COLUMN EIGHTY, DECEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE:
BUSH FORETOLD BY SINCLAIR LEWIS
[Lionel Rolfe is the author of the just released third edition of Literary
L.A. and also wrote Fat Man on the Left.]
As Bush beats
the war drums today, I am reminded of a novel Sinclair Lewis
It is the story
of how fascism came to America. Lewis wrote his novel as
found a third way does not deny the essential truths of
Coughlin, Gerald L.K. Smith and others, came close but never fully succeeded
during the Great Depression in America.
But the history of America has always been a constant struggle between the forces of
America's constant struggle between authoritarianism and democracy
and the forces of democracy.
won in the "30s, and again in the "50s with McCarthyism, and threatens once
again now at the beginning of the new Millennium with the ascendancy of Bush to
In It Can't
Happen Here, the president is Buzz Windrip, whose Corpo movement has taken
over Washington D.C. at the bottom of the Great Depression. The novel even has
counterparts for Cheney and Rumsfield---a behind-the-scenes manipulator called
of It Can't Happen Here is Doremus Jessup, a somewhat conservative
small-town New England newspaper editor.
Jessup was an
old-fashioned conservative, but not of the ideological stripe of today's
Republicans. He valued a certain independence of thought that turned out to be
anathema to the marketing experts of yesterday's fascism.
As the editor
of a small and therefore somewhat insignificant daily newspaper, Jessup doesn't
deal directly with the powers that be. His contact with the face of fascism is
through Shad Ledue, his own drunken, loutish handyman who has risen to the top
of the local New England Corpos. Ledue is one of the most convincing villains I
have ever encountered---and his violent demise is welcome.
Jessup is a man
whose essential honesty makes him a hero, yet the first time that Ledue sends
Jessup to jail, Jessup does not feel so brave. He wants to feel like an
honorable man for going to jail, because evil men like Windrip, Saranson and
Ledue only send honorable men to jail. But Jessup is also a respectable old New
Englander to whom jail is a place only bad people go. Jessup is not a superman,
he is merely a decent human being who in the end becomes an underground fighter
Written in the
time of Hitler and Mussolini, Sinclair made fascism a real
Mr. Bush and
his cohorts are taking their lines right out of It Can't
rule, political dissidents that included not only communists and socialists but
political conservatives like Jessup, were thrown willy-nilly into concentration
camps, and joined forces there in a new American underground.
Are we going to
let today's half-wits lead the war into War and Depression?
Happen Here and ponder that question. ##
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMN EIGHTY
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMNS
Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
The Blacklisted Journalist's E-Mail Address:
THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ