Trump’s Total Moral Eclipse

I have been a principled critic of US President Barack H. Obama’s foreign policy for four years. But never in that time did I believe that he or any other American politician would ever equate home-grown American Nazis with the very people who oppose them. Such a comparison is not only irrational, it is both politically infantile and morally duplicitous. Of course, Obama has never had it in his soul to make such an outrageous comparison. On the contrary, Mr. Obama possesses a strong moral core. He understands that such a dubious comparison is nothing more than a wink and a nod toward the most viral form of racism and anti-Semitism on the US political stage.

However, his successor Donald J. Trump is a person whose ethical dimension is obviously incapable of recognizing the most basic element between right and wrong. That is, anyone who chooses to march in a rally dominated by armed Nazis, racists, and other assorted bigots cannot possibly be a “fine person”. But that is exactly what Trump claimed at a press conference in New York City. Let’s spell out Trump’s total moral eclipse in the fullness of his ethical incapacity and turpitude.

How can it be that the leader of the United States of America — a nation whose claims of moral uniqueness are based within the very principles of Judeo-Christian civilization as well as natural law enlightenment ethics and whose principles are directly stated within the very founding documents of the nation, its Declaration of Independence and Constitution — could ever possibly equate Nazis marchers with the many decent people who came out to oppose them? This moral equivalence is unconscionable. It makes a mockery of the United States of America before the entire world.

This is not a question of the political left or the political right. This is about the absolute evil of Nazism. Millions upon millions of people died because of Hitler and his insane followers. Doesn’t Donald Trump understand that to claim that Nazis are the same as the people who struggled against them — whether that be in Virginia, Russia, Poland or anywhere else — is an insult to decent people everywhere? Donald Trump, besides being morally obtuse, is also playing with fire. The deeply disturbing question is a simple — why?

Why would any person make such a morally incoherent comparison? Is it stupidity and the absolute failure of any semblance of nuance or political sophistication? I hope not. What would that say about the state of democracy in the nation whose espousal of democracy now approaches 250 years? Have American democratic institutions sunk to such depths of depravity that its head of state cannot recognize the most basic difference between right and wrong? If so, it would mean the final victory of money and plutocracy over common sense and decency. Have America’s propaganda commercials finally destroyed the ability of its electorate to recognize the moral flaws of its politicians and political candidates?

However, now even the leaders of America’s wealthiest corporations are abandoning Trump in droves. After all, it is American Nazis and Nazism — with torchlight parades, and chanting “The Jews will not replace us” — that are at issue. Even Leftists — many who have never really understood my allegiance to the State of Israel or my undying desire for a secure Jewish state — even they now seem to understand that a secure Israel is a vital necessity for the Jewish people. Both the corporate heads and their leftist opponents understand that Nazism is evil personified. And that it is directed against Jews as well as people of color. And, of course, everyone should understand that Nazis and Nazism are fundamentally anti-American as they are in total opposition to the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution. No true American could ever march with Nazis. And no true American president could ever compare the opposition to Nazism, with the Nazis themselves.

So what is wrong with Donald J. Trump? I only know that from a political point of view, he lacks any of the necessary impulse control to be a successful politician within a democratic framework. His personality inclines more toward dictatorship and authoritarianism rather than democracy. He is argumentative to the point of being juvenile, as his arguments are usually tinged with excessive emotion tending toward belligerence. He is also an excessive name caller and a very poor listener. His behavior at the G-20 photo shoot was an overtly childish display for a 70-year-old man. Also, in a petition across America, suggesting that the president might not be fit for office, 60,000 US psychologists and psychiatrists have now become signatories. This October, a book will be published analyzing the emotional stability of the US president. It will be authored by more than 20 of the nation’s leading mental health professionals.

I do not have any expertise in these psychological matters. But what I have witnessed over the last seven months has been a president — in apparent control of both the executive and legislative branches of the US government — unable to accomplish anything but chaos. However, it is as a Jewish-American that I must strongly protest this president. All along I was inclined to view the Trump team as far more worried about the expansion of Iran and the future laxity of its nuclear deal than the Obama team ever was. However, Trump’s berating personality, his thinly-couched violence, and his lack of moral judgement have consistently been strong red flags for me. I have now come to view the president as unfit for office. As a Jew, I base this claim on the president’s inability to understand the immorality of equating Nazis with those who protest against them.

This is now the moment of truth for the US Republican Party. Trump and his frame of mind do not make for a coherent political strategy or agenda. The man is a walking time bomb of potential lost impulse control. Unlike the president’s contention, good and fine people do not march with Nazis. But this presidential statement was witnessed by the entire world at Trump’s historic press conference on August 15, 2017. Not one person in the leadership of the Republican party has defended the president’s moral equivocation. Now President Trump has burned his bridges with nearly every important leader in his own party. All those in his own administration who continue to work with him — many fine people with much knowledge and expertise — now risk their very career reputations. This is true of his highest advisers and those in his cabinet (especially those who are Jewish) but also true of those from a background outside of politics, like business or the military.

In a few days, the US will witness an event unseen in this country since 1918, the total eclipse of the sun throughout the full width of the nation. Within those 99 years, the world has witnessed the rise and fall of the German Nazi party, the Holocaust caused by those Nazis, and the establishment of the State of Israel in the aftermath of those terrible years. For the Jewish people — who suffered attempted genocide at the hands of Nazis and Nazism — to witness a US president whitewash such an ideology with false comparisons to any other group is a tragedy. This shames the meaning and values of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. For all Americans it is a travesty of justice. It is now up to the political party of Abraham Lincoln, the great emancipator of the black slaves, to take the appropriate Constitutional action against Donald J. Trump.

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).