POLITICS04/06/2018 08:19 pm ET

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warns of the growing risk of worldwide fascism emboldened by Donald Trump’s “scorn” for democracy in a scathing New York Times op-ed.

The essay set off a furious debate on Twitter.

“Fascism — and the tendencies that lead toward fascism — pose a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II,” Albright writes in the op-ed, titled “Will We Stop Trump Before It’s Too Late?” She decries mounting nativist and extreme right-wing movements around the globe, along with the growing threat of despotism. A key enabler, she argues, is America’s unleashed president.

“The possibility that fascism will be accorded a fresh chance to strut around the world stage is enhanced by the volatile presidency of Donald Trump,” Albright warns.

“Instead of standing up for the values of a free society, Mr. Trump’s oft-vented scorn for democracy’s building blocks has strengthened the hands of dictators. No longer need they fear United States criticism regarding human rights or civil liberties. On the contrary, they can and do point to Mr. Trump’s own words to justify their repressive actions,” she adds.

Albright blasts Trump’s withdrawal from historic, positive international coalitions, his philosophy of every nation for itself, and his disdain for civil discourse, equality, human rights and democratic institutions.

Trump has “attacked the judiciary, ridiculed the media, defended torture, condoned police brutality, urged supporters to rough up hecklers and … equated mere policy disagreements with treason,” she writes. “He libels immigrants and the countries from which they come. His words are … calculated to exacerbate religious, social and racial divisions.”

What can be done? Albright urges defending the truth in the press, recognizing that no one is above the law and building a reenergized populace working for democracy.

“America at its best is a place where people from a multitude of backgrounds work together to safeguard the rights and enrich the lives of all,” she concludes. “No politician, not even one in the Oval Office, should be allowed to tarnish that dream.”

Twitter exploded in debate over the op-ed, pitting those taking Albright’s warning to heart against fervent Trump supporters. Here’s a sampling: