This week’s episode of Watchmen told the story of Hooded Justice, the first American masked vigilante. It detailed how he ushered in an era of superheroes by dedicating himself to an ongoing crusade to rid New York City of the Cyclops, an organisation of KKK members plotting to sow chaos amongst the city’s black population. But one minor player in the plot appears be a stand-in for a very specific real-world figure: Fred Trump.
The Klan of Watchmen’s world—referred to as the Seventh Kalvalry—is similar to ours in that they’re a group of racist white supremacists who like to dress up in ridiculous white hoods that look like poorly-made, last-minute Halloween costumes. But this week’s episode, “This Extraordinary Being,” might have subtly made another important nod to our world in its depiction of the Klan in NYC that you had to pay close attention to in order to pick up on.
Will Reeves, a black man, fundamentally believes in the rule of the law, but in the late 1930s, soon after he joined the NYPD, he encountered a white man attempting to set fire to a local Jewish-owned deli. When Will confronted the man, Fred, he didn’t seem at all bothered by the fact that Will immediately dragged him down to the precinct in order to book him.
Will wasn’t quite sure why. When Will got him to the police station, though, things began to click as one of the force’s white officers took Fred off his hands and made a strange OK-gesture (evoking images of modern-day white supremacist trolls) with his hand held up to his forehead. In the show, it’s referred to as “The Cyclops.”
While Will was under the impression that Fred ended up being locked up for his crimes, he soon came to find out that never happened as he bumped into the man on the street walking around without a care in the world. When Will returned to the police station demanding to know what happened, one of his white colleagues warned that looking into things too deeply was liable to get him killed. Later, the same white officer who took over Fred’s booking kidnapped and then lynched Will in retaliation before cutting him down from the tree and sparing his life.
Will’s assault is ultimately what leads to him deciding to become Hooded Justice, and his masked hero identity frees him to enact the kind of justice that he never could as a mere police officer. As the episode progresses, we see that dismantling the Cyclops organisation becomes Will’s singular focus as a superhero, even as his profile became larger and he joined the first incarnation of the Minutemen after being invited by Captain Metropolis.
But much to Will’s disappointment, the other Minutemen aren’t particularly interested in taking on racist criminals. They’d much rather do battle with the countless self-styled supervillains that members of the press love writing about so much. And so the duty falls to Will, who began singlehandedly taking on the Klan and uncovering a horrific plan to cause black people to harm one another through the use of technology-assisted mesmerism.
While investigating an apparent riot that broke out at a Harlem movie theatre, Will learned that a film projector used to force the black moviegoers to attack one another was being stored in a warehouse associated with “F.T. & Sons,” and he deduced that Fred, the same racist he’d caught trying to burn down the Jewish deli, was connected to Cyclops, meaning that he was connected to Klan.
Even though Watchmen never tells us Fred’s last name, his last initial being “T,” the fact that he owns a grocery store, and his being associated with the KKK makes him sound awfully similar to Donald Trump’s father Fred, who—under his mother Elizabeth Trump—was part of the family’s business “E. Trump & Son.” Like the Watchmen character, Fred Trump operated one of the city’s first major supermarkets, and it’s been alleged that Trump had been in the company of Klansmen on at least one occasion.
A 1927 report in the New York Times listed “Fred Trump of 175-24 Devonshire Road” as one of the men who were arrested following a massive fight between police officers at a gathering of some 1,000 Klansmen who participated in a rally in Queens.
While Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that the Fred Trump named by the Times report isn’t the same man as his father, and that the Trump family never lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road, multiple accounts from other newspapers point to the contrary, suggesting that it was the elder Trump, and six other men (all wearing Klan hoods), arrested that day.
While there were reportedly hundreds of Klan members in attendance at the demonstration, multiple reports state that only seven people were arrested for fighting with the police. “Fred Trump” is counted among those people. It’s important to note that while this Fred Trump was arrested, he was also subsequently released without being charged with a crime.
“This Extraordinary Being” doesn’t explicitly say: “Hey, this racist arsehole right here is meant to be Donald Trump’s father,” but if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it could be a duck! Or, you know, a thermodynamic miracle.