Bad book revisited

For some reason I feel like giving you another dose of Chris Hedges. It’s a morbid interest, because really his book (I Don’t Believe in Atheists) is so bad it makes more sense to ignore it than to spend time saying what’s bad about it. Its badness isn’t what you’d call subtle or hidden. But I’m interested in these displays of determined stupidity, for some reason.

Page 6.

Hitchens and Harris describe the Muslim world, where I spent seven years…in language that is as racist, crude and intolerant as that used by Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell.

No they don’t. That’s such an absurd claim that it’s stupid to make it, when it’s so easy to check just by googling. You don’t have to agree with Hitchens and Harris to find that statement laughable. Also, what does Hedges mean by saying he spent seven years in ‘the Muslim world’? Where is that exactly? He means he spent seven years in some countries where Islam is the majority religion, not that he spent those years in all such countries, much less that he spent them on some other ‘Muslim’ planet. His language is (in this book at least) considerably cruder and sloppier than anything Hitchens would write even on a bad day.

Continuing from the previous quotation, or rather, hail of abuse.

They are a secular version of the religious right. They misuse the teachings of Charles Darwin and evolutionary biology just as the Christian fundamentalists misuse the Bible. They are anti-intellectual.

What the hell does that mean? Other than that Chris Hedges is really pissed off. And what ‘teachings’ of Darwin? He seems to be confusing him with a church; clerics like to talk about ‘the church’s teachings,’ especially when they are trying to justify some mildewed old bit of irrational hatred like rules against HoMoSekShuality; but Darwin doesn’t have ‘teachings,’ he’s not a dang priest. And as for anti-intellectual – that’s just imbecilic. It ignores most of what they say, or simply turns it on its head.

Pages 6-7 – the new atheists don’t have the power of the Christian Right but

they do engage in the same chauvinism and call for the same violent utopianism. They sell this under secular banners. They believe, like the Christian Right, that we are moving forward to a paradise, a state of human perfection, this time made possible by human reason.

It’s very noticeable that Hedges never offers any evidence for this kind of crap (which continues for page after page, and recurs throughout the book). He repeats it ad nauseam and offers zero quotations to back it up – which is not surprising, since there aren’t any, since they don’t believe any such fucking thing. This is grossly irresponsible unwarranted garbage, and it’s a sign of something or other that a reputable publisher failed to throw it back in his face. I don’t think the Times would have let him publish this dreck in the paper – except possibly on the Op-ed page; it’s somewhat shocking that a division of Simon and Schuster published it.

There’s a great deal more of this kind of thing, but you get the idea. He’s beside himself with rage, he makes no effort to be accurate, he considers himself entitled to make wildly exaggerated claims, he can’t think, he can’t read carefully, and he’s overflowing with malevolence. (Which is funny in a way, because one of his chief claims is that religion is somehow necessary for or intimately connected to goodness, compassion, generosity, that kind of thing – yet he himself displays a remarkably unpleasant belligerence coupled with carelessness with the truth.) I looked for scathing reviews but didn’t find any – if anyone sees any, point them out to me.

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