Monday, January 8, 2007

"American Fascists"

Intolerance in America does not come primarily from the "Religious Right." Book after book is being published the primary purpose of which seems to be to promote fear of Evangelicals and traditional Catholics. I read widely on Christian websites and am generally familiar with Christian involvement in politics. Christians are indeed concerned about issues like abortion and gay marriage and what they perceive as an effort to read them out of the body politic, but none of them are sympathetic to the idea of a "Christian dictatorship," and, except at the most extreme fringes [which I have never read - only read about], even a Christian domination of society. Most are extremely committed to religious liberty for themselves and others. In fact they are far more concerned about being marginalized than about "taking over;" more concerned about being taken seriously than about dominating anyone; far more interested in defending their views in the public square than in silencing other views. Part of the problem is that many seem to assume that any vigorously expressed opinion that falls outside liberal piety is by definition intolerant and dangerous.

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges would seem to be a particularly paranoid example of the genre. Fortunately, there are liberals who are still tethered to reality and fully capable of placing this nutty thesis in context. Jon Weiner in the Los Angeles Times:
... In fact, the differences between today's Christian right and the movements led by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini are greater than the similarities. Hitler was more pagan than Christian. Street violence was a key tactic of Mussolini's Brownshirts; the Christian right has focused on nonviolent demonstrations outside U.S. abortion clinics and on changing laws at the ballot box. And there's a big difference between supporting laws against gay marriage and putting gays in concentration camps.

Nevertheless, Hedges concludes that the Christian right "should no longer be tolerated," because it "would destroy the tolerance that makes an open society possible." What does he think should be done? He endorses the view that "any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law," and therefore we should treat "incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal." Thus he rejects the 1st Amendment protections for freedom of speech and religion, and court rulings that permit prosecution for speech only if there is an imminent threat to particular individuals.

Hedges advocates passage of federal hate-crimes legislation prohibiting intolerance, but he doesn't really explain how it would work. ...
Source: 'American Fascists' by Chris Hedges

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. Hedges' proposed legislation against intolerance would seem to convict his own movement for it's own intolerance.


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