Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has reported from war zones and written a number of powerful books about our culture. I was fascinated by his recent interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, during which he addressed some of the cultural idiocy that exists in the US.
Hedges decried the media’s tendency to cover sensational stories over substance. He also discussed unfettered capitalism, domination of US media by a half dozen corporations, and the Christian right’s use of the despair created by the Great Recession and lasting unemployment in order to drive Americans into a non-reality-based belief system.
“I think we have powerful proto-fascist movements in this country,” said Hedges, “and I look at the Tea Party, the militia and the Christian right, where they celebrate the language of violence, they celebrate the gun culture, and they channel what I would describe as a very legitimate rage, and a legitimate sense of betrayal towards the vulnerable; towards Muslims; towards undocumented workers; towards homosexuals, intellectuals, feminists, liberals…they have a long list of people they don’t like. And I think that remains a very powerful and frightening undercurrent in American society.”
“What you get when you enter that kind of ideological belief system, you no longer deal with reality. You believe in magic,” Hedges continued. “You believe that Jesus will intervene to protect you and promote you, and then it becomes impossible to have a kind of rational discussion, for instance, with people who believe that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago.”
To make the point, Hedges noted that he visited the Creationist Museum where dinosaurs are displayed alongside Adam and Eve in a representation of the Garden of Eden. In discussing his tour of the park, Hedges recalled a guide saying, “I suppose you wonder why the T-Rex had such big teeth.” She explained that it was because “Adam and Eve needed the T-Rex to open the coconuts.” When a child asked how Noah had managed to get the dinosaurs onto his Ark, the tour guide responded that “Noah only took the dinosaur babies.”
Hedges stated that this kind of walking away from science is what allows totalitarian systems to thrive. One of the concerns is the Christian right’s lust for apocalyptic violence. He said, “It’s almost a celebration of the destroying of a world that almost destroyed them.”
As for the state of our government, Hedges stated, “We have the facade of the democratic state, and yet we’ve undergone a corporate coup d’etat in slow motion.”
For more insights from Chris Hedges check out his weekly column at www.truthdig.com.