You’ve probably heard some variation on this quote: “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross,” possibly attributed to Sinclair Lewis or Huey Long. The only problem: there’s no evidence that either men said it.
But Sally Parry of the Sinclair Lewis Society provides us with two similar passages written by Lewis:
From It Can’t Happen Here (1935): “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 (1943): “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.”
Also, the author behind the site What Shii Knows has done some research and found two other possible sources:
“It is a peculiarity of the development of American fascism that at the present stage it comes forward principally in the guise of an opposition to fascism, which it accuses of being an “un-American” trend imported from abroad.” – Georgi Dimitrov, in his report delivered at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in 1935.
“When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, ‘Americanism’” – An uncredited New York Times reporter covering Halford E. Luccock in an article published September 12, 1938.
There’s also been some debate about whether James Madison ever said “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” My research on the subject is here.