Twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists first spoke of the United States becoming a Christian nation that would build a global Christian empire, it was hard to take such hyperbolic rhetoric seriously. Today, such language no longer sounds like hyperbole but poses, instead, a very real threat to our freedom and ...
Twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists first spoke of the United States becoming a Christian nation that would build a global Christian empire, it was hard to take such hyperbolic rhetoric seriously. Today, such language no longer sounds like hyperbole but poses, instead, a very real threat to our freedom and our way of life. In "American Fascists, " Chris Hedges, veteran journalist and author of the National Book Award finalist "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, " challenges the Christian Right's religious legitimacy and argues that at its core it is a mass movement fueled by unbridled nationalism and a hatred for the open society. Hedges, who grew up in rural parishes in upstate New York where his father was a Presbyterian pastor, attacks the movement as someone steeped in the Bible and Christian tradition. He points to the hundreds of senators and members of Congress who have earned between 80 and 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups as one of many signs that the movement is burrowing deep inside the American government to subvert it. The movement's call to dismantle the wall between church and state and the intolerance it preaches against all who do not conform to its warped vision of a Christian America are pumped into tens of millions of American homes through Christian television and radio stations, as well as reinforced through the curriculum in Christian schools. The movement's yearning for apocalyptic violence and its assault on dispassionate, intellectual inquiry are laying the foundation for a new, frightening America. "American Fascists, " which includes interviews and coverage of events such as pro-life rallies and weeklong classes on conversion techniques, examines the movement's origins, its driving motivations and its dark ideological underpinnings. Hedges argues that the movement currently resembles the young fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s, movements that often masked the full extent of their drive for totalitarianism and were willing to make concessions until they achieved unrivaled power. The Christian Right, like these early fascist movements, does not openly call for dictatorship, nor does it use physical violence to suppress opposition. In short, the movement is not yet revolutionary. But the ideological architecture of a Christian fascism is being cemented in place. The movement has roused its followers to a fever pitch of despair and fury. All it will take, Hedges writes, is one more national crisis on the order of September 11 for the Christian Right to make a concerted drive to destroy American democracy. The movement awaits a crisis. At that moment they will reveal themselves for what they truly are -- the American heirs to fascism. Hedges issues a potent, impassioned warning. We face an imminent threat. His book reminds us of the dangers liberal, democratic societies face when they tolerate the intolerant.
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American Fascists should be read by people willing to think. Those with closed minds should buy at least three copies, and pass it around their friends [Maybe one of them will start thinking.] The very beginning of this book is an abstract of an essay by Umberto Eco entitled ?Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.? It is an annotated list of traits found in all forms of authoritarianism (Fascism). By itself this short essay goes a long way toward describing the so-called Christian Right in America. But this book contains much more. Hedges calls the current tenet of Christian Rightists ?Dominionism- (their Man has dominion over everything) and equates it with fascism. One of their methods is logocide, the killing of words. That is changing the definition of words, hijacking language, and thereby strangling thought. The author argues the Bush administration is diverting funds to faith-based organizations and in effect bankrolling churches and organizations seeking to dismantle American democracy and create a theocratic state. If one takes a world view, one will notice Christian Rightists and radical Islamists share many beliefs. Among the interesting facts Hedges puts forth is: Red States have higher murder, divorce, illegitimacy, and teenage birth rates than the Blue States which have kept evangelicals at bay. When despair is profound, the desperate seek miracles. It is easer to look for hope and comfort in the mystical hand of God. Christian Rightists abuse this emotion and target the vulnerable. They will ?love-bomb? a prospective convert then argue that doubt and questioning are sins. The only proper relationship is submission. Their hyper-masculinity crushes the independence and self-expression of women. A cult of fear is created as they cultivate a sense of persecution. A war on truth is going on. Christian Rightists argue for creationism and that there is a divine sanction of the free market, of unhindered profit, the God-given American freedom to exploit human beings to make money. Christian Rightists have tenets for people of ?high character.? All are told to watch for social and political deviants. The idea that there is only one orthodox truth and all dissent is heresy is broadcast far and wide. This includes especially the idea that those who do not submit and do as they are told are not to be allowed to contaminate the public domain. The late Dr. James Luther Adams of Harvard Divinity School noted that the mask of religion hides irreligion. The chief goal of totalitarianism is to tell all citizens what to believe, how to behave and how to speak. Hedges argues convincingly that the radical Christian Right calls for exclusion, cruelty and intolerance in the name of God. This is a good book for anyone who feels that God gave Man a brain to think for himself. If you are one of those willing to let others think for you, you are probably reading this anyway.
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