Sinclair Lewis: "It Can't Happen Here"

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sinclair Lewis has given a frightening performance of what how a Trump presidency might play out. Written in 1935, at the beginning of both Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency and Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship, Lewis imagines a scenario where fascists take over the U.S. (in a “fair” election) and systematically turn it into a militarized corporate state. Free speech, both the press and personal talk, are immediately banned and any attempts at subversion are punished through death or sentences to concentration camps.

Yes, Americans are rounded up and sent to labor and concentration camps where they work for the new state, subsisting on virtually no food and little shelter, until they “attempt to escape” or are deemed to dangerous to live, where they are summarily shot.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are purged in this process. All liberal or democratic-minded people are imprisoned, killed, or go underground while those with looser morals go to work for the state. Minorities are punished and immigrants are forced back to their country’s of origin, imprisoned, or killed.

A militarized civilian police force emerges, supporting the President’s goals and, at the first sign of possible revolt, a war with Mexico is invented so that American’s patriotism and loyalty can be put to the test. The president places individuals of questionable quality and ability in key positions, and the basest of human tendencies prevail.

My friend said I was reading this to “feed my paranoia.”

“Nope,” I said. “I’m reading this to be ready for what is to come. It’s like a playbook for what can and may happen, and I want to be as prepared as possible.”

Some things are worth fighting and dying for: KINDNESS. COMPASSION. LOVE. In the face of hate, people must rise up and resist. Lewis has sounded a warning. If Americans do not resist, it can and will happen here.

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