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Saturday, April 21, 2007
Department of Book Reports Lucky Thirteen
Posted by SeattleDan
This week I read what amounts to a modern day horror story. This book frightened me more than any Stephen King exploding cell phone story could have. Chris Hedges, author of Losing Moses on the Freeway (Free Press $14.00) and War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (Anchor Books $13.95), has ventured into the heartland and now provides us with American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (Free Press $25.00). And his report is not pretty.
Hedges begins his tale with a short essay by Italian novelist and critic, Umberto Eco, entitled “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways to Look a Blackshirt”, which gives one an understanding of what we should mean by fascist. I won’t go into detail of the points, but Eco concludes the essay by saying “…Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and point our finger at any of its new instances…” This Hedges proceeds to do by visiting many of the figures in the Dominionist Movement, the fundamentalist theology that American Christians have been mandated by God to make America a Christian State. R.J. Rushdoony’s 1973’s “The Institutes of Biblical Law” is one of the movement’s foundational documents and has inspired most of the theology of such minds as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Timothy LaHaye.
Hedges goes on to show how these various churches work. There is an unvarying cult of masculinity which devalues women and romantic love, encourages gay-bashing, attempts to disguise creationism as a science, predicts the eminence of the Second Coming, and destroys any thought smacking from the Enlightenment to today.
Along the way we meet some of the people who live in the movement and some of those who have strayed. We visit the building of one of the new Creation Museums, where you can interact with dinosaurs (they were vegetarians until Adam and Eve sinned and also went for the ride in Noah’s Ark), and learn the truth of “God’s Word”. Elsewhere we see our old friend, Michael Medved, at the convention of the National Religious Broadcasters, helping to sell Israel as a tourist destination; he tells of his love for Christian American, apparently oblivious that most of them believe he is going to go to Hell as he is Jewish. And we meet the aging author of the Left Behind series, Timothy LaHaye, who once was an official in the John Birch Society.
Most of all Hedges explores how the Christian Right exploits the despair of many of its recruits, how it distorts truth to further its agenda, and its totalitarian worldview that mirrors Fascist and Stalinist movements of the 20th century. He quotes the philosopher Simone Weil, “Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity or even a duty”.
He concludes, “…This movement is bent on our destruction. The attempts by many liberals to make peace would be humorous if the stakes were not so deadly. These dominionists hate the liberal, enlightened world formed by the Constitution, a world they blame for the debacle of their lives. They have one goal—its destruction.”
democommie™™™™®© is busy praying for my soul after reviewing this report.
American Fascists is available at Jackson Street Books and fine independent booksellers everywhere.