We were all startled by Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant frenzy launched in 2015. But there is solid precedent. In an article in The New Yorker, acclaimed author of many history books, Adam Hochschild tells the tale: When America Tried to Deport Its Radicals. It was during and after the first world war that people like Woodrow Wilson, a very young J.Edgar Hoover, and A. Mitchell Palmer launched a massive sweep of the country, aimed at ridding white America of undesirable immigrants. Today the feared ones “invade” from the south of our border, back then the “swarms”of aliens were from Eastern Europe. Hochschild paints a clear picture of the widespread purge, deporting historical figures like feminist Emma Goldman. But along with villains there arose heroes, like the today-unknown Louis F.Post who, as acting Labor Secretary, took on the justice department and won. And Americans finally grew tired of the frenzy. As Hochschild says, “Democracy came close to losing its soul.” But we did not.

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