Coronavirus Unmasks Donald Trump’s Plot Against America
One of the first routines of my little quarantine group (husband, son, niece) was to watch HBO’s "Plot Against America," an adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2004 novel.
The book and the television series depicted an alternative past in which aviator, celebrity and Nazi medal-awardee Charles Lindbergh, who declared before WWII that "British and Jewish propaganda" could push the United States into another European war – beats the incumbent Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 to become the 33rd president of the United States. The six-part series, which aired on Monday nights, began in synchrony with our coronavirus sheltering-in-place.
On April 20, we watched the last episode, a cliff-hanger that left open how far the re-imagined United States would head down the path to fascism. As we mused about the ending, Trump’s latest tweet appeared. "In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens,” Trump thundered, "I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States."
– Trump immigration tweet
In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020
For a chilling moment, I wasn’t sure what timeline I was living in. I had just read a Forward article explaining that "Invisible Enemy" has been used as code for Jew during the time of plagues and in the notorious anti-Semitic screed, Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I also knew that anti-Semitism and high unemployment led the United States to limit immigration in the 1930s, pushing the nation deeper into depression.
In "The Plot Against America," Lindbergh, the imagined candidate, runs his presidential campaign on the tenets of the real-life Lindbergh’s America First movement. The campaign’s slogan: "Vote for Lindbergh, or vote for war."
When Lindbergh wins, his administration implements isolationism, refusing aid to Great Britain in its battle with Germany and arresting Americans who violate the nation’s neutrality. The Lindbergh White House trumpets home-grown fascism, targeting Jews in particular for being outsiders to the American mainstream.