Saturday, September 20, 2008

When Fascism Comes to America

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross".

When – at some point in time... Fascism – forcible suppression of the opposition comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and bearing a cross. What could the author of this quote have been thinking when he made that statement?

Do you know Sinclair Lewis? I have no idea who he is. Someone sent me this caricature through my e-mail. I read it, thought about it a moment and then moved my cursor to delete it as something amusing – a moose saying “be afraid, be very afraid”. Then I tried to envision what the author was trying to tell me with this caricature. I decided to take a second look and this is what I came away with…

Sinclair Lewis was born at the turn of the century. He excelled as a writer and was rewarded for his contributions by being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930. In his acceptance speech, Lewis decried the unwillingness of Americans to stand up against accepting the status quo when he stated to his distinguished colleagues that “in America most of us — not readers alone, but even writers — are still afraid of any literature which is not a glorification of everything American, a glorification of our faults as well as our virtues," and that America is the most contradictory, the most depressing, the most stirring, of any land in the world today.”

The quote – “Be afraid, be very afraid” is attributed to Sinclair Lewis and is associated with his novel “It Can't Happen Here”, a novel about the election of a fascist President of the United States. I would point out that the attempts to commercialize this novel were met with reluctance. The reluctance, in essence, proves Sinclair Lewis’ position to be a correct one.

Are there any similarities that we can glean from the novel “It Can’t Happen Here” and what is currently occurring in these United States? Do you see the extreme political partisanship in America that would foster a fertile climate for Sinclair Lewis’ novel to come to life in our time? I do, and I will tell you why.

Do you remember when anyone that spoke out against the war in Iraq was ridiculed for not supporting the President? Those brave souls and I call them brave because they stood up against what was a popular train of thought, and verbalized their displeasure about our going to war in Iraq. Going to war seemed, at the time, the right thing to do if you believed the reasons that were presented to Congress and the American people. We have since learned that those reasons now resemble Swiss cheese in terms of their ability to withstand the truth test. Maybe those few individuals knew more than we gave them credit for; could it be that they knew what we were doing when we disregarded all of the fail-safes in giving the President carte blanche to go to war?

Congress is divided along partisan lines for good reason. The views of those on both sides are believed to be those necessary to keep America in the fore-front internationally. Republicans have fostered the ideal that if you give the people all of their money, and allow them to make the decisions regarding where they would invest that money, our economy will excel. In trusting their investment decisions as ‘the solution’ for the American economy, we put the welfare of the United States in peril, and we have but to look at the current state of affairs to realize that was/is a bad idea. To make matters worse, we allow those in a position to do so, to take all of the profits with no money reaching the working class in quantities sufficient to keep the economy fluid. I don't know who said it, but the quote "a people not governed, are a people with no focus" seems to fit here.

We know that all of the safe-guards implemented by Clinton working with a Republican majority in Congress were dismantled by the Bush administration. Deregulation was the battle cry that has us on the brink of the abyss. Remember, the Democrats did not gain a significant plurality in Congress until 2006, and even with that plurality, they cannot overturn a veto without help from the Republican members of Congress. This fiasco cannot be laid at the foot of Congress present day. No, the Republicans did this by themselves and they should own up to it!

To say that the Democratic point of view in addressing the needs of these United States is the right one is a bold statement and I certainly don’t aspire to that, but I do say that it is the closest thing to ideal that we are going to get until bi-partisanship comes to fruition. I believe with all my heart that if Congress and the President were to put America first, none of the horrible things that currently beset us would be the case. The fight to bring America back to its prominence in the world requires a sincere joint effort.

How did this country express its desire in placing President Bush in office? We know that the same core group of supporters that put Bush in office is steadfastly supporting McCain for four more years of the same policies. Who are these people that put Bush in office – well, the only thing that I can say in answer is… when fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

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