Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The Crusading Spirit in Modern America
The Crusading Spirit in Modern America:
George W. Bush and the Radical Conservative Elite
by Richard J. Bazillion
(BookSurge / 1-439-22944-9 / 978-1-439-22944-6 / May 2009 / 410 pages / $20.99)
Reviewed by Lloyd Lofthouse for PODBRAM
If you want to have a better idea of what is going on in American politics, Crusading Spirit is an important book, not only because of the author's anger but also because of the evidence used to support that anger. There's a reason why America's two major political parties are polarized. Crusading Spirit provides another piece to the puzzle for those who want to unravel the misinformation used to mislead voters.
Reading Richard J. Bazillion's book caused me to do a bit of research where I learned that in 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that about ninety-six million Americans over the age of eighteen voted. One hundred-twenty-four million old enough to vote did not. Of those that didn't vote, forty million were registered. I will address this tragedy later in this review.
I've read two disturbing, but "necessary" books this year. The first was Murder of an American Nazi by Tim Fleming—a book that convincingly connects the far right, radical conservative movement in America to Nazi fanaticism. The Crusading Spirit in Modern America is the second book, and Bazillion's specialty is the history of modern Germany. The main reason I find these books disturbing is that only a few people may read them. Neoconservatism, like Nazism and Communism, also supports and pushes dangerous ideas.
Irving Kristol (mentioned on four pages in this book) is considered the godfather of American neoconservatism. While speaking at New York University, the professor once said, "I'll put it bluntly: if you care for the quality of life in our American democracy, then you have to be for censorship." He has also said, "What rules the world is idea, because ideas define the way reality is perceived." After his recent death, he was described by The Daily Telegraph (a British paper that has been politically conservative in modern times) as being "perhaps the most consequential public intellectual of the latter half of the 20th century": great praise from the conservative media.
What did Kristol say about truth? "There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people. There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults; and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn't work."
The godfather of neoconservatives said that telling people what you want them to hear is okay. After all, Kristol was up front about his belief in the "noble" lie. Today's neoconservatives claim they are not telling lies, but how can we believe them? Before you decide for yourself, read the AARP Bulletin for September 2009.AARP published a piece on the hype, lies and facts regarding health care reform revealing one lie after another coming from the political right and their allies.
The Crusading Spirit is a disturbing book because it reveals dangers to the American way of life that are real. Here's a quote from page 346. "So-called 'dominionists, (not demonists)' who occupy the far right fringe of Christian fundamentalism, are the vanguard of a fascist movement in the US."
This is a powerful claim supported with compelling evidence. Two men are mentioned often in the book, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss. Schmitt joined the Nazi party in May 1933, and is sometimes referred to as "the crown jurist of the Third Reich." He has had a powerful influence over neoconservatives. Crusading Spirit maps the connections in convincing ways linking these dangerous Straussian ideas to the George W. Bush Whitehouse and many of his influential advisors, including Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Abram Shulsky, Stephen Cambone, Elliott Abrams, Stephen Hadley, and Douglas Feith (page 65) explaining in detail why America went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and how these wars were botched and why.
It is a tragedy that this book will not reach a wider audience. Like most books written by PhDs spending decades lecturing to students in universities, Crusading Spirit bogs down with a reading level far above the average American. I had to treat this book like the textbooks I studied in college by highlighting and underlining important passages to keep the connections straight.
Although this process was painful (like walking slow on a bed of hot coals), the reason why I kept at it was because I know someone that matches the description Bazillion uses to describe the characteristics and beliefs of the average far-right radical neoconservative/evangelical. That description matches a friend of mine, who, like George W. Bush, was born again.
Before I go any further, I recommend that you read Bart D. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. After all, radical evangelicals are part of the unholy alliance between neoconservatives and Christians, so it is a good idea to understand them. If you research Ehrman's book, you will discover that he stirred up a controversy and that evangelicals scrambled to defend their beliefs.
Recent discussions with my born-again friend taught me that evangelical neoconservatives only see good and bad, black and white, no gray or in-between. It's as if they lost the ability to reason and are more of a cult than a religion. Biblical scripture, as literally interpreted by them, is their guide (read Ehrman). You either agree with them or you have been brainwashed by the so-called liberal media. Strong evidence supports the fact that the liberal media is an invention of the far right to confuse and influence America's non-reading millions. Consider that Rupert Murdoch, a known neoconservative, owns Fox News, along with News Corp, a media empire. (To learn more, read Ann Sanner).
Neoconservatives and their allies believe there is one way to rule the world, and they have a loud voice. The loudest comes from Rush Limbaugh, mentioned on page 331 in Crusading Spirit. This talk-show king of neoconservative radio has a listening audience between fifteen and thirty million people making his show the number one radio talk show in America. Rush often says that his audience, referred to as "ditto heads", does not have to think because he will think for them. It's scary when you consider that there are that many willing, easy to influence people in America, and they vote.
The second loudest mouth is Ann Coulter, who calls liberals and Democrats godless. There are others that belong to this mud-slinging, fire breathing, right-wing political mafia besides Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter: Glen Beck, Sean Hanity, Dennis Prager, Mark Levin, Michael Berry, Hugh Hewitt, and Mike Gallagher.
If you have swallowed the right-wing propaganda that the media is liberal, you probably do not trust anything you hear unless it is from a one-hundred-percent biased neoconservative pundit who may believe it is okay to tell a "noble" lie.
Now, back to my earlier statement about eligible voters compared to the numbers that did vote. To make this American experiment in democracy work, people must be involved and be literate enough to understand the issues. They have to read, too. Literacy plays a vital role in democracy, so let's learn a few things about literacy in America.
Truthdig.com says, "There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. In addition, their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.”
"The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information (unless someone like Rush Limbaugh tells them what to think). American political campaigns, which have learned to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal narratives. Political propaganda (mostly misleading lies and half truths) now masquerades as ideology."
In 2003, the government center of national assessment for adult literacy reported the
number of adults in each Prose Literacy Level. The Prose Literacy Levels are defined as:
Below Basic: no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills – 30 million Americans (14% of the adult population)
Basic: can perform simple and everyday literacy activities – 63 million Americans (29% of the adult population)
Intermediate: can perform moderately challenging literacy activities – 95 million Americans (44% of the adult population)
Proficient: can perform complex and challenging literacy activities – 28 million Americans (13% of the adult population)
Consider that Rush Limbaugh has an audience of thirty million (probably below basic) and a book like Crusading Spirit will be fortunate to find a few hundred and most if not all of those people will be "proficient" readers. To find a larger audience, Bazillion should slim down his book by cutting about a hundred pages (due to repetition), and simplify the language. However, the odds are that even if Bazillion rewrote his book so someone with a sixth-grade reading level could read it, they wouldn't be able to understand the importance of the information.
That's why a neoconservative voice like Rush Limbaugh wins with his "noble" lies, and the majority of Americans will eventually lose. Pundits like Limbaugh know how to reach intermediate, basic and below basic readers and control the way they think and vote. This explains why America ended up with George W. Bush in the White House for eight years. Liberal authors like Richard Bazillion should learn how to communicate from right-wing pundits to get his message out.
See Also: Richard J. Bazillion's Amazon Page
The PODBRAM review of Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy