Tag Archives: James Waterman Wise

When Fascism Comes To America, It Will Be Wrapped in the Flag

Sinclair Lewis? Huey Long? Lonnie Jackson? A. L. Sachar? James Waterman Wise? Robert H. Jackson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The impulses of nationalism and authoritarianism sometimes combine to produce devastating results. The following saying has been attributed to the prominent writer Sinclair Lewis and the populist politician Huey Long:

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag.

The phrase “and carrying a cross” is often added to this saying. I have not found any solid citations for Lewis or Long. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: QI has located no substantive evidence ascribing this remark to Sinclair Lewis or Huey Long. In addition, the “Sinclair Lewis Society” was unable to find this quotation in the Lewis’s oeuvre. 1 A thematically germane Lewis quotation is presented further below. QI has also examined a different, but related, quotation ascribed to Huey Long:

Sure, we’ll have fascism in this country, and we’ll call it anti-fascism

That entry is available here.

In 1922 a partially matching statement printed in a North Carolina newspaper was applied to the Ku Klux Klan. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

Governor Allen has made a fine epigram on the K. K. K.—Race prejudice wrapped in the flag and sold for $10.

In 1923 Lonnie Jackson, mayor of Central City, Kentucky and president of District No. 23 of the United Mine Workers of America described the Ku Klux Klan using a matching phrase: 3

“The Ku Klux Klan comes wrapped in the American flag, as it were, advocating the American principles openly, with a Bible in its hand, and the very next day they are passing their neighbors with a mask over their faces. My conception of the fundamental principles of Americanism is that a man should have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Website: Sinclair Lewis Society, Article title: Here’s our most asked question, Date on website: 2012 Copyright, Website description: “The Sinclair Lewis Society was formed to encourage study of, critical attention to, and general interest in the work, career, and legacy of Sinclair Lewis”. (Accessed english.illinoisstate.edu on July 27, 2017) link
  2. 1922 December 21, The Goldsboro Daily Argus, (Filler item), Quote Page 4, Column 4, Goldsboro, North Carolina. (Newspapers_com)
  3. 1923 August 31, The Garment Worker: Official Journal of the United Garment Workers of America, Volume 22, Number 45, Ku Klux Klan Menace to Union Labor, Says Mayor of Kentucky City, Byline: International Labor News Service, Quote Page 3, Column 1, United Garment Workers of America, New York. (HathiTrust) link