“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
On Monday, the 35th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, George W. Bush played to the rubber fetus crowd with his annual phone call to anti-reproductive rights activists. Pandering to the so-called pro lifers who are all that remain of the red plague that has swept America is vintage Rove, especially on the day prior to the State of the Union Address. The hateful lemmings awaiting Rapture can always be counted on to maintain steadfast and unwavering in support of their exalted king’s holy crusade to call forth a rain of fire from the skies over Tehran. There are increasingly ominous signs that an attack on Iran is imminent with the incessant barrage of MSM propaganda proclaiming that Bush's evil twin Ahmadinejad wants to wipe out God's chosen state of Israel and the yahoos are anxious to Armageddon it. The cult of the glorious reappearing has now consummated it’s unholy union with the ivory tower dwelling ideologues at the American Enterprise Institute and the doomsday clock is moving closer to midnight.
That Le Enfant Terrible finds it necessary at this juncture to continue to cater to the whims of the extremist Christian Right speaks volumes as to the disproportionate amount of influence that the lunatic fringe holds over American policy. The support of dead enders praying feverishly for apocalypse and worldwide human suffering brought on by war, plagues, pestilence and environmental disasters somehow has become a much sought after precious thing. A thing that should instead bring forth a scarlet letter of shame that any advanced society would justifiably use to marginalize it. Radical clerics like Falwell and Dobson and their ilk are deferred to and treated as king makers for any potential Republican candidate and doddering old Senator McCain has puckered up to kiss Dobson and Falwell’s rings and pampered fat asses with an alarming frequency. Why these reactionary zealots are given any credibility at all is a travesty and we will all eventually be the ones who reap the whirlwind. The extremist elements of the Christian Right need to be stigmatized and isolated as the cancer on free society that they truly are and not embraced by charlatan politicians pandering for votes. It only serves to further empower the menace to democracy that is represented by the ravenous wolves lurking amongst the sheep.
Having just finished the new book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America I am compelled to recommend this very informative and alarming examination of the dangerous influence of the extreme Christian Right. Hedges is a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the author of another book that should be required reading for all advocates of armed conflicts War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.
Hedges shines a light on the parasitical false prophets who prey on the weak, the failed and the confused in order to lure them into the flock and turn them into foot soldiers in a political army. He correctly points out that the fundamentalist theocratic movement is driven by economic despair, exurban loneliness, despair and frustration at a world in which they have failed utterly and which they are all too willing to turn on for revenge once recruited. His unrelentingly frank examination of the Christian Right is as comprehensive and damning an indictment of the perversion of religion for the acquisition of political power that I have yet to come across:
In this version of the Christian Gospel, the exploitation and abuse of other human beings is a good. Homosexuality is an evil. And this global, heartless system of economic rationalization has morphed in the rhetoric of the Christian Right into a test of faith. The ideology it espouses is a radical evil, an ideology of death, it calls for wanton destruction, destruction of human beings, of the environment, of communities and neighborhoods, of labor unions, of a free press, of Iraqis, Palestinians or others in the Middle East who would deny us oil fields and hegemony, of federal regulatory agencies, social welfare programs, public education – in short, the destruction of all people and programs that stand in the way of a Christian America and its God-given right to dominate the rest of the planet.
American Fascists also addresses the necessity for a male dominance based hierarchical order for in the world of the extreme Christian Right a woman’s place is to act as chattel. Women are to perform their duty as deferential baby machines and to never challenge the authoritarian king of the castle. The war on science and the replacement of history with magic is examined in a look at the bizarre new Petersburg, Kentucky Creation Museum where dinosaurs coexist with humans. All animals were created on the sixth day and that would include a vegetarian T-Rex that was only turned into a ravenous carnivore after the garden was defiled by original sin. The reality of global warming is vehemently denied and Darwin is reduced to a pejorative. The construction of the alternate reality that Hannah Arendt identified as a precursor of totalitarianism is essential:
"Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it."
Much to his credit, Hedges does not allow himself to be constrained by the impoliteness of political correctness – a concept that the right has used so effectively in manufacturing animosity. Liberals have a tendency to be overly sensitive when it comes to dealing with zealots and reactionary freaks and the Religious Right benefits immensely from the refusal to engage it on a level playing field. This unwillingness to call this movement out for what they are – fascists with an innate loathing for democracy only allows it to grow stronger and more organized. Hedges writes:
Most liberals, the movement has figured out, will stand complacently to be sheared like sheep, attempting to open dialogues and reaching out to those who spit venom in their faces.… Debate with the radical Christian Right is useless. We cannot reach this movement. It does not want a dialogue. It is a movement based on emotion and cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. It is not mollified because John Kerry prays or Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday school. Naïve attempts to reach out to the movement, to assure them that we too, are Christian or we, too, care about moral values are doomed. This movement is bent on our destruction. The attempts by many liberals to make peace would be humorous if the stakes were not so deadly. These dominionists hate the liberal, enlightened world formed by the Constitution, a world they blame for the debacle of their lives. They have one goal – it’s destruction.
Taboo analogies are made to certain 20th Century European regimes and the fervor and certitude that drove mass movements to create totalitarian fascist states. The references are not gratuitous and are backed up by historical statements regarding the religious institutions in those states and their failure to act morally in denouncing the hatemongering demagogues before the societies collapsed upon themselves. In some instances the churches actually encouraged it much like in early 21st century America where the attacks on homosexuals and other elements deemed undesirable are both sanctioned as well as a holy war against people of an entire religion. An earlier essay by Mr. Hedges forms the basis for his book and is essential reading for those lacking time but interested in getting the message.
When not attacking the rights of women and gays, the educational system, liberalism, science and the democracy that they so despise, the American fascists relish every opportunity to shriek for the blood of Muslims. They regularly denounce the Islamic faith as Satanic among other pejoratives. A war of civilizations is what they desire, a redux of The Crusades and with any luck at all it will even bring about Armageddon! The Islamic fundamentalists that the theocratic demagogues rail about should be familiar to them because they in fact possess many of the same traits as is pointed out by Davidson Loehr in The Fundamentalist Agenda.
The Christ of the theocratic fundamentalists is an angry one, his is a kingdom based on fear and control. The world of the Jesus as terminator is a hateful and a vitriolic one that has no compassion, no tolerance for peace and an insatiable bloodlust for those deemed by the movement to be enemies. Their version of Christ has only contempt for the poor, the sick and the downtrodden and nowhere in it are the meek blessed. The fundamentalist twisting of the gospels to show that the acquisition of wealth is somehow a sign of divine blessing is blasphemous and if there is such a place as Hell may the radical clerics who preach this filth one day burn there. There are reinterpretations of scripture and a strange worship of the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments despite their implicit warning about false idols and graven images.
I personally caught on to the hypocrisy of the Religious Right early in life when my parents would send myself and my younger sister off to the friendly neighborhood Baptist church for Sunday school in order to get us out of the house. The fundamentalist fire and brimstone preaching Baptists would even send a nice gaily painted school bus around the neighborhood trolling for youthful prospects.
I remember that in addition to prayer a plenty we used to engage in sing-a-longs on that bus and one of the verses of the songs that I will always remember went something like this: “You can’t get to heaven with hippie hair cause the lord don’t like that mess up there”
My young little mind must have already contained the seeds of skepticism because lo and behold while our Sunday school teacher was leading us in song I noticed that he was standing in front of a picture of some dude with really long hair and a scraggly beard...and it sure as fuck wasn’t Ted Nugent.