Friday, January 05, 2007

America’s Holy Warriors

Liberal Journal pointed me to this article by Chris Hedges at TruthDig about the Christian right's march towards an American theocracy. Sleep well, see you in heaven...
The drive by the Christian right to take control of military chaplaincies, which now sees radical Christians holding roughly 50 percent of chaplaincy appointments in the armed services and service academies, is part of a much larger effort to politicize the military and law enforcement. This effort signals the final and perhaps most deadly stage in the long campaign by the radical Christian right to dismantle America’s open society and build a theocratic state. A successful politicization of the military would signal the end of our democracy.

During the past two years I traveled across the country to research and write the book “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” I repeatedly listened to radical preachers attack as corrupt and godless most American institutions, from federal agencies that provide housing and social welfare to public schools and the media. But there were two institutions that never came under attack—the military and law enforcement. While these preachers had no interest in communicating with local leaders of other faiths, or those in the community who did not subscribe to their call for a radical Christian state, they assiduously courted and flattered the military and police. They held special services and appreciation days for all four branches of the armed services and for various law enforcement agencies.
They encouraged their young men and women to enlist or to join the police or state troopers. They sought out sympathetic military and police officials to attend church events where these officials were lauded and feted for their Christian probity and patriotism. They painted the war in Iraq not as an occupation but as an apocalyptic battle by Christians against Islam, a religion they regularly branded as “satanic.” All this befits a movement whose final aesthetic is violence. It also befits a movement that, in the end, would need the military and police forces to seize power in American society.

One of the arguments used to assuage our fears that the mass movement being built by the Christian right is fascist at its core is that it has not yet created a Praetorian Guard, referring to the paramilitary force that defied legal constraints, made violence part of the political discourse and eventually plunged ancient Rome into tyranny and despotism. A paramilitary force that operates outside the law, one that sows fear among potential opponents and is capable of physically silencing those branded by their leaders as traitors, is a vital instrument in the hands of despotic movements. Communist and fascist movements during the last century each built paramilitary forces that operated beyond the reach of the law.

And yet we may be further down this road than we care to admit. Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder of Blackwater, the private security firm that has built a formidable mercenary force in Iraq, champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is deceitful, take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. These mercenary units in Iraq, including Blackwater, contain some 20,000 fighters. They unleash indiscriminate and wanton violence against unarmed Iraqis, have no accountability and are beyond the reach of legitimate authority. The appearance of these paramilitary fighters, heavily armed and wearing their trademark black uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, gave us a grim taste of the future. It was a stark reminder that the tyranny we impose on others we will one day impose on ourselves.

“Contracting out security to groups like Blackwater undermines our constitutional democracy,” said Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Their actions may not be subject to constitutional limitations that apply to both federal and state officials and employees—including First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from illegal searches and seizures. Unlike police officers they are not trained in protecting constitutional rights and unlike police officers or the military they have no system of accountability whether within their organization or outside it. These kind of paramilitary groups bring to mind Nazi Party brownshirts, functioning as an extrajudicial enforcement mechanism that can and does operate outside the law. The use of these paramilitary groups is an extremely dangerous threat to our rights."

The politicization of the military, the fostering of the belief that violence must be used to further a peculiar ideology rather than defend a democracy, was on display recently when Air Force and Army generals and colonels, filmed in uniform at the Pentagon, appeared in a promotional video distributed by the Christian Embassy, a radical Washington-based organization dedicated to building a “Christian America.”

4 Comments:

Blogger brotherbruz said...

Thanks. I was 'drafted' into the VietNam conflagration and went to see a chaplain explaining this damn war is criminal. I can't stay out in that jungle and kill anyone. I can't leave the soldiers either...Why are you chaplains allowing, in god's-damn holy-name, this horrow-lie to continue on...?

I never heard or saw that 'funde' chaplain again. A friend I was wounded with said the chaplain was there giving the Last-Rights on the feb 10th evening in 1970 when the med-chopper clamped arteries and patched us up...They thought you, James A, was about dead. Laird was in Saigon that night?

Yep, they are about sanctioning death...I found you via Chris Floyd link via Glenn Greenwald's. Thanks.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

I've written before about the amazing ability that people have to not learn the lessons of the past and how, as a result, they persist in blundering into the same mistakes, over and over again.

On one level, it's just stupid but on another, it's tragic because real people end up having their lives ruined because of the callous indifference of the frat-boys in charge.

2:43 PM  
Blogger liberal journal man said...

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
--Sinclair Lewis

4:54 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

To keep with the Sinclair Lewis theme, let's say: "It can't happen here".

5:13 PM  

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