“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
This is a quote often misattributed to Sinclair Lewis, while the actual quote seems to be a condensed meme of a collection of prognostications from the 1930s as Hitler came to power.
In 1935, Sinclair Lewis published the book, “It Can’t Happen Here,” the story of the rise of fascism in the U.S. at the time of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.
Portraying himself as a champion of traditional American values, the newly elected president of the U.S. quickly outlaws dissent, incarcerates political enemies in concentration camps, and trains and arms a paramilitary force called the Minute Men, who terrorize citizens and enforce the policies of the president and his “corporatist” regime. In addition to these actions, the president’s administration, known as the “Corpo” government, curtails women’s and minority rights.
Those accused of crimes against the government appear before kangaroo courts presided over by “military judges.” Despite these dictatorial measures, a majority of Americans approve of them, seeing them as necessary but painful steps to restore American power. Others, those less enthusiastic about the prospect of corporatism, reassure themselves that fascism cannot “happen here,” hence the novel’s title.
Any resemblance to what we as citizens of the U.S. have to contend with today is definitely not coincidental.
Fascism is basically an authoritarian government for corporations and by corporations working in cooperation with the federal government, the military establishment and mainstream media (MSM). The MSM is extremely important because they control what we are told and not told.
Extreme nationalism, the loss of individual liberties, and collectivism that benefits corporations rather than people are further characteristics of fascism. Basically, corporate protection and welfare is the main item on the agenda. This is where the dollar is placed above the individual, where human beings are just cogs in the wheel to be used and abused in the service of the ruling class.
Since the ruling class makes up only a small percentage of the population, how do they enforce and implement their agenda of dominance? The answer to that question is fairly simple . . . internationally, they have the armed forces and the CIA and have established over 800 military bases around the globe, occupying over 160 countries while domestically, they have the local police departments, the FBI, and the Injustice Department.
Let us keep in mind, that the law enforcement agencies are not here to protect us, they are here to protect the ruling class from us.
Is it merely a coincidence that police departments throughout this nation are being armed with weapons of war? Pray tell, who are they at war with?
Is it merely coincidence that hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. citizens, predominantly African-American men, are shot and killed every year by “their” police?
Is it merely coincidence that the U.S. has incarcerated more of its citizens, predominantly Black and Latino, than the rest of the Western countries combined?
Let us look at life in the U.S. after 9/11.
How a country treats its whistleblowers or those who expose criminal activity is an important measure of the level of anti-democratic activity sanctioned by the government.
Thomas Drake worked at the NSA (National Security Administration) in various analyst and management positions. He blew the whistle on the NSA’s Trailblazer Project that he felt was a violation of the Fourth Amendment and other laws and regulations. He contacted The Baltimore Sun which published articles about waste, fraud, and abuse at the NSA, including stories about Trailblazer. In April 2010, Drake was indicted by a grand jury on various charges, including obstructing justice and making false statements. After the May 22, 2011 broadcast of a 60 Minutes episode on the Drake case, the government dropped all of the charges against Drake and agreed not to seek any jail time in return for Drake’s agreement to plead guilty to a misdemeanor of misusing the agency’s computer system. Drake was sentenced to one year of probation and community service and, of course, lost his job.
In 2007, John Kiriakou, a member of the CIA, disclosed that the agency waterboarded detainees and that this constituted torture. In the months following, Kiriakou passed the identity of a covert CIA operative to a reporter. He was convicted of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and sentenced, on January 25, 2013, to 30 months imprisonment. Having served the first months of his service he wrote an open letter describing the inhuman circumstances at the correction facility.
Chelsea Manning, US Army intelligence analyst who released the largest set of classified documents ever, much of which revealed crimes being committed by U.S. Army personnel, mostly published by WikiLeaks and their media partners. The material included videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan; 250,000 United States diplomatic cables; and 500,000 army reports that came to be known as the Iraq War logs and Afghan War logs. Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act and other offenses and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Edward Snowden, while working with the NSA, released classified material on top-secret NSA programs including the PRISM surveillance program to The Guardian and The Washington Post in June 2013. The data he revealed exposed the NSA’s massive surveillance program of U.S. citizens. As a result, Snowden had to leave the U.S. to avoid prosecution and seek sanctuary in Russia.
It should be noted that the above men who thought it their duty to reveal crimes being committed by members of our government have been criminalized and have suffered the consequences of their actions. There is no evidence that those committing the crimes were ever held accountable.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of the people to assemble peacefully to voice their support or dissent of public policy issues. But it’s the police who seem to be raising their voices and denying the people this right. We are finding an increase in police rioting against marchers and demonstrators, pepper spraying or Macing them without cause. I have to admit, this does not compare to the police shootings of unarmed people who offer no threat to the safety of the police. But, it is a trend that should be noted.
When I used to go to ball games with my father, we would stand at the beginning of the game while the national anthem was sung. I’m not certain where or when that tradition began but it was done at all sporting events.
At baseball games, we would also stand for our 7th inning stretch.
Today, the tone has changed. The 7th inning stretch is no longer merely an opportunity for the fans to stand and stretch after sitting for a long period of time. We now have, at Yankee Stadium as well as several other stadiums throughout the country, a new tradition forming since 9/11. The fans are asked to stand and place their hands over their hearts while Kate Smith sings God Bless America . . . fans have brought American flags to the games which they unfurl and the latest piece of patriotism is the inclusion of a war veteran who stands by the Yankee dugout and is introduced to the fans who applaud to demonstrate their appreciation for the sacrifice this man or woman has made.
But the National Football League has gone one better. During the Super Bowl, while the National Anthem was being sung, and a 100 yard American flag is unfurled, U.S. fighter jets came roaring over the stadium in formation. Now that’s hard to beat.
The latest rage concerns San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has made clear he will not stand during the national anthem because of the way people of color have been and continue to be treated in this country. He refuses to stand in honor of a flag that symbolizes the enslavement and the incarceration of people who look like him. As a result, there has been a mad dash amongst many to find an American flag they could hug in order to prove their patriotism.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made his first public comments about San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick’s protest.
Kaepernick has sat or taken a knee before every 49ers preseason game this season. Last week, teammate Eric Reid joined him in the protest as did Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane in his game against the Oakland Raiders.
There is no rule in the NFL saying players must stand during the national anthem.
Goodell’s comments, according to NFL Network, were as follows: “Well my personal thoughts are . . . I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society. We live in an imperfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that. I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement, and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.
Does standing for the national anthem and saluting a piece of cloth constitute patriotism?
Should we continue to have respect for this country and its flag when this country has invaded 7 countries since 9/11, killing hundreds of thousands of noncombatants and destroying the infrastructure of these sovereign nations?
Do we accept the notion that the U.S. military is protecting us from external threats? REALLY? Which country is stupid enough to attack the U.S. when the response would be to have their own country obliterated? The U.S. knows this as does the leadership of all the countries around the globe. Even “big, bad” Vladimir Putin has expressed his recognition of U.S. power.
No, my friends, the U.S. military is going around this world gathering markets and resources for the ruling class so they can continue to dominate the world economically.
Isn’t it more patriotic to demand better treatment for the Americans who have been marginalized, beaten, and murdered than to stand for the national anthem?
Goodell continues: “I think it’s important if they see things they want to change in society, and clearly we have things that can get better in society, and we should get better. But we have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great.”
If Colin did, in fact, embrace the values and ideals of this country, he would have purchased a gun and started shooting. Everyone expresses support for Colin’s goal but insists that he should show more respect for the country and the flag. This is the response of many who don’t recognize that he is rebelling calmly and with respect. If he was any more respectful, we wouldn’t notice him.
So, the question remains, are we living under a fascist government? We have the militarism; we have the corporatism; we have the criminalization of dissent; we have the police state; we have the executive branch of government that has assumed the right to decide which person constitutes an imminent threat to the U.S. and have him/her assassinated (this includes U.S. citizens) without arrest, charges, or a trial; we have an executive that has assumed the power to decide, unilaterally, which sovereign states around the globe present a danger to the U.S. and then have the military attack and bomb them without congressional approval, etc., etc., etc.
There are those who would argue that this cannot be a fascist state because we, the people, elect our representatives to office. The premise for this statement is that we are electing “our” representatives. Those in office have not been “our” representatives for decades. That is why we are always left with the choice of which candidate is the lesser of two evils . . . which one will do the least damage to our lives. The members of both parties recognize that they cannot get elected without the consent and financial support of the ruling class and, therefore, once elected, will act to fulfill their agenda regardless of the consequences to the rest of us.
What makes “our” government unique is that while assuming many elements of a fascist government, it has successfully projected the ideology of democracy and the notion that American Exceptionalism is real.
As I’ve said many times before, capitalism and imperialism will eventually destroy the planet as well as the human race. Fascism is an outgrowth of both.
GOD BLESS AMERIKA!!!
Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.