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American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on Americaby Chris Hedges
"Hedges demonstrates how the defining characteristics of fascist organizations are all met by the Christian Right....[Hedges] listened to what people said, and he makes an effort to understand their position. That makes American Fascists a superior book to The God Delusion, and it makes it a much scarier book as well." Doug Brown, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
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 week long 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.
"The f-word crops up in the most respectable quarters these days. Yet if the provocative title of this exposé by Hedges (War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning) sounds an alarm, the former New York Times foreign correspondent takes care to employ his terms precisely and decisively. 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Hedges reports in fascinating detail what goes on inside the churches, conventions and meeting halls of the Christian right." Los Angeles Times
"[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." New York Times
From the celebrated author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning comes a startling expos of the political ambitions of the Christian Right — a clarion call for everyone who cares about freedom.
About the Author
Hedges has been a foreign correspondent for fifteen years. He joined the staff of The New York Times in 1990. He holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a master of divinity from Harvard University. He is also an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.
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