Sinclair Lewis didn't say it at all, apparently, but it is still a completely true statement. Even more true is Huey P. Long's version, "When Fascism comes to America, it will be called anti-Fascism!".
With these quotes, freshly researched, in my mind, I sit down to write something about the followers of "Captain Hutaree," alias David Brian Stone.
As most of you no doubt learned yesterday, Stone and seven of his followers were arrested yesterday on an indictment alleging a plot to spark the overthrow of the American government. (An eighth follower was tracked down and arrested today.)
The indictment alleges that killing a law enforcement official would be just the beginning: "As a consequence of this act, law enforcement officers from throughout the nation would be drawn to and gather in the Eastern District of Michigan for the funeral," the indictment said. "According to the plan, the Hutaree would then attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession with improvised explosive devices with explosively formed projectiles."
Making Light goes into much, much more detail on the subject, even quoting broad sections of the federal indictment:
The HUTAREE’s enemies include state and local law enforcement, who are deemed “footsoldiers” of the Federal government, Federal law enforcement agencies and employees, participants in the “New World Order,” and anyone who does not share in the HUTAREE’s beliefs.
Since at least 2008, the HUTAREE has been meeting regularly to conduct military-style training in Lenawee County, located in the Eastern District of Michigan, and elsewhere. The purpose of this training has been to plan and prepare for the impending war with the HUTAREE’s enemies.
. . .
From on or about August 16, 2008, and continuing thereafter up to and including the date of the filing of this indictment, in the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, and elsewhere, the defendants … acting as a militia group known as the HUTAREE, did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and other persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to levy war against the United States, to oppose by force the authority of the Government of the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law.
. . .
The general concept of operations provided that the HUTAREE would commit some violent act to draw the attention of law enforcement or government officials and which would prompt a response by law enforcement. Possible such acts which were discussed included killing a member of law enforcement after a traffic stop, killing a member of law enforcement and his or her family at home, ambushing a member of law enforcement in rural communities, luring a member of law enforcement with a false 911 emergency call and then killing him or her, and killing a member of law enforcement and then attacking the funeral procession motorcade with weapons of mass destruction. These acts would intimidate and demoralize law enforcement, diminishing their ranks and rendering them ineffective.
. . .
The general concept of operations further provided that, once such action was taken, HUTAREE members would then retreat to one of several “rally points” where the HUTAREE would wage war against the government and be prepared to defend in depth with trip-wired and command detonated anti-personnel Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), ambushes, and prepared fighting positions. It is believed by the HUTAREE that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more wide-spread uprising against the Government.
And these cretins weren't just planning or training to kill cops as part of a crackpot scheme to trigger a mass theocratic revolution: they were actually trying to put that planning and training into action. Again quoting from the indictment (via Making Light):
e. On or about February 6, 2010, several conspirators attempted to travel to Kentucky to attend a summit of militia groups convened by DAVID BRIAN STONE. … The purpose of the summit of militia groups was to facilitate better communications, cooperation, and coordination between the various militias. In anticipation of the summit, DAVID BRIAN STONE … solicited a person he believed capable of manufacturing destructive devices to provide him with four anti-personnel Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) to take with them to the summit. Although weather conditions prevented them from reaching their destination, DAVID BRIAN STONE … identified law enforcement officers in a specific community near his residence, and one officer in particular, as potential targets of attack.
They were getting the weapons, and they had chosen the targets. It was just dumb luck- or excellent anti-terrorism work by the FBI- that Stone chose a government informant to approach for bombs and other explosive munitions.
After looking (exhaustively) through what's left online of the Hutaree websites, the Nielsen Haydens don't think much of their claims to defend Christ:
Are the Hutaree religious extremists or anti-government extremists? I’d say the latter. Their religious doctrine is barely there. They may talk a lot about Jesus, but their timing and plans appear to be driven by secular concerns.
David Neiwert agrees- because of what he saw in the 1990s, with the militia movement as it grew during Bill Clinton's presidency.
It very much reminds me of the Washington State Militia, the group whose bust and subsequent federal trial I covered in 1996-7. The WSM was a lot like the Michigan Militia in that it liked to sell itself as a civic-minded group whose main purpose was to defend citizens from government oppression and to perform various civic function. I'll never forget John Pitner, the WSM's "commander," telling reporters outside a meeting hall in Mount Vernon in January 1996 that he and his members had been heavily involved in sandbagging efforts to combat the floods that had hit local rivers the week before.
. . .
Pitner and six of his comrades were arrested in July 1996 and hit with a variety of charges, most notably for making pipe bombs. At the trial, it emerged that the FBI had videotaped many of the militiamen's meetings, and so both the trial audience and the jury got to hear Pitner and his cohorts planning various acts of violence, including bombing a local reporter's home and a nearby train tunnel.
Nothing has changed, except the name of the Democratic President.
And, just as with Ruby Ridge, JustUs Township, and the other militia nuts of the 1990s, the conservative movement is stumbling over themselves to defend the Hutaree.
The worst example of the above:
Last time I looked, wanting to start a civil war (insane as it is) was not a crime. Assuming they are crackpots, they still have the same constitutional rights as everyone else, and I hope for the sake of the rest of us that they are being respected.
So... apparently, treason- the attempted overthrow of the federal government by force of arms, in this case- is a constitutional right.
But is this really surprising at all? We've seen, time and again, the threatening signs of the teabaggers, such as, "WE COME UNARMED- THIS TIME," or, "IF BROWN CAN'T FIX IT, BROWNING CAN." We've seen certain of their members already busted for seeking a war with the federal government.
And, through it all, we've seen conservatives in general and certain elected Republicans in particular- John McCain, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin for examples- playing up both the rhetoric of rebellion and the paranoid beliefs that fuel the desire for rebellion.
And it should be most telling indeed about the true nature, and allegiance, of these militias that, during the administration of George W. Bush, they were almost totally SILENT. They sat, and waited, and relaxed... but now that a Democrat, as middle-of-the-road as they come, has taken over the Oval Office, it's right back to armed resistance and rebellion.
And, as Huey Long said, in the name of "anti-Fascism."
It is entirely possible- indeed probable- that the elected Republicans, and the conservative talking heads of radio and Fox News, don't intend to inspire an actual armed revolt against the federal government. They merely think that, by playing up the fear and paranoia of militia supporters, they themselves can regain control of that same government. Unfortunately, the more they use revolutionary rhetoric, the more they call on their followers to "defend the Constitution" or "uphold Judeao-Christian values", the more likely Hutaree-like terrorists are to pop up...
... and, of course, the more dependent Republicans will be upon them.
I conclude with a quote that really DOES come from Sinclair Lewis, from his book It Can't Happen Here, which I'm going to start reading in full... the excerpts I've glanced through thus far are all too applicable to the current political climate. Here's the quote:
He was an actor of genius. There was no more overwhelming actor on the stage, in the motion pictures, nor even in the pulpit. He would whirl arms, bang tables, glare from mad eyes, vomit Biblical wrath from a gaping mouth; but he would also coo like a nursing mother, beseech like an aching lover, and in between tricks would coldly and almost contemptuously jab his crowds with figures and facts — figures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect.
Lewis is describing his soon-to-be Fascist dictator of America here... but he could just as easily be describing Rush Limbaugh, or Sarah Palin, or Glenn Beck, or Michele Bachmann, or Sean Hannity, or John McCain. All ignore the facts, or else blatantly lie about them... but all of them play on the fear and hatred of their listeners to bring them to acts which, had they the truth at their disposal, they might otherwise not support.
And people like "Captain Hutaree" are listening... and taking action.
Yes, fascism can happen here in America. It is on the march now. It carries a cross, it wears the flag either as a pin or a patch... and it claims to be our only defense against dictatorship and destruction.
And, if we do not become more alert, it will be too late to stop it.