Feeling the Hate

13 June 2005

Chris Hedges has covered more wars than nearly any journalist alive. Now, he’s turning his attention toward America’s “culture war,” and he’s not optimistic about what he sees. “Since the reelection of George W. Bush in November,” he writes in “Feeling the Hate with the National Religious Broadcasters” in Harper’s, “the rhetoric on the Christian right has grown triumphal and proud; rumors of spiritual war are abroad in the heartland, and fervent whispers of revolution echo among the pews and folding chairs of the nation’s megachurches.”

Such language on the part of Hedges might seem overly-bellicose itself were it not for the fact that this is a man who has witnessed firsthand, around the globe, the physical wars that all too often result from such rhetorical wars.

I don’t think the term “fascist” is terribly useful anymore and I might argue with Chris over his use of the term “dominionism” to encompass so many on the Christian Right, not to mention his exclusion of Billy Graham — whom I see as more theocratically-inclined than do his admirers — from that company. I think many others on the Christian Right, meanwhile, don’t share the political ambitions or the evident fury revealed by Chris’s article.

None of that changes the fact that this is great reporting. Apologists for the Christian Right like to point out that there’s much more to it than what Chris shows us. That’s true. But what Chris’s shows us is there, and it’s powerful. When this article appeared last month, paired with a story of mine about Colorado Springs, the wrath of the right seemed to concentrate on Chris. I’d like to think that’s because I’m just so “fair and balanced” that it’s hard to attack my writing, but I suspect that it may have been because Chris hit closer to home.