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American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America [Paperback]

Chris Hedges
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 8 2008
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.

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Chris Hedges may be the most credible figure yet to detect real-life fascism in the Red America of megachurches, gay-marriage bans and Left Behind books. American Facists is at its most daring when it enunciates...the perversities that are obvious to those of us not beholden to political exigencies." -- New York Observer

"Throughout, Hedges documents, and reflects on, what he feels is the bigotry, the homophobia, the fanaticism -- and the deeply un-Christian ideology -- that pose clear and present danger in our previous and fragile republic." -- O, the Oprah magazine

"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

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Fascists May 21 2010
An eye-opening account of how some Christian fundamentalist groups are punching above their weight, having infiltrated all levels of government. This book is not an attack on mainstream Christianity but is aimed rather at those fundamentalist types who are intent on pushing their version of morality onto the rest of the population, where there will be no room for other faiths, homosexuals, abortion, or even working women. It is a cautionary tale, a wake-up call. Well worth reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Discerning book April 4 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating journey through the underbeely of US in which the author uncovers the horrifying strategies at loose within the evangelical movement. This book is an eye opener. I will never look at US politics quite the same way ever again.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
By Brian Griffith TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We might assume that the right-wing Christian nationalist dream is waning in America, but Chris Hedges does not. Touring around the country he finds an undimminished movement for a full-blown theocratic state. As he quotes James Kennedy,

"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As vice-regents of God, we are to execize godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports areanas, our entertainment media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society" (p. 58)

Hedges travels widely to hear great speakers, attend seminars and visit with radical fundamentalists. He offers some understanding, or perhaps pity, towards these people's needs for order, direction, certitude and righteousness in a chaotic society. But this sympathy is limited by a conviction that these people are pushing his country towards totalitarian fascism. He notes that the Dominionist agenda calls for a restoration of harsh ancient laws from before the time of Jesus or of modern Judaism: the death penalty for adultery, homosexuality, blasphemy, incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, unchastity before marriage. Beyond this Hedges sees a regressive agenda to make Christianity more supportive of powerful economic interests:

"... When it is faith alone that will determine your wellbeing, when faith alone cures illness, overcomes emotional distress, and ensures financial and physical security, there is no need for outside, secular institutions, for social service and regulatory agencies to exist. ... To put trust in secular institutions is to lack faith, to give up on God's magic and miracles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FASCISM STARTS WITH AN F July 23 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book opened my eyes to the real danger that extremist religion poses to our democratic system. Chris Hedges is a talented experienced journalist, this book reflects his passion for democracy and his respect for rational thinking. The writing is tight and credible, the effort made to research is evident.
I recommend it to people concerned with the way our treasured democratic institutions are being threatened.
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