Back in August, there was Jon Lovett’s piece in The Atlantic, ‘Looking backward on the presidency of Donald Trump’. On Sunday, it was the Boston Globe’s fearful imagining ‘If Trump were president’. In 2004, it was Philip Roth’s beautiful, frightening novel ‘The Plot against America,’ which presaged exactly this – a fascist takeover of America’s freedoms.
Anyway, the Globe’s front-page splash dated April 9, 2017 features a large photo of Mr Trump below a headline that reads “Deportations to Begin.”
It quotes the new President Trump’s address to the nation. Illegals, he said, would be deported “so fast your head will spin”. The fake front page is in the Globe’s Sunday “Ideas” section and on its website.
The paper editorialized that it was taking Mr Trump “at his word”.
That makes sense. How – and why – would Mr Trump shy away from the sort of easy populist action constituted by deportation?
It would be popular – in his core constituency. It would provoke protests and provide an excuse for law enforcement officials to crack down and a ‘President Trump’ perhaps to declare a national emergency.
Why wouldn’t America be living Roth’s novel?
After all, Donald Trump recently started to use the catchphrase “America First”, which has nearly a century of political baggage and was dinned into Americans by Charles Lindbergh, the most famous advocate of US isolationism and selfishness.
In April 1941, Lindbergh argued that England was losing the war and it was best for America not to get involved in a losing endeavor; no point helping England, America is best off looking after itself.
In Roth’s contrafactual novel, it is Lindbergh who wins the election (defeating FDR) and establishes a Nazi America.
Sometimes facts can be stranger than fiction.
If we allow them to be.