Don’t Diagnose President Trump – Respond to Him by Alan M. Dershowitz
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy, was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
Their misdiagnosis should surprise no one, since none of the psychiatrists had ever examined, or even met, Goldwater. They just didn’t like his politics. Indeed, some feared that he would destroy the world if he had access to the nuclear button. The most powerful TV ad against Goldwater showed a beautiful child playing with a flower. Then the screen went blank, presumably from a nuclear explosion, and the child, along with the world, was blown up. It was an effective ad. It influenced me far more than the psychobabble in the Fact article.
Following the Goldwater-psychiatrist debacle, the American Psychiatric Association declared it to be unethical for a psychiatrist to offer any kind of a diagnosis on a public figure without having examined that person.
Now, more than half a century later, numerous psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are violating that sound ethical principle by diagnosing Donald Trump, whom they have never examined. They are offering diagnoses, ranging from Alzheimer’s, to narcissistic personality disorder, to paranoia and more. A Yale psychiatry professor has suggested the possibility that Trump might be involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. Others have proposed that he be required to undergo psychiatric or psychological testing. While still others have suggesting invoking the 25th Amendment and declaring the president incompetent.
|Donald Trump’s swearing-in ceremony. Psychiatrists have no right to pathologize him for his politics, says Alan Dershowitz. Photo: Wikipedia.|
For more than 25 years, I taught courses on law and psychiatry and related subjects at Harvard Law School. I co-edited a basic text in the field. And I have written numerous articles regarding the ability and inability of psychiatrists to predict future conduct. On the basis of my research and writing, I find it unprofessional, unethical and absurd for any mental health professional to offer a diagnosis or psychiatric prediction regarding President Donald Trump. We are all entitled to our opinions regarding his political and personal qualification to be president. I voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election, because I felt she was more qualified than Donald Trump to be president. That is my right as an American voter. But psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have no more of a right to pathologize a president or a candidate because they disagree with his or her political views than do prosecutors or politicians have a right to criminalize political opponents.
I have been writing against the criminalization of political differences for decades, because it is dangerous to democracy. It is even more dangerous to pathologize or psychiatrize one’s political opponents based on opposition to their politics. Using mental health professionals to pathologize political opponents was a common tactic used by the Soviet Union, China and apartheid South Africa against political dissidents. The American Psychological Association took a strong stand against the use of this weapon by tyrants. I was deeply involved in that condemnation, because I understood how dangerous it is to diagnose political opponents instead of responding to the merits or demerits of their political views.
It is even more dangerous when a democracy, such as the United States, begins to go down the road of pathologizing political differences. So let us debate the merits and demerits of President Trump’s policies, personality and other factors that are relevant to his presidency. But let us leave diagnoses to doctors who have examined their patients.
Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of Trumped Up, How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy.
This article was first published by FoxNews.
Members of Students for Justice in Palestine speak at the “Palestine Without Borders” session at the 2018 United We Dream National Congress. Photo: Youth Empowerment Alliance.
A pro-Israel group on Thursday denounced an “antisemitic” session recently hosted by an immigrant youth organization, which compared Israel with Nazi Germany and equated the movement for Jewish self-determination with white supremacy and genocide.
69% of progressives are ashamed to be Americans, but 63% are proud of their political ideology instead. The majority don’t attend religious services, but 73% list politics as their preoccupation.
Numbers from one poll showed that, “religiously unaffiliated Democrats were more than twice as likely to have attended a rally within the past 12 months compared with their religious peers” and were “significantly more likely to have contacted an elected official or to have donated to a candidate or cause” or “bought or boycotted a product for political reasons or posted political opinions online”.
Campus Week: A guide for Jewish students and their elders
Anti-Zionism ghettoizes Jews from the rest of the justice movement, putting a wall around us that separates us from other marginalized people. It cannot be reconciled with any movement striving for inclusivity. It denies us access to solidarity-based movements which should be fighting for equality, for historically oppressed peoples. As American Jewish students return to campus, they should prepare to be challenged academically and intellectually, and should also prepare to challenge movements that don’t respect Zionism and their Jewish heritage.
The Jerusalem Post reviewed a video showing two speakers who called for the “liberation of all of Palestine 48” and “we must take a stand and boycott Israel. BDS.” The slogan to “liberate all of Palestine” reverts to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 and is widely considered a euphemism to cleanse Israel of Jews.
The German Middle East expert Thomas von der Osten-Sacken wrote an article on the website of the Austrian-based think tank Mena-Watch, with the headline “Speaker at indivisible demonstration calls for Israel’s destruction.” The protest was called #unteilbar (indivisible) by its organizers.
From 1998 to 2008, 5.4 million Congolese died as a result of civil war. Most of the Congolese asylum seekers in Israel came during this period.
It is now the turn of hundreds of asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to be deported back to their country. The Foreign Ministry has implied that the conditions that justified collective protection to Congolese asylum seekers no longer prevail and that there is nothing to prevent them from returning home safely. The Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) has given them 90 days to leave the country.
With its decades-old track record of murder and mayhem, Hamas has already secured itself a place in the annals of infamy.
From bus bombings to underground terror tunnels to the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets and projectiles at Israeli towns and cities, the Islamic extremist group has repeatedly found new ways to sow widespread death and destruction.
Since Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the standard of living for the Palestinian people in Gaza has steadily declined, even though Israel gifted the Palestinians with thriving agricultural lands, productive greenhouses and beautiful beachfront communities.
Every once in a while, I come across a book that I can say changed the way I understand the world I live in. Raymond Ibrahim’s new book, Sword and Scimitar, altered the way I understand the development of our civilization – I mean the one that America inherited from Europe and made our own. It drove home to me how little I knew about the way Islam – in the form of attempted and often successful conquest – really changed the way our civilization evolved and the way it grew to understand itself.
American Thinker: “How War with Islam Shaped and Defined Us”
“In the Hadith, the Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the Jews,” Hatem Bazian reportedly declared, “until the trees and stones will say, oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!”
That was in 1999.
Two years later, Bazian had co-founded Students for Justice in Palestine. Three years later, 79 members of his new SJP hate group were busted for disrupting a Holocaust Remembrance Day event.
Iran is a formidable enemy. A large country of more than 80 million people, endowed with energy riches, it has always been a regional power. Having an imperial past and revolutionary zeal (since the 1979 Iranian Revolution), Iran nourishes ambitions to rule over the Middle East and beyond. Furthermore, theologically there is no place in Iranian thinking for a Jewish state.