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In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush and his administration offered a 'political fundamentalism' that capitalized upon the fear felt by many Americans. Political fundamentalism is the adaptation of a conservative religious worldview, via strategic language choices and communication approaches, into a policy agenda that feels political rather than religious. These communications dominated public discourse and public opinion for months on end and came at a significant cost for democracy.In particular, the administration closed off a substantive societal – and international – conversation about the meaning of the terrorist attacks and the direction of the nation by consistently:• showing antipathy toward complex conceptions of reality;• framing calls for immediate action on administration policies as part of the nation’s 'calling' and 'mission' against terrorism;• issuing declarations about the will of God for America and the values of freedom and liberty; • and demonstrating an intolerance for dissent. The administration had help spreading its messages. The mainstream press consistently echoed the administration’s communications – thereby disseminating, reinforcing and embedding the administration’s fundamentalist worldview and helping to keep at bay Congress and any substantive public questioning. This book analyzes hundreds of administration communications and news stories from September 2001 to Iraq in spring 2003 to examine how this occurred and what it means for U.S. politics and the global landscape.
1. Political Fundamentalism and the Bush Administration
2. Marking Boundaries
3. A "Mission" and A "Moment," Time and Time Again
4. The Universal Gospel of Freedom and Liberty
5. Unity, Or Else
6. Political Fundamentalism, An Echoing Press, and the Democrats
7. Renewing Democracy
Posted August 28, 2004
Over my lifetime, I have come to have a healthy respect for the American free press. Recently, however, I have found myself questioning what I read in the papers and hear coming from other media. Thanks to David Domke and this book, I now understand that my increasing concerns about the American media were well founded. Domke presents clear evidence that George Bush and his staff developed a calculated policy designed to stop all opposition to a Bush/Republican plan dealing with a post 9/11 world and to shut down any healthy exchange of diverse ideas. Based on the research, these actions by the Bush administration have led to an interconnection of religious fundamentalism and political policy that is little different from that of the Taliban or al Qaida ¿ with the obvious inserting of Bush as the person who professes to be carrying out God¿s will. Domke also presents evidence that these actions by Bush were echoed by the mainstream media so substantially that a policy has been established that essentially says, ¿you are either with the president or you are against democracy and for the terrorists.¿ Further, there is the suggestion that to challenge the president is to put the nation at great peril. Domke has courage in presenting these research findings. The actions of the Bush administration and the news media were directly counter to fundamental American democratic ideals and principles, and Domke¿s work makes that clear.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 26, 2004
After September 11, 2001, I knew I was frustrated with the Bush administration¿s use of civil religion to promote its political goals, but I had a hard time articulating my uneasiness. I owe David Domke a debt of gratitude. His book helped me understand what I have been feeling and thinking. Domke uses the phrase ¿political fundamentalism¿ to describe the way the Bush administration uses civil religion. Political fundamentalism, according to Domke, has four major characteristics: A black and white world view that has no patience with complexities, a sense of urgency that drives towards immediate and enduring action, identification of the Christian faith with the values of freedom and liberty, and intolerance of dissent. For each of these four aspects, Domke presents excerpts from speeches by President Bush between September 11, 2001 and May, 2003, when Bush declared ¿mission accomplished¿ in Iraq. Domke analyzes the vocabulary and concepts in Bush¿s speeches that manifest this approach used so effectively by the Bush administration. Domke notes the way those same words and concepts appear in editorials and TV commentary within a few days of each speech. The net effect, according to Domke, of the Bush administration¿s political fundamentalism, and the echoing of those views in the press, is a compromise of the very principles that make democracy work: discussion of various points of view and the willingness to take the time to reach some level of consensus. In fact, Domke argues that our administration is doing the very same kinds of things that the violent Islamic fundamentalists are doing: using religion to justify self-interest. Everyone who feels uneasy about the Bush Administration¿s use of religious images, as well as those who have concerns about the way the press helped Bush advance his agenda, should read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.