I am so tired of politics, political ads, and political books, that the thought of reading yet another political book, this time Matt Taibbi's The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, & Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire, made me very sad.
But, Taibbi gave a great interview on the Jon Stewart show, so I determined to give it a try. And, damn him, I couldn't stop until I read the whole thing.
It's deeply disturbing, I'm not going to lie to you. Tired of political reporting himself, Taibbi heads off to Texas to join Pastor Hagee's infamous (and huge) Cornerstone Church to see what the whole Religious Right has going on. As an atheist, he finds that it's quite the scene, but also a lot easier to fit in than the originally thought it might be (you can never throw too many "Gods" in your sentences, he finds, even though it might feel like you are). After a weekend church retreat, where he and the others spend at least part of the time vomiting their demons into paper bags, this is what Taibbi concludes:
"By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to 'be rational' or 'set aside your religion' about such things as the Iraq war or other policy matters. Once you've made a journey like this--once you've gone this far--you are beyond suggestible. It's not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that's the issue. It's that once you've gotten to this place, you've left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstasy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a roomful of like-minded folks. Once you reach that place with them, you're thinking with muscles, not neurons." (p. 87.)
Wow. That's quite a statement. And it's not the only one. Taibbi's got lots of scary stories about government, the press, the 9/11 Truth Movement, and much more.
So no, I didn't enjoy it. But I enjoyed Taibbi's voice. I don't think the guy's got a dissembling bone in his body. I haven't read something I simultaneously didn't enjoy but loved all the same since John Bowe's Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy.