An event headed by Dr. Bandy Lee, who is a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and editor of the bestselling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” will be hosted by House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth — who recently called for Trump’s impeachment — and Representative Jamie Raskin. They’re calling it a “town hall,” and it is planned for July.
Dr Lee will present her findings on Donald Trump’s conspicuous mental unfitness to occupy the office of the president of the United States. Questions are to be taken from members of the audience both physically present and watching the event over the internet. Dr Lee is known for employing apocalyptic language to define the potential hazards of Trump’s presidency. I approve. Apocalyptic times require apocalyptic language.
It’s a settled question for anyone paying attention – and one that’s incontrovertibly answered in the affirmative – that Donald Trump poses a significant existential threat to both America and the world. He responds to his own “uncertainty” about the settled science of anthropogenic climate change by doing nothing, or worse, by taking retrograde steps leading to its acceleration. He looks for excuses to start a war with Iran. He speaks casually of the use of nuclear weapons. He is a clear and present danger to every cherished thing that every man, woman and child alive today holds precious. None of us are safe while Trump is in office.
Many Americans and citizens of the world are rhapsodically ignorant of the menace presented by Trump. It is a phenomenon Dr Lee referred to some time ago as “the malignant normal.” She explains: “The origin of that phrase goes back to Robert Jay Lifton, who wrote the foreword to our book … Eventually a malignant normality will set in where we will accept what is malignant as being normal. That is described as ‘a loss of insight.’ This happens when an individual or a group no longer sees what is wrong, destructive and pathological as abnormal but actually accept it as normal.”
This malignant normal is well established by the insouciance of the media today and by its somnambulant consumers. Together, with a baffling acceptance that we live in a “post-truth world” and nothing can be done about it, Trump may fiddle while Rome burns, but its citizens are asleep, at ease with this new malignant normal. Every lie told incurs a debt that inevitably will come due in some terrible future accounting not very distant. We no more exist in a post-truth world than we do in a post-gravity world, and like a man staggering precipitously atop a fifty story building, we cannot afford to take comfort from the knowledge that we haven’t fallen yet.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.