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When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross
December 26, 2007 1:26 PM   Subscribe

American Fascists: A CBC interview with author Chris Hedges regarding the Christians Right's onward march toward political power.
posted by plexi (86 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
When fascism comes ..... it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross

If the leftist reflection in the mirror doesn't beat them to it.
posted by three blind mice at 1:33 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


When the Ameri-Christian-Facist Fourth Reich threatens Canada, hopefully we can barter our freedom for George Stroumboulopoulos.
posted by dbarefoot at 1:40 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


If the leftist reflection in the mirror doesn't beat them to it.

I suppose any argument can be responded to by arguing that the other side is identical, and identically evil, even when such a response has absolutely nothing to do with the actual argument. Bravo!
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:45 PM on December 26, 2007 [36 favorites]


This isn't technically a double but it is a double.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:48 PM on December 26, 2007


Well, the argument of this post is "Christian Right = fascism". So, "The Purpose Driven Life" is really "Mein Kampf" in disguise, right? Hmm...

(Another day, another FPP OMGRELIGION!!! post destined for deletion...)
posted by soundwave106 at 1:51 PM on December 26, 2007


Well, the argument of this post is "Christian Right = fascism". So, "The Purpose Driven Life" is really "Mein Kampf" in disguise, right? Hmm...

Nope. Hey, there's links up there. If you click on them, you'll discovered what the conversation is.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:57 PM on December 26, 2007


I change tenses every so often just to break up the monotony.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:58 PM on December 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


Another day, another FPP OMGRELIGION!!! post destined for deletion...

If you took the time to watch both the 10 minute primary link, and the hour long interview with Kevin Phillips on Charlie Rose (or read his book) you'd realize that your knee-jerk reaction is completely and totally off the mark.

I understand it is a strategy to immediately accuse anyone of reflecting on 200 years of religion in the United States as simple-minded, but in truth this is a solid study, and worth your time.

However, if it is intrinsically antithetical to what you believe, it is not a fault of the post, nor of this website - the fault lies with you. Please feel free to enjoy the "guy stuck in the septic tank" post just two before this one. It's clean and sanitary enough so as to not infect you with dangerous thoughts of reckless academia.
posted by plexi at 1:58 PM on December 26, 2007 [9 favorites]


If you took the time to watch both the 10 minute primary link

It would help if you took the time to provide context of any depth to your links.
posted by nanojath at 2:06 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


We're no longer allowed to talk about this topic here.

Then again, I'm not the biggest fan of topic-FPPs anyway. "Best of the Web" should mean something you can't easly find at eg. atrios or what have you.
posted by panamax at 2:18 PM on December 26, 2007


When I read 'CBC interview,' i thought it meant the Christian Broadcasting Company would be interviewing the author, which sounded completely awesome ... but it's gasoline-station-shirt guy from the Canadian Broadcasting Company, which is fine, but not nearly as exciting as what I'd pictured ...

Now if we could have a Kenny vs. Spenny episode about "Who Can Make the Best Inflammatory FPP," I think we'd be on to something ..
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:26 PM on December 26, 2007


It's a sad day when youtube comments are better than metafilter's.
posted by srboisvert at 2:28 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


it's gasoline-station-shirt guy from the Canadian Broadcasting Company, which is fine, but not nearly as exciting as what I'd pictured ...

I actually clicked on the link hoping to see Brent Butt from Corner Gas interviewing some guy about fascism.

yes I know CBC and CTV are two different entities
posted by infinitewindow at 2:29 PM on December 26, 2007


(Oh and for the record, I don't trust the Christian Right in the slightest and want them as far from the levers of power as possible -- and as much as I'd love to discuss it, I'm not optimistic about this thread's longevity)
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:31 PM on December 26, 2007


Okay, I have now actually watched the links, and I'll provide some context. Chris Hedges argues that the American Christian right has all of the 14 qualities Umberto Eco defined as Ur-Facism, and is different from the historic religious right in that previously they separated themselves from politics. Coming from a Christian background, and having studied theology at Harvard, he makes the case that this politicized version of Christianity is very different from Christianity as it was historically understood, and is a product of deep economic despair, needing only one cataclysm to turn into a successful political movement, and one that would be destructive to this country in the same way that European fascism was destructive to the countries where it took root.

The second link is a more generalized discussion on the politicization of Christianity in this country, and the risks associated with a movement that would replace the country's humanist and liberal political origins with a theocracy. Both argue that Jesus would have been a member of neither political party, and that both parties are wrong in claiming him. Both sets of interviews are carefully considered and reasoned, and worth watching.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:31 PM on December 26, 2007 [12 favorites]


If you took the time to watch both the 10 minute primary link, and the hour long interview with Kevin Phillips on Charlie Rose (or read his book) you'd realize that your knee-jerk reaction is completely and totally off the mark.

Really? I see his reaction as more knee-jerk.

First, I think he's confusing "political activism" with "fascism" to a large extent. I would need more evidence that a large collection of religious leaders want to start a coup, throw out the Constitution, and replace it with a Christian-appointed Supreme Leader in order to change my mind. Christians have influence in the government, sure, but using the term "fascist" seems like hyperbole from the get go.

Secondly, the "Christian right" encompasses many degrees of opinion, from Jimmy Swaggart to Rick Warren. In light of this, saying that the "Christian right is fascist" is way too generalized. There may be elements of the right-wing that bear some resemblance to fascism (there are some right-wing political pundits that I agree *are* a bit too fascist for comfort) but the whole movement can't be lumped together like this, at least if you want your argument to be effective.

Evangelicals span all income levels anyways -- so much for Chris Hedges' argument that the decline of manufacturing jobs has created the conditions necessary for a "fascist" evangelical right to evolve.

There are some worrying elements about American Christianity today -- but these elements aren't best served with hyperbole. Even evangelical Christianity is not entirely happy with itself, as books like un-Christian and articles describing the Southern Baptist state of funk would note.
posted by soundwave106 at 2:32 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am a little tired of the lefty inclination to say 'You know all Jesus really cared about was feeding poor people, all these modern Christians are crazy to care so much about homosexuality.' Sure Jesus cared a whole lot about feeding the poor, and he never once said anything about homosexuality, but the tendency to cast the character in the gospels as a human rights activist first and foremost is maybe just as wrong.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:39 PM on December 26, 2007


When you mix politics and religion you get politics.

Maybe someday the true Christians will realize that it's a bad idea, but I doubt it. History is full of strong theocratic power, and wars based on religion. It'll be a true miracle from Heaven if the Christians start acting like Christ.

The forecast calls for a few more thousand years of violent hypocrisy.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 2:47 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Evangelicals span all income levels anyways -- so much for Chris Hedges' argument that the decline of manufacturing jobs has created the conditions necessary for a "fascist" evangelical right to evolve.

Except that he is not making this argument. He is making the argument that the form of Christianity with the most parallels to fascism is a product of economic despair, but that it would require a massive economic cataclysm for that form of Christianity to gain mass acceptance.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:52 PM on December 26, 2007


*Note: true christians have already figured out that religion and politics don't mix. Sadly, about 0.01% of self-identified Christians care at all about Christ, or live according to their claimed principals, so they don't really matter.

**Second note: this also applies to most other religions, so please skip the Muslim-hating comment that you want to make.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 2:52 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sadly, about 0.01% of self-identified Christians care at all about Christ

Thanks for that link...interesting fact!
posted by dhammond at 2:58 PM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Religion will go away when superstition does. Superstition will go away when lack of education does. Lack of education will go away when poverty does. Poverty will go away when social hierarchy does. Social hierarchy will go away when religion does.
posted by mullingitover at 2:59 PM on December 26, 2007 [18 favorites]


"The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe."

This quote should be a standard part for these sorts of OMG fascism threads. I'm sure there's an equivalent for OMG communism threads.
posted by aerotive at 3:04 PM on December 26, 2007 [5 favorites]


the tendency to cast the character in the gospels as a human rights activist first and foremost is maybe just as wrong.


Uh.. no. Sure, Yeheshuah probably wasn't all sweetness and light and hippie free love.. but it's seems pretty clear that was a lot closer than what the evangelicals would have you believe. For them, His love is conditional. For anyone who actually tries to understand/emulate Him, it's unconditional.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:16 PM on December 26, 2007


Except that he is not making this argument. He is making the argument that the form of Christianity with the most parallels to fascism is a product of economic despair, but that it would require a massive economic cataclysm for that form of Christianity to gain mass acceptance.

Well, does he prove that?

Understandably, you cannot provide this type of data in a 10 minute interview, but this "argument" is nothing more than an unverified opinion without the following data:

A) Some good, unbiased examples of the type of evangelical Christianity that would be considered fascist (by a clearly defined set of criteria).

B) Some good, unbiased examples of the type of evangelical Christianity that would not be considered fascist.

C) The income levels, job status, net assets, etc. of group A and B so that we can clearly see that poverty correlates with religious radicalism.

Other valuable data points would be the membership level of A and B (trending over various economic times of crisis would especially help provide insight); and a comparative example of radicalism in other religions to see whether this problem is unique to Christianity, or whether other religions display the same sort of income-radicalism correlation.

I believe that attempts to link poverty and radical Islam have so far been inconclusive at best; I can't imagine that an attempt to link radical Christianity and poverty would fare any better.
posted by soundwave106 at 3:25 PM on December 26, 2007


Well, I think Hedges is basing his case for the possible rise of Christian fascism on the fact that fascism in other countries has historically risen after economic cataclysm. But I suspect neither you not I have really dug into the meat of his argument, since we would have to read his book to do so, and so are just arguing vague, unsubstantiated speculations about his point, and, while arguing in this way seems to be a popular internet sport, it is not one I am overly fond of.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:28 PM on December 26, 2007


Uh.. no. Sure, Yeheshuah probably wasn't all sweetness and light and hippie free love.. but it's seems pretty clear that was a lot closer than what the evangelicals would have you believe. For them, His love is conditional. For anyone who actually tries to understand/emulate Him, it's unconditional.

Re-read what I wrote. I'm arguing that casting Jesus as a left-wing hippie who is all like 'Peace, dude, let's all just be groovy, and help folks out' is to ignore as much of Jesus' character as the evangelicals who focus on judgment et al. Sure, Jesus strongly advocated caring for the needy, and all that, but he was a lot more concerned with the religious establishment and one's relationship to God. My point is that people who say that the Jesus of the gospels is first and foremost concerned with loving one's neighbor are also wrong, because Jesus put 'Loving the Lord thy God' first on his list of priorities, and the people who think that true Christians should be non-judgmental and do nothing but minister physically to the needy are missing the point, too.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:33 PM on December 26, 2007


Chris Hedges is selling a book. A crude, but common, sales tactic is to use fear to sell your product, regardless of whether or not your product is helpful or even relevant. Fear-mongering also makes for compelling and easily digestible television. So does shouting 'Fascism! fascism! fascism!' from the rooftops.

Never mind that fascism was antithetical to Christianity (or any other form of organized religion).
posted by KokuRyu at 3:39 PM on December 26, 2007


Never mind that fascism was antithetical to Christianity (or any other form of organized religion).

Nice try trying to sneak that by as a truism. Now read.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:56 PM on December 26, 2007


That's an interesting premise KokuRyu, but I'm not sure how much mileage we will get out of it. Sure if you examine the underlying tenets of Christianity, you won't find behavior that could easily sustain a fascist ideology, but the people that might wrap themselves in their religion for the purpose of forwarding such a political movement have already placed themselves clearly into the box of "people who claim a belief because it's expedient."

I very much doubt that most of the people who fall into the category of "Christian fascist" act in a way that would be in line with Christ's teachings, but I'm just speculating without any real facts to support my guess.
posted by quin at 3:58 PM on December 26, 2007


I am a little tired

Translation: I will begin my comment by disingenuously pretending this is about a minor irritation rather than a political battle.

of the lefty inclination

Translation: I will proceed with political name-calling and stereotyping.

to say 'You know all Jesus really cared about was feeding poor people,

Translation: These strawmen falsely simplify Jesus as the the proponent of a noble cause.

all these modern Christians are crazy to care so much about homosexuality.'

Translation: They claim that modern Christians are wrong to falsely simplify him as a homophobic bigot.

Sure Jesus cared a whole lot about feeding the poor,

Translation: I admit that Jesus was, among other things, the proponent of that noble cause

and he never once said anything about homosexuality,

Translation: And that he was not in fact a homophobic bigot

but the tendency to cast the character in the gospels as a human rights activist first and foremost is maybe just as wrong.

Translation: but emphasizing one of his teachings to support feeding the poor is as wrong as lying about his teachings to support persecuting gays.

posted by shakespeherian

Translation: I am as high as a kite.
posted by lostburner at 4:00 PM on December 26, 2007 [8 favorites]


Both argue that Jesus would have been a member of neither political party, and that both parties are wrong in claiming him.

Not picking on you, Astro Zombie (I value my delicious space brains too much), but is this really how debased the discussion in America has become? I mean I am aware of the whole idiotic 'what would Jesus do' meme, but I thought that was a joke, for chrissakes.

Jesus would wave his calloused workman's hand to call in the Jehovan airstrikes and smite the fucking lot of you, leave America a smoking ruin littered with the corpses of believers and heathens alike. Jesus would puke blood the minute he caught a glimpse of America.

Now if we could have a Kenny vs. Spenny episode about "Who Can Make the Best Inflammatory FPP," I think we'd be on to something.

This interviewer guy is annoying in a youth-demographic 'our world too' way. The only other time I've seen him was interviewing Kenny and Spenny, and he was annoying there too, but at least his faux-bluecollar laboured informality fit the subject material that time.

Never mind that fascism was antithetical to Christianity (or any other form of organized religion).

It's not required that small-f fascism as a modern manifestation of the underlying principles and ideologies is identical in all respects to what we saw in the early 20th century. Maybe we can call it corporatism to distinguish it from the historical Fascist movements of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and their ilk. History is the story of unlikely bedfellows giving each other reacharounds in the service of consolidation of political power.

Whatever we do call it, the author (or publisher) clearly chose the F-word for the title of the book because it would move copy; that does not necessarily invalidate his arguments, nor does arguing about the labels we apply to the current set of power-seekers.

Well, I think Hedges is basing his case for the possible rise of Christian fascism on the fact that fascism in other countries has historically risen after economic cataclysm.

Since the signs and portents are indicating an economic shitstorm of Great Depression magnitude in the coming year or two (Shit Factor 5, Captain!), I wait with great interest to see what emerges from the rubble.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:07 PM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Good post, thanks.
Good interview, also, i like the way the guest (i.e. Chris Hedgesm gets to say what he wants to say, that is rare on Northern American TV.
posted by Substrata at 4:09 PM on December 26, 2007


Translation: but emphasizing one of his teachings to support feeding the poor is as wrong as lying about his teachings to support persecuting gays.

You are crazy and do not understand the difference between wrong meaning 'factually incorrect' and 'morally bankrupt.' But I love you anyway.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:26 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


For some reason I was expecting this thread to be different from the typical Metafilter religion thread, in which people who are thinking at least sort of correctly about the role of religion in public life consistently overstate their case and act generally brattish enough as to alienate people who might agree with them or at least be willing to listen to a well-framed argument.

That's probably because I've read Chris Hedges. I haven't read this book, but I've read War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, and that is a really great book, one that left me absolutely bereft but convinced me that the author had a deep understanding of the most disturbing aspects of human nature, even in himself, as a war reporter who intellectually despises war but who is drawn to the elemental physical thrills of it. Amazing book.

The fundamental problem with his use of the term "fascism" seems to be that fascism has typically involved a distaste for traditional religion, which it's had for a couple of reasons: a dislike of any competing value system and/or power structure, and a hatred of the tolerance and compassion that are sometimes a part of religious values.

I think, though, that he is mostly right to use the term because much of the American religious right has long since forgotten any connection it has with a Jewish prophet called Jesus. It takes the forms of that religion and turns it into something else entirely, which lately has been more like a kind of worship of the state and a kind of tribalism. The objects and symbols of that worship are the virile soldier, the flag, money, American exceptionalism, the achievement of the American Dream and the hard work that requires, opposition to internal and external threats.

Whatever you think of these things, it's very difficult to connect them with anything Jesus is supposed to have said and very easy to connect them with nationalism and especially its more fanatical forms that have troubled Europe.

You may not want to use the term "fascism" but it's pretty clear, I think, that we have experienced a real break with the traditional ideas of American democracy--the idea that all are equal under the law, that religion and the state should not mess with one another, the idea of fair play and equality of opportunity. Instead we have a powerful nationalist ideology that a lot of people are now afraid of challenging and that also has nothing to do with traditional Republican thought of either the Main Street or Wall Street varieties. I happen to agree with Hedges that it's really dangerous, whatever aspects of it he might have explored in his book.
posted by lackutrol at 4:27 PM on December 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


and one that would be destructive to this country in the same way that European fascism was destructive to the countries where it took root

see also "V for Vendetta"

is this really how debased the discussion in America has become?

Youtube of Huckabee's phonecall from God at the 2004 Republican Governor's Conference.

Towards the end you can see how he conflates the Christian right cause celebres . . . "defense of the family" and the "unborn's right to life" and the Republican Party's campaign planks.

Well, no need to conflate these, since they are the same. Great party you've got there, Republicans. Huckabee goes for the trifecta with the "Fair Tax" proposal, too. I don't understand why he's catching crap from the Republican establishment, he's like the 2nd coming of Steve Forbes.
posted by panamax at 4:30 PM on December 26, 2007


that fascism has typically involved a distaste for traditional religion

Fascism can and did get along famously with traditional, conservative, big-R religion. cf. Franco.

It's the liberal leftie tradition that it runs into conflict with. Soviet-style Marxist-Leninism was the one that had it in for (in the name of "Modernism" and "Scientific Advancement" ) the Church's competing power and moral bases.
posted by panamax at 4:34 PM on December 26, 2007


You are crazy and do not understand the difference between wrong meaning 'factually incorrect' and 'morally bankrupt.' But I love you anyway.

When it's unclear which meaning you intend in your post, the most dangerous meaning must be assumed, because that's the way it sounds in a debate and that's the way most people will read it.

I love you anyway too.
posted by lostburner at 4:36 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Evangelicals span all income levels anyways -- so much for Chris Hedges' argument that the decline of manufacturing jobs has created the conditions necessary for a "fascist" evangelical right to evolve.

What?

How does the variety of Evangelical income levels dismiss Chris Hedges' argument? There must be a whole lot you left unsaid, because as stated the above barely makes sense let alone convinces. The existence of Evangelical millionaires is insignificant. Showing the percentage of each economic class that is evangelical would not suffice. Most evangelicals do not have to be hurt by the decline of manufacturing for his argument to be true. A critical mass can have a disproportional effect on a mass movement. His argument could be undercut by showing that a) there was no qualitative change in the values and tactics of the movement that correlated with the loss of manufacturing jobs, or by b) there was no pronounced effect on the growth rate of funding or participation over that same time period.

I don't understand why he's catching crap from the Republican establishment, he's like the 2nd coming of Steve Forbes.

He catches crap from the Republican establishment because he will be a big underdog in a general election. The Fair Tax is an OK idea in that it gets rid of the IRS but it, and Huckabee for that matter, don't say anything about cutting spending.
posted by BigSky at 4:39 PM on December 26, 2007


When it's unclear which meaning you intend in your post, the most dangerous meaning must be assumed, because that's the way it sounds in a debate and that's the way most people will read it.

Well for that I apologize, but I honestly didn't see myself as engaging in a debate, so I think that's probably why I was careless with my language. Also since it's traditional it seems that at this point I should declare that I am a lefty, hate the religious right, Fred Phelps, et al., and therefore your deconstruction of my post struck me as seeming like you came in here looking for someone whose throat you could tear into.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:41 PM on December 26, 2007


Fascist/fascism should be retired from common usage altogether. I see it as more of an era- and region-specific philosophy and a logical successor to movements like Futurism. These days it is a pretty loaded term that gets thrown around too often. It still has vague connotations of its original meaning but really, you call someone a fascist these days and you're essentially equating them with Hitler et al and I don't think that makes for a good argument. Just stick to the facts: What have they done? What do they want to do? Do I agree?

As for some sort of Republican/evangelical monarchy coming to pass, I think the current administration may be as close as we get to that. But that's just my opinion. It is a fact, however, that the American political system is a fluid one. Coalitions form and dissolve. Compromises are brokered then broken. The GOP may go the way of the Whigs, and who know maybe so will the Democrats, but I'd wager there will still be Christians and secularists, and conservatives of some stripe and progressives of another.
posted by kurtroehl at 4:45 PM on December 26, 2007


Well for that I apologize, but I honestly didn't see myself as engaging in a debate, so I think that's probably why I was careless with my language. Also since it's traditional it seems that at this point I should declare that I am a lefty, hate the religious right, Fred Phelps, et al., and therefore your deconstruction of my post struck me as seeming like you came in here looking for someone whose throat you could tear into.

Fair enough. I think I saw your conclusion (which was phrased to both have some factual basis but and sound like an outrageous moral claim) and reacted strongly. You weren't in a debate during that post, and it wasn't really fair of me to characterize you as such. But to me, analyzing Jesus historically is useless (it's so far in the past), and all that matters is our actions, and you conflated feeding the poor with religious homophobia. Little surprise that you drew an emotional reaction, with that tactic. I hope your throat is okay. I've got some sutures.
posted by lostburner at 4:55 PM on December 26, 2007


....and Europe watches you folks, disgusted with the tone and level of discourse, sensing the good old USofA is indeed on its way of becoming a third-world-country.

incredible.
posted by Substrata at 4:57 PM on December 26, 2007


Fascist/fascism should be retired from common usage altogether.

Yeah, there are a lot of people who feel that way.
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:03 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


kurt: I was going to make a similar post but ⌘-R'd it away. Doughy Pantload's current screed on "Liberal Fascism" is a case in point; it is not useful to confuse "fascism" with any totalitarian limitations on individual freedom, whether they be freedom of thought, association, or not using seatbelts.

Fascism is authoritarian collectivism, where individualism and dissent are not only not tolerated, but actively prosecuted.

The 'authoritarian' component of that can come from either Big Man rule, like the NSDAP, Mussolini, or Franco, or, in extremis, the case can be made that we will see the Christian Right ally themselves with the current constellation of conservative powerblocs, like what we saw with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Wahhabi influence within the KSA.

I need to watch the FPP now, I guess ;)
posted by panamax at 5:07 PM on December 26, 2007


http://libertystreetusa.blogspot.com/2007/12/congress-is-set-to-recognize.html
posted by Substrata at 5:11 PM on December 26, 2007


I haven't read this book, but I've read War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, and that is a really great book, one that left me absolutely bereft but convinced me that the author had a deep understanding of the most disturbing aspects of human nature, even in himself, as a war reporter who intellectually despises war but who is drawn to the elemental physical thrills of it. Amazing book.

Heartily seconded. I'd read anything the guy wrote.
posted by languagehat at 5:14 PM on December 26, 2007


Fascist/fascism should be retired from common usage altogether.

Those that would retire the past are doomed to repeat it. Fascism was one of the dominant, and most destructive political ideologies of the 20th century, and tended to rise from the ruins of failed democracies. We'd like to think it can't happen in the United States, that somehow we've got a better, sturdier democracy, perhaps. That's a lot to claim for a country that is just over 200 years old and weathers a single challenge of terrorism so poorly that its first impulse is to declare war on an unrelated country and start torturing people.

Surprisingly, Richard Dreyfuss stated it most eloquently: Democracy is a young experiment, and, if we don't seek to protect it, we can easily lose it and revert back to the history of violence and oppression that preceded it (and, I would add, often has taken its place when it has failed.) There is no guarantee yet that we are the successful product of a noble experiment. We may yet become a cautionary tale.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:14 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hedges is pretty much right on. Considering they way we dealt with the aboriginal peoples here, America was a facist sideshow act from the beginning. To kick it all off, like the fourth of July, Queen Isabella burned "non-repentant Jews" at the stake in and seized their assets till she had so much money she didn't know what to do with it until Columbus wormed his way in and told her the world was round.
posted by Huplescat at 5:25 PM on December 26, 2007


Nice interview, unlike our cable attack-fests between commercial breaks.

Hedges' ending:

"they want to strip social deviants [homosexuals] of their rights, and, of course, when they finish with those social deviants they'll turn on the rest of us"

is missing the point, I think. They want to make American socio-cultural millieu safe for Christianity and Christian Families.

They see Pornography, Homosexuality, Profanity, Abortion, Evolution (especially the Common Descent of Mankind), Drugs, etc etc as Satanic inventions that pull the person, and thus our society as a whole, from the Kingdom of God. But it goes deeper than that. They want to protect their children from this crap, and they also keep a Milenarian's eye toward events in the Mideast, since 99.9% of them believe the New Testament ends with prophecy about that and the soon-to-be Second Coming of Jesus.
posted by panamax at 5:30 PM on December 26, 2007


I don't disagree at all, Astro Zombie, with your assertion that fascism was a political ideology of the 20th century. It is impossible to call something fascist and not invoke some very weighty images from that time, for example the bombing of Guernica or the liberation of the concentration camps. As a descriptor of political philosophy I find that it is cumbersome and entirely unnecessary, and to retire it would have no consequence but to save us the wasted time of the inevitable arguments both political and semantic that come from its use.
posted by kurtroehl at 5:31 PM on December 26, 2007


How does the variety of Evangelical income levels dismiss Chris Hedges' argument? There must be a whole lot you left unsaid, because as stated the above barely makes sense let alone convinces.

I believe -- as others have found trying to correlate poverty to radical Islamic terrorism -- that it would be very difficult to even mildly correlate economic duress with the rise of Christian fundamentalism. Maybe the statistics I was thinking about prove nothing and your postulates are better stats, but I guess my point is more that some sort of good data is needed to back any argument. Elsewise any argument is nothing more than hot air.

I probably overreacted to this post a bit, as I'm no friend of the fundamentalist takeover of the Republican party, and am worried about many aspects of them. But, honestly, this post only contains one single opinion, with no real depth (either in supporting evidence and/or containing alternative viewpoints) and a bit of an alarmist tone. Worse, the same Dominionism-alarmist opinion has appeared on the FPP two days in a row.

Small groups of people pushing the same opinion on me constantly remind me of why I don't like other social bookmark sites. I certainly will leave Metafilter if every other post becomes "OMGXIANS!", "OMGCOPS!", "OMGRONPAUL!", "OMGBUSHSUX!", "OMGSEX!", etc.
posted by soundwave106 at 5:32 PM on December 26, 2007


Small groups of people pushing the same opinion on me constantly remind me of why I don't like other social bookmark sites. I certainly will leave Metafilter if every other post becomes "OMGXIANS!", "OMGCOPS!", "OMGRONPAUL!", "OMGBUSHSUX!", "OMGSEX!", etc.

Well, we should do a post about that, so that people can be cautious about what they post, so as to not alienate you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:34 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


As a descriptor of political philosophy I find that it is cumbersome and entirely unnecessary, and to retire it would have no consequence but to save us the wasted time of the inevitable arguments both political and semantic that come from its use.
posted by kurtroehl
Why? What exactly do you think a fascist state with (an awful lot of) nukes will look like?
posted by vivelame at 5:35 PM on December 26, 2007


Why? What exactly do you think a fascist state with (an awful lot of) nukes will look like?

Am I missing something, or is this not a big ol' non sequitur? kurtroehl (like others including myself have done in this thread) was talking about language, and agreeing that using heavily-freighted words like 'Fascism' can obscure more than illuminate the actual issues being discussed, and lead people off into blind alleys of semantic dispute and definition dick-measuring.

I certainly will leave Metafilter if every other post becomes "OMGXIANS!", "OMGCOPS!", "OMGRONPAUL!", "OMGBUSHSUX!", "OMGSEX!", etc.

Oh dear. You've contributed a total of 10 (sterling, no doubt) comments to the site in your Metafilter career. Spare us the fluttering-hand-to-forehead chicken-littling, I implore you, at least until you've got some skin in the game.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:48 PM on December 26, 2007


what very few people in america have figured out is that there's no sense in telling people what to do when you can bribe them to do it

very few people except those in charge

they'll bribe any christian fascists just like that - hell, they already have - few people are immune to that sort of corruption

nothing will happen in this country without corporate blessing - and something as extreme as an auto-de-fe would be bad for business

there's a reason these people thump their bibles - it's so you watch what they're pulling out of their good book and not what they're putting into their wallets
posted by pyramid termite at 5:49 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've only watched the ten-minute clip thus far (I'll watch the rest tomorrow night; tonight's Eastern Promises, and Cronenberg always takes precedence, suckas!), so perhaps the Charlie Rose interview will reveal a more nuanced take from Hedges -- but. The thing that bothers me about the short version is Hedges's appeal to the Dawkins/Hitchens crowd with all the fairytale/invisible-man-in-the-sky type incendiary rhetoric, when none of that is really the point at all. I get it, he grew up in a church family and hates churchy types; that's fine. The problem with pointing to a faith as a bad thing is that you automatically lose damn near everyone whose mind might otherwise be changed by what you have to say, because in the mighty struggle between their god and you, you will lose. Every time. On the other hand, pointing to the heads of a religion as people who use that religion as a control system -- that is to say, as people who use your faith in God to manipulate you, conflating themselves with God -- well, now you have something, and it's something that may speak to people who are religious. Which, if Hedges would like to change things at all, should...maybe be the goal?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:02 PM on December 26, 2007


I despair for the future if the South Park "OMG both sides are equally bad!" horseshit continues to spread.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:10 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross...

I wouldn't disagree, but I would add that the corporatocracy angle must be included in the equation, so it'll also be wrapped in a McDonald's hamburger wrapper. And of course it'll be carrying an iPod.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:21 PM on December 26, 2007


KokuRyu writes "Never mind that fascism was antithetical to Christianity (or any other form of organized religion)."

Holy shit, read something about Spain under Franco, man. Unless you either consider Franco not a "real fascist" or Catholicism not "real Christianity" (both pretty frickin' marginal arguments), you're going to change your opinion.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:29 PM on December 26, 2007


kittens, I was about to say that I think either you or I probably need to watch that clip again, because that's not at all what I took away from it. So I just went ahead and watched it again, and I still disagree. What I got was that Hedges was very clearly separating this current movement from the traditional evangelicals and fundamentalists, and saying that their involvement in and interest in state power is a new thing. He's not doing the Dawkins thing, and he explicitly describes himself as a man of faith.

You may be thinking of his throwaway line about evolutionary theory vs. creationism. He clearly has no respect for creationism and thinks it dangerous. I think he's right about that in that the wide berth creationism is given in the US discourages critical thinking. He's also right that the problem is mostly in the intersection of that kind of thinking with political discourse and political power.

Watching the clip again, the place where I think he's wrong is in the idea that the weird cultural alienation that these people clearly feel is closely tied to poverty and economic problems. I am not really sure where it comes from but I am at least pretty confident that the political and media environment and the corporate sponsorship of the cultural right wing is what has allowed it to take root.
posted by lackutrol at 6:44 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh dear. You've contributed a total of 10 (sterling, no doubt) comments to the site in your Metafilter career. Spare us the fluttering-hand-to-forehead chicken-littling, I implore you, at least until you've got some skin in the game.

Oh, I didn't mean it as a dramatic "YOU ARE SO OFF MY TOP 8 LIST!" moment... it's more a matter of opinion. I read other social bookmark sites until they became tools for marginal groups to push their opinion. That's all I'm saying. It doesn't matter, save that I'm responding to this thread less even-headed than others, and this perception is why. This is why I can't be a politician... I can never live in a world where anything can be taken out of context and become a personal attack. :)

Well, we should do a post about (OMGetc.), so that people can be cautious about what they post, so as to not alienate you.

I won't be alienated by any of this, in the same way that I won't be alienated by spam. You see, it's not the topic, it's the bombardment. The fact that Dominionism alarmism has come up twice in two days as a FPP (one deleted, one so far not deleted) bothers me. Perhaps because I've also been on other social bookmarking sites where topic bombardment started, then became a way of life.

But maybe I shouldn't be bothered. At a certain bombardment level, it amuse me, especially when a certain group starts thinking that their minority opinion is universal and The One True Way (see: Ron Paul). So, carry on.
posted by soundwave106 at 6:46 PM on December 26, 2007


Heh. I'm just pissed that you called Metafilter a social bookmarking site! But I suppose, in a way, that it is the ur-Digg.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:51 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe the statistics I was thinking about prove nothing and your postulates are better stats, but I guess my point is more that some sort of good data is needed to back any argument. Elsewise any argument is nothing more than hot air.

I don't want to overstate the case. Like his claim that suburbs are breeding grounds for despair pushing the population towards fundamentalism, this one is unsubstantiated. But I don't think it all comes down to data. Some sort of ideal indifferent observer would not be swayed by Hedges' position. 'Hot air' is a bit derogatory, but I think opinion is fair enough. His argument is about values. For those who agree with him that a literal interpretation of Scripture is simplistic and who suspect fundamentalists of being obsessed with finding certainty, Hedges gives a narrative that explains this religious movement. Is he asking for people to believe in this narrative like a preacher asks a congregation to believe. In a way sure. But, I for one consider Hedges to be coming from a deeper, more genuine place, and I understand that probably means nothing to you. He may be wrong about the particulars but lets not automatically assume so. First we have to agree on the measure, then look and see. And again, this isn't about assembling data.
posted by BigSky at 6:57 PM on December 26, 2007


I despair for the future if the South Park "OMG both sides are equally bad!" horseshit continues to spread.

I totally agree Pope Guilty, but I also despair for the future if hyperbole like the kind Chris Hedges is peddling is taken seriously. If he can't make his point about the ideas he doesn't like without drawing on historic monsters to render this "group" he dissagree with into a caricature, I'm instinctively distrustful of him.
posted by nola at 6:59 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


lostburner: your channeling of Daring Fireball was brilliant! I congratulate you.
posted by shavenwarthog at 7:08 PM on December 26, 2007


Not to say I didn't agree with some of his finer points but he kind of shoots himself in the foot (for me at least) with all the impassioned rhetoric and alarmist choice of words.
posted by nola at 7:10 PM on December 26, 2007


Nola, I hear you, but listen to people like languagehat if not to me. Hedges is a really talented writer because he is able to look past immediate political debates and hyperbole. If he's calling someone a fascist it's because he has thought long and hard about it and really believes they're a fascist. You may well disagree with him, or think that label is unproductive, but I don't think it would be accurate to say that he is intentionally dealing in caricature, or really any sort of facile thinking. It's not really his bag.
posted by lackutrol at 7:16 PM on December 26, 2007


fwiw, nola, to calibrate your sensitivities, here's what Christian Fascism will look like:

David Frum, American Enterprise Institute and National Review

Whether he personally believes in evolution: "I do believe in evolution."

What he thinks of intelligent design: "If intelligent design means that evolution occurs under some divine guidance, I believe that."

How evolution should be taught in public schools: "I don't believe that anything that offends nine-tenths of the American public should be taught in public schools. ... Christianity is the faith of nine-tenths of the American public. ... I don't believe that public schools should embark on teaching anything that offends Christian principle."
posted by panamax at 7:34 PM on December 26, 2007


Watching the clip again, the place where I think he's wrong is in the idea that the weird cultural alienation that these people clearly feel is closely tied to poverty and economic problems.

Yeah, lackutrol, that's, um...more or less where I think he's dead on, actually. He's saying that their leaders are using their own hopelessness against them, giving these people (to them) feel-good answers that feed the agenda of the religious right but don't do shit to solve these people's actual problems, and I think that's all true. You see the effects when it becomes more important to red state voters which candidates support a ban on gay marriage or abortion than it does which candidates support policies that might in real, tangible ways make the lives of red state voters better. That is to say: It's great, I guess, if one is a homophobic asshole who can't mind his own business, that there's no Adam and Steve, but that won't help you put food on your table.

My misgivings were prompted by Hedges using words like "fairytale" to describe the bill of goods evangelical leaders are selling their people. (I think he may have referenced "superstition," too, but I'd have to watch it again to be sure.) I think a very clear distinction needs to be made between faith (i.e., a belief in God, something that can neither be proven nor disproven by rational means) and delusion (a belief that the world is several thousand years old, which can be easily disproven), and I felt like Hedges was blurring the lines a little in what is admittedly a blipvert. But I reserve real judgment on that score until I've watched the full length interview. More of a tentative sort of, "dude, maybe dial that down" thing.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:30 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I mean I am aware of the whole idiotic 'what would Jesus do' meme, but I thought that was a joke, for chrissakes ... Jesus would puke blood the minute he caught a glimpse of America.

"'WWJD' inovations reveal the bigotted douchebaggery of whoever invokes it! BTW, Jesus thinx America suxx!"
posted by fleacircus at 8:45 PM on December 26, 2007


Uh, OK.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:46 PM on December 26, 2007


It's okay stav, I know Anti-Americans lack a sense of irony.
posted by fleacircus at 8:58 PM on December 26, 2007


What's your problem, dipstick? Are you really so upset that I might suggest America is Evil, or that the American Jesus is a stick used to harry the stupid, the hopeless and the weak? You actually think that my busting out a couple of 'Jesus would...'s immediately after making fun of the WWJD meme was accidental? That I didn't notice what I was actually writing? Do you really mean to suggest that my deliberate use of such hyperbolic language was an example of the sort literal nuance-free thud-dullardry with which you seem well-acquainted, rather than being used for humorous effect, with a self-directed wink at my own oft-professed dislike of America and what it is (rather than what it professes to stand for)? Give me a little fucking credit.

Someone lacks a sense of irony here, my friend, but it sure as hell ain't me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:12 PM on December 26, 2007


but that won't help you put food on your table.

...or family

sorry
posted by panamax at 9:14 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I do hope the various thread dumpers have never, ever used the term "Islamofascist" or responded positively to anyone who has done so.
posted by Artw at 10:15 PM on December 26, 2007


If you live in a "red" state, here's a fun experiment to do. First, figure out where the religious seats of power in your city or town are. If you're in a small town in the South, this will usually be "First Baptist Church of X." If you're in the midwest, possibly "First Presbyterian," and so on. The big churches, with the nice steeples.

These are the liberal churches. The people who attend these churches are usually fairly laid back; they go to services once a week, and maybe a pot-luck on Saturday or choir practice Thursday nights.

Now, drive around and look at Pentecostal churches. Look for splinter-Baptists, meeting in old houses or warehouse-like industrial structures. Look for storefront churches.

These are the vibrant churches. People who attend these believe that you and I are going to Hell because either a) we don't believe in their magical sky-daddy or b) we don't correctly interpret the writings of our commonly shared magical sky-daddy. They go to church three to six times a week. They sign off all their business calls with "May you be blessed today!" and thoroughly creep everyone out.

This is anecdotal, of course, but it's just a suggestion. Go look at the liberal churches--there'll be BMWs, Mercedes, and the like parked outside. Then go look at the vibrant, young churches. Compare the demographics. Compare the numbers.

Many people might not find the results threatening. This is because these people are of a slice of demography which allows them to escape interaction with these people. The "working class but different" types might find it a little more disheartening.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:42 PM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


stavros wins this thread for use of the compound word thud-dullardry. That is an excellent term. So impressed with it was I that I immediately googled it. Results? One. In a previous thread (a hoot of a thread), in a comment by, yup, stavrosthewonderchicken, here on MeFi. I already knew I liked you, stav, and now I like you even more. Thud-dullardry is the TOTAL WORD.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:56 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


They sign off all their business calls with "May you be blessed today!" and thoroughly creep everyone out.

They also frequently say "Blessed!" in response to the query "How are you?"

One morning not too long after I moved to my dotted-with-Pentecostal-churches town in the Bay Area I completed a transaction in a convenience store and the clerk behind the counter smiled and urged me to "have a God day!"
posted by blucevalo at 12:31 AM on December 27, 2007


Thank you for posting this plexi.
As a European I find the clusterfuckishness of American politics both revolting and highly alluring. Church and State are separate here in Europe and noone wants to entwine them again. In the USA every politician references god in nearly every speech and to us outsiders the religious right seems to be creeping into power. It might not win but it it definitely has influence; which in its turn will have payback.
Chis Hedges is a great reporter, whether you like what he is reporting on or not is irrelevant.
soundwave106 out of approx 30 FPP's in last 2 days half a dozen referenced Christmas something that happens every goddamned year and there have been two posts (one zapped, thanks to shouting by some hillbilly who didn't read the links) trying to reference dominionism and you are squalking like a stuck pig. Bi+thanx for the $5.
Re Fascism. I live in a country where Primo de Riviera is still carved on the walls of many churches.
Several S + Central American counties are emerging from recent fascism, many of whose juntas were economically aided by the USA and now it seems as if the USA itself in many ways wants to flirt with this system of governance, and the mainstream justs sits there and watches and acquieses.
posted by adamvasco at 2:07 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


he kind of shoots himself in the foot (for me at least) with all the impassioned rhetoric

He's not trying to appeal to you. If he did that, he'd lose 90% of the audience, and he's trying to make a difference, not appeal to the few-but-proud with ultrarefined taste in rhetoric. If Churchill had said "We will fight them in many places, but not all, of course, because we only have so many resources, and of course not all of us will fight, but a percentage estimated at..." he wouldn't exactly have roused the nation to an all-out effort. I personally think the religious right is a huge menace, and if Hedges can awaken more people to that, I personally don't give a fuck what rhetoric he uses.
posted by languagehat at 6:28 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Aw, but this Hedges can't be a good guy. He doesn't lack all conviction. What's more, he seems to be full of a passionate intensity; isn't that a distinguishing characteristic of those other guys?

Oh, it's all too unpleasant. And now I must return to my velvety chamber of nougat and contemplate propriety.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:28 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's always seemed to me that 'faith' is a sweetsy-cutesy word for believing what you are told, without tangible evidence to back up the things you are supposed to have faith in. As a rational, pragamatic person, this offends me. Still, I bite that back, live and let live and all that. The problem is that the more of this quality (a willingness to accept things as fact without proof) a person has, the more it seems like they want to demand that you have it as well, ostensibly for your own (eternal afterlife) good.

In Islamic countries, if you don't have faith, and especially faith in the same things as the rest of the population does, they sometimes kill you for your lack of faith (in what they want you to have faith in). In the U.S., the religious right seems like they want something similar: do as we say and do, or else. The 'or else' doesn't generally mean 'or else we'll kill you' here, but they at least want it to mean you become a social outcast, or are politically disenfranchised, or just generally have a sucky life...because if you don't believe (you must *believe*, bruthah!), then you suck and are doomed to hell. And of course any rational person would do anything to save someone from the eternal pits of hell, so proseletyzing (sometimes with bullets aimed at doctors who provide abortions) becomes commonplace.

And yes, it really annoys me no end the way politicians spout off about God almost incessantly. Unless you can guarantee me God is going to be taking an active hand in life on this planet, please leave God out of government. If he physically shows up, okay, hell, make him president! Until then, I think we'd be a lot better off with reason guiding our hands than lack of reason (or faith, as some call it).
posted by jamstigator at 9:06 AM on December 27, 2007


I already knew I liked you, stav, and now I like you even more. Thud-dullardry is the TOTAL WORD.

Why, thankee, flapjax. It's a... er... backformation or something of 'thud-dullard', which Google tells me I also came up with, and have used a little more often in the past.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:06 PM on December 27, 2007


i sympathize with those who'll read this as a slanderous attack on a minority of the population, all the worse for misreading and devaluing history, but when a leading Republican presidential nominee, Baptist minister, and roll-over moneymaker passes on outright lies about the Constitution (without being challenged) to make a Dominionist point, this is a very powerful group that doesn't have many analogues in American history, so we can and should look at where better-related movements have gone, and how they got there.

especially if they're telling you who they are.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 8:54 PM on December 28, 2007


Creeping Fascism: History's Lessons
posted by homunculus at 12:57 PM on December 30, 2007


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