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

An interesting non-fiction read. Presents the very real, and rapidly growing, dangers of the Radical Right from a perspective we don’t often hear from; the author is a bible-believing Christian, himself.

First a bit of background on Hedges, straight from the dust cover of the book: “Chris Hedges, who graduated from seminary at Harvard Divinity School, was a foriegn correspondent for nearly two decades for the New York Times and other publications. He was pat of the team of reporters at the New York Times that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of global terrorism.”
(x-posted to my private lj)


This book discusses the Radical Right, the fundamentalist Christian Republicans who are currently pushing for, among other things, a Christian Nation. You know, a theocracy, though they don’t usually call it that. This group of people have a very singular interpretation of the Bible, simultaneously literal (the direct, undisputable Word of Their God) and selective (it has only One Interpretation: Theirs.)

Hedges terms this branch of militant political “Christianity” Dominionism.

The book basically outlines two concepts. First, what Dominionists are, what they believe, where they come from, and what they’re after. Second, why they are Bad News for America’s “open society” and delicately balanced republic.

The Good:

This book is a very easy read. It’s organized well, by concept, and the style is open and easily comprehensible.

The most difficult part to get through is the first six pages. It’s a reprint of Umberto Eco’s Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt. Though it’s difficult reading (Eco is a semiotics philosopher and, thus, can get a bit verbose, which is amusingly ironic) it’s important. If you don’t have a grasp of the term fascist, you probably won’t get much out of the book.

The best chapter, for me, was The War on Truth, which outlines the systematic Dominionist attack on science, particularly evolution. Hedges takes us on a trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, and the st00pid therein is enough to set your teeth on edge. Explaining why all of the Creationism bunk is bunk takes a very long time, though, and requires that everyone involved have a solid grasp of basic mathematics and chemistry. Which the Dominionists dismiss as a bunch of godless crap not worth learning. So there you go.

Enter my second favorite chapter, The Crusade, from which I offer a memorable little quote: ‘All the points ask people of a “high character” to give over all authority for moral and political decisions to leaders who tell them what is true and what is right.” (This is in reference to a 20-point list by J. Kenneth Blackwell, a document that would be absurd if it hadn’t been officially adopted by the state of Ohio.)

The Bad:

I can’t figure out to whom this book is written. Hedges makes no effort to reach the Dominionists, and frankly I don’t blame them; those people really can’t be reasoned with. Yet his writing is thoroughly entrenched in the Christian world-view, so it doesn’t really speak to non-Christians, either. I suspect that he’s trying to reach the middle-of-the-road Christian. Good luck, Hedges, because that’s one big couchful of complacency there.

Also, while the book is organized well by theme, and the individual chapters could stand nicely on their own, there’s no sense of an over-arching organization to the book as a whole. Hedges takes us from theme to theme, seemingly at random, and that leaves the reader confused. I ended the book with a headful of figures and quotes, and a soul full of unease, but no progression, no plot; no solution.

That’s probably the biggest disappointment of the book. Hedges outlines all of these ideas but never gives his readers any solutions. What steps can I, the reader, take, to preserve my freedoms and protect this Open Republic? I don’t know. He’s shown us a time-bomb, but offered no way to defuse it.

In Short:

I suggest reading it. Think about it, research it, pass it on. And try to brainstorm some solutions. Because this is everyone’s republic, and we all need to work to keep it that way.


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