Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says that a fascist is someone “willing to use violence and whatever other means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.” In a 1990 Playboy interview, Donald Trump praised the Chinese government for viciously crushing the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square. It was a massacre. He called Vladimir Putin a “genius” for invading Ukraine, killing thousands of civilians and making millions homeless. Throughout his presidency he repeatedly praised our enemies and undermined the Geneva Conventions. He pardoned a convicted war criminal. He said that Neo-Nazis were very fine people. As a political novice he encouraged violence against peaceful protest at his rallies and at the end he told the insurrectionists that they were “very special” after a day of carnage, a mass assault on law enforcement. The president watched the violence at the Capitol all day on television and then said “we love you” to people who injured 140 police officers and hunted his vice president in order to hang him for failing to follow an illegal order.
Donald Trump may be a mystery to many, but he is no mystery to those of us who had a career in the military and mental health. His beliefs, his public statements that sexual assault is due to putting men and women together, and that the Geneva Conventions tie the hands of our military, would require dismissal from the military. He meets all the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and almost all the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, which would have warranted a psychiatric discharge if he did not go to prison for sexual assault (to which he has publically confessed), security breaches (stealing and hiding Top Secret documents in his private residence) or other violations of military law.
The former Commander in Chief’s unprecedented illegal charity and university, his unconstitutional attempt to remain in power, can be understood and explained by the character traits of pathological narcissism, but GOP leadership has no such excuse. This is where the Hitler analogies come in – those who are normal must enforce the checks and balances against what is clearly abnormal. Can we blame people for ignorance concerning the least known mental illness? John McCain, Jeff Flake, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger prove that you do not have to be a mental health professional to recognize abnormality, to decide not to be complicit. Senator McCain said that the President of the United States went to Helsinki and abased himself in front of a tyrant. He said that Trump was resurrecting ideas we thought we had thrown on the trash heap of history. Senator Flake proved that you don’t have to be an American POW war hero to recognize what is destructive to democracy and take a stand.
The rallying cry of the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville was, “Come and defend Western civilization from the Jew and his dark-skinned ally.” The rallying cry of the January 6th insurrection was, “Stop the Steal.” George W. Bush responded to Charlottesville by praising American unity and diversity. Former Attorney General William Barr assured us before he resigned that the results of the 2020 presidential election were legitimate and that he found no significant voter fraud in any of the 50 states. On Jan. 6 Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy had a moment of clarity and blamed Donald Trump for inciting a deadly riot. Two more cabinet members, Betsy DeVoss and Elaine Chao resigned the next day; but the Republican base cannot know the truth if its leadership cannot live up to their oath to protect the Constitution against all enemies, and if they refuse to speak truth to power.
I come from a military family. My parents served in WWII, my brothers in Vietnam, and I served in Afghanistan. We all witnessed tremendous sacrifices for liberty. My mother’s medical unit, the 53rd Field Hospital, treated the 13 survivors out of 1,016 prisoners at Gardelegen, Germany, and later the survivors at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. One of the Army physicians said that he would ask himself for the rest of his life how so many people could follow so few deviants. Nazi officers fled Gardelegen after setting fire to a barn and burning everyone trapped inside alive. There were not “very fine people on both sides,” there were Fascists and there were American patriots willing to sacrifice everything for freedom.
Just last week Donald Trump entertained white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes for dinner at the president’s home in Mar-a-Lago. Fuentes admires Hitler and does not consider Jews part of Western civilization “because they are not Christians.” Once again, the former president proved that he is unfit for the office we allowed him to hold for four years. He proved it in two ways. First, by lying to us and saying he didn’t know Fuentes was coming. No former president has unexpected visitors. The Secret Service must vet anyone having access to the president for security reasons. Secondly, by breaking bread with a domestic enemy – someone I would have been obligated to discharge from the military for unconstitutional beliefs. All of this, however, is consistent with Donald Trump’s presidency, his own assaults on the Constitution, and the inevitable Hitler analogies born out of a pathological mind that can justify granting a private audience to someone who is preaching a call-to-arms to protect racial, ethnic and religious superiority.