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American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America [Kindle Edition]

Chris Hedges
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (252 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.53
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Book Description

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.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The f-word crops up in the most respectable quarters these days. Yet if the provocative title of this exposé by Hedges (War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning)—sounds an alarm, the former New York Times foreign correspondent takes care to employ his terms precisely and decisively. As a Harvard Divinity School graduate, his investigation of the Christian Right agenda is even more alarming given its lucidity. Citing the psychology and sociology of fascism and cults, including the work of German historian Fritz Stern, Hedges draws striking parallels between 20th-century totalitarian movements and the highly organized, well-funded "dominionist movement," an influential theocratic sect within the country's huge evangelical population. Rooted in a radical Calvinism, and wrapping its apocalyptic, vehemently militant, sexist and homophobic vision in patriotic and religious rhetoric, dominionism seeks absolute power in a Christian state. Hedges's reportage profiles both former members and true believers, evoking the particular characteristics of this American variant of fascism. His argument against what he sees as a democratic society's suicidal tolerance for intolerant movements has its own paradoxes. But this urgent book forcefully illuminates what many across the political spectrum will recognize as a serious and growing threat to the very concept and practice of an open society. (Jan. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"This is a powerful book that looks inside some of the darkest movements on American soil." -- Time Out New York

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
498 of 531 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Unquestioned Obedience Is The Only Test Of Faith January 25, 2007
Format:Hardcover
Most great artists and thinkers are outsiders in some sense or another. This ability to observe from the outside often uncovers patterns that are invisible because they are too close. Chris Hedges spent most of his adult life outside of the United States, covering wars and despotic regimes. On his return to America, he was able to see our society with an eye unblunted by habit or assumptions, which, combined with his theological education and visceral experience and understanding of totalitarian systems, gives him a uniquely penetrating perspective into the growing movement known as the Christian Right.

In "American Fascists," Hedges never makes the simplistic claim that the Christian Right is the Nazi party, or that Bush is Mussolini, or that America will inevitably become a fascist state. His investigation is much more nuanced, identifying the incipient stirrings, invisible to many Americans, of a complex, mass political movement that is mobilizing and gaining strength and support beneath the surface of our democracy.

In characteristically muscular and clear prose that fuses the minister and veteran reporter, Hedges not only details multiple facets of the movement, but also examines the ideological undercurrents that drive them and how they translate into political consequences.

At The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, which "prove[s] that God's word is true," Hedges writes "The danger of creationism is...that it allows all facts to be accepted or discarded according to the dictates of a preordained ideology.
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249 of 275 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not recommend this book more highly January 25, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent study of fascism, its past and present grips on the Religious Right and the catalysts that might usher in a Christian Fascism movement in the United States.

As a Christian with experience in both conservative and liberal evangelical congregations, I found useful insights into the political and religious shifts I've witnessed since the 1970s and that we've all seen accelerate after 9/11. How is it that well intentioned churches and their members have come to believe that homosexuality is THE problem facing the U.S. today? How can self-professed Christians become unabased cheerleaders for war? How do Christians get so caught up in television personality cults masquarading as Christian ministries?

These and many many other questions are asked and answered by Hedges. The historic background and his logic in reaching those answers are accessibly presented. Where those answers eventually lead is a cause for concern to all U.S. citizens and, as a Christian, the author makes it clear that the responsibility for standing up to the unholy rise of Christian Fascism falls squarely on the shoulders of Christians.

The more "religous" you are, the more important I think it is that you consider the points made by the author. You're not going to like most of them. But I think you will come to agree with too many of them to ignore his overarching concerns.
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217 of 245 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Chris Hedges has all the personal and experiential credentials to take on the Christian "dominionists" that pose a danger to our democracy and, by extension, the world. First, he is a fine writer. Second, he has covered from the ground most of the wars of the second half of the 20th Century. And third, he thinks deeply and personally about religion, theology, ethics and morality. His admired father was a Presbyterian minister who cared deeply about tolerance and community. Having said all that, Hedges does not pull any punches in equating the small group of dominionists (about 7% of Christians) with the behavior and belief systems that were part and parcel of fascism. He has read deeply in analyses of fascism, such as Hannah Arendt, and, being the good reporter that he is, has attended some of the different gatherings of dominionists and talked to those who have been affected by their involvement in the cult like movements that pass for Christianity.

America today faces many internal threats to our democracy. Not least of these threats comes from the imperialistic presidency with which we have been inflicted by Bush and Cheney. Would they were the only purveyors of American imperialism, but they have only taken this bent to a new level. The Christian Right, led by the dominionists, is directly tuned in to this imperialism, turning it into "God's will", with the exciting twist that we are heading for the apocalypse when only the saved will attain heaven. Because these so-called Christians are heavily funded and control a disproportionate number of radio and TV outlets, their influence far exceeds their numbers. Elsewhere, it has been observed that history shows that nations cannot maintain an empire abroad and democracy at home.
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112 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling & Disturbing Read February 5, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you tend to agree with fundamentalist Christians you will be irate about this book. If you are a progressive, you will cheer. Whatever your perspective, Hedges outlines a compelling case about the dangers of dominionist strains of fundamentalist Christianity in the US today.

The question that readers should ask is not whether the book is "hateful" or "intolerant" but whether the core facts are true and implications are valid. Hedges tries to use factual statements about dominionist behavior and then suggest implications of the behavior. Much of the material is disturbing. For example, there is no question about the historical overlap between this group of Christians and many ugly aspects of out past including segregation, tax evasion, the John Birch Society, etc. Nor is there serious disagreement about the ugliness of many of the attacks by Falwell, Roberts, and others on gay people, Muslims, progressives, etc. Nor is there much disagreement on their efforts to re-define the US as a Christian country instead of a secular country with a Christian majority. Nor is ther much disagreement about the profoundly anti-intellectual/rational bias in the movement (just look at intelligent design or Christian oriented history books). Or about the well nurtured and well documented paranoia of the group. Or the overtly greedy, financially questionable, sometimes illegal behavior of many of its leaders. All of the many examples cited by Hedges suggests that he may not be reaching too far when he categorizes the group as "fascists." However, agree or disagree, the book is challenging and troubling. And it is well worth reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Half right
I have mixed feelings about this and so makles it hard to rate. Some things are clearly wrong, but other things it is right on. Read more
Published 17 hours ago by TLA
5.0 out of 5 stars A good insight into the Insane world of the evangelical Right Wing.
Want to know why this country is so screwed up? Read this book. It shines a light on the viciousness of the Evangelical Unhinged Right Wing in this country and why they want... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Dr H S.Thompson
4.0 out of 5 stars Too bad they didn't include an update at the end since ...
The whole story, very well sourrced. Too bad they didn't include an update at the end since the book was written in 2009.
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book, needs to be read by all who cherish our civil liberties.
Published 4 days ago by foreverknitefan
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice focus of this critical outlook on the problem of ...
A nice focus of this critical outlook on the problem of excessive religiosity in politics and government. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Atanacio Luna
4.0 out of 5 stars a disturbing read
it is hard to believe that the country i fought and almost died for has begun the slide down into the mud of fascism. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Walt Enfield
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read by America.
Fascism has come to America draped in the flag carrying a sword and a bible.

One of the best explanatory books about our trend toward a plutocratic theocracy that is on... Read more
Published 2 months ago by George W. West
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging read
Chris Hedges comes across as a Christian personally looking for the good in his own Christianity and dismayed by the theocratic and extremist beliefs of the "Christian... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Francis Ranwez
5.0 out of 5 stars American Fascists by Chris Hedges
I ordered this book to see how the Religious right in America is trying to force their religious views and beliefs on the United States and it's people and government and around... Read more
Published 4 months ago by gene
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
Chris Hedges is a genius. His incite into society's problems is peerless. He has the added gift of not only explaining his points, but doing so with a passion that renders his... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Guy S. Michael
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More About the Author

Chris Hedges is a cultural critic and author who was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. He reported from Latin American, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the bestsellers American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and writes an online column for the web site Truthdig. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto.

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