An honest propagandist for any Cause, that is, one who honestly studies and figures our the most effective way of putting over his Message, will learn fairly early that it is not fair to ordinary folks—it just confuses them—to try to make them swallow all the true facts that would be suitable to a higher class of people. And one seemingly small but almighty important point he learns, if he does much speechifying, is that you can win over folks to your point of view much better in the evening, when they are tired out from work and not so likely to resist you, then at any other time of the day.
Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip
Sinclair Lewis, IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE, New American Library (republished 2005), p. 180.
Fearing mob violence, insurrection, and the erosion of democratic norms – consequences of Benito Mussolini’s and Adolph Hitler’s propaganda, and indulgence in unrelenting and unbridled repletion of alternative facts – Sinclair Lewis wrote his 1935 tour de force dystopian novel, IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE, depicting the slow-burning rise of an American dictator in the ilk of Il Duce and Der Führer.
Lewis, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, had good reason to be concerned – aside from what he saw happening in Europe. Media mogul William Randolph Hearst, fond of engaging in incendiary propaganda, had defined Americanism in Trumpian style (here I am thinking of when US President Trump called the racist, anti-Semitic, Confederate-flag-waving, Ku Klux Klan Chanting demonstrators “very fine people”):
Whenever you hear a prominent American called “fascist”, you can usually make up your mind that the man is simply a LOYAL CITIZEN WHO STANDS FOR AMERICANISM.
Watching the assault on Capitol Hill and desecration of the US Congress, the citadel of the US’s democracy, who would have believed that this was the United States of America? Who would have thought that it could happen here – in the US? It was not a coup. No dictator emerged. At dawn, the Republic was still intact, though marred, bruised, tested, weakened, humbled and humiliated. Continue reading “IT CAN HAPPEN HERE – It nearly did”