Rick Levin reviewed the Very Little Theatre production of It Can’t Happen Here (“State of Emergency,” 10/24). Guess what?
On July 1, 1919, newspaperman Benito Mussolini published demands for universal suffrage at 18, the right of women to vote, proportional representation, autonomous local government, an 8-hour workday with a minimum wage, retirement at 55, progressive taxes on capital and war profits up to 85 percent, popular referendum, the confiscation of church property, and the elimination of secret diplomacy, political police forces and speculative investing. That was fascism.
Lewis’ character, Buzz Windrip, promised every citizen $5,000 a year. Ever hear of “a chicken in every pot”? When the Supreme Court shot down part of FDR’s National Recovery Act, he had a meltdown and tried to force additional justices onto the Court who would vote his way.
Windrip put people in concentration camps. Ever hear of Minidoka, Tule Lake or Manzanar?
Chaos in Washington? In the early months of WWII, people and agencies in Roosevelt’s administration came and went, some almost overnight, when war production was ramping up. He was also known for having a short attention span. In mid-1941 he ordered three boats sent out to monitor Japanese ships off Vietnam and when a naval officer came in to report developments, FDR was at his desk working on his stamp collection and had completely forgotten about the mission.
Sounds like Lewis’ mythical character was already on the job and it did happen here.