There's an article scaring readers about Christian right "fascists" that's been making it's way around the Internet for the last two weeks. Some of my liberal friends have linked to it, but I honestly don't see why any of them take it seriously.
Here's a typical excerpt:
"This movement, veering closer and closer to traditional fascism, seeks to force a recalcitrant world to submit before an imperial America. It champions the eradication of social deviants, beginning with homosexuals, and moving on to immigrants, secular humanists, feminists, Jews, Muslims and those they dismiss as “nominal Christians”—meaning Christians who do not embrace their perverted and heretical interpretation of the Bible. Those who defy the mass movement are condemned as posing a threat to the health and hygiene of the country and the family. All will be purged."Author Chris Hedges, introduced as "a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter" and a senior fellow at the lefty Nation Institute, makes a lot of bold proclamations, but he doesn't back it up with evidence. The entire spawling piece reads like something an 8th grade Livejournal user would pound out in the computer lab between biology and geography class. It wanders from topic to topic, making grand claims of visible horrors and offers no compromises. The only thing missing is a broken Caps Lock key.
Hedges uses the word "fascism" as a cudgel, striking out and disfiguring anything that comes along, yet he never demonstrates any understanding of the word beyond a mere insult.
But fascism does have a meaning - it is a nationalistic, totalitarian, corporatist form of socialism.
It's elementary to paint patriotic opponents as vile nationalists - any fool can do that. It's quite another thing to claim that free market economics is corporatist or socialist - it opposes both of them very strongly.
As for totalitarian - I really don't see it. Those enthusiastic tea party protesters that everyone loves to look down upon have one common message, and that is less government. It is their opposition that believes in solving problems with the government - and that means more governmental powers. Neither side is in favor of totalitarianism, but it's the right that seems to understand why.
In addition, why would they seem to undermine our republic and the concept of voting when the party in power is the Democrats? Wouldn't that just seal their opposition into office?
So after reading this drivel, I wonder why so many smart people could enjoy it. It's not that they're stupid - some of them are quite astute. It could be the relevance of expertise - maybe that just don't know what a persuasive argument should look like, or politics isn't something they deeply understand. But I don't find these answers satisfactory.
I think what's going on is bias. People who like the premise - essentially that the Christian right is an evil marauding horde - are willing to forgive scant evidence or wild claims because they "know in their hearts" that Hedges is on the right track.
In addition, it's hard for someone like me who rolls his eyes every two lines to see this article as holding any value.
I hope I would reject a right wing version of this piece, but I can't know for sure. I don't quote Michael Savage, Ann Coulter or Sarah Palin because I don't like their presentations. But I do like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. True, I don't always agree with them and they aren't my top influences, but I do think there's a lot to learn from them.
Bias cuts two ways here. I'm rather certain that this article is lousy, and it's clear to me that lefties are giving it too much credit. But what is impossible for me to see is how much my own bias is sapping away any credit it deserves.