A Review of Chris Hedges'
by Stephen Lendman
Chris Hedges is a journalist who for two
decades was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times spending
much of his time reporting from conflict zones in El Salvador,
the Middle East and from Serbia covering the Balkan wars of the
1990s that divided and destroyed a country under the guise of
humanitarian intervention providing cover for naked imperialism.
There it allowed NATO (meaning the US) to expand into Central
and Eastern Europe to keep predatory capitalism on the march for
markets, resources and cheap labor everywhere using wars to get
them and eliminate "uncooperative" heads of state like
Slobodan Milosevic who was kidnapped, Mafia/Mossad-style, by the
ICTY kangaroo court in the Hague, hung out to dry when he got
there, and in the end effectively or, in fact, murdered to shut
him up and prevent ugly truths coming out about what the conflict
was really about and who the real criminals were.
The wars and subsequent show-trials had
nothing to do with myths about it fed us by Western media. Those
wanting the truth can find it in excellent books like Diana Johnstone's
Fools' Crusade; the extensive research and writings of Edward
Herman, Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, law professor Michael Mandel;
and the newest book out on the subject titled Travesty: The Trial
of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of International Justice
by British journalist John Laughland. Edward Herman wrote a superb
review of the book in the April, 2007 issue of Z Magazine now
available in which he pointedly says "the rules of the (illegally
constituted) ICTY (established by the US and UK) stood Nuremberg
on its head" and Laughland states "instead of applying
existing international law, the ICTY has effectively overturned
it" to hide NATO's crimes and allow more of the same playing
out now in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
The Christian Right supports these type
crimes and motives for them readers will understand from Hedges'
new book. He's also written many articles and is the author of
four books including his bestselling War Is a Force That Gives
Us Meaning drawing on his experiences in the conflicts he covered
describing how people and nations behave in wartime. The book
was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for
nonfiction. His newest book is American Fascists - The Christian
Right and the War on America published in 2007 and subject of
this review. It's an incisive examination of the huge threat
extremist Christian fascists pose to a shaky free society most
people in the US take for granted but no longer will after reading
this important book.
Hedges was educated at Colgate University
and received a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School.
For a time he was a seminarian and is now a senior fellow at
the Nation Institute as well as a writer and lecturer at Princeton
University where he teaches in the Program for American Studies.
He was also an early vocal critic of the Bush administration's
plan to attack, invade and occupy Iraq characterizing war as "the
most potent narcotic invented by humankind" while professing
not to be a pacifist.
This review will cover the essence and
flavor of American Fascists beginning with some background on
the Christian right, its influence, and danger it poses that Hedges
covers in detail. He said he wrote the book out of anger and
fear of the fundamentalist Christian Right seeking to establish
theocratic dominion over society in America in the name of God
and is using the Republican party as their vehicle to do it.
He compares the movement's messianic mission to Italian and German
fascism of the last century cloaking itself in Christianity and
patriotism as their way to gain political power under theocracy's
literal meaning from the Greek words "Theos" meaning
"God" and "cratein/crasy" meaning to rule.
They're not kidding and neither is the
risk they'll gain control of government with some observers in
Washington believing they already have it including journalist/commentator
Bill Moyers saying "for the first time in our history, ideology
and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington." Some
call them "The Christian Mafia" noting they're well-funded
by and allied with wealthy, powerful hard right businessmen like
beer magnate Joseph Coors and Amway founder Richard DeVos, Sr.
Hedges calls them American Fascists, and his powerful book leaves
no doubt how great a threat they are to our cherished liberties
in a free society now in great jeopardy. Below is an explanation
of the Christian Right and fundamentalist movement overall before
getting into the book.
The Christian Right and Its Fundamentalist
The Christian or Religious Right is broadly
defined to include adherents of the radical or hard right embracing
their kind of extremist political, economic, social and religious
ideology falsely called conservative which is a relative term
referring philosophically to favoring traditional values including
libertarian ones centered on the right of everyone to be master
of his or her own fate.
Earlier, sociologist scholar Sara Diamond
wrote extensively on the rise of right wing groups in the country
providing readers with a wealth of information based on her firsthand
research. In her seminal 1995 book, Roads to Dominion, she traced
the various movements over the past 50 years identifying four
types she discovered:
1. The anti-communist conservative movement
that in the 1970s included moral traditionalism of the emerging
2. The racist Right including the KKK
and other segregationist groups and later the paramilitary white
3. The Christian Right with its evangelical
4. Neoconservatives with roots in the
Cold War and Democrat party later finding a new home in the Republican
party under Ronald Reagan.
Diamond explained these movements involved
scores of organizations, not monolithic in beliefs, who nonetheless
share a common set of policy preferences that unite them listing
three core areas - the economy, the "nation-state in global
context (military and diplomatic)," and moral norms relating
to race and gender. The movements are also unified in their advocacy
of free-market capitalism, anticommunism (now anything left of
center), US worldwide military hegemony, traditional morality,
superiority of native-born white male Christian Americans, and
the traditional nuclear family. In addition, Diamond lists what
she calls the "three pillars of the US Right" calling
them "tendencies, not absolutes" - libertarianism, anticommunist
militarism (now all liberal/progressive/leftist non-extremist
Christian ideology), and traditionalism.
In her book, Diamond included a detailed
history of the Christian Right explaining how it came to be the
largest, most influential movement on the far right dominating
policy-making in Republican-led governments and especially the
one not yet in power under George W. Bush. She explained it all
in over 300 fact-crammed pages and another 100 pages of notes
and references. It's important background information summarized
here briefly to set the stage for Hedges important account of
what the Christian Right is up to today, why it matters, and why
this dominant movement threatens freedom and democracy in America
and the values most here hold dear, including most of the 70 million
evangelicals, a minority of whom are radical ideologues selling
their dogma of hate and domination to convert the others and destroy
Our Secular State Founding Principles
Christians founded America believing church
and state should be separated, and Jefferson called for "a
wall of separation" between them in 1802 after freedom of
religion became part of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Today that bedrock founding principle is jeopardized by the extremist
Christian Right. If they get their way, they'll tear down that
wall with considerable public support from the 40% in the country
polls say take the Bible literally, and nearly one-third believe
in the "rapture" as Hedges explains in his book. The
notion comes from conservative Protestant eschatology denoting
the final happening when "good Christians" on earth
are saved and "raptured" to heaven to be with Jesus
in eternal immortality while non-believers are doomed to a more
hellish, less "rapturous" fate Hedges characterizes
as suffering "unspeakable torments below."
These believers and all others are entitled
to their views, but the Constitution forbids them forcing them
on others. Earlier Supreme Courts agreed in decisions requiring
a "wall of separation" between church and state prohibiting
the adoption of any state religion and requiring government to
avoid undue involvement in religion, its trappings or expressions.
That status was put in jeopardy following
the introduction in Congress of the "Constitution Restoration
Act of 2004." It was then reintroduced in near-identical
form in 2005, never passed, and now awaits its fate in the Democrat-led
110th Congress or a future one that may or may not let it die.
If it's ever adopted in its present form, it will turn the country
into a de facto theocracy despite its supporters' denial. Don't
believe them as getting this passed is key to the Christian Right's
mission to turn America into a fascist theocracy where constitutional
law is abolished in favor of extremist Christian dogma Dominionists
like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and others in
the movement want to be the supreme law of the land.
In their world, under their law, practitioners
of other faiths will be lawbreakers including about 75 million
non-Christians and many others of the faith not willing to go
along with their interpretation of it. The "Constitution
Restoration Act of 2005" will also deny the Supreme Court's
right to challenge anyone in or affiliated with federal, state
or local government acknowledging the Christian "God (in
their canon) as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government."
Henceforth, any judge at any level interpreting the new law differently
would be subject to impeachment and prosecution in the United
(extremist Christian) States of (fascist) America ruled by people
like Pat Robertson and others like him.
American Fascists Masquerading as True
Christians - Defiling the Teachings of Christ, His Twelve Apostles
and Others of the Faith
Hedges begins his book with a powerful
quote from Blaise Pascal that "Men never do evil so completely
and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."
Until the modern era, the best examples in Christendom were the
first Crusades when Popes like Urban II sanctioned holy wars between
1095 - 1291 to wrest Jerusalem and the "Holy Land" from
"heretic" Muslims and later ones in the 16th century
against infidels - in the name of God.
Today in America, Dominionists are the
new "crusaders" Hedges equates with 20th century fascists
because of their fanaticism. They cloak their ideology in Christianity
and patriotism as their way to gain political power they claim
is sanctioned by the Almighty to give the movement moral legitimacy.
But beneath the surface, their doctrine is dark and foreboding
posing real dangers to a free society not to be taken lightly.
It comes from their view of Genesis 1:26-31 they interpret to
mean God gave man "dominion....over all the Earth,"
and that Jesus commanded his followers to impose godly rule over
everyone denouncing people of other faiths and non-believers.
The modern blueprint for this ideology comes from the writings
of RJ Rushdoony's 1973 book, The Institutes of Biblical Law, calling
for a Christian government. It advocates torture and death for
gays, non-Christians resisting conversion, anyone committing blasphemy,
and women guilty of "unchastity before marriage."
Ideology of Radical Christian Right Fascists
Christian Right extremists advocate a
frightening ideology detailed below. It includes:
-- Racial hatred.
-- White Christian supremacy.
-- Blind adoration and obedience of the
movement's leadership while discouraging free and independent
-- Male gender dominance portraying Jesus
as a real man dominating through force like a powerful warrior
ignoring fundamental Christian "thou shall not kill"
doctrine. It's an ideology of hyermasculinity centered in a male-dominated
authoritarian church and in the home where men are encouraged
to dominate their wives, and women and children are taught to
Well-known Christian Right leader James
Dobson built his career on these ideas and now has a huge media
empire dispensing advice as a Christian therapist over his Focus
on the Family program. He's heard on more than 3000 radio stations
and 80 TV stations reaching 200 million people in 116 countries
from his 81 acre campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado employing
1300 people. He's fiercely anti-choice and anti-gay and has backed
political candidates advocating abortionists be executed. He
also calls stem cell research "state-funded cannibalism"
and urges Christian parents take their children out of public
schools and put them in Christian ones teaching his ideology.
Dobson preaches male dominance calling
non-submission a violation of God's law. He also thinks murder
is wrong but not when committed against infidel Iraqis or Islamic
terrorists saying all non-believers, heretics and sinners will
be consumed in an End Times Tribulation of terrible calamities
and torment lasting seven years with non-redeemers condemned to
eternal punishment. True believers adhering to holy scriptures,
however, will be saved and "raptured" to eternal life
and bliss in heaven. But getting there means going along with
what he, End Times guru Timothy LaHaye, and other dominant Christian
Right figures like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell preach including
that they have a divine right to rule and must be obeyed.
Hedges notes that televangelists like
Robertson, Benny Hill, Paul and Jan Crouch and others "rule
their fiefdoms as despotic potentates" some adherents might
think isn't God's way of doing things. They travel with burly
bodyguards in kingly luxury on private jets; have amassed huge
personal fortunes, much of it gotten from listener subjects; and
show up everywhere in limousines with all the pomposity of heads
of state and billionaire CEOs but in their case playing God as
false prophets "clutching the cross and the Bible (offering
seductively), like Mephistopheles, to lead us to a mythical paradise
and impossible, unachievable happiness and security" provided
we surrender our will to theirs and our money too, which is one
way they get rich.
They preach a false gospel of prosperity
and well-being preying on the gullible to believe faith alone
cures illness, overcomes emotional distress, and assures financial
and physical security so there's no need for traditional secular
institutions, social service organizations and government regulatory
agencies to exist. The movement preaches those not trusting them
lack faith, that God alone is enough, and that fate is determined
by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in a world in which
individuals surrender their will to a higher authority dictated
by the leadership. Hedges sums it up saying tyranny follows when
"fealty to an ideology becomes a litmus test for individual
worth" and a world of "miracles and magic" is the
only "place to turn for help" ruled by Christian Right
extremists "grow(ing) rich off (the vulnerable) who suffer"
becoming passive in the process.
-- Hatred of gays, the "gay agenda,"
and everyone in the LBGT movement with Christian Right adherents
believing "same-sex attraction" can be cured like a
virus their ideological medicine can fix. They define the problem
as "male gender deficit" for which "reparative
therapy" is the antidote gotten from a close connection with
a strong heterosexual man "comfortable in his male role."
With nonsensical ideological fervor, they believe bonding with
a straight man makes homosexuality disappear while at the same
time denouncing gays as depraved perverts and criminals threatening
-- Disdain for non-believers and rational
-- Condemnation of self-criticism and
debate as apostasy.
-- Frequent use of the death penalty including
for abortionists, gays, Muslim "terrorists" and other
-- Adoration of militarism, war and apocalyptic
violence. Adherence to these notions is so extreme that in the
run-up to the Iraq conflict, many Christian Right leaders and
End Times believers preached opposing war was anti-American and
contrary to God's plan and what's written in the Bible as they
interpret it. Their many supporters in Congress include Minority
Leader John Boehner, who supports endless wars. He recently said
"The spread of radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to our
nation (and) the free world....They are (everywhere and) growing
right here in America....dedicated to killing Americans (and)
our allies, and ending freedom and wanting to impose some radical
Islamic law on the entire world." With leaders like Boehner
in Congress and the administration, it's easy to see the influence
of radical Christian fundamentalist poison infecting the body
politic and threatening everyone with it.
-- Illegalization of abortion even in
the case of rape and incest.
-- Ending public education with Bush administration
help budgeting billions of dollars for extremist Christian faith-based
organizations. They renounce proved science like evolution allowing
only creationism repackaged as "intelligent design"
to be taught as well as other extremist Christian values sold
through the "big lie" to trick those in the movement
to believe mysticism and magic are facts. Hedges calls the process
a "war on truth" where the culture war front lines are
in classrooms, and the battle is one traditional educators are
losing. Core values of a free and open society are being destroyed
and replaced through a process of thought control based on pseudoscience
assaulting the real thing on everything challenging extremist
Christian ideology from creation to HIV/AIDS to pregnancy prevention
to global warming to war and peace.
It's also happening inside government
alarming the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) advocacy
organization to write in its March, 2004 Scientific Integrity
in Policymaking report: "There is significant evidence that
the scope and scale of the (scientifically unethical) manipulation,
suppression, misrepresentation of science by the (Christian Right
dominated) Bush administration are unprecendented."
-- A primary Christian mission to proselytize
non-believers to the faith by recruiting "soldiers in the
army of Jesus Christ" quoting Dr. D. James Kennedy of the
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Coral Ridge, Florida near Fort
Lauderdale, just north of Miami. His voice is dominant in the
Christian Right and carried over the huge multimedia empire he
built with his weekly broadcasts heard and seen on more than 600
TV stations, four cable networks and the Armed Forces Network
reaching millions of people.
He also has a six day a week radio show
on 744 stations reaching millions more preaching his radical ideology
that "the Christian view of morality (according to the Christian
Right) is the (only) one that should prevail in America"
while denouncing liberal churches and other religions as godless.
He holds workshops teaching how to sell his brand of religiosity
using the same kinds of brainwashing/marketing techniques political
and other extremist movements know work. They promise believers
eternal life while those not saved are damned to eternal punishment.
-- Rejection of secular humanist notions
of reason, ethics, social equity and justice believing a better
world is possible through good will in a free and open society.
Also claims secular humanist organizations like the American
Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, National Organization for Women,
Planned Parenthood and others want to destroy a Christian America.
They further include the major TV networks (for airing sex and
violence); major newspapers and magazines; US State Department;
foundations like Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie; the UN; the Democrat
party left/liberals; Harvard, Yale and 2000 other universities;
and all others not buying their gospel of extremist white Christian
dominionism and hate.
-- Seizing on the common denominator of
pain, disillusion, dislocation, suffering and despair felt by
millions caused by a culture of "soulless landscapes filled
with strip malls and highways" to build a mass movement of
servile, unthinking followers. They've replaced the real world
of science, law and rationality with unquestioning belief in the
word of the leadership and a glorious other utopian unreal world
of prophets, mystical signs and magical mumbo jumbo that's real
to them and in which they're "protected, loved, guided and
blessed." It promises what followers don't have - a stable
home and family, loving community, fixed moral standards, financial
and personal success, and abolition of doubt and uncertainty based
on religious vision and moral clarity. It also frighteningly
promises a final apocalyptic battle of their "good"
against all else they call "evil" exterminating the
forces believers blame on their despair after which they will
emerge victorious and saved.
-- A Christian totalitarian ethic based
on a gospel of "free -market" capitalism, militarism
and intolerance of democratic freedom of thought and action.
-- A fanatical devotion to and support
for the state of Israel as Jerusalem, and specifically the Temple
Mount Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary, is where Fundamentalist
Evangelical Christians believe the second coming of the Messiah
will be and thus is the holiest site in the world for Christians
and Jews as well who want it for a third and final Temple. Enter
Rev. John Hagee of the 18,000-strong Cornerstone Church in San
Antonio, Texas, global TV ministry, and his Christians United
for Israel (CUFI) radical organization founded in early 2006.
He's perhaps the most extremist, bellicose and influential Christian
Zionist in America today preaching Muslims are Islamic fascists
waging war against Western civilization. His antidote is a gospel
of preemptive war against Islam in self-defense including one
against Iran now if he had his way. The danger is warmongering
hate-preachers like Hagee and others reach large audiences convincing
millions of adherents they're right.
The Dark Side of Radical Christian Morality
Hedges notes the movement's appeal is
from the leadership's promise of a moral Christian nation promising
renewal. But the message hides a darker side with Dominionists
awaiting a fiscal, social and/or political crisis great enough
to end democratic constitutional government replacing it with
their vision of a Christian fascist theocratic America. In the
meantime, they spent a generation working for this and now have
great influence at state, local and federal levels of government.
Hedges notes the movement already controls
the Republican party. In addition, Christian fundamentalists
hold a majority of seats in 18 of 50 states plus large minorities
in the others. Also, (as of the book's publication) 45 senators
and 186 House members got 80 - 100% approval ratings from the
three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups: The Christian
Coalition, Eagle Forum and Family Resource Council. This represents
a dominant mass movement succeeding because mainstream Christians
and the major media aren't confronting it, and their passivity
threatens the constitutional rights of a democratic state on life
support sinking fast with help from the Christian Right on the
They're influence is spread by Christian
broadcasters commanding large audiences estimated to be 141 million
in the US through radio and TV. They preach the Christian Right
gospel flaunting their wealth, power and celebrity status to show
it works for believers of the faith. They believe in unrestrained
free-market capitalism, divinely sanctioned to freely create a
global marketplace of (non-Christian, non-believing) serfs, denied
all rights, forbidden to organize, and left to the mercy of a
repressive state and corporate predators out for profit and to
be allowed to dictate wages and control the right to work.
Compassion for the less fortunate is left
to individual acts of charity and the churches with government
out of it entirely and only dedicated to social control and aggressive
militarism dictated by a warrior God (meaning Jesus) giving Christian
America the right to rule the world and assure corporate giants
can suck all the profit and life out of it. Hedges explains the
Christian Right sells an ideology believing it's a "Christian
duty to embrace the exploitation of others, to build a Christian
America where freedom means the freedom of the powerful to dominate
the weak....to bring about (their notion of ) a Christian utopia
(that when no legal or social protections remain) it will be too
late to resist (and the movement's leadership will be in control
of everything)." Their plan is to "convince the masses
to agitate for their own incarceration" shocking as that
notion sounds, but it's working.
The movement is on a "crusade"
against constitutional government working for now within the political
system it wants to destroy and remake in its own image. Awaiting
the time they'll take over, they're creating a parallel system
within the existing one in which only "Bible-believing"
judges, Christian teachers, and pseudo-reporters on Christian
broadcasts are tolerated. And only white Christian men championing
their extremist doctrine will be allowed to rule. Students are
taught this ideology in Christian schools Hedges says are the
fastest growing segment of the private school system. Textbooks
used call Islam, Buddhism and African religions "false,"
Hinduism "pagan," and even Catholicism "distorted."
It's also heard on the campaign trail
from candidates like "stalwart on the Christian Right"
2006 Ohio gubernatorial losing candidate Kenneth Blackwell who
as secretary of state and co-chair of Ohio's Committee to Reelect
George Bush in 2004 "arranged" for enough votes in the
state to go to the sitting president to swing Ohio and the election
for him. In his own losing effort in 2006, he appeared at Christian
Right rallies laying out a blueprint for an authoritarian state
where all dissent is heresy yet campaigned carefully not to offend
those outside the movement by avoiding religious terminology.
Christian Right Fascism in Real Time in
"Bush's Shadow Army" - Blackwater USA
Journalist and author Jeremy Scahill characterizes
Blackwater USA as "the world's most powerful mercenary army"
in his new book about them. Like Hedges' book, it's frightening
reading needing exposure. It describes a "shadowy mercenary
company....largely off the congressional radar....having remarkable
power and protection within the US war apparatus" with no
accountability or oversight on the ground in Iraq, (working for
the State Department, not the Pentagon, with a $300 million no-bid
contract), Afghanistan, on US streets and in neighborhoods like
New Orleans, and coming soon to a city and neighborhood near you
courtesy of the Gestapo-like Department of Homeland Security.
With backing from the Bush administration, it operates outside
the law and Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and is immune
from civil lawsuits like the military. Scahill calls Blackwater
the "Bush Administration's Praetorian Guard (along with the
CIA long-serving in that capacity and that uses Blackwater in
its illegal covert operations abroad and at home)."
Blackwater was founded in 1996 by former
Navy SEAL and now super-rich Erik Prince who's closely tied to
the Christian Right he funds and supports. It came into its own
post 9/11 becoming a dominant player in the Bush administration's
"Global War on Terror" (GLOB) now rebranded "The
Long War." Today, Blackwater employs 2300 personnel in nine
countries with 20,000 or more private mercenary contractors ready
to go wherever needed and are part of the 100,000 contractors
in Iraq, 48,000 of whom are paramilitary mercenaries. It also
has a fleet of 20 aircraft (believed to have been used covertly
as part of the Bush administration's "extraordinary renditions"
of targeted individuals), including helicopter gunships, a private
intelligence division, and operates at home on its 7000 acre Moyock
headquarters Scahill calls "the world's largest private military
It's not enough for Blackwater in the
burgeoning world of privatized secret mercenary paramilitary armies
coming soon to a neighborhood near you, so the company is preparing
by seeking an environmentally sensitive protected agricultural
preserve southeast of San Diego, CA for it current expansion plans.
It's an 824 acre site in Potrero, CA surrounded by the Cleveland
Forest Blackwater wants for a military training base with 15 firing
ranges for automatic and non-automatic weapons and various types
of commando-type training facilities residents don't want near
their community for obvious reasons concerning safety. People
everywhere should object, for what may endanger one isolated community
now or a larger one in New Orleans already may threaten us all
in a paramilitarized America we're heading for locked down by
Blackwater-type storm troops enforcing Christian Right fascist
In the meantime, Blackwater is cashing
in big as a war profiteer getting huge no-bid Bush administration
contracts Congress belatedly is showing interest in wanting to
oversee to eliminate abuses. Whether it will happen, however,
is problematical as current laws on the books aren't enforced
making it likely new ones won't be either on all matters relating
to foreign wars, so-called "terrorism," or anything
claimed for national security. As long as the nation is in wars
both parties support and the Christian Right is dominant, companies
like Blackwater will thrive. With them, wars are easier to get
into and harder to end meaning the culture of militarism will
grow abroad and at home that's part of the Christian Right's agenda
to impose its extremist theocratic rule on the country where,
if it happens, democratic freedom, as we know it, is incompatible.
Under it, Blackwater's private army will be on our city streets
as thuggish paramilitary enforcers licensed to terrorize and kill
with impunity bringing to America what they're well paid to do
"Eternal" Fascist Chickens Coming
Home to Roost
A generation ago, the notion of a "global
Christian empire" was barely credible, but Hedges' ethics
professor at Harvard Divinity School, 80-year old Dr. James Luther
Adams, warned back then we'd all one day be fighting "Christian
fascists." It was when Pat Robertson and other radical televangelists
began preaching a new political religion aimed at creating a dominant
Christian world according to their extremist views. Adams was
in Germany in 1935 and 1936 and saw with horror what happened
there firsthand. Hedges says he "was not a man to use the
word 'fascist' lightly." He understood before most others
the similarities of that time in Germany to what was developing
here around 1980. He saw "how the mask of religion hides
irreligion (and) our world is full to bursting with (various)
faiths, each contending for allegiance." It was a virtual
"battle of faiths, a battle of the gods who claim human allegiance."
Adams knew deep-seated resentments and
bigotry exist in all democratic societies like Weimar Germany
and saw it emerging in 1980s America promoting the destruction
of democracy. He feared late in his life a movement here was
on the march, more cleverly packaged and sophisticated than in
the past and this time with no serious opposition. He saw hatreds
being stoked, progressive forces weakening, and the despair of
tens of millions of Americans losing good manufacturing and other
well-paying jobs being easy prey for smooth-talking fanatics like
Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell promising miracles and visions
of apocalyptic glory.
Adams said then to watch the Christian
Right's treatment of gays knowing the Nazis used their "values"
to repress opponents and just days after coming to power in 1933
Hitler banned all gay and lesbian organizations as his first target
with many others to follow. Pastor Martin Niemoller warned us
in different versions of his famous quotation listing Jews, communists
and trade unionists targeted but omitting the one Hitler chose
first. He didn't speak out because he wasn't one of them, and
when they came for him there was no one left. It was too late.
Adams explained gays in a Christian Right
dominated American would be the first "social deviants"
singled out for condemnation, disempowerment and elimination as
in Nazi Germany. Other targeted groups would follow, and we would
be next. He then warned as does Hedges that forces against American
democracy are "waiting for a moment to strike, a national
crisis that will allow them to shred the Constitution in the name
of national security." The Christian Right awaits that time
"with gleeful anticipation" wanting adherents to be
Hedges warns we also must be ready quoting
Alvin Toffler saying "if you don't have a strategy you end
up being part of someone else's strategy." It means challenging
the Christian Right's gospel of hate, "exclusion, cruelty
and intolerance in the name of God" with a doctrine of life,
hope and respect for the worth and dignity of everyone, and their
right to practice their beliefs openly in a free society. That's
the American dream shared by free people everywhere. At the book's
end, Hedges says preserving it means giving up "passivity,
challeng(ing) aggressively this movement's deluded appropriation
of Christianity (and fighting back) to defend tolerance."
Wishing won't make it so. Defending democracy means working
at it every day. Today we face an imminent threat to our freedom
against which "tolerance coupled with passivity is a (deadly)
vice" that will destroy us unless we're on guard to be sure
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.