FACT CHECK: Did Sinclair Lewis Say, ‘When Fascism Comes To America, It Will Be Wrapped In The Flag And Carrying A Cross’?
An image shared on Facebook claims that author Sinclair Lewis once stated, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
There is no evidence that Lewis ever said or wrote this quote.
The Daily Caller News Foundation searched Yale University’s digital archive of Lewis’ writings but found no matches for the quote attributed to him in the Facebook post.
“This quote sounds like something Sinclair Lewis might have said or written, but we’ve never been able to find this exact quote,” said Sally Parry, the executive director of the Sinclair Lewis Society, in an email to the DCNF.
According to Parry, the statement is similar to a line found in Lewis’ 1935 novel “It Can’t Happen Here,” in which the U.S. government falls under the rule of a fascist dictatorship. The expression does not appear in the book but, as Parry points out, it is thematically similar to the following line:
“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.”
The website Quote Investigator found the earliest instance of a variation of the expression in a 1917 speech by labor activist Eugene V. Debs. In the speech, Debs is quoted as saying, “Every robber or oppressor in history has wrapped himself in a cloak of patriotism or religion, or both.”
There have been numerous other iterations of the quote in print throughout the 20th century, but it has only been attributed to Lewis in print since 2005, according to Quote Investigator.
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