Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism
by Rachel Maddow
Book Review by Kristine Madera
I read Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism after seeing an interview in which Rachel Maddow said that rises in anti-semitism, other blaming-isms, and political conspiracies are generally always part of an attempt to subvert democracy in favor of authoritarianism or fascism. In researching other rises in anti-semitism in US history, she stumbled onto this story, which had been buried beneath the annals of time, but that had been huge news in its day—until it wasn’t.
The basic story starts with how early Nazi Germany used US race laws as a model of how to disenfranchise and “otherize” Jews in Germany by basically making living-while-Jewish illegal there. The story then lays out how a relatively small group of people including many congressmen and other high-level politicians, notaries like Henry Ford, and others worked to replicate Hitler’s model of fascist government in the US in the 1930s and 40s and almost succeeded. It is also, and primarily, the heroic story of the people who stopped it—which included many ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things, ordinary civil servants defending democracy and the constitution they were sworn to protect, as well as, finally, some government officials who eventually listened—until they didn’t.
The Prequel title is a reminder that history is cyclical. The drumbeat of anti- and -ism is rising again impossible to ignore. Again, we have the opportunity and obligation to stop the march toward otherizing and authoritarianism if we want democracy in all its messiness to endure. Rachel Maddow’s Prequel is a cautionary true tale and also a hopeful one. The US has been down this road before, and we’re still a democracy—for now. She gives both insight about how to, and hope that we can, weather the current authoritarian headwinds, too.
Another insight in this and other books I’ve read recently is how tenuous modern civilizations and societies are, especially during a crisis. The governmental, social, logistical, and other systems in place are only as reliable as the people who fill them, the resources allocated to them, and the willingness of individuals to stand up to big egos and successfully demand that they hold to higher ideals.
Too often, successes like holding onto democracy in Prequel’s scenario, and our current democracy-related challenges, come down to a few tenacious people, a pot of luck, some tacky bubble gum, and a fraying roll of bailing twine. We give institutions too much credit for good and ill, strength and frailty. This book and others demonstrate that our fate comes down to the quality of individuals standing up for our common ideals on behalf of those who can’t be bothered, and to the nefariousness of individuals willing to manipulate complacency and frustration, and stoke fear, for their own selfish purposes.
Prequel is also a reminder that democracy and society are team sports. Every one of us has a part to play.
Kristine Madera is a #1 bestselling Amazon author, novelist, hypnotherapist, and pro-topian with a passion for helping people better themselves and the world. Informed by global travel, teaching abroad, and a stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Kristine believes that everyone plays a part in imagining and creating our collective future.
Volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Calcutta inspired her novel, God in Drag. She birthed her upcoming novel, The Snakeman’s Wife, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Papua New Guinea.
Read the first chapter of God in Drag HERE