“When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross”?

For years, I felt i was the only one that was never able to pin down the source of this quote, though "everyone" said it was Sinclair Lewis. I've spewed my doubts around the blogoshere for years, and finally, others started delving into it,  and finally, Wikiquote (and soon Wikipedia, we hope) is calling it a "misattribution." 

There are may articles about this topic, some of them quite exhaustively compiled (like this one), but all of them inconclusive or otherwise flawed in some way or another.  So, being pretty anal about actual facts, and not alleged facts, I felt I would try to clear it up by going to a scholar who might actually know a little something about Sinclair Lewis and his work.

What follows that scholar's letter to me. I think this is fairly dispositive that the words were not penned by Sinclair Lewis. Following it are some related references with fairly convincing evidence that it was actually a misquotation of a Harrison Salisbury remark about Lewis's "It Can't Happen Here."  I won't swear to that until I've next checked into that claim. It sure sounds right, though.


This quote sounds like something Sinclair Lewis might have said or written, but the Sinclair Lewis Society has never been able to find this exact quote although we've been asked a number of times.

Here are passages from two books Lewis wrote that at least hint at the quote attributed to him.

 From It Can't Happen Here: "But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word 'Fascism' and preached enslavement to capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty."

From Gideon Planish: "I just wish people wouldn't quote Lincoln or the Bible, or hang out the flag or the cross, to cover up something that belongs more to the bank-book and the three golden balls."

 There was also a play called Strangers in the late 1970s which had a similar quote, but no one, including one of Lewis’s biographers, Richard Lingeman, has ever been able to locate the quote.

 Hope that helps. Many thanks for writing. And thank you for passing the information on to Wikipedia.



Sally E. Parry, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Sinclair Lewis Society
College of Arts and Sciences
Campus Box 4100
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-4100

(309) 438-5669

"I am convinced that everything that is worthwhile in the world has been accomplished by the free, inquiring, critical spirit…"  Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here

We'll Always Have the Movies: American Cinema during World War II by Robert L. McLaughlin and Sally E. Parry www.kentuckypress.com


Please direct people to this site. As wonderful a quote as it is, and probably a total truism, it should be properly attributed to who actually said it :)




Please spend the next few days sending this to everyone you know. Drag people to watch it, if you must. Then drag them to the god damn polls.

We won't get a second chance.  It's show time. We either save America this Tuesday, or can just pack it in. They will only grow stronger, and quickly deny us another chance by any means available to them.  They only pretend to love the constitution. They could not care any less about it. They never did. They want this nation, and they plan to take it.  We stop them now, or it will be very nearly impossible to stop them later.  Be afraid.


Dear friends:

As some know, I am alway hesitant to make charitable appeals, because the Internet is rife with cases of scams, phony dramas,  or attention whores claiming some fender bender caused them serious trauma and need your dollars to survive (or more likely, buy more Spaghettios for their dinner). Few ever try to confirm these things, or confirm them well, and many get stung. Even if they don't know they were stung, it happens far too often.

And almost as irksome, is the fact that it's so hard to decide who is deserving of Internet appeals for charity.  We can't help everyone, but that shouldn't mean helping someone is out of the question. In the end, like much in this life, it's the luck of the draw.  My own rule of thumb is that for someone to really warrant broad-based Internet appeals, the beneficiary must have extended their own life or generosity to others in some measurable way. I feel this case passes that smell test and deserves our generosity.

Since I never accept Internet appeals at face value, I have personally spoken with @chrisWiggins (at his Google number) and confirmed all of this. I hope my word is good, and you can rely on this being completely legitimate.  His mother has a marvelous record of human kindness and generosity, and deserves all the life we can buy for her.

I hope you will help with whatever you can afford. Even a single dollar will count.

Thank you so much.


The story: Please help Karen Wiggins

The donation page: http://karenwiggins.eventbrite.com/

@chriswiggin's  Linked-in Page: http://linkd.in/9vqNsF



Yes, Chris is a recent hire at Google. But they have working stiffs, too.(They're not all Googleaires).  He's no more able to save his mother alone than most of us would be in a similar circumstance.