Chris Hedges Original

Hedges: The Evil Within Us

Millions of largely white Americans, hermetically sealed within the ideology of the Christian Right, yearn to destroy the 'Satanic' forces they blame for the debacle of their lives. And one such evangelical just killed eight people in Atlanta.
Original illustration by Mr. Fish.

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

Robert Aaron Long, 21, charged with murdering eight victims, six of whom were Asian women, at three Atlanta-area massage parlors, told police that he carried out the killings to eliminate the temptations that fed his sexual addiction. His church, Crabapple First Baptist Church, in Milton, Georgia, which opposes sex outside of marriage, issued a statement condemning the shootings as “unacceptable and contrary to the gospel.”

The church, however, also immediately took down its web site and removed videos, including one that was captured by The Washington Post before it was deleted where the church’s pastor, the Rev. Jerry Dockery, told the congregation that Christ’s second coming was imminent. And when Christ returned, Dockery said, he would wage a ruthless and violent war on nonbelievers and infidels, those controlled by Satan.

“There is one word devoted to their demise,” the pastor said. “Swept away! Banished! Judged. They have no power before God. Satan himself is bound and released and then bound again and banished. That great dragon deceiver – just that quickly – God throws him into an eternal torment. And then we read where everyone – everyone that rejects Christ – will join Satan, the Beast and the false prophet in hell.”

I heard a lot of these types of sermons by fundamentalist preachers during the two years I crisscrossed the country for my book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. I attended Bible studies, prayer groups, conventions, tapings of Christian television shows, rallies held by Patriot Pastors, talks by leaders such as James Dobson, D. James Kennedy and Tony Perkins and creationist seminars. I visited the 50,000-square-foot Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, took an Evangelism Explosion course, joined congregations at numerous megachurches for Sunday worship and participated in right-to-life retreats. I spent hundreds of hours interviewing scores of believers.

The simplistic message was always the same. The world was divided into us and them, the blessed and the damned, agents of God and agents of Satan, good and evil. Millions of largely white Americans, hermetically sealed within the ideology of the Christian Right, yearn to destroy the Satanic forces they blame for the debacle of their lives, the broken homes, domestic and sexual abuse, struggling single parent households, lack of opportunities, crippling debt, poverty, evictions, bankruptcies, loss of sustainable incomes and the decay of their communities. Satanic forces, they believe, control the financial systems, the media, public education and the three branches of government. They believed this long before Donald Trump, who astutely tapped into this deep malaise and magic thinking, mounted his 2016 campaign for president.

The killings in Atlanta were not an anomaly by a deranged gunman. The hatred for people of other ethnicities and faiths, the hatred for women of color, who are condemned by the Christian right as temptresses in league with Satan, was fertilized in the rampant misogyny, hypermasculinity and racism that lie at the center of the belief system of the Christian right, as well define the core beliefs of American imperialism. The white race, especially in the United States, is celebrated as God’s chosen agent. Imperialism and war are divine instruments for purging the world of infidels and barbarians, evil itself. Capitalism, because God blessed the righteous with wealth and power and condemned the immoral to poverty and suffering, is shorn of its inherent cruelty and exploitation. The iconography and symbols of American nationalism are intertwined with the iconography and symbols of the Christian faith. In short, the worst aspects of American society are sacralized by this heretical form of Christianity.

Believers are told that Satanic forces, promoting a liberal creed of “secular humanism,” lure people to self-destruction through drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography and massage brothels. Long, who had frequented two of the massage parlors he attacked, was arrested on his way to Florida to attack a business connected with the pornography industry. He had attempted to block porn sites on his computer and sought help for his fascination with porn from Christian counselors.

The secular humanists, along with creating a society designed to tempt people into sin, are blamed for immigration programs that fuel demographic shifts to turn whites into a minority. The secular humanists are charged with elevating those of other races and beliefs – including Muslims whose religion is branded as Satanic – along with those whose gender identities challenge the sanctity of marriage as between a man and a woman and patriarchy. The secular humanists are believed to be behind an array of institutions including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, the Trilateral Commission, the United Nations, the State Department, major foundations (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford), elite universities and media platforms such as CNN and The New York Times.

In D. James Kennedy’s book “The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail: The Attack on Christianity and What You Need to Know to Combat It,” he writes that although the United States was once a “Christian nation,” that is no longer the case because today “the hostile barrage from atheists, agnostics and other secular humanists has begun to take a serious toll on that heritage. In recent years, they have built up their forces and even increased their assault upon all our Christian institutions, and they have been enormously successful in taking over the ‘public square.’ Public education, the media, the government, the courts, and even the church in many places, now belong to them.”

The incendiary rhetoric creates an atmosphere of being under siege. It imparts a sense of comradeship, the feeling that although the world outside the walls of the church or the home is dangerous and hostile, there is a select community of brothers and sisters. Believers only owe a moral obligation to other Christians. The world is divided between comrades and enemies, neighbors and strangers. The commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself” is perverted to “Love your fellow Christians as yourself.” Nonbelievers have no place on the moral map.

When Christ returns, believers are told, He will lead the elect in one final apocalyptic battle against the people and groups blamed for their dislocation and despair. The secular world, the one that almost destroyed them and their families, will be eradicated. The flaws in human society and in human beings will be erased. They will have what most never had: a stable home and family, a loving community, fixed moral standards, financial and personal security and success and an abolition of uncertainty, disorder and doubt. Their fragmented, troubled lives will become whole. Evil will be physically vanquished. There will be no more impurity because the impure will no longer exist.

This externalization of evil, however, is not limited to the Christian Right. It lies at the core of American imperialism, American exceptionalism and American racism. White supremacy, which dehumanizes the other at home and abroad, is also fueled by the fantasy that there are superior human beings who are white and lesser human beings who are not. Long did not need the Christian fascism of his church to justify to himself the killings; the racial hierarchies within American society had already dehumanized his victims. His church simply cloaked it in religious language. The jargon varies. The dark sentiments are the same.

The ideology of the Christian right, like all totalitarian creeds, is, at its core, an ideology of hatred. It rejects what Augustine calls the grace of love, or volo ut sis (I want you to be). It replaces it with an ideology that condemns all those outside the magic circle. There is, in relationships based on love, an affirmation of the mystery of the other, an affirmation of unexplained and unfathomable differences. These relationships not only recognize that others have a right to be, as Augustine wrote, but the sacredness of difference. This sacredness of difference is an anathema to Christian fundamentalists, as it is to imperialists, to all racists. It is dangerous to the hegemony of the triumphalist ideology. It calls into question the infallibility of the doctrine, the essential appeal of all ideologies. It suggests that there are alternative ways to live and believe. The moment there is a hint of uncertainty the ideological edifice crumbles. The truth is irrelevant as long as the ideology is consistent, doubt is heretical and the vision of the world, however absurd, absolute and unassailable. These ideologies are not meant to be rational. They are meant to fill emotional voids.

Evil for the Christian fundamentalists is not something within them. It is an external force to be destroyed. It may require indiscriminate acts of violence, but if it leads to a better world this violence is morally justified. Those who advance the holy crusade alone know the truth. They alone have been anointed by God or, in the language of American imperialism, western civilization, to do battle with evil. They alone have the right to impose their “values” on others by force. Once evil is external, once the human race is divided into the righteous and the damned, repression and even murder become a sacred duty.

Immanuel Kant defined “radical evil” as the drive, often carried out under a righteous façade, to surrender to absolute self-love. Those gripped by radical evil always externalize evil. They lose touch with their own humanity. They are blind to their own innate depravity. In the name of western civilization and high ideals, in the name of reason and science, in the name of America, in the name of the free market, in the name of Jesus, they seek the subjugation and annihilation of others. Radical evil, Hannah Arendt wrote, makes whole groups of human beings superfluous. They become, rhetorically, living corpses before often becoming actual corpses.

This binary world view is anti-thought. That is part of its attraction. It gives to those who are alienated and lost emotional certitude. It is buttressed by hollow cliches, patriotic slogans and Bible passages, what psychologists call symbol agnostics. True believers are capable only of imitation. They shut down, by choice, critical reflection and genuine understanding. They surrender all moral autonomy. The impoverished language is regurgitated not because it makes sense, but because it justifies the messianic and intoxicating right to lead humankind to paradise. These pseudo-heroes, however, know only one form of sacrifice, the sacrifice of others.

Human evil is not a problem to be solved. It is a mystery. It is a bitter, constant paradox. We carry the capacity for evil within us. I learned this unsettling truth as a war correspondent. The line between the victim and the victimizer is razor thin. Evil is also seductive. It offers us unlimited often lethal power to turn those around us into objects to destroy or debase to gratify our most perverted desires or both. This evil waits to consume us. All it requires to flourish is for us to turn away, to pretend it is not there, to do nothing. Those who blind themselves to their capacity for evil commit evil not for evil’s sake, but to make a better world. This collective self-delusion is the story of America, from its foundation on the twin evils of slavery and genocide to its inherent racism, predatory capitalism and savage wars of conquest. The more we ignore this evil, the worse it gets.

The awareness of human corruptibility and human limitations, as understood by Augustine, Kant, Sigmund Freud and Primo Levi, has been humankind’s most potent check on evil. Levi wrote that “compassion and brutality can coexist in the same individual and in the same moment, despite all logic.” This self-knowledge forces us to accept that no act, even one defined as moral or virtuous, is ever free from the taint of self-interest. It reminds us that we are condemned to always battle our baser instincts. It recognizes that compassion, as Rousseau wrote, is alone the quality from which “all the social virtues flow.”  

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that “some are guilty, but all are responsible.” We may not be guilty of the murders in Atlanta, but we are responsible. We must answer for them. We must accept the truth about ourselves, however unpleasant. We must unmask the lie of our pretended innocence. Long’s murderous spree was quintessentially American. That is what makes it, along with all other hate crimes, along with our endless imperial wars, police terror, callous abandonment of the poor and the vulnerable, so frightening. This evil will not be tamed until it is named and confronted.     

[Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for ScheerPost. Click here to sign up for email alerts.]

Chris Hedges
Chris HedgesChris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. 

Copyright 2021 Chris Hedges


  1. Profound, clear, moving, humbling, true – sparking associations to the Puritan sermon – “Man (Sinners) in the Hands of an Angry God” – and – contrary definitions for the word “perfect” that landed in the King James version of the Bible – be you perfect as your God in Heaven is perfect – where the more inclusive word “whole” -had it been chosen – would have nipped the self-hatred (generated by cripplingly obvious “imperfection” that’s projected onto Other) in the bud (perhaps). I so appreciated discovering this. “Augustine calls the grace of love, or volo ut sis (I want you to be)…..,in relationships based on love, an affirmation of the mystery of the other, an affirmation of unexplained and unfathomable differences. These relationships not only recognize that others have a right to be, as Augustine wrote, but… [there is] the sacredness of difference.” … Wow! Imagine a culture nurtured on “the sacredness of difference”! How it makes this heart go soft and warm, the tension – sparked by the learned “badness” of difference in myself and of other – suddenly evaporating. Truth. What a power truth packs! I always learn from you, Chris Hedges. Your knowing, your understanding gifts. With deep gratitude for you.

  2. The power-authority-control doctrine is one that is extremely relevant to crisis of failed government, politics, and society.

    I’m reminded of The Grapes of Wrath film when former preacher argues there is no sin argument.

  3. One more layer of corruption in the nightmare that has become America. It will not have a happy ending. In fact I see no light in this tunnel….none at all.

    1. I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
      For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
      For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
      But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
      Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
      So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
      ~ T.S. Eliot ~ The Four Quartets

  4. “True believers are capable only of imitation. They shut down, by choice, critical reflection and genuine understanding. They surrender all moral autonomy. The impoverished language is regurgitated not because it makes sense, but because it justifies the messianic and intoxicating right to lead humankind to paradise. These pseudo-heroes, however, know only one form of sacrifice, the sacrifice of others.”
    How true!
    It perfectly defines also the admirers of Marx, Lenin, Mao yesterday and of CRT , decolonialization , intersectionality etc. today

    1. Luke 18:9-14
      Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

      Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else:
      10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

      13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

  5. The influencing evolutionary drivers from which the human concepts of morality emerged are no longer applicable within a world wide society and a finite ecosystem. Survival in a group context was inextricably linked to quantifying external threats to the group; the concept of evil. This is part of the backbone upon which human consciousness evolved. Tribalism is part of the hardware. The enlightened individual who can overcome the hardware is very rare indeed. We’ve never seen any long term theologies or philosophies supplied by these rare individuals that can overcome the substrate at a large scale or for a significant period of time. Complex global society is at odds with humanity’s nature.

    It is an illusion that consciousness sets us amongst the gods. We have no more control over our fundamental natures than squirrels. Delving into science fiction, Brave New World presented a viable human global society, founded on genetic manipulation and pharmaceutical control of behavior. To survive we must subordinate that which makes us human.

    1. Hmm. Well that sure is a grim point of view. Boiling everything down to the concrete and matter and literalism and raw tribalistic id and/or socio/psycho pathy as the ticket to survival. Objectifying the “other”. Bring on the corporations! They’ve got that down pat!!!As though consciousness and soul and choice – being “no-thing” hold no evolutionary creative power.

    2. But a squirrel doesn’t have a neo-cortex. Just sayin’. May not matter in the end, but it’s a noteworthy difference. And “subordinating our humanity,” no matter how cynical or jaded one may be, is at least arguably a really really bad idea.

  6. The art by Mr. Fish, of the family with happy face masks, is pretty apt. Human well-being, in body, mind and spirit can be ignored in favor of a fantasy vision of “happiness”. I don’t think the company or pleasure these women gave this man was inherently wrong, but his guilt drove him to murder, and that’s very sad. The problem was that human connection was reduced to a transaction on both sides, as consumer culture and capitalism usually does, and this creates harm on many levels.

    The pain at the heart of these Christians, the absence of “a stable home and family, a loving community …” should not be quickly dismissed, because it is a poison that leads to hatred and violence. I think it is easy, if you do have security of home, family and community, to write others off as “deplorable” and blame them for their struggles, without reaching out. Indifference is a kind of harm of omission, and pretty easy to commit towards a neighbour that is struggling.

    1. “We have no more control over our fundamental natures than squirrels”

      Well said.

  7. I can only weep and say thank you for your profound insights into these matters as well as so many others. I search for your thoughts and understandings anywhere I see something written by you. You are as John Prine says “my angel from Montgomery.” Keep flying, dear.

    1. Yes, others have noted this pattern with FB.

      I was able to post it on my pesonal page, however.

      The social media algorithms are beyond understanding at this point…

  8. “Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that “some are guilty, but all are responsible.” We may not be guilty of the murders in Atlanta, but we are responsible. We must answer for them. We must accept the truth about ourselves, however unpleasant. We must unmask the lie of our pretended innocence.”
    If “We may not be guilty of the murders in Atlanta…” then why “We must unmask the lie of our pretended innocence.”? Why your seeming universal condemnation? Are you caught in a theology of original sin?

  9. As a person of faith, I. Recognize that the “othering” of nonbelievers is very real. That said, I have found this trend in all belief systems; be it religious, political or intellectual.
    The human desire to be superior in some form and dehumanize all others who lack the same qualities seems to be, ironically, the most human commonality that all people share. Violence is never ok but before any physical violence there is a deep separation that seems to happen along tribal lines. I find our current time very disturbing because we polarized as a country and so cena mixed as a species.

  10. Edit to above comment

    I find our current time very disturbing because we polarized as a country and so *demoralized as a species along divisions that have been defined by media and political sides.*

    The broken trust between people and groups needs to be healed but it cannot be healed through more bothering. It will take a lot of love and compassion and recognition of the deep wounds that we have all inflicted on one another. The current bloody violence is a call to heal our divisions. The violence has to.stop.

    1. I think the violence doesn’t need stop but be redirected at those that sowed the division and hate in the first place. Only then will we ever find peace.

  11. “Human evil is not a problem to be solved. It is a mystery. It is a bitter, constant paradox. We carry the capacity for evil within us.”

    Human evil is a fundamental force within the Universe…deliberately put there… like gravity or magnetism. It just is. We may not like that, or wish that it never happened or that it can just be ignored away. Or maybe we want to convince ourselves that an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator somehow got fooled and had no idea that evil would be a result of the Creation. What a silly, naïve notion by confused humans.

    But fundamental forces are not wished away and God is not a slave to the concept of Time to “learn what happens later”, nor is fooled. Fundamental life forces exist to be “dealt” with one way or another. Human Evil forces… demands… a response by those around it and who see (or refuse to see) it.

    You cannot encounter evil in any of its wicked forms without it throwing off a stench upon you the observer. What do you do with that stench? Ignore it? Find cosmic deodorant? Blame someone else for it? Wait for a savior to come along and make things all nice and pretty again? Encountering evil defines YOU the observer (or cause) of the evil. Your response to evil is what evil is all about. That’s why evil was built into the fabric of human life on this low vibration, lumbering, clumsy, frustrating plane of existence that begs for redemption and our escape from its clutches.

    As a force, evil is inherently useless and damaging… so that can’t be why it’s always around. It’s around because it serves a function. It is something to be recognized, called out, confronted, fought, defined and refined… it demands a response of action and necessary self-reflection. Our recognition of – and then, response to – evil is what fundamentally defines WE the observer of it. It gives us something to push up against, transcend, learn from, and curse.

    Looking at ourselves in the mirror… do we think we are a “good” person? What IS a good person? How does one become a “good” person? Can I be a good person if I am nice to cats but I hate those of a different skin tone? Can I be a good person if I’m a good family man or woman but I allow atrocities to go on around me without getting involved in some useful way?

    “The line between the victim and the victimizer is razor thin.”

    Actually, there is no line at all between victim and victimizer. Each of us is both, always. Our job is to work toward tipping the scales each and every day more to the side of being more benevolent, more caring, more empathizing, more toward our lessening of causing pain to others, and more toward seeing the evils around us and mustering a righteous response.

    If you took away evil, this Earth would be a Heaven. Maybe one day, we can all get past this Good vs. Evil struggle and get on about living without all that which weighs us down so heavily. This World is not our home… but can we make the passing from it a bit more pleasant?

  12. I have read many of Chris Hedges’ books and articles, especially the book about evangelical Christians.Chris must have infinite patience and tolerance to continue his important work.
    However, as a non-American I just cannot accept the arrogance of the leaders and , it often seems, so many of the public according to polls,who push “sanctions” as well as attacks, assassinations, bombings, takeovers of governments on other countries simply because they dare to disobey US orders.
    In a few weeks, Biden’s “team” of Catholics and Jews-no Evangelicals I can detect- have killed 22 Syrians by bombing, insisted that Julian Assange remain in hellhole prison in the UK for telling the truth about US crimes, threatened Russia and China with unspecified fates,continued the cruel sanctions and deaths in Iran and Venezuela, criticized the ICC for daring even to consider investigating Israeli war crimes which are obvious to anyone with any powers of observation, yet refused to risk Saudi displeasure by a word to MBS while telling China it should treat its Muslims well!
    All Americans must share in the guilt for this attempt to push US “values” on everyone, friend or designated enemy, if they really claim to be democratic. Evangelical Christians are only part of the hypocrisy.

  13. “This binary world view is anti-thought. ”

    Augustine’s weltanschauung maybe wasn’t so simplistic; but, it was still pretty Manichean, no?

    To the extent we understand anything, we understand it through a framework. Call it religion, myth, ideology, science, nature, …what you will, it is the innate condition of knowledge. Kantian epistemology demonstrates exactly this.

    Aaron Long’s epistemological deficit was that of the literalist. He’d been reared in the flat world of science, culturally deprived of the polysemic nature of language, illiterate to symbol and metaphor.

  14. A smart defense attorney should use the insanity defense. Long probably experienced temporary insanity through a psychiatric condition that could be called “evangelical rage” .

    Progressives are generally inert when the usual mob demands an execution.

    1. Hmm. Progressives inert? or the neoliberals? Jayapal? inert? Ro Khanna? AOC?

  15. It must be included that the fundamentalist cult are equally propped up (given a hefty leg to stand on) by the large base of non-fundamentalist Christians who propagate the cute/happy God/Jesus fairytale. It’s fascinating because one version skews toward the apologist “good” version. Yet neither version can stand up to science or admit to the equivalency of God and mermaids. But I don’t think you can skewer the dogmatist fundamentalist and deny the role of the liberal Christian.

  16. TLDR warning:

    The “heritage” of this so-called “Christian nation” that these morons want to cling to have their roots, as many here know, in white supremacy and black enslavement. The Antebellum period being a major timestamp when whites used Christianity as a warped justification to rape and murder blacks, American Natives, and other nonwhites. The mental sickness of that time still lives on today in the south, believe it or not.

    I was raised in the southern baptist church, a denomination that was explicitly created as pro-slavery, and I can attest what Hedges writes here is mostly accurate. Many of these people, to this day, cling to fantasy about slavery; my own mother still believes, as she told me just a couple weeks ago, that blacks had it far better here under slavery than they did in Africa. Doesn’t matter that blacks were routinely murdered, raped, maimed, etc. It was somehow better here. This level of boomer fairy tale leads to mental illness, and one with it is indeed lost, irredeemable, because they lack the capacity to realize that slavery is inherently evil and there is zero justification for what whites did. And it’s infected Gen X (their kids), millennials and Gen Z.

    This propagates right-wing nuttery, keeps it alive in America. Those in the white south who aren’t full-blown Nazis, but rather who are far less hostile yet still believe in myths, only enable this Nazism. Sorry y’all but these lies are so on their face. They’re very prima facie. And after all the time that’s passed and all the information we have at our fingertips, there is zero excuse for anyone at all to continue believing in this pure shit.

    Which brings me to where Hedges misses the mark: most of these people who believe these things aren’t “hurting”. I’ve read his book “America The Farewell Tour”, and the result is the same: nope, I’ve been around them way too much. They’re this way because they’ve been taught these things not only by their deranged parents, but also by their equally deranged community cultures. No one comes out of that cult unscarred, including me. Many of them are southern white middle class, well-off and fairly secure. Very few are poor although there are some. I can assure you that white middle class drives it in the south. To act like these people are this way because they’re hurting is asinine and I’m sick of entertaining this magical thinking.

    Hedges may have traveled the country and been around a lot of them. Fine. But I grew up around them, am still around some of them today. I know better than this.

    If you want to criticize the Democratic Party and their liberal base, go right ahead. They’ve earned it. But so have the Republican base. Don’t ever give a pass to these people at all. Remember, these are the people who for decades have pointed their finger at liberals and bellowed things like “personal responsibility”, “bootstrapping”, etc. Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Preach it back to them. Rub it in their face. Make them eat their own hypocrisy.

    Last year or perhaps the one prior, there was a Scheer Intelligence episode in which Major Danny spoke with Oliver Stone. During their discussion of white southern culture’s influence in the military, Major Danny said something I’ll never forget: while the north won the military war, the south won the culture war.

    “We carry the capacity for evil within us.”

    Perhaps in a broader, theological sense. But here’s the thing. Not everyone has a desire to go out and commit murder. Not everyone has a desire to rape. Not everyone has a desire to dominate others. While anger is a normal human emotion, not everyone is loaded with ignorance and hatred. Those are incredibly different things. Like it or not, there are those who are far better than that and don’t deserve to be told they have evil in them, and then those of us who are precisely that and need to be held accountable.

    The Hill’s Rising’s Saagar Enjeti has a knack for doing this exact same thing. Just today in his Radar he says that these people feel pushed out, alienated and dominated by the liberal forces in bigger cities who have the college degrees and good-paying jobs (nevermind many on the right also have college degrees and incredibly well-paying jobs, including those in management and ownership). To this, I simply reply with a pretty popular expression that the right loves to throw at the left today: fuck your feelings.

    America was Nazi before Germany. So stop humanizing Nazis just because they happen to be American.

    1. Marble Rye:

      I think you’re getting at our tribal natures and human evolution. Humans, like other animals, want to dominate their environment and ensure their offspring thrive. As tribes, we can rationalize the world in many different ways, and even when it seems ludicrous, there’s often a method to the madness (some aspect of physical or mental survival).

      You’re saying many of these white supremacists, or at least prejudiced people, don’t deserve any sympathy. Fair enough. To some extent they are reaping the harm they have sowed for generations, if a changing world is threatening them. Part of living is having to face people that are indifferent or even hostile to your existence or well-being. Their inability to know a more universal love or compassion is still sad and tragic, even if there is good reason to reject or despise them.

    2. “fuck your feelings”…right, and fuck this boomer shit. And really fuck assigning media tropes to generations. Whether boomers were responsible for any of what happened during the time assigned to them, during that time there were: voting registration and voting rights drives; civil rights drives and the emergence of racial consciousness, Black Power leading to the Black Panther movement, the most radical challenge to the ruling class in our history; anti war teach-ins and demonstrations; the Civil Rights acts of 64 and 65, and the voting rights act of 65; the EPA and Clean air & water act; Nader and some degree of corporate accountability; emergence of Eastern thought and introduction of cultural associations such as veganism, meditation, yoga etc; feminism and all that meant/means to understanding relationships of power, ask Cuomo; a flowering of arts that challenged conformity; the beginnings of alternative media. So, yeah, fuck your feelings too. If any of these generational labels or accusations can be applied it would be that of giving up, of seeking comfort and security, and paying the price of conformity at the expense of the joy that comes with a sense of liberation.

  17. I’m pleased that Hedges grounded this piece in his prior writings on Christian Fascism.

    He also has written, in needlessly graphic and disgusting detail, about pornography. I’m glad he subordinated this analysis to the broader moral and political critique.

  18. Chris Hedges’ take is always on the evangelicals, who are not much of a political force in the US, since George W. and his references to the rapture. Resonated then, not so much now. As a preacher, that may just be the evil he knows.

    Kim Iversen, as an Asian woman, had a very different take, noting the similarity between this sex addicted incel type, and Omar Mateen, who had homosexual feelings that tortured him and led to his killing 49 and wounding 53 at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando (after being interviewed/ triggered(?) by the FBI). He too tried to hide behind his religion, not being able to come to terms with his “perverted” sexuality. Most attacks on Asians are in California, by Blacks.

    A much more serious trashing of the Other comes from our Establishment and Government. It may be faith-based, surely evidence-free, like religion, but it has led to US Forever Wars all over the World. Had hoped that the saber-rattling would drop off with idiot Trump gone, but Biden seems intent on demonizing Russians and Chinese. At some point America will attack someone who will fight back.

    1. Not sure if you are the same person who said something similar recently, but it is NOT true that “most attacks on Asians are in California, by Blacks.”

      Firstly, the fact that California is the most populated state and second-most Asian/API/Asian-American state makes its inclusion here pointless, statistically.

      Second, nationally, ALL assaults on Asians annually are about evenly divided by quarters — one each by non-Hispanic White people, Black people, other people of Asian ethnicity, and all other groups combined [Source: FBI]. This is actually surprisingly LOW when you consider the incarceration rate for African Americans and that many low-income African-American and Asian-American communities share neighborhoods in high-crime cities such as New York, Long Beach, LA, Oakland, etc.

      When it comes to Anti-Asian HATE CRIMES, the numbers are even more opposite of what you are implying.

      In 2019, for example: nearly 50 percent of all bias-motivated offenses were done by white people, and less than 15 percent done by African-Americans.

      But then, what can we expect from a person who argues, presenting zero evidence, the farcical claim that evengelicals are “not much of a political force in the US, since George W.” The first and most consistent group that Trump bootlicked to get where he got was the evengelicals, telling them in no uncertain terms that he would deliver anything they wanted that he could deliver — whether it was anti-choice policies or supporting the moving of the Israeli capital to Jeruslam, the better to hasten the Apocalypse.

      And it worked. He got 80 percent of the evengelical vote in 2016 and 2020.

  19. One of Christianities big failures is it’s willful ignorance of its own history. It was never the same after the council of Nicaea when the agents of the Roman emperor Constantine propagandized it so thoroughly that its perverted form has lasted several thousand years. Violent rhetoric of the hierarchy begets violent action. Thus-

    “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you” F. W. Nietzsche

  20. Every one of us is born with an empty mind and a full heart.
    As our minds are filled by those around us, and our experiences in the area we inhabit, poison, in the form of ignorance, is absorbed.
    Eventually that poison flows down and begins to drown our hearts.
    The heart, above all, is resilient. It can recover, but the flow of poison must be recognised for what it is.

  21. This is a foremost a misogynist crime. Sex workers of all nationalities and races are harmed, assaulted and killed every day by men of all races and nationalities who believe being male gives them a right to subjugate, objectify and control females for their gratification. Religious belief is just another institutionalised system designed for the maintainence of patriarchy. Philosophising about some of the lesser sexist misogynistic attitudes expressed by “saints” from antiquity shouldn’t obsfuscate that their whole world view is based on a delusion, as there is no divine being invested in the spiritual or ethical advancement of humanity.

  22. WACL, the CNP, the Moonies… These things are all fronts for the same ‘responsible people’ in Langley. The Jesus Freaks who brought biblical inerrancy into the liberal enlightened age were an intel op. Look into the connections. They’re being played and so are those of us who look on this kind of religiosity as an inversion of the gospels. Divide and Conquer. William Randolph Hearst’s role in creating this phenomenon must not be ignored.

  23. Humankind has ALWAYS been handicapped by certain men, who comprise about 18% of any and all societies, and who are incredibly obsessive regarding gaining and maintaining control /power over others. We now have the technology which is able to test for these men (yes, primarily men) so that we could legally restrict them from critical positions of control over others.

    If you are interested in exploring the mentality of these hazards to all life on this planet, visit our introductory webpage:

  24. Yes, it looks indeed like the bloom is off the rose of the Biden regime. Not, of course that , given his history as a war promoter and corporate sycophant, one couldn’t see it coming.

  25. Forever the Christian Apologist. You are not the journalist/activist that we need – but the one we have.

  26. Letter to Chris Hedges,

    Having read this article, I can’t help but feeling that you are a complete stranger to the actual doctrines of the Christian Faith. To introduce myself for a moment – I am a lady, I am a born-again Christian, yes a Fundamentalist (meaning I believe all of the Bible), and I’ve spent my whole life attending various churches weekly – and for fun, I also have studied Theology for over a decade. So, my beliefs and lifestyle are what you discussed in your article – however, what you have written is the exact opposite of what I believe, and what Christianity teaches in the Bible.

    To start with, let’s discuss what a war against evil involves.

    Your understanding of the Christian viewpoint seems to be that it is up to “the righteous humans” to fight against “the unrighteous humans.” You wrote: “Imperialism and war are divine instruments for purging the world of infidels and barbarians, evil itself.” And also, “It may require indiscriminate acts of violence, but if it leads to a better world this violence is morally justified.” Put bluntly, you said, “These pseudo-heroes, however, know only one form of sacrifice, the sacrifice of others.”

    However, our religion and belief system is entirely founded upon the life of Christ Jesus – the man who is seen as God in the flesh….

    [moderated for length and topic — you can’t write thousands of words in what amounts to a long church sermon on the Bible and have it be published here. Wrong place, wrong format. Sorry — as I see you worked hard on this, so I’m posting this response so you won’t think it went unreviewed. Hedges is himself an ordained minister, so perhaps you can find another venue to take up a debate on the nuances of the scripture with him.– moderator]

    1. I finally see a comment I want to read and guess what… It is redacted… moderated. *facepalm*. Sorry you wasted your effort, Skarlet.

  27. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that “some are guilty, but all are responsible.”
    Just as well to say ‘we’re all in it, a part of it, carried on its current.’ Especially in these cursed days. It’s humiliating. And those for whom it is not?

    Contemplation of Evil is really a pocket full of burrs and prickers in the brain, but how about this: Evil is him or her or that that which plays God. Entities: the Market (which includes the corporate entities), the System, yeah, evil is a pretty good fit, though not always. Government arms, if not the whole, and not only in America, yep. And science, technique, for example, screwing with DNA, digging through the mind (bull in the china shop-style). Huxley rightly gave his brave new world a check on (sick) progress, an approach anathema to us, who are so in thrall of ‘freedom.’

    It is not so easy to slap the label on an individual, although we’ve run a four year course under a man who I believe was right there.
    solipsism: the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.
    This isn’t quite what we had… our case study knew well enough of the existence of others, and knew, or better, thoughtlessly or inherently supposed that they existed for his profit, greater glory, and general use. He had no trouble at all finding followers and collaborators, no class or creed excepted. And the above institutional Evils… they for the most part fell right into his hands, and bent to his will as well.

    There’s the negativity of the commandment(s), “Thou shalt not…”
    Trump the teacher, in the negative. To steer clear of the stain of Evil, do not do as he has done, and does. None of it.

  28. Very excited to hear your response and similar critique regarding the Islam and the Boulder Shooting

    1. Good point; and nothing comes anywhere near the ongoing killing in the name of Manifest Destiny.

      1. This will be the last post I approve with this (rude) name. Make a new profile.

  29. Adding my comment on the heels of yet another mass shooting…

    I recently had the pleasure of discovering talks from Dr. Gabor Mate’, a man who has studied addiction and behavior and their origins related to trauma. He brought a fuller explanation and understanding to things I had long suspected about the notion of broken or hurting people being “evil”.

    “We carry the capacity for evil within us.”

    So very true. If you haven’t yet been subjected to the experiences that would draw it out of you, consider yourself lucky, not superior.

  30. Organized religion will be the death of humanity. As Shakespeare so aptly put it – “Hell is empty and all the devils are here…”

  31. I’d agree with Hedges’ assessment that human evil is “bitter”; but “mystery”??.. That might be a stretch.

    When you consider that the animal kingdom has a prey to predator ratio of roughly ten to one; it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to think that the same odds might apply to people.

    Niceties like “Rule of Law” are then artificially established by one and all, because lets face it; It’s a drag having to sleep with one eye open.

    OK then… How do you turn a herd of placid grazers into the hungry hyenas it takes to operate a modern army?…. Simple. First create an existential enemy. (It kinda helps if they’re a few shades darker, or insist on addressing prayers toward a singular compass point.) then it’s as easy as manufacturing a dust-up at sea, or dropping a few high-rises in a spectacular fashion.

    But wait a minute… 90% of these jokers are still cud chewers. How do you change their diet?… Well first, you’ve gotta get em young; and I’m talking well ahead of bootcamp. get em used to the notion that “Winning is everything.” and “Second place is for suckers”… Standard “Zero sum game” shit.

    Then when they get to boot, let the lads who most readily take to murdering, show them how easy, and even fun it can be to ventilate a human with a bayonet… You know, tear em down, and build em right back up!

    Now that’s not saying we live in a world without mystery; far from it.
    The one that’s been grinding me is how Larry Silverstein knew he’d have an empty lot to fill a full 17 MONTHS before 9/11/01… Maybe we ought’a get some kinda crack investigative commission to look into that.

  32. Three short things:
    Could the U.S. Government instruct the flag to be left at half mast until gun legislation is passed ? The law of unintended consequences might apply, with the gun lovers flying their flags higher to prove that all those who love an America where the flag flies high love guns…

    2. I hear the Green Berets have been sent to Mozambique. As Bob Hope used to greet the troops in Vietnam, “Hello, Advisers!”

    3. Heaven preserve us from commentators who study theology for fun. It illustrates their complete departure from any respect for reason. They want to rely and to act on the spirit of God within themselves, and reasoning out a creed is is apparently just fouling up their freedom for action. So it can only be admitted to as a hobby.

  33. Heschel’s “some are guilty, but all are responsible” becomes in Hedges’ hands little more than another way of heaping hellfire and brimstone on the fallen from a fundamentalist liberal side of Christianity. In this liberal lexicon, ‘White Supremacy’ is Amerikkka’s original sin, for which ‘Whites’ must atone by assuming the confessional role of perpetual penitents, using their ‘privilege’ to take a knee for justice, and joining the cause of oppressed ‘people of color’ as secondary ‘allies’ due to their indelible stain of ‘Whiteness’. Such doctrinaire pretenses of identity politics are especially convenient for well-to-do professionals seeking redemption from anything but their class position. And so pundits like Hedges have their pulpits from which to preach their political moralism, in order to save the faithful from the responsibility of a more radical egalitarianism and building a new world in the shell of the old upon the solidarity of the human race, beyond the divide-and-rule constructs of race.

  34. I have to take issue with Gregg that those of the fundamentalist Christian persuasion are propped up by the non fundamentalist “cute / happy God/ Christian fairytale” as he put it. The fundamentalists appear to believe in Saint Paul, in doing thousands of hours of exegetics and in stumbling from shipwreck to shipwreck trying to hit targets for converts, while non fundamentalists believe in Jesus, and some of those in a God who sustains the universe from moment to moment. Should God desist from this for a moment, the universe would cease. “Without a parable he spake not unto them, but there is no fairytale in Jesus; if you’re so scientific perhaps you need to explain the unique integrity of the personality of Jesus, appearing as it does like a root out of dry ground. Why is everyone not like that, and could they be? The concept of God which he taught transcends itself from the very beginning; God must not have a name; no graven image must be made of God. Evil is not a thing in itself but the absence of virtue in a particular personality. Chris Hedges in his books also makes the point that Christians are divided by admitting or not admitting to the evil in themselves; I would add to that that fundamentalists, having a taste for perfection, have a fascist leaning which leads them to make perfect phone calls and so on. Gregg also should not knock fairy tales. Everything that happens is natural. You need a half decent paradigm to distinguish what may be a delusion and what may be the result of forces at work which you may not understand.

  35. What an extremely well written yawn.
    Love CH, but dear god, this is like beating a rabid dog over and over again. We all know virtually everything, whether religions, cults, or governments when taken to a level of worship and control lead to fanatics and extremism. This is true in almost every religion and as we see in China now, the much greater threat is a vacuum of religion replaced by government idolatry.

  36. Brilliant stuff mr. Hedges, once again I find your well thought and well crafted prose to be another affirmation that I made no mistake when I picked up and moved lock stock and Bermuda shorts from Santa Barbara (one and a half blocks from the beach), up here to Canada where we get ten months of winter and two months of poor sledding every year. The immortal words of that little ‘possom from the swamp keep wisping back to me, like music down a windy street, “We have met the enemy and he is us”.

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