Looking back at the horror show that has been this week's news—the first week of the Trump administration—two things are clear: firstly, Trump is to be taken at his literal word when he threatens people, and secondly, it's going to get worse before it gets better.
Consequently I'm revising my plans for future visits to the United States.
I'll be in New York and Boston for business meetings and Boskone in mid-February (I unwisely booked non-refundable flights and hotel nights before the election), but I am cancelling all subsequent visits for now. In particular, this means that I will no longer be appearing as guest of honor at Fencon XIV in Texas in September.
I'd like to apologize unreservedly to the convention committee; this is not your fault and you did nothing to deserve this. I would like to attend a future Fencon, and if anyone else had been elected President—or if Trump had walked back the hateful insanity once in office—my appearance would be unaffected. But conventions book guests of honor many months, sometimes years, ahead of schedule: so I felt it best to pull out of the committment sooner rather than later, to allow as much time as possible to find and announce a replacement.
As for why I'm cancelling this appearance ... I have two fears.
Firstly, at this point it is clear that things are going to get worse. The Muslim ban is only the start; in view of the Administration's actions on Holocaust Memorial Day and the anti-semitism of his base, I think it highly likely that Jews and Lefists will be in his sights as well. (As a foreign national of Jewish extraction and a member of a left wing political party, that's me in that corner.)
Secondly, I don't want to do anything that might be appear to be an endorsement of any actions the Trump administration might take between now and September. While it's possible that there won't be any more bad things between now and then (in which case I will apologize again to the Fencon committee), I find that hard to believe; equally possibly, there might well be a fresh outrage of even larger dimensions right before my trip, in which case my presence would be seen by onlookers as tacit acceptance or even collaboration.
As for my worst case nightmare scenario? Given the reshuffle on the National Security Council and the prominence of white supremacists and neo-nazis in this Administration I can't help wondering if the ground isn't being laid for a Reichstag Fire by way of something like Operation Northwoods. In which case, for me to continue to plan to travel to the United States in eight months time would be as unwise as it would have been to plan in February 1933 to travel to Germany in September of that year: it might be survivable, but it would nevertheless be hazardous.
I hate closing doors behind me, so I'm not making this a blanket committment to never enter the United State again during this administration. I'll keep the situation under review. Maybe things will improve. Maybe the promising signs of opposition that are emerging will continue to grow and develop into a groundswell, and prevent the bastards from gaining ground. I certainly hope so! I have many friends in the US and I like the country: looking back, I now realize that after the UK it's the nation I've spent the second-longest part of my life in. But what's happening right now is absolutely terrifying, an act of wanton national self-destruction on a scale and significance that puts the UK's own Brexit-related seizure of insanity into the shade.