Progressives are outraged that America’s president represents fear, ignorance and the arrogance of white mediocrity. Donald Trump’s first year in office has been marked by tumultuous cabinet shakeups and firings, attacks on the free press, the rise of white nationalism, and devastating legislation that puts the most vulnerable groups in the country at risk. But this isn’t the first time the U.S. has seen a period of fear and persecution. There are clear similarities between Trump’s White House and the first Red Scare, which took place 100 years ago.
Let’s start from the beginning. The business mogul known for appearing in porn flicks and plastering his name on skyscrapers made it clear in 2015 that he was coming for Hispanics. He opened his presidential campaign claiming Mexico sends its worst people to the U.S. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us,” he said in June 2015. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” He claimed the United States would eventually need a wall to stop them.
This press conference ushered in the age of Trump. He launched a campaign of fear and persecution that is on par to rival other periods of government-orchestrated social purging in America’s history.
One hundred years ago, the nation also faced a looming Russian menace. President Woodrow Wilson attacked every leftist media outlet, social outlier and any critic who might have had connections to Russia. The only difference is that Trump has cuddled up to the Russians. As in 1917, fear and social anxiety loom over the country, but this time, the threat has a seat in the White House. When historians look back on Trump’s first year, they will notice the glaring similarities of the Red Scare and now.