Old friends--one a Jew, the other a Christian--Leonard (Lenny) Grob and John K. Roth are philosophers who have long studied the Holocaust. That experience makes us anxious about democracy, because we are also Americans living in perilous times. The 2020s remind us of the 1930s when Nazis destroyed democracy in Germany. Carnage followed. In the 2020s, Donald Trump and his followers endanger democracy in the United States. With Vladimir Putin's ruthless assault against Ukraine compounding the difficulties, democracy must not be taken for granted. Americans love democracy--except when we don't. That division and conflict mean that democracy will be on the ballot in the 2024 American elections. Probing the prospects, Warnings: The Holocaust, Ukraine, and Endangered American Democracy features exchanges between us that underscore the most urgent threats to democracy in the United States and show how to resist them. What's most needed is ethical patriotism that urges us Americans to be our best selves. Our best selves defend liberal democracy; they strive for inclusive pluralism. Our best selves resist decisions and policies like those that led to the Holocaust or genocidal war in Ukraine or conspiracies to overturn fair and free elections in the United States. Our best selves reject antisemitism and racism; they oppose hypocrisy and autocracy. Our best selves hold lying leaders accountable. Our best selves believe that, against all odds, democracy can win out if we never give up trying to be our best.
Leonard Grob is professor emeritus of philosophy at Fairleigh Dickinson University. John K. Roth is Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College. Other books they have published together include Encountering the Stranger (2012), which focuses on Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, and Losing Trust in the World (2017), a protest against torture.