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American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America (2006)

por Chris Hedges

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

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1,1411317,600 (3.88)33
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, veteran journalist Chris Hedges 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 1930s, movements that often masked the full extent of their drive for totalitarianism and that 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.… (mais)
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» Ver também 33 menções

Inglês (12)  Sueco (1)  Todas as línguas (13)
Mostrando 1-5 de 13 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
A timely, thoughtful, and important work. The author doesn't lack evidence to support his thesis: one thing radical evangelical Protestants like to do (to their occasional detriment--witness Todd Akin and his fellow rape-denying Congressional candidates) is run their ignorant mouths. Oddly, this is a book that may suffer from a surfeit of supporting evidence, and I wonder if this might have made a better long-form magazine article.

On the other hand, this is Chris Hedges, one of the great American journalists, and I'm reluctant to second-guess him. If you're interested in--or frightened by--counter-Enlightenment projects in the American body politic, then this book is well worth your time.
  Mark_Feltskog | Dec 23, 2023 |
A classic, read all of his books. ( )
  CriticalThinkTank | Jul 28, 2022 |
Horror fiction has never scared me since I was I think nine years old reading ghost stories. By a similar token, horror movies never scare me - startle, maybe, but not scare. I once commented that "Jesus Camp" was the scariest movie I had ever seen. This is nearly as scary, if only that things have gotten even worse since it was published in 2006. So much worse. Mr. Hedges describes in ten chapters - Faith, The Culture of Despair, Conversion, The Cult of Masculinity, Persecution, The War on Truth, The New Class, The Crusade, God: The Commercial, Apocalyptic Violence - the genesis (sorry, couldn't resist) of modern wrongwing Christianity, the techniques of control of the cult, some of the players at the time who are/were bent on destroying the country, the words, the mission, the war on humans. Mind you, that summary is of my words and if you think I'm editorializing...these manics and this threat to our country are truly scary. Hedges talks about "...one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups." And the appeal to the demographic that elected the worst possible of all candidates (who incongruously is everything the evangelicals despise...except they embrace him???)...made easier because of strategic rhetoric:
All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.
Sound familiar? That's T’s rallies, pressers, and twits for sure. Hedges' book talks about how they recruit, how they keep, and how they plan to make war on humans. Now, 14 years later, that they have even greater access to small minds they can manipulate, including and excitedly for them, an elliptical work space at the seat of the government, their goals are coming to fruition:
Dominionism, born out of a theology known as Christian reconstructionism, seeks to politicize faith. It has, like all fascist movements, a belief in magic along with leadership adoration and a strident call for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians. It also has, like fascist movements, an ill-defined and shifting set of beliefs, some of which contradict one another.
In addition to the impoverished vocabulary, "They engage in a slow process of “logocide,” the killing of words. The old definitions of words are replaced by new ones." Witness conservative/liberal...my example, not his. The former is a perversion that doesn't mean anything close to what it used to, and the latter is used as a pejorative, though it is still in my book enlightened intellectual progressivity (my version of their definitions..."conservative": against the Democratic party; "liberal": not against the Democratic party).

The Christian right preys on the downtrodden:
The bleakness of life in Ohio exposes the myth peddled by the Christian Right about the American heartland: that here alone are family values and piety cherished, nurtured and protected. The so-called red states, which vote Republican and have large evangelical populations, have higher rates of murder, illegitimacy and teenage births than the so-called blue states, which vote Democrat and have kept the evangelicals at bay. The lowest divorce rates tend to be found in blue states as well as in the Northeast and upper Midwest.
Things that are "fake news", right? And how do they maintain control once snared (or if born into it, indoctrinated)? through The Cult of Masculinity
The hypermasculinity of radical Christian conservatism, which crushes the independence and self-expression of women, is a way for men in the movement to compensate for the curtailing of their own independence, their object obedience to church authorities and the calls for sexual restraint. It is also a way to cope with fear. Those who lead these churches fear, perhaps most deeply, their own internal contradictions. They make war on the internal contradictions in others. [...]
The use of control and force is also designed to raise obedient, unquestioning and fearful children, children who as adults will not be tempted to challenge powerful male figures. These children are conditioned to rely on external authority for moral choice. They obey out of fear and often repeat this pattern of fearful obedience as adults.
They don’t want anyone thinking for themselves...but the young males they groom have to be able to when they assume their own power.
Hedges talk more than once of the Creation Museum. To any human, or any thinking Homo retrorsum (another humanoid species that I've given that taxonomic classification...you can look up the Latin and know what I mean)...they are rarer than you think...absurdities being hawked like this
Dr. Jason Lisle, who works for the Creation Museum, sets up his slide projector for a lecture. He begins his presentation by disabusing his audience of about 150 people, mostly students, teachers and parents, of the notion that dinosaurs were frightful creatures. “God didn’t make monsters,” he says, explaining his theory of the dinosaurs’ diet. “The first T. rex would have eaten plants. Dinosaurs, along with all animals originally, were vegetarians."
...drop the jaw. I really don't know what to say to "Dr." Lisle.
Hedges talks about the Left Behind series, a comical (my word) collection of highly imaginative and delusional fantasy:
[co-authors]LaHaye and Jenkins had to distort the Bible to make all this fit—the Rapture, along with the graphic details of the end of the world and the fantastic time line, is never articulated in the Bible—but all this is solved by picking out obscure and highly figurative passages and turning them into fuzzy allegory to fit the apocalyptic vision.
Neither of those two, nor their followers likely know anything about apocalypses. Hint: there were hundreds, if not more apocalypses written in the first few hundred years of the Common Era. Why that one was chosen is a mystery, and all reputable scholars conclude it was written in response to some Roman tyranny a couple of hundred years before it became canon. Apocalypse means "one of the Jewish and Christian writings of 200 b.c. to a.d. 150 marked by pseudonymity, symbolic imagery, and the expectation of an imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in a messianic kingdom". There is no "The" apocalypse...there are many, all equally meaningless to a modern world. Except when crazies try to use them in their war.
These fascists are a threat:
Democracy is not, as these Christo-fascists claim, the enemy of faith. Democracy keeps religious faith in the private sphere, ensuring that all believers have an equal measure of protection and practice mutual tolerance. Democracy sets no religious ideal. It simply ensures coexistence. It permits the individual to avoid being subsumed by the crowd—the chief goal of totalitarianism, which seeks to tell all citizens what to believe, how to behave and how to speak. [...]
Once this wall between church and state, or party and state, is torn down, there is an open and subtle warfare against love, which in an open society is another exclusive prerogative of the individual.
Hedges concludes with this:
The attacks by this movement on the rights and beliefs of Muslims, Jews, immigrants, gays, lesbians, women, scholars, scientists, those they dismiss as “nominal Christians,” and those they brand with the curse of “secular humanist” are an attack on all of us, on our values, our freedoms and ultimately our democracy. Tolerance is a virtue, but tolerance coupled with passivity is a vice.
I'll conclude this with Hedges' quoted words of Vice President Henry Wallace, on April 9, 1944:
The really dangerous American fascist…is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power. They claim to be superpatriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation.
( )
2 vote Razinha | Jul 22, 2020 |
As a lifelong atheist who believes strongly in the separation of church and state, I have to say this author's Marxist propaganda is hyperbolic and very misleading. He mocks Christians' concern that communism is undermining America, while failing to mention that communism and its first cousin socialism killed over 100 million people in the 20th century alone. You'll notice he tries to stir up the reader's sympathy towards a (Christian) woman of Arabic descent who has her feelings slightly hurt at an event when some participants tell her that Muslims are terrorists. He of course fails to mention that Muslins have killed an estimated 250 million people since the inception of the religion ca. 1620 A.D. It's these intentional omissions that make him a fatally flawed messenger. I as an atheist have infinitely more freedom in any ("fascist") Christian nation on earth than any Islamic nation. (Fun Fact: There are 13 countries on earth in which one can be put to death for being an atheist; all 13 are Islamic.) Like most liberals, this author masquerades as a champion for the marginalized little guy, but actually is helping pave the way for the inevitable takeover of the world by the only real fascistic religion on earth. If you failed to ascertain which religion that is, reread this review. For some additional fun info, visit thereligionofpeace.com ( )
  YESterNOw | Jan 27, 2016 |
This books sounds an alarm, about the goals and methods of the Christian Dominion movement. Hedges takes us on a bit of a tour of some of the places and event and people associated with this movement. For example, we get to see LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind series, giving a talk in Detroit.

Hard to say what effect a book like this might have. For a lot of people, the danger of the Tea Party and Fox News is all too apparent. I can imagine some folks who are conservative Christians but without the fascist dimension of the Dominion movement, perhaps such folks might have been giving Pat Robertson the benefit of the doubt. Hedges mentions folks like Billy Graham as examples of conservative Christians who are not associated with the Dominion movement and don't get caught up by the lure of power and money. Probably many of these folks understand the dangers but don't see quite how far the Robertson - LaHaye crew have fallen into that trap. Actually it seems from what Hedges writes that LaHaye comes more out of a John Birch background so his Christianity is likely to be even more of a veneer.

Hedges gives us a few clues here on how to distinguish genuine religion from this kind of cross-waving crowd incitement. He gives us some hints about what to do to steer us away from the abyss we are approaching all too closely. But there is not much such constructive material here. Mostly it is just an alarm.

I think of the folks Hedges depicts here being like sorcerers. Religion deals with power. Black sorcery is when you channel that power for personal gain and glory. Maybe some of Dion Fortune's works on fighting black sorcery could be part of the medicine needed to free our society from this growing plague! ( )
3 vote kukulaj | Nov 13, 2013 |
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I grew up in a small farming town in upstate New York where my life, and the life of my family, centered on the Presbyterian Church.
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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, veteran journalist Chris Hedges 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 1930s, movements that often masked the full extent of their drive for totalitarianism and that 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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