With each passing day, Donald Trump becomes more dangerous. Things have gotten so bad that people in the media, entertainment industry, politics, the clergy, and academia have begun to compare the rise of Donald Trump with the rise of Adolph Hitler or Benito Mussolini in the 1920’s and 30’s.
The comparisons are valid.
Some have to do with the physical characteristics of the three men. If you were to look at photos of the three men side by side you could see the eerie similarities – the tightly pursed lips, the jut-jaws, the squinting, anger-filled eyes, and the menacing scowls. There’s also the poisonous, hate-filled rhetoric we’ve become all too familiar with. Then, there are the outrageous ideas, the banning of all Muslims from entering the United States, the notion that Mexicans are rapists and criminals, the ten foot wall, etc.
How would he accomplish such outrageous things? Would he be like the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and just tell congress, the courts, and the nation, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”?
The notion seems insane, but if his most recent statements are any indicator, Mr. Trump is as close to being certifiable as any presidential candidate in our history.
At the last Republican debate, he was asked if he stood by his statement, made early in the campaign, that he would order American soldiers to use “worse than torture” on America’s enemies or to kill the wives, mothers, fathers, and children of terrorists. When Moderator Bret Baier reminded him that the acts mentioned were illegal under U.S. military law and the Geneva Conventions, Trump blathered, “They won’t refuse. They’re not gonna’ refuse me. Believe me.” When Baier pressed him, he insisted, “I’m a leader, I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it.”
There you have it – from Donald Trump’s lips to America’s, and God’s, ears. They’ll do it because he says they’ll do it.
A day or so after he made the statement, he modified it and said he wouldn’t ask America’s fighting men and women to do things that are illegal. But, Trump being Trump, a day or so after that he said he would just change the laws, including articles 93, 118, and 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which holds any military member, at any level of service or command, liable for their actions, including torture, murder, or assault.
Simple, isn’t it? It’s amazing what can happen if you give a lunatic a pen and a phone.
Could he actually get people to do these evil things? Most of us wouldn’t, even if ordered to do so, but even when there are laws in force to prevent such evil, men sometimes cross the line, at My Lai in 1968, for example.
Would Donald Trump’s supporters be willing to commit My Lai’s on an industrial scale? They seem to adore him and they seem to be willing to follow him wherever he leads.
Recently, Trump had his Florida faithful raise their right hands and take the following loyalty oath: “I do solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there are hurricanes or whatever, will vote on or before the 12th for Donald J. Trump for President.”
Trump said his followers were just having fun. Does fun mean acting like Hitler’s Brownshirts or Mussolini’s Blackshirts?
Would they, if ordered by Donald Trump, kill the wives and children of terrorists? Would they do “more than torture?” I fear they would, especially if their loyalty was to Donald Trump rather than the Constitution or sound morality.
It would all be bad enough Donald Trump’s “army” was small, but, as we have learned, he has millions of Americans willing to follow him wherever he goes.
In 1955, a German academic named Milton Mayer wrote in retrospect about the rise of Adolph Hitler and the failure of the German people and world leaders to stop him before it was too late.
His words, written in the aftermath of the Third Reich, serve as a warning to us of what could happen if we ignore the cancer of hate that’s growing in our midst today:
“I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’”
A frightening possibility looms on the horizon. In all likelihood, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president. If that happens, we must find a way to stop him. As Mayer said, we must “Resist the beginnings” and “Consider the ends.”