Tracker Pixel for Entry

It can’t happen here

Editorial | April 18th, 2024

Is this a repeating pattern?

By Sabrina Hornung

sabrina@hpr1.comThere’s a quote circulating around the world wide web, misattributed to Sinclair Lewis: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." According to The Sinclair Lewis Society, it sounds like something he would agree with but there’s no proof that he actually wrote or said it.

In Sinclair’s 1943 novel “Gideon Planish,” he wrote, "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."

Gideon Planish is a status-seeker who gets involved in varying questionable for-profit philanthropic organizations in his quest for status without accountability. Part of his quest involves political aspirations. The three golden balls are a symbol of the financial profession.

Whoudathunk that 80 years later we’d be having the same conversation. Both quotes resonate as our flag and the cross are symbols held hostage by leaders who seek prominence with minimal (if any) accountability. And they shout about the threat of “they” coming after everything these symbols represent and everything we hold dear.

Similar sentiments were echoed in Germany in the early 30s and look what happened.

In Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here,” the fictional American politician Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip quickly becomes America’s first unadulterated dictator, serving as a parallel to Hitler’s rise to power. The novel was written in 1934, to put things in historical context. Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933, soon transforming Germany into a dictatorship.

Back to Buzz Windrip: how does he become an autocrat? Using fear tactics, pushing the return of "traditional" values and draping them in the American flag and promising radical social and economic reform. And then after the election? He stages a self-coup and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of ruthless paramilitary forces.

Holy deja vu, Batman! Keep in mind that this was written in the mid-1930s.

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of fascism is; “A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”

Fascism isn’t being told to eat your vegetables. Fascism isn’t getting pulled over in a 25 when you were driving 40. Fascism isn’t to be used as a descriptor of your first-world gripes. It’s a little bit more serious than that. And by a little we mean a lot, as in human lives and human rights being at stake.

It can’t happen here, can it?

Yet the two conservative candidates for governor are trying to one-up each other on their allegiance to Herr Trump and the North Dakota Republican Party is split between long-haul establishment Republicans and Trump-allegiant conservatives, making moderates, who are in the minority, look radical.

It worries me to see Tammy Miller’s campaign ads calling out Mexican cartels and the cartel involvement in North Dakota. Sure, the cartels are bad, everyone knows that. But is Lieutenant Governor Miller proposing to improve the situation? Or is her purpose to whip up fear, ethnocentrism and xenophobia?

I highly doubt Tammy Miller will track down dem bad guys with her shotgun, skunk skin hat and her ol’ faithful hound dawg Red.

During WWI, a fearful frenzy was stirred up due to the Bolshevik revolution and anti-German sentiment built up by nativist movements of the time. There were mass deportations of Germans in North Dakota out of fear there were German spies among our neighbors. And there were Japanese-American internment camps in North Dakota during WWII.

As North Dakota moves farther and farther right let us not forget; in 1926 Ku Klux Klan power peaked in Grand Forks once they assumed a 4/5 majority on the City Commission board, allowing them to oust a number of city employees they didn’t agree with.

In North Dakota, the KKK was primarily an anti-Catholic, pro-temperance, anti-immigrant movement. Their messages seeped into church pulpits and seats were secured thanks to anti-Catholic campaigns in a predominantly Protestant area. These klansmen weren’t just a handful of bumpkins coming to town on a Saturday. They were mostly prominent businessmen.

That same year the two klansmen on the school board aided in the approval of mandatory Bible readings at the school, according to William Hardwood’s article “The Ku Klux Klan in Grand Forks North Dakota,”according to William Hardwood’s article “The Ku Klux Klan in Grand Forks North Dakota,” which is accessible through South Dakota Historical Society Press. Fortunately the Klan’s influence started to wane closer to the end of that decade.

The moral of the story? Your flag and your faith were never meant to be weaponized. This is a repeating pattern on a local, regional, national and global level.

Be careful, Kelly and Tammy. Steer away from the world’s most famous deadbeat. Any career advantage will be temporary and you will go down in history as Benedict Arnold.

Recently in:

Alicia Underlee Nelsonalicia@hpr1.com A midnight wedding ceremony at the Clay County Courthouse in Moorhead on August 1, 2013 was more than a romantic gesture. Eighteen couples made history on that day by exchanging vows in the…

Need more events? Check out our July 2024 and August 2024 calendars. (They're cleverly split up to save you some scrolling.)MaySpring CrowsNow - June 28, Spirit Room, FargoForty artists display works centered around a crow theme.…

Need more events? Check out our July 2024 and August 2024 calendars. (They're cleverly split up to save you some scrolling.)MaySpring CrowsNow - June 28, Spirit Room, FargoForty artists display works centered around a crow theme.…

Our opinion: Has Fargo lost its cool?By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com On April 24, The Forum reported that Zandbroz Variety would be closing its doors after 33 years, and the announcement hit like a ton of books. Upon hearing…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comIs It Possible to Move from a Tent on a Sidewalk to a Garage in the Sky? There have been wealthy people who added a car elevator to the mansion for their Bentleys so they could unload groceries…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com Holiday wine shopping shouldn’t have to be complicated. But unfortunately it can cause unneeded anxiety due to an overabundance of choices. Don’t fret my friends, we once again have you covered…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com In this land of hotdish and ham, the knoephla soup of German-Russian heritage seems to reign supreme. In my opinion though, the French have the superior soup. With a cheesy top layer, toasted baguette…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.com Musicians in the Fargo-Moorhead area are often supportive of each other. They will attend each other’s shows, collaborate on projects, play as openers for each other, so on and so…

Now playing at the Fargo Theatre.By Greg Carlson gregcarlson1@gmail.comPalme d’Or recipient “Anatomy of a Fall” is now enjoying an award-season victory tour, recently picking up Golden Globe wins for both screenplay and…

By David L. Newellhistory@nd.gov If your Spidey senses are tingling, it may be because Marvelocity: The Art of Alex Ross is coming to the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. The traveling exhibition, developed by the Bess…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.com AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Jim Fugliejimfuglie920@gmail.com I am an old man. I have been a politics junkie most of my life. I have been involved in many campaigns, but have not run for office myself. Each time someone has suggested I do that, I tell them…