The word Fascism," wrote George Orwell in 1946, "has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable.'" Orwell's statement seems even more pertinent, and more ominous, today, when despite what you might have heard, a fascist is not the parent of a grounded teenager. Chris Hedges's powerful American Fascists (Free Press) starts off by telling us precisely what fascism is, suggesting that its latest practitioners are not those thugs in brown shirts and swastika armbands but rather, as Hedges believes, the freedom-hating leaders of the religious Far Right. The controversial journalist writes sympathetically without sensationalism about the alienation and despair that cause decent people to become religious extremists, and (less sympathetically) about a movement that tries, often disastrously, to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals. He visits a kitschy Kentucky museum designed to prove theories of creationism, attends a rally fusing patriotic and Christian symbolism in the service of what Hedges, a former seminarian, calls Christo-fascism, and observes a conference led by the authors of the Left Behind books, which prepare their readers to expect and even welcome the imminent apocalypse. Throughout, Hedges documents, and reflects on, what he feels is the bigotry, the homophobia, the fanaticism—and the deeply un-Christian ideology—that pose a clear and present danger to our precious and fragile republic.
— Francine Prose
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 6, 2013