On the back of the copy I found it said "The battle between these new atheists and the religious fundamentalists engages two bizarre subsets of American Culture. One distorts the scientific theory of evolution, applying it to complex social, economic and political systems it was never designed to explain. The other insists that the six day story of creation in Genesis is fact and Jesus will descend from the sky to establish the kingdom of God on earth. Neither God nor Science , will protect us from the destructive forces within human history and human nature."
From this I took it to mean that there are fundamentalists on both sides of the issue and brought it home interested in what the fundamentalist atheists were saying. I read the introduction and was very disappointed. At first it wasn't bad he states his thesis that new atheists are just as scary as religious fundamentalists but then he gets to specifics and uses Sam Harris as an example.
I have not read the entire book The End of Faith but I have read much of it and some other articles that Sam Harris has writen. So although I am not an expert I do know a bit about what he has to say on the topic of religon. I don't speak for any of the other 'atheists' that Chris Hedges talks about because I have never heard of them much less read them. And I feel that it is very important to stick to the facts with this argument because it is obvious Chris Hedges hasn't.
Hedges states that he started Sam Harris's book (he doesn't say which one) but never finished it. Then he goes on to say "His facile attack on a form of religious belief we all hate,(I looked up facile: it means shallow or simplistic),"his childish simplicity and ignorance of world affairs, as well as his demonetisation of Muslims, made the book tedious, at its best, and often idiotic and racist."
The introduction to The end of Faith is about a man with a bomb boarding a bus and blowing it up. Harris concludes by saying "Why is it then-- so easy to determine this mans religion?" I think it is a valid point.
I read later in Hedges introduction that he has a great affection for Muslims. Perhaps he did not notice that Sam Harris only said that this young mans religion was responsible for him blowing up a bus. He did not say all young Muslims are responsible for blowing up buses. I quote Chris "[Sam Harris's:] assertion that Muslim parents welcome the death of children as suicide bombers could only have been written by someone who never sat in the home of a grieving mother and father in Gaza who have just lost there child."
I simpathize with Chris Hedges expirence. It is very hard to look past personal expirence sometimes but I will point out that Sam was not talking about ALL parents of suicide bombers but of this particular suicide bomber. I went on a bit farther and found out Chris was raised religious. and he dose not agree with fundamental religion. He belives that chuches misuse authority. Then I read this:
"Religious institutions, should be separated from the religious values imparted to me by my religious figures, including my father."
What? Values are values, religion is religion. How are his 'religious values' separate from religion? That was vague and weird. But I persevered until he said Harris used language that was racist and crude about Muslims. I don't have the end of faith passage where Sam Harris talks about Muslims but I remember him being very careful to say that he was speaking about Fundamentalist Muslim's and yes he did say that Fundamentalist Muslim's were more dangerous than some other religions. Because of what religion said about non-believers. Specifically to kill them.
I had to stop reading. Chris Hedges is obviously very impassioned about athisits being fundimentalists but I believe that he has let his emotions cloud his vision. Chris Hedges has some good thoughts about how fundimentalisim is hard on socity but I think he has fallen into the very trap that he is railing about. He really needs to get down off his high horse and actually listen to what other people have to say without resorting to name calling and finger pointing.