American Fascists

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American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
American Fascists.jpg
Author Chris Hedges
Subject Fundamentalist Christianity
Publisher Free Press
Publication date
2007-01-09
Pages 272
ISBN ISBN 978-0-7432-8443-1
OCLC 72799668
322/.10973 22
LC Class JC481 .H38 2007

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America is a non-fiction book by American Pulitzer Prize journalist Chris Hedges, published in January 2007. Hedges is a former seminary student with a master's degree in divinity from Harvard and was a long-time foreign correspondent for The New York Times.

Google eBook wrote of the book:

“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."[1]

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"As a Harvard Divinity School graduate, his investigation of the Christian Right agenda is even more alarming given its lucidity. Citing the psychology and sociology of fascism and cults, including the work of German historian Fritz Stern, Hedges draws striking parallels between 20th-century totalitarian movements and the highly organized, well-funded 'dominionist movement,' an influential theocratic sect within the country's huge evangelical population. Rooted in a radical Calvinism, and wrapping its apocalyptic, vehemently militant, sexist and homophobic vision in patriotic and religious rhetoric, dominionism seeks absolute power in a Christian state. Hedges's reportage profiles both former members and true believers, evoking the particular characteristics of this American variant of fascism. His argument against what he sees as a democratic society's suicidal tolerance for intolerant movements has its own paradoxes. But this urgent book forcefully illuminates what many across the political spectrum will recognize as a serious and growing threat to the very concept and practice of an open society."[2]

Francine Prose of O, The Oprah Magazine wrote:

"Throughout, Hedges documents, and reflects on, what he feels is the bigotry, the homophobia, the fanaticism—and the deeply un-Christian ideology—that pose a clear and present danger to our precious and fragile republic."[3]

Rick Perlstein of the New York Times writes:

"Of course there are Christian fascists in America. How else to describe, say, the administrator of a faith-based drug treatment program who bound and beat a resident, then subjected her to 32 straight hours of recorded sermons?" Perlstein believes that this book, however, "is not a worthy attempt ... [Hedges] writes on this subject as a neophyte, and pads out his dispatches with ungrounded theorizing, unconvincing speculation and examples that fall far short of bearing out his thesis ... Hedges is worst when he makes the supposed imminence of mass violence the reason the rest of us should be fighting for the open society... The problem is that he can't point to any actual existing violence among the people he's reporting on"[4]

Joe Bailey of the Oregon Daily Emerald wrote that Hedges:

"confuses political activism with totalitarian violence. ... Like all Americans, conservative Christians have the right to pursue their political objectives through peaceful and democratic means. Which is precisely what they have done. Despite the peaceful and democratic nature of their activism, Hedges attacks conservative Christians with the nastiest of slurs, revealing a frightening ignorance. ... The old guard of the Christian Right is stuck in the culture war mentality that originated in the 1960s. When liberals like Hedges adopt a similar culture war mentality, they only fortify the divide and lend ammunition to their adversaries."[5]

Some critics have asked, "Where is all this violence Hedges warns us about"? In this CSPAN2 BookTV video, Hedges in the Q&A session, after his 27-minute formal presentation, discusses what is the structural violence wreaked since the emergence of corporate-statism two generations ago. [6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Google eBook Description Google eBooks, 2007-01-09, Retrieved on June 23, 2013
  2. ^ Publishers Weekly Book Review Publishers Weekly, 2006-11-13, Retrieved on January 21, 2007
  3. ^ Heaven Help Us O, The Oprah Magazine, January 2007, Retrieved July 31, 2012
  4. ^ Perlstein, Rick, Christian Empire New York Times, 2007-01-07, Retrieved on January 21, 2007
  5. ^ Bailey, Joe, Keeping the culture war alive Oregon Daily Emerald, 2007-01-17, Retrieved on January 21, 2007
  6. ^ What Does The Christian Right Want?: Chris Hedges on American Fascists (2007)

External links[edit]