It Can’t Happen Here—But It Is


In 1935, Sinclair Lewis drew upon his prominence as the first American recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature to issue a national warning against the dangers of fascism. Huey Long was emerging as a likely candidate in the 1936 presidential election, and in the satiric novel It Can’t Happen Here, Lewis provided an extended expose of the political career of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue with great populist appeal who costumed his ruthless, personal pursuit of power in endless, hokey appeals to patriotism and “core American values,” which then as now was a euphemism for distracting poor WASPs from their own miserable lives by heightening their abhorrence of racial, ethnic, and religious groups that might be opportunistically scapegoated for being less truly “American.” Of course, Long was assassinated in the same year that the novel was published, and despite attracting much literary and political attention in the years…

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About martinkich

I am a Professor of English at Wright State University's Lake Campus, where I have been a faculty member for more than 25 years. I have now served multiple terms as the President of the WSU chapter of AAUP, which now includes all full-time instructional faculty, and as the Vice-President of the Ohio Conference of AAUP. I have also served several terms as an at-large member of the Executive Committee of AAUP's Collective Bargaining Congress. In addition to serving as co-editor of the Academe blog, I am also a member of the editorial board of Academe and have been a guest editor for an issue of the magazine on collective bargaining strategies. As co-chair of the Ohio Conference's Communication Committee, I began to do much more overtly political writing during the campaign to repeal Ohio's Senate Bill 5, which would have eliminated the right of faculty to be unionized. I have sustained that activism, and at the risk of stating the obvious, I have very much enjoyed contributing to the Academe Blog and to our chapter blog. I also maintain several other blogs to which I have re-posted, by topic, my posts to the Academe blog, as well as some other items.

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