Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld


Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Counterfactual Satire: Justin Warner Mocks Trump's "What Ifs?" About Andrew Jackson


It’s not often that I have the opportunity to report on satirical riffs on counterfactual history.  But my colleague Steve Weitzman at Penn (a contributor to What Ifs of Jewish History) kindly directed me to a hilarious LIST produced by Justin Warner for McSweeney's of “historical tragedies and the people who might have prevented them had they not died sixteen years prior.”



Given Donald Trump’s sloppy use of counterfactual history, I’m leery of the claim that there’s no such thing as bad publicity for the genre.  But in the case of Warner’s satirical list, I’d like to think that it may inspire further examples of counterfactual creativity. 

For the record, as the list entirely abandons plausibility in favor of demented non-sequiturs, I feel liberated from having to assess any of the scenarios from a critical perspective.

Enjoy!

HISTORICAL TRAGEDIES AND THE PEOPLE WHO MIGHT HAVE PREVENTED THEM HAD THEY NOT DIED SIXTEEN YEARS PRIOR

[Trump] made the puzzling claim that Jackson “was really angry that he saw what was happening in regard to the Civil War.” But Jackson died in 1845, and the Civil War didn’t begin until 16 years later, in 1861. — Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2017
- - -
Civil War: Andrew Jackson (d. 1845)

Attempted Assassination of King Umberto I of Italy: Martin van Buren (d. 1862)

Hitler Invades Poland: Warren Harding (d. 1923)

9/11: Henry Cabot Lodge (d. 1985)

Portrayal of James Bond by George Lazenby: Josef Stalin (d. 1953)

Hindenburg Disaster: Frederick Martin, English cricketer (d. 1921)

Introduction of New Coke: Dwight D. Eisenhower (d. 1969)

Great Chicago Fire: Charlotte Brontë (d. 1855)

The Black Death: Some guy in France who almost invented penicillin but also liked feeding rats (d. 1330)

Pliny The Younger’s Poorly Reviewed One-Man Show About Losing His Father In The Eruption Of Vesuvius: Pliny The Elder (d. 79)

Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Howard Cosell (d. 1995)

Replacement of David Lee Roth with Sammy Hagar: E. M. Forster (d. 1970)

Replacement of Sammy Hagar with Gary Cherone: Paul Lynde (d. 1982)

Replacement of Gary Cherone with David Lee Roth: Dr. Seuss (d. 1991)

Inauguration of Donald Trump: Oddly enough, Morton Downey Jr. (d. 2001)

Inauguration of Mike Pence: Dolly the Sheep (d. 2003)

Everything About The Handmaid’s Tale Coming to Pass Except the Environmental Stewardship: Planter’s Cheez Balls (discontinued 2006)


Death of Last Living Thing On Earth: Definitely either Bowie or Prince (d. 2016)

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