Thursday, March 12, 2009

American Fascists

Are supporters of the Christian Nation fascists? At least one man thinks so. Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of the book, American Fascist: The Christian Right and the War on America attempts to compare the current rise of Evangelical Christians with the rise of fascism in Europe prior to World War II. And while I find this comparison to be quite bizarre and frankly irresponsible, his ideas are worth presenting. After all, we here at American Creation TRY to give a voice to every perspective on this issue, which is why I have chosen to post this video here.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


Part 4:


Part 5:


Part 6:


Part 7:


There are five more installments of Hedges' speech, which can be found on Youtube. If you wish to finish the speech please see part 8 by clicking here. There are a total of 12 parts.

10 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

attempts to compare the current rise of Evangelical Christians with the rise of fascism in Europe prior to World War II. And while I find this comparison to be quite bizarre and frankly irresponsible, his ideas are worth presenting.

Bizarre and irresponsible is right. But I don't know if giving air to the left-wing fever swamp's slanders of the right-wing fever swamp comports with stated goal of this blog, which is reasonable discussion.

We also commit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_the_undistributed_middle

by leaving the impression that anyone sympathetic to the Christian origins of this nation is a "fascist." [Neither do even the most extreme of this ilk, the Dominionists, urge instituting a theocracy by force.]

The unitarian William Howard Taft one referred to America as a "Christian nation; surely throwing the term "fascist" around here provides more heat than light.

Stanley Kurtz of the conservative NRO gives Hedges a well-earned fisking:

April 28, 2005, 7:58 a.m.
Scary Stuff
There’s a real venom on the Left against conservative Christians.

"Harper’s Magazine’s May cover stories about “The Christian Right’s War On America,” frightened me, although not the way Harper’s meant them to. I fear these stories could mark the beginning of a systematic campaign of hatred directed at traditional Christians. Whether this is what Harper’s intends, I cannot say. But regardless of the intention, the effect seems clear.




The phrase “campaign of hatred” is a strong one, and I worry about amplifying an already dangerous dynamic of recrimination on both sides of the culture wars. I don’t doubt that conservatives, Christian and otherwise, are sometimes guilty of rhetorical excess. Yet despite what we’ve been told, the most extreme political rhetoric of our day is being directed against traditional Christians by the left.

It’s been said that James Dobson overstepped legitimate bounds when he compared activist judges to the Ku Klux Klan. Yes, that was an ill-considered remark. I hope and expect it will not be repeated. But Dobson made that comparison extemporaneously and in passing. If that misstep was such a problem, what are we to make of a cover story in Harper’s that systematically identifies conservative Christianity with fascism? According to Harper’s, conservative Christians are making “war on America.” Can you imagine the reaction to a cover story about a “war on America” by blacks, gays, Hispanics, or Jews? Then there’s Frank Rich’s April 24 New York Times op-ed comparing conservative Christians to George Wallace, segregationists, and lynch mobs.

These comparisons are both inflammatory and mistaken. Made in the name of opposing hatred, they license hatred. It was disturbing enough during the election when even the most respectable spokesmen on the left proudly proclaimed their hatred of president Bush. Out of that hatred flowed pervasive, if low-level, violence. I fear that Bush hatred is now being channeled into hatred of Christian conservatives. The process began after the election and is steadily growing worse. This hatred of conservative Christians isn’t new, but it is being fanned to a fever pitch.

Chris Hedges, who wrote one of the Harper’s cover pieces, is a former reporter for the New York Times and a popular author among those who oppose the Iraq war. Hedges’s article will be noticed on the Left. I fear it will set the tone for a powerful new anti-Christian rhetoric. The article’s entitled “Feeling the Hate with the National Religious Broadcasters.” If you still don’t get it, notice the picture juxtaposing a cross with an attack dog. Of course, reducing America’s most popular Christian broadcasters to a hate group is itself a way of inviting hatred.

Hedges is worried about extreme Christian theocrats called “Dominionists.” He’s got little to say about who these Dominionists are, and he qualifies his vague characterizations by noting in passing that not all Dominionists would accept the label or admit their views publicly. That little move allows Hedges to paint a highly questionable picture of a virtually faceless and nameless “Dominionist” Christian mass. Hedges seems to be worried that the United States is just a few short steps away from having apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and witchcraft declared capital crimes."

Brad Hart said...

I agree with pretty much everything you say, Tom. I guess I thought it only fair to present a bonafide left-wing wacko, since we've posted videos of the other side's extreme artists (Barton, D. James Kennedy, etc.) I figure that these videos are relevant because it allows us to see what the fringe is saying...in their own words of course.

Kurtz's summation seems right on the money! I wonder, are there any of our fellow "leftist" commentators who will stick up for Hedges???

bpabbott said...

Brad: "I guess I thought it only fair to present a bonafide left-wing wacko, since we've posted videos of the other side's extreme artists (Barton, D. James Kennedy, etc.)"

It would get very interesting on this blog if someone who favors such an extreme left position were to become a participant here ;-)

jimmiraybob said...

...are there any of our fellow "leftist" commentators who will stick up for Hedges???

I'm so new around here that I don't know if I qualify as "a 'fellow "leftist' commentator" and I don't have the time right now to mount a full defense, but I have to wonder if either Mr. Hart or Mr. TVD have actually watched the full video? If so maybe there are some specific points of discussion? I watched last night and appreciate you posting it - a nice compliment to the book.

Because of the number of interruptions necessary to view the You Tube version I looked up the original which is available here (at WGBH.org) - much better flow.

For the moment I'll just say that Hedges does not attack Christianity. Or "traditional" Christians. Or "conservative" Christians. And he does point this out. In fact, it sounds like he's rather enamored with Christianity and tries to make a distinction. And, just because he doesn't name the names (or provide compelling photographs) doesn't disqualify the argument. Here are some handy definitions and a few names that should allow an expansion of the discussion. Googling can turn up a scad more info.

I also read the Kurtz article and I've hardly ever seen a more impressive collection of straw men in the same room - surely a fire hazard though, someone should call the Fire Marshall. Since I haven't read the Harper's article yet I can't comment on the accuracy of whatever arguments lie in between the piles of hay though.

Do you really think that Hedges qualifies as "a bonafide left-wing wacko"? Do you mean this in a Thomas Paine sense or a Jeffersononian sense? See how I tried to tie the post in with the blog's mission? And, just to get a feel for the contemporary landscape, is the ordained Baptist minister Bill Moyers also a bonafide left-wing wacko?

jimmiraybob said...

Speaking of Moyers, Karen Armstrong will be on the Journal tonight to discuss faith and religion.

Tom Van Dyke said...

If so maybe there are some specific points of discussion?

Please do point some out.


I also read the Kurtz article and I've hardly ever seen a more impressive collection of straw men in the same room - surely a fire hazard though, someone should call the Fire Marshall.


So please be specific.

I read the originals in Harper's. The straw men are Hedges': the Dominionists, the brush that Hedges uses to taint the entire Religious Right. Kurtz is quite accurate on Hedges' dishonesty and lack of journalistic rigor. Further, he is accurate that work like Hedges' is inflammatory and runs the risk of "amplifying an already dangerous dynamic of recrimination on both sides of the culture wars..."

As for Bill Moyers' show, I've seen that too and his agenda is obvious: he is no journalist or "moderator." As for the ex-nun [now Sufist] Karen Armstrong, I've enjoyed some of her work, [The History of God], but again, she has moved out of neutrality. What would be interesting is for Moyers to turn his fire hose on something other than those forms of Christianity not aligned with his own Democratic politics [Moyers was a hack for the LBJ White House]. Perhaps Sufism?

jimmiraybob said...

It was disturbing enough during the election when even the most respectable spokesmen on the left proudly proclaimed their hatred of president Bush.

Ah yes, the nameless and faceless “spokesmen” - almost as convincing as “some people say”. I would like to see some evidence as in who, what, where and when. Maybe some citations would help..., but probably wouldn’t help the story. Until then it’s a straw man used to set up “the other” as a bogey man. I happened to have lived through this period, as opposed to the founding, and vividly recall the retort of “deranged Bush hatred” upon the merest of criticisms, whether of the president or his policies. This is beyond weak.

Out of that hatred flowed pervasive, if low-level, violence.

I followed the link and apparently some on the right were fainting over petty vandalism. Again, there are no specifics. These are the same stories floating around the left-o-sphere” side too. Vandalism is bad form o matter the driving ideology (as far me, I saw many happy Obama, McCain and occasional Paul sign peacefully coexisting in my 'hood). I have to say though, that it’s usually the ones identifying themselves with the political and/or religious right who are calling for the libtards and left wing loonies/wackos to be exterminated, or blowing up buildings, or assassinating medical workers, or walking into UU churches to kill as many democrats and liberals as possible, or not-too-subtly calling for open and armed rebellion. At least these days. I’ll take a sign vandalism any day over a bullet.

Hedges is worried about extreme Christian theocrats called “Dominionists.” He’s got little to say about who these Dominionists are, and he qualifies his vague characterizations by noting in passing that not all Dominionists would accept the label or admit their views publicly. That little move allows Hedges to paint a highly questionable picture of a virtually faceless and nameless “Dominionist” Christian mass.

Ignorance of the topic is no argument. If he or his audience doesn't know about Dominion theology or Dominionism or who might or might be one there is a readily available literature. This is disingenuous. And a broadside straw man argument – an allusion that there really is no such creature and that it’s all a results of unfounded leftist fevered imaginations. Well, it’s not. And it’s certainly worthy of discussion.

Hedges seems to be worried that the United States is just a few short steps away from having apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and witchcraft declared capital crimes.

Obviously Hedges does not say this in the referenced article and I didn’t hear this in the video. Staw man. I would also point out that there are those in the right Christian sphere that have called for exactly this – don’t get me wrong, I’m not painting with a broad brush.

The reality we face is judicially imposed same-sex marriage ...

Nice way to drive the fear card but sadly it is another straw man. Possibly what he is referring to is that some judges might not rule that civil and/or constitutional law should not be used to enforced religious view points that would create an environment of government-enforced discrimination.

There is also a steady escalation throughout the Kurtz article of conflating Dominionist with conservative and/or traditional Christian until at the end he writes, “And let’s stop calling traditional Christians fascists.” If hedges made this claim in the article that he's referring to (not available without subscription) then it’s a valid and true argument. But I did not hear this in the posted video and Hedges in the video was quit clear in attempting to make clear that that is not what he is doing. I’ve also read the book and do not recall this sentiment.

I thought the question that the moderator asked hedges at the end was exactly what should have been asked and helps get to the point of how to perceive the "threat." It is quit clear that Hedges is singling out a smaller radical Christian element.

Well looky there, it's birthday beer o'clock. Time to go

jimmiraybob said...

Also, I take it you don't like Ms. Armstrong. I don't ever recall her claiming to be an imperfect impartial observer. She clearly writes with a point of view. I think that would be the point. Is it sooooo wrong to be a Sufi? Also, isn't it some kind of logical fallacy to attack the person and not the argument? Ad something or other.

And calling Moyers a hack doesn't really go anywhere either. More Ad something or other.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Moyers' show is hackery. Kurtz knows what Dominionism is, and proves it in several other articles on the same subject. Hedges makes a living, apparently, stoking up the left wing against the right. Armstrong is OK, but I liked her better as an impartial scholar.

I would imagine there are more Muslims in America that want to institute sharia than Dominionists who want to institute their version of theocracy. Regardless, neither want to do it by force or have anything to do with the Founding. Beer o'clock. Cheers.

Naum said...

@Tom Van Dyke

I am curious as to what your credentials are for casting aspersions on the credibility of Hedges and Moyers — Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and holds a Master of Divinity so I'd say that qualifies him a heck of lot more than "goofy blogger" (as your blogger profile pronounces). So while I might agree that he exaggerates a bit on the "dominionist" thread, it's not totally unfounded — just read/listen to the Hagees and LaHaye/Jenkins, whose ideas of governance many would term theocracy.