Saturday, June 11, 2005

Update On Hedges: His Enemies Speak

Ironically, as I was typing in the previous post, I was missing a chance to watch Chris Hedges on PBS' NOW last night, his second appearance as far as I know. What I did catch was former judge and Old Testament fan Roy Moore defend the idea that an American Sikh would have to submit to a Christian God in a courtroom, and complain bitterly about why a statue of a Greek goddess (representing Justice) could remain while his beloved big old rock had to go. Moore evidently would have difficulty understanding that the winged messenger logo used by FTD is not an obeisance to the Greek pantheon, but subtleties and nuances are not usually the forte of the Christian right.

The NOW site gives even more background on Hedges:
"Hedges was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years. He joined the staff of THE NEW YORK TIMES in 1990 and previously worked for THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, and National Public Radio. He holds a B.A. in Enlish Literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Princeton University.

Hedges was a member of THE NEW YORK TIMES team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for the paper's coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism."
128 The site also notes that Stanley Kurtz of the National Review wrote a comeback to Hedges' Harper's article on the Christian Right, the quote of which completely mis-interprets (deliberately?) one of Hedge's sentences:
"The most disturbing part of the Harper’s cover story (the one by Chris Hedges) was the attempt to link Christian conservatives with Hitler and fascism. Once we acknowledge the similarity between conservative Christians and fascists, Hedges appears to suggest, we can confront Christian evil by setting aside “the old polite rules of democracy.” So wild conspiracy theories and visions of genocide are really excuses for the Left to disregard the rules of democracy and defeat conservative Christians — by any means necessary."
Now, look. I have the article in question, and it clearly does not use that sentence to mean that we on the left must disregard the rules of democracy and law in forwarding some kind of agenda of destruction of the Christian right. Here is the sentence in context:
" I can’t help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”
He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Adams had watched American intellectuals and industrialists flirt with fascism in the 1930s. Mussolini’s “Corporatism,” which created an unchecked industrial and business aristocracy, had appealed to many at the time as an effective counterweight to the New Deal. In 1934, Fortune magazine lavished praise on the Italian dictator for his defanging of labor unions and his empowerment of industrialists at the expense of workers. Then as now, Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. Adams had watched German academics fall silent or conform. He knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderates into passivity."
There is no implication here that Christianists must be dealt with "by any means necessary". There is a warning that they must be taken seriously, and we should not be lulled into sleepy acceptance, or be comforted by some notion that "it can't happen here". Which sounds entirely reasonable to me.

I smell a religious war, and it doesn't involve Islam.

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