Christopher Hedges, the former Times reporter infamously booed off a college commencement stage in the middle of an anti-war rant in May 2003 , has a new book out with the hauntingly ambivalent title, "American Fascists - The Christian Right and the War on America."
Contributor Rick Perlstein reviews it in Sunday's book section and finds it unconvincing (although Perlstein seems to share some of Hedges' paranoia regarding conservative Christians): "Hedges was a longtime foreign correspondent, for The New York Times and other publications. But he writes on this subject as a neophyte, and pads out his dispatches with ungrounded theorizing, unconvincing speculation and examples that fall far short of bearing out his thesis."
That's as far as the review goes about Hedges's 15-year-history at the Times. Here's a sample of his more recent work, including his curious ambivalence toward Jewish suffering in the Holocaust.
By not quoting from Hedges book, Perlstein was kind. The Los Angeles Times assignedits reviewto professor Jon Wiener, who delves deeper into Hedges' text and unearths disturbing quotations suggesting the "liberal" Hedges has an authoritarian intolerance for opinions he disagrees with.
Here's an excerpt from Wiener's unfavorable review of "American Fascists."
"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. Many countries do prohibit 'hate speech.' Holocaust denial, for example, is a crime in Germany, Austria and several other European countries. But does this mean that Hedges favors prosecuting Christian fundamentalists for declaring, for example, that abortion providers are murderers or that secular humanists are agents of Satan? He doesn't say."