the cover of Life magazine August 18, 1958, showing photos of Anne Frank and her diaryWhen I was seven years old, I was at the local barbershop in my hometown of Fargo, North Dakota, when I picked up a Life Magazine that had Anne Frank on the cover (August 18, 1958 – see image on the left).  I remember looking through the magazine and seeing pictures of people with black and white striped pajamas on.  I don’t remember if anyone told me anything about the content of the magazine, but what I remember most vividly was how absolutely terrified I became of what was inside that Life magazine.  I don’t have the words to convey the terror I felt.  It became so acute that I was even afraid to look at the cover picture of Anne Frank.  I developed a phobia about going back to that barbershop because of my fear that I’d see that magazine again.  This was my introduction to the Holocaust.

I believe that young child are able to pick up on things (feelings, moods, energies, concepts) that are ”in the air,” even at a distance (almost like a highly sensitive short wave radio).  Somehow, without people explicitly explaining the Holocaust to me, I had glimpsed in essence the dark evil of that event, the true horror of those years.

As I grew up, I learned more about the Holocaust.  I had another less severe, but still shocking encounter with it when, as 13 year old, I read  the chapter ”The Final Solution” in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, which covered the Holocaust in graphic detail. There would be other encounters as well, as I watched documentaries showing the dead bodies heaped up in piles (I look away now whenever I see them on TV), and visited the United States Holocaust Museum (I psyched myself into looking over the rim of the exhibit having to do with the Nazi’s medical experiments).

As an adult, I’ve learned how to ”cope” or ”defend” against the terror that I experienced as a young child by using my rational faculties to put the various episodes of the Holocaust into various contexts, categories and compartments of my brain.  But every once in a while, I’ll have a dream of a movie theater where a woman’s face is about to be shown and a voice is about to be heard (on the cover of the Life magazine article, Anne Frank talked about wanting to visit Hollywood), and I experience a paralyzing terror that makes me race out of the theater before this even occurs.

Now then, what does all this have to do with Donald Trump? Plenty. The truth is, I’m afraid that Donald Trump is turning into another incarnation of Adolf Hitler.  There are many parallels with Hitler, most especially in the fact that they both had/have massive inferiority complexes giving rise to pathological ego-mania, and they both tap into a collective inferiority complex of an entire nation giving rise to nationalistic bravado and slogans like ”One People. One Nation. One Leader” (Hitler) and ”Make American Great Again” (Trump).  They both become unhinged by current events, reacting to them with stinging anger and vicious reprisals. I could go on, but I want to stop you there, because I know you’re thinking that Trump could never round up several million people (oh, wait, he’s talked about doing that! – but let’s let that go for the moment) and exterminate them.

Let’s say that I grant you that.  But he’s still quite able to incinerate millions of people in other ways, most notably through recklessly, impulsively, and/or rashly, triggering a nuclear incident or even a nuclear war, resulting in tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of people dying instantly with many more dying later on.

While Trump followers are reveling in his badass personna and loving the way he doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional politician, they seem to be living in their emotional brain (also known as the ”limbic system”), while the rest of us are accessing our rational (prefrontal cortex) brain.  Because if you think rationally, you would simply not want a man known for recklessness and impulsivity to be in charge of a nuclear arsenal that could wipe out humanity.  And yet millions of Americans seem to think that that’s okay, because, hey, look at how funny and clever some of his tweets are, right?

In writing this blog post about Trump, I’m violating a self-imposed embargo on political commentary.  My reason for this was that I didn’t want to antagonize Trump followers and lose them on my social networks.  But now I’m asking myself, what’s more important, offending some people’s political sensibilities, or standing up for a cause where nothing short of saving humanity is at stake?

I still believe I’m being true to the mission of my website.  The focus of my blog and website has to do with helping children reach their full potential.  If Trump, in a moment of recklessness, revenge, or carelessness, should be the one to trigger a nuclear Holocaust, then NO child will be achieving their potential, since there will be no child left behind.  Total incineration is what I’m talking about.  So I’m putting my ”Trump Watch” category back up on my blog (I had it up briefly just before and after the 2016 election), and I intend to speak out about the threat that Trump poses (especially if re-elected) to humanity and to our children’s future. Because I don’t want be in a situation where our world goes to hell in a hand basket, while I was one of those who stayed silent about the peril that is in our midst.

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I'm the author of 19 books including my latest: If Einstein Ran the Schools: Revitalizing U.S. Education - https://amzn.to/2KAxT8F.
2 Responses
  1. Greetings, Thomas.
    I am a career educator, presently writing about a teaching/learning/performing/assessment process that I am using to build college student skills. I came here via a student supplied link, and found your piece on Trump. I think, all things considered, you were kind to Trump. He is the single greatest threat to our nation in its history.

    I would love to speak with you about my teaching approach (which won a teaching award), am struggling to get it written in book form. Perhaps you could advise me on getting it written and published.

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