Alan Chartock | I Publius: Trump's hate-based appeal should ring alarm bells

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GREAT BARRINGTON >> One of the reasons why, should he be elected, Donald Trump presents such a problem for this country is his appeal to the underside of the country.

His attack against Muslims is evidence that no group can really be safe if he should find it useful to attack them. Hitler knew that and the Jews became targets out of pure political expediency. In the end, the world saw a disaster of the greatest magnitude.

Some might quibble with the definitions, but Hitler was a psychopath, a sociopath or both. His lack of concern for the harm he was doing is central to both of these psychiatric diagnoses. When Trump attacks a single group, in this case Muslims, for the misdeeds of some who say they practice the same religion, he follows the same rulebook.

Let me give you an example. I recently received an e-mail from an individual who writes me now and again. I quote it in full.

"Stop talking about the "Trumpmeister"! What will all the leftwing, anti-American Jews do if he gets elected; go to Israel? Now that's a Jewish dilemma, being the cowards that you are. Yuh'd sell out your own mother! Now is it possible for Hillary to run the country from a federal prison? Maybe their hatchet man, [George] Soros, will off a few people to keep her on board."

"Viva la Israel! Viva la Trump."

OK. Some of you will say that this is simply one anti-Semite writing garbage and that I am giving him far more attention than he deserves. You may think we should forget about the potential for Trump to wreak havoc.

'Have to be answered'

You've all heard him described as a clown. But, remember, that is just what they said about Hitler. Before they knew it, it was too late. Nope, as the late Mario Cuomo used to tell me, "These kinds of things just have to be answered."

Trump knows who his audience is, whether in Massachusetts, New York or anyplace else. Our letter writer is a prime example. These are people with smoke coming out of their ears. They are haters. After World War II, Eisenhower made those people living near the concentration camps file through to see what their support of their Fuehrer had resulted in.

We, of course, live in a country where the foul rantings of our letter writer are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But make no mistake about it — he's not the only one.

Instead of a loud "NO!" when Trump made his anti-Muslim remarks there was little heard from the underbelly side. Even the President of the United States was alarmed enough to allude to Trump's remarks. Obama is a prudent man and not given to hyperbole, but there are times when one simply cannot keep quiet in the face of this kind of bigotry, including the anti-Catholics, anti-gays, and so many more.

It is all motivated by fear. When threatened, people can go to great lengths to protect themselves either by forbidding all Muslims entry into the country or singling out any other group.

Page from history

The frightening thing, of course, is that it's working. The polls are showing huge numbers of people committed to voting for Trump. Some show him close to winning the presidency. If that happens, history will have repeated itself, as it tends to do.

Prominent members of the Republican establishment who are being forced to choose between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are committing themselves to Trump. They believe they can work with him.

With Michael Bloomberg potentially entering the race as a third party candidate, anything can happen. My bet is that Trump is licking his chops, figuring that a lot of independents and liberals will vote for Bloomberg. If you don't think that Trump and his hater followers can win this thing, think again, but not before you read the history books.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.


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