In one of his typical overstatements, notable for its unhinged bluster and truculence as well as its unintended alliteration, Donald Trump said of North Korea that it “will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Trump tends to speak in superlatives, which is a classic sign of an individual lacking in sophistication.
Writers are taught or instinctively know to avoid using such extreme language whenever possible.
Of course, Trump is no writer and no speaker, although he once said without irony that he “has the best words,” presumably terms like “covfefe” and “unpresidented.”
Fareed Zakaria, on the other hand, is an intellectual of a very high order, whom I have cited previously.
He is a Muslim, from India, who has shown the courage to speak out against terrorism, committed by Muslims in the name of scripture.
He consistently offers a forum on “GPS,” his CNN show, and in his Washington Post columns, for thoughtful ideas to resolve foreign-policy challenges. Consider his recent column on North Korea, in which he discussed an international conference on freezing nuclear arms activity, which could provide “cover” to China as well as a way out of the possibility of nuclear war.
And at a time of TV talking heads and blowhards (perhaps, it has always been such), he stands out as a true authority on the history of foreign affairs.
Last week, I was back East celebrating my birthday and just recently returned to L.A.
I received some nice gifts, but I must say that one of the most unexpected came from Zakaria, when he aired his program on October 8.
His show last Sunday was dedicated entirely to discussing the gun problem in our country, following the hideous massacre in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds injured.
Zakaria began his program by giving his “take” on the rampage. He characterized as a “dodge” Trump’s view that the mass murderer, who will remain nameless, was “sick” or “demented,” words that are stand-ins for mentally ill.
As Zakaria pointed out, there was zero evidence that the killer suffered from mental illness.
Moreover, most killers are not mentally ill, a group of people who, according to studies, are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violent crime, a point Zakaria made and one I have often made too.
Not mentally ill at all, the Las Vegas mass murderer, like so many killers, was “evil,” as Zakaria stated.
I greatly appreciated Zakaria’s analysis and could not agree more.
This is a subject that I have written about in the past and that remains dear to me because of the misconceptions about people with mental illness, a group of which I am a member.
I come from a family with a history of depression, psychosis and suicide; and I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the late 1990s, when I was hospitalized in the USC and UCLA psychiatric wards respectively.
Never have I been a threat to anyone but myself, and that is true of the vast majority of the mentally ill.
For the record, I do not believe that any civilian should own anything approaching an assault weapon.
Nor do I believe that those of us with mental illness should own any weapon at all.
The reason is not because we are at a high risk for committing homicides.
It is because we are at a far higher risk of committing suicide, as Zakaria mentioned on his show.
I myself was suicidal in the late 1990s. Thankfully, I do not own and never have owned a gun.
Contrast that with the Las Vegas killer, who evidenced the calculating, ruthless nature of Iago, when he brought an arsenal of weapons with him to the Strip, concealed that arsenal reportedly in suitcases and perhaps by other means, rigged his room with explosives and cameras, and sent his girlfriend overseas.
The villain of Othello is not remotely mentally ill, as I have noted before. Rather, he incarnates evil in plotting to destroy the lives and reputations of the title character, a valiant hero, and Cassio, a man of great honor.
It has been said that if you put Hamlet in Othello, there would be no play because he would see through Iago right away.
Fareed Zakaria may not be Hamlet (although he once referred to President Obama as “Hamlet-like” when the former president wavered over Syria’s crossing of a “red line” on chemical weapons).
But Zakaria is an extremely bright man, who, week after week, provides a nuanced and compassionate approach to dealing with our nation’s foreign and occasionally domestic policy problems.
The same cannot be said of Trump, who, week after week, proves again and again that he is not only the worst human being ever to assume the presidency, as The Atlantic’s David Frum wrote months ago; week after week, Donald Trump also demonstrates that he is the biggest liar, as well as the stupidest and most insecure president in our nation’s history.
(And, yes, I am quite comfortable using these negative superlatives about Trump.)
It goes without saying that an intelligent person never has to tout his or her brainpower.
Brainpower, or in Trump’s case, the lack thereof, becomes quite evident to the viewer or reader.
What boggles my mind is that any member of our species, reporter or otherwise, would accept at face value anything said by Donald Trump, including his all-too-pathetic braggadocio about his supposedly high IQ.
Yes, there have been liars and alleged liars before.
It was said of Yasir Arafat that everything he said was a lie.
And, if I am remembering correctly, Mary McCarthy, in a famous, literary spat, claimed that everything Lillian Hellman wrote was a lie, including the words, “and” and “the.”
It is well-known that the Donald, he of “covfefe” fame, is no writer.
And, as Maggie Haberman of the New York Times confirmed for us some time ago, Trump is not exactly a reader on the scale of Samuel Johnson.
No, by any metric or non-metric, Trump has the intelligence of a slug.
Of course, I could be wrong.
He may have the brainpower of a maggot.
Trump’s stupidity, combined with his penchant for evil, has created a particularly dangerous problem for our country given that we face dire threats from North Korea, Russia and other rogue entities around the globe.
We need to end the Trump presidency, via impeachment or the 25th Amendment, as soon as possible, so that we can maintain our freedoms, most notably the First Amendment right to free speech.
As for Fareed Zakaria, who was forced to answer “slug-maggot” dichotomies, when he was running for president of the Yale Political Union, he is an intellectual with a heart, an unusual combination, and we need more people like him in government and the media.