Friday, 14 March 2008

Chris Hedges on the "fundamentalism" of the New Atheists

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It's interesting to see that Chris Hedges' new book is an attack on the New Atheists. Perhaps best known as a foreign correspondent, early last year Hedges published American Fascists, which compared the Christian Right in America to the early European fascist movements. Around that time, he wrote an article for New Humanist on the opening of the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

Having attacked Christian fundamentalism, Hedges is now training his sights on what he perceives as "atheist fundamentalism" in his new book I Don't Believe In Atheists, which has just been published in America.

There's an intriguing interview with Hedges on Salon that I urge you all to read. He says he's only recently found the New Atheists on his "radar screen", but suggests that he finds them every bit as dangerous as the Christian right, putting his view that "Hitchens and Harris do for the neocon agenda in a secular way what the religious right does in a so-called religious way."

Hedges even expresses a fear that the religious right and New Atheism might one day join together in an attack on Islam: "What I worry about is that in a moment of collective humiliation and fear, these two strands come together and call for an assault on Muslims, both outside our gates and on the 6 million Muslims who live within our borders."

Much of this seems somewhat over the top, but it's certainly interesting that someone like Hedges would launch such an attack on the New Atheists. You only have to read the article he wrote for us last year to see that he would be in broad agreement with atheists on many issues – indeed, his views on the Christian Right should really mark him out as a potential ally for the New Atheists – but there's just something in the aggressive tone of Hitchens et al that's really troubled him.

Have a read of what Hedges has to say and let us know what you think. Is he right to accuse the New Atheists of fundamentalism, or is it outrageous and offence to compare them to the Christian Right?