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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, 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 weeklong 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.
Published: Free Press on Jan 9, 2007
ISBN: 9780743293792
List price: $13.99
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American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris HedgesAt first, I was a little (or maybe a lot?) turned off by the title. After reading the book, I still am. Nevertheless, I understand why he uses this terminology.Hedges wrote a couple of other books, which I couldn’t get into. Losing Moses on the Freeway about how the Ten Commandments are part of our culture. The other book I tried to read, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning was about the culture of war in this country. However, this book kept me reading asking for more.Hedges begins this book with an outline of his own theology. His views on the Bible, for instance, which he views as a book written “by a series of ancient writers, certainly fallible and at times at odds with each other, who asked the right questions and struggled with the mystery and transcendence of human existence.” He takes the Bible seriously and “therefore could not take it literally”. He talks about the many contradictions within the Bible.On other issues, Hedges says, “Faith presupposes that we cannot know. We can never know. Those who claim to know what life means play God.” He refers to the Pat Robertsons, Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons as “false prophets”. He talks about how these “false prophets” have changed Christianity—a religion that helps outcasts and the poor to a religion, which supports “the god of capitalism”.Then he tackles another pet peeve about evangelical Christians. They seem to say all one needs to do for eternal life is to “accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior”. Good deeds or a good life doesn’t seem to be important.He speaks about the “cult of masculinity” within religious right circles. They emphasize the importance of the man being “head of the household” and the “head of the church”. A society that tells our young boys that danger can be fun. “Even if the father drops the kid and cracks his head a little bit, at least he will be straight. A small price to pay I tell you”Politically, Hedges talks about the “irregularities” in regard to 2000 and 2004 elections. Just one example was in Ohio. Kenneth Blackwell, an African American Republican Secretary of State, “banned photographers and reports from polling places, making irregularities and harassment harder to document.” (Blackwell ran for higher office in 2006 and was defeated).Hedges points out one of my pet peeves. How Republicans are now regarding themselves as to heroes of the civil rights movement. They act as if they were the leaders in the field of civil rights, when in fact they blocked us every inch of the way just as they are doing now for gays and others. They have destroyed most evidence of their hatred. In 1970, for instance, Jerry Falwell “recalled all copies on his earlier sermons warning of integration and the evils of the black race.”Then the author points out that the red states, which vote Republican and have large evangelical populations are the states with the highest murder rates, illegitimacy and teenage births.Hedges indicates we must take up this challenge of speaking up about the religious right before it is too late to resist. “This is the genius of totalitarian movements. They convince the masses to agitate for their own incarceration”.He quotes from a right wing Christian textbook America’s Providential History that indicates, “We really do not want representatives who are swayed by majorities, but rather by correct principles.”Hedges speaks to the issue of how these right wing Christians talk about how “homosexuals are recruiting” when in fact they are the ways who are brainwashing children into their false creeds.Mussolini said before Fascism was a political party it was a religion. Compare that to what Vice President Henry Wallace said in 1944, “The really dangerous American fascist…is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did to 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 fascists and his group more money or more power. They claim to be super patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. Finally Hedges feels the “debate with the radical Christian right is useless”. “The radical Christian right calls for exclusion, cruelty and intolerance in the name of God.” Hedges believes “all dialogue must include the respect and tolerance for the beliefs, worth and dignity of others especially those outside the nation and faith”.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It has alot of things I have read before but alot of interesting facts on James Dobson and James Kennedy.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
As with everything about this group, frightening.read more
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American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris HedgesAt first, I was a little (or maybe a lot?) turned off by the title. After reading the book, I still am. Nevertheless, I understand why he uses this terminology.Hedges wrote a couple of other books, which I couldn’t get into. Losing Moses on the Freeway about how the Ten Commandments are part of our culture. The other book I tried to read, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning was about the culture of war in this country. However, this book kept me reading asking for more.Hedges begins this book with an outline of his own theology. His views on the Bible, for instance, which he views as a book written “by a series of ancient writers, certainly fallible and at times at odds with each other, who asked the right questions and struggled with the mystery and transcendence of human existence.” He takes the Bible seriously and “therefore could not take it literally”. He talks about the many contradictions within the Bible.On other issues, Hedges says, “Faith presupposes that we cannot know. We can never know. Those who claim to know what life means play God.” He refers to the Pat Robertsons, Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons as “false prophets”. He talks about how these “false prophets” have changed Christianity—a religion that helps outcasts and the poor to a religion, which supports “the god of capitalism”.Then he tackles another pet peeve about evangelical Christians. They seem to say all one needs to do for eternal life is to “accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior”. Good deeds or a good life doesn’t seem to be important.He speaks about the “cult of masculinity” within religious right circles. They emphasize the importance of the man being “head of the household” and the “head of the church”. A society that tells our young boys that danger can be fun. “Even if the father drops the kid and cracks his head a little bit, at least he will be straight. A small price to pay I tell you”Politically, Hedges talks about the “irregularities” in regard to 2000 and 2004 elections. Just one example was in Ohio. Kenneth Blackwell, an African American Republican Secretary of State, “banned photographers and reports from polling places, making irregularities and harassment harder to document.” (Blackwell ran for higher office in 2006 and was defeated).Hedges points out one of my pet peeves. How Republicans are now regarding themselves as to heroes of the civil rights movement. They act as if they were the leaders in the field of civil rights, when in fact they blocked us every inch of the way just as they are doing now for gays and others. They have destroyed most evidence of their hatred. In 1970, for instance, Jerry Falwell “recalled all copies on his earlier sermons warning of integration and the evils of the black race.”Then the author points out that the red states, which vote Republican and have large evangelical populations are the states with the highest murder rates, illegitimacy and teenage births.Hedges indicates we must take up this challenge of speaking up about the religious right before it is too late to resist. “This is the genius of totalitarian movements. They convince the masses to agitate for their own incarceration”.He quotes from a right wing Christian textbook America’s Providential History that indicates, “We really do not want representatives who are swayed by majorities, but rather by correct principles.”Hedges speaks to the issue of how these right wing Christians talk about how “homosexuals are recruiting” when in fact they are the ways who are brainwashing children into their false creeds.Mussolini said before Fascism was a political party it was a religion. Compare that to what Vice President Henry Wallace said in 1944, “The really dangerous American fascist…is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did to 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 fascists and his group more money or more power. They claim to be super patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. Finally Hedges feels the “debate with the radical Christian right is useless”. “The radical Christian right calls for exclusion, cruelty and intolerance in the name of God.” Hedges believes “all dialogue must include the respect and tolerance for the beliefs, worth and dignity of others especially those outside the nation and faith”.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It has alot of things I have read before but alot of interesting facts on James Dobson and James Kennedy.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
As with everything about this group, frightening.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Despite the three stars I believe reading this book was a good use of my time.The book had a bit of repetition and fear mongering but his basic message was that the Christian leadership in America has abandoned the salvation mission of Billy Graham and has consumed itself with the quest for power. Instead of trying to convince people to accept salvation they are determined to pass laws to make people act like christians. "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. The call to obliterate the public and the private wall that keeps faith the prerogative of the individual means the obliteration of democracy." Hedges, C. (2006). American Fascists. Free Press: New York. p 196
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Scary and mobilizing.
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Hedges went out in the field and talked to all sorts of extremely conservative Christians. And quotes them at length. I would have enjoyed (...if that's the right word...) the book more if we had heard more from Hedges, and less from various scary wingnuts. But the last 10 pages of Hedges' conclusions make up for the third-of-a-book's worth of scary dominionist wingnuttery.
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