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"It Can't Happen Here", by Sinclair Lewis (First, of an occasional series)

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Ben_Hecht, May 16, 2008.

  1. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    From page 21:

    "Nonsense! Nonsense! . . . That couldn't happen here in America, not possibly! We're a country of freemen."

    "The answer to that," suggested Doremus Jessup (Ed. note: the novel's protagonist), "if Mr. Falck will forgive me, is 'the hell it can't!' Why, there's no country in the world that can get more hysterical -- yes, or more obsequious! -- than America. Look how Huey Long became absolute monarch over Louisiana, and how the Right Honerable Mr. Senator Berzelius Windrip (Ed note: the novel's bad-guy Prez in waiting) owns his state. Listen to . . . Father Coughlin on the radio, a divine oracle, to millions. Remember how casually most Americans have accepted Tammany grafting and Chicago gangs and the crookedness of so many of President Harding's appointees? Could Hitler's bunch, or Windrip's, be worse?
    Remember the KKK? Remember our war hysteria, when we called sauerkraut 'Liberty cabbage' and somebody actually proposed calling German measles 'Liberty measles'? And wartime censorship of honest papers? Bad as Russia! Remember our kissing the -- well,
    the feet of Billy Sunday, the million-dollar evangelist, and of Aimee McPherson, who swam the Pacific Ocean clear into the Arizona desert and got away with it? Remember Voliva and Mother Eddy? . . . Remember our Red scares and our Catholic scares, when all well-informed people knew that the O. G. P. U. (Ed. note: the KGB's forerunner in the USSR; well-familiar to loyal readers of Walt Kelly's Pogo, in the '50s) were hiding out in Oskaloosa, and the Republicans campaigning against Al Smith told the Carolina mountaineers that if Al won the Pope would illegitimatize their children? . . . Remember when the hick legislators in certain states, in obedience to William Jennings Bryan, who learned his biology from his pious old grandma, set up shop as scientific experts and made the whole world laugh itself sick by forbidding the teach of evolution? . . . Not happen here? Prohibition -- shooting down people just because they MIGHT be transporting liquor -- no, has there ever been a people so ripe for a dictatorship as ours?"

    Published in 1935.

    With a couple of minor adjustments and a couple of juggled names, could have been written last week.
  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I've said that all along here.. this book is eerie -- written to reflect Huey Long, but more appropriate for President Stupid.
  3. D-3 Fan

    D-3 Fan Active Member

    Uh, wasn't that the point that was made?

    The Hunchback of Notre Dame could have made that comparison in seven seconds flat. ;D
  4. ...swinging from a rope in his belltower.
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