As we watch "The Plot Against America", we can't help but be scared.
The new HBO miniseries, based on the Philip Roth novel of the same name, was created by David Simon, best known for "The Wire". It tells of a Jewish family, parents played by Morgan Spector and Zoe Kazan (in real life, he is Jewish, she is not, but boy, is she fantastic in this), who have to deal with the fictionalized ascension of Charles Lindbergh to the presidency of the United States in 1940. (Interestingly, in the book, the family is not the Levins but the Roths — the alternate history of the author's own family.)
Lindbergh, who in real life held pro-Nazi beliefs, here runs on a supposed anti-war "America First" policy that quickly disintegrates into straight antisemitism after his election. It has a profound effect on the Levins (the Roths) and everyone who surrounds them. But that alternate history is not the only thing that scares us.
What scares us is how some Jews, represented by John Turturro and Winona Ryder in the series, close their eyes to what's going on. These Jews rationalize, they defend and support Lindbergh even when antisemitism stares them in the face. Even as Jews are killed on the streets, even as there are pogroms and synagogue burnings and riots...
What scares us is how a populist, quasi-fascist, isolationist, "America First" president can shift America's tide to antisemitism.
But that's only fiction, right?