates them.