Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chris Hedges: American Fascists - The Christian Right and the War on America


Google Video. The book.
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.
The right radical religious political movement in the main is a religion and politics of despair. This is similar to the Fascist and Nazi movements in Europe as noted by several studies.
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 positions of many churches and many GOP politicians have been taken wholesale from the John Birch Society, positions the GOP rejected in the 60's and 70's.
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.
This is a movement of intolerance which cannot be reasoned with. They view Islam and secularists as Satanic. They believe we are at the End of Days and all who oppose them will be swept away to eternal punishment. How do you argue with people who so completely reject opposing viewpoints they not only deny them legitimacy but believe holders of differing views should be eternally punished? These radical right Christians also comprise a frightening percentage of the voters in this country. In 2004 22 percent of voters identified themselves as evangelical Christians.
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.
Like the Nazi movement's alliances, the current American Fascist short term goals are supported by groups in a very uneasy alliance. Corporations, churches of differing denominations, millenarists, small businessmen, social conservatives, traditional conservatives, have all signed on to a party and leaders pledged or beholden to an unChristian, unAmerican, undemocratic agenda. It is surprising the allies the leaders of the Domionist churches have made in pursuing political agendas and power when privately they remain anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish, for example.
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.
Twenty-five years ago Chris Hedges was warned by an influential elderly divinity school professor to watch for what the radical Christian right would do to homosexuals. In Germany, homosexuals were the first victims of the rise of the Nazi party, even before the Jews. In 2004, despite already having laws prohibiting the practice, 11 states enacted further laws against same-sex marriages. Why? To demonstrate strength and mobilization in thwarting "the homosexual and liberal activist judges agenda." The Christian family and even the American Nation was under threat. Just as Hitler rallied the Germans against similar "threats" to the people, family, and nation.

See also Chris Hedge's interviews with combat veterans of The Other War published in The Nation.

Sara at Orcinus, who also keeps up with our radical right extremists, noticed that someone who wants to be the next Southern Baptist Convention president has issued a fatwa against people who noted he broke the law again. Dr. Wiley S. Drake keeps endorsing candidates using his church position and authority. He called upon his followers to curse those who report his transgressions.

On the topic of America's new incipient Fascists see also David Neiwert - The Rise of Pseudo-Fascism (pdf) and Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis (pdf) or illustrated html.

Reuters: Texas will almost certainly hit the grim total of 400 executions this month, far ahead of any other state, testament to the influence of the state's conservative evangelical Christians and its cultural mix of Old South and Wild West.

1 comment:

rjnagle said...

I read War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. It's a fascinating book --not the kind of book you think it is.. He makes the argument for the "sexual component" to war, which I think has a lot of truth to it.

Are we agreed that Godwin's Law is no longer an adequate reason to run away from the F word? I think it's possible to call certain behavior fascistic without just tossing out labels.

However, I think many Christian evangelicals are unwittingly abetting certain fascistic policies; how do you convince them that although their motives may seem "just" or "pure" they are in fact contributing to harmful political movements?