Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Tolerance is a virtue, but tolerance coupled with passivity is a vice."

That's the way Hedges concludes American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. I don't disagree, but I do think the turn of current events since the book was written less than two years ago means we have less to be worried about, at least in the short term. Events like the death of Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson endorsing Giuliani and in general the failure of the Christian right to coalesce behind any particular presidential candidate shows, in my mind, that they're losing cohesion and influence.

In the final chapter of American Fascists, Hedges says that if there's another terrorist attack, or a wide-scale environmental disaster, that's when we should really be concerned, and that's hard to argue with considering what happened in 2001 and 2002 in this country. It's pretty much the sole reason I voted for Barack Obama and not Hillary Rodham Clinton -- when dissent was unpatriotic and the Democrats went along with Bush's, to put it kindly, highly questionable agenda, she did the easy thing, not the right thing. Obama was not in the Senate then, true, but he spoke out against the war and he certainly had aspirations to seek higher office, so it's not like he didn't have to be concerned about his viewpoint being used against him.

Anyway, the American electorate seems to be drifting a bit leftward and, bar some sort of disaster, the influence of the Christian Right is fading. I think that this quote from Vasily Grossman, a Russian novelist, that Hedges uses sums up my viewpoint pretty well:
"Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer."

When it comes to women's rights, civil rights, gay rights or any other cause, the forces of intolerance can and have won some of the battles. But ultimately, they never prevent progress. They just slow it down, and sooner or later, they always lose and history marches forward.

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