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A Day of Infamy: They Said it Could not Happen in America A Day of Infamy: They Said it Could not Happen in America
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2017-08-17 10:37:19
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“Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Freedom”
                --Thomas Jefferson

“There were many good people marching with the Neo-Nazis”
                                                                  --Donald Trump


A Day of Infamy in America: University of Virginia, 11 August 2017

In 1936 a satirical novel by Sinclair Lewis was published. It was titled It Can’t Happen Here. It describes the rise of a politician named “Buzzy” who runs as a White Supremacist populist  promising a return to patriotism and traditional values. He manages to defeat FDR, becomes president of the United States of America and promptly installs himself as a totalitarian dictator. In 1937 the novel became a popular play.

The novel may not have looked so prophetic in 1936. After all those were the times of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini. What it describes was easy to imagine happening in Italy or Germany where anti-fascist movements were being persecuted and suppressed, not to liberal democratic America, the land of the free and the brave, so called who went to the aid of the allied democracies in World War II in the 40s.

Indeed, it could never happen here. I have been reminded of that assumption time and again by my American-born wife: here in America we have democracy, free speech, a constitution, and check and balances which will redress any abnormalities that surface within the democratic system.

I continue hoping that I am wrong and she is right, but I am not so sure any more, not after the latest events at the University of Virginia, an institution founded by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the US; the president who reminded us all Americans that “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.” 

Eighty years or so later the novel feels even more as a prophecy of sorts, but it does not apply to Europe any longer, now transformed in the European Union rightly lecturing the US in democracy and free speech, but to the “land of the free and the brave.” Was Lewis was right all along with his prophetic novel?


Twelve years after the apprehension and execution of Mussolini in Italy, as a teenager, I left Italy and came to America. I thought at the time that I had left for good a place where repression and totalitarianism had occurred and could well occur again, and had landed in America, a nation of nations and a land welcoming immigrants from all over the world where my father was born and where a promising future was waiting for me and my family. At least so I thought at the time. Was I naïve in that aspiration? Perhaps. I now feel that the aspiration is about to become a delusion within an illusion.

If in astonishment you were to ask me why all this pessimism, I would simply answer that you take a good hard look at the picture above depicting a torchlight night parade. It so redolent of a Nazi torchlight parade, but it is not a documentary picture of Nazi Germany in 1936 as I first thought when I spotted it on TV on Friday night August 11th, but of Charlottesville, Virginia at the University of Virginia founded by Jefferson. So the day that everybody thought would never come to America has indeed arrived. A day that will live in infamy within the annals of American democracy.

The reason why it will live in infamy is that an American president, legitimately or illegitimately elected, as the case may turn out to be, has degraded the very office of the presidency which he now occupies, to side with the Neo-Nazis, the KKK, the skin-heads, the haters of democracy and the racists.


The faces of the dictatorial mind-set

This is a movie that we have seen before. In Nazi Germany, the more perceptive Jews understood where the unstoppable train was heading (Trump sent a tweet recently with an unstoppable train on which the name Trump is affixed…) and they left Germany before being rounded up for the extermination camps. Should I be preparing my bags to return to Italy? My wife continues to object and to remind me that the apprehension is only in my exalted imagination, that what happened in Germany cannot possibly happen in America. I’d like very much to believe her but I look and reflect on the picture above and I remain unpersuaded, especially when I remember Sinclair Lewis’ novel. History will render its terrible verdict, but the omens, alas, are not very promising.


Check Dr Emanuel Paparella's NEW BOOK
"The Caligula Presidency: A Satirical Debunking Critique"
is online now and you can download it for FREE HERE!



Check also Dr Emanuel Paparella's other EBOOKS
Aesthetic Theories of Great Western Philosophers
& Europe Beyond the Euro
You can download them all for FREE HERE!

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