Hedges, c. 2007
Christopher Lynn Hedges
September 18, 1956
St. Johnsbury, Vermont, U.S.
|Education||Colgate University (B.A., English Literature)|
Harvard Divinity School (M.Div)
|Occupation||Journalist, writer, activist, clergyman|
Christopher Lynn Hedges (born September 18, 1956) is an American journalist, Presbyterian minister, and visiting Princeton University lecturer. His books include War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction; Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009); Death of the Liberal Class (2010); Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012), written with cartoonist Joe Sacco, which was a New York Times best-seller; Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (2015); and his most recent America: The Farewell Tour (2018).
Hedges is a columnist for the progressive news and commentary website Truthdig. He hosts the program On Contact for the RT (formerly Russia Today) television network. Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, West Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans. He has reported from more than fifty countries, and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, NPR, Dallas Morning News, and The New York Times, where he was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years (1990–2005).
In 2001, Hedges contributed to The New York Times staff entry that received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, the University of Toronto and Princeton University, where he is a visiting lecturer in African American studies.
Hedges has taught college credit courses for several years in New Jersey prisons. He teaches a course through Princeton University in which the class is composed of half prisoners and half Princeton undergraduates. He has described himself as a socialist and more specifically as a Christian anarchist, identifying with Catholic activist Dorothy Day in particular.
Christopher Lynn Hedges was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, the son of Thelma Louise (née Prince) and the Rev. Thomas Havard Hedges, a Presbyterian minister. He grew up in rural Schoharie County, New York, southwest of Albany. He graduated in 1975 from the Loomis Chaffee School, a private boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut. He founded an underground newspaper at the school that was banned by the administration and resulted in his being put on probation.
Hedges received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Colgate University in 1979. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School (where he studied under James Luther Adams) in 1983. He speaks English, Arabic, French, and Spanish, and studied Latin and Classical Greek at Harvard.
Hedges worked for 15 years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He was based in the Middle East for five years, serving for four of those years as the Middle East bureau chief. He covered the war in the former Yugoslavia as the Balkan bureau chief based in Sarajevo. He later covered Al Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East from Paris.
Three of Hedges' articles were based upon the stories of Iraqi defectors, who had been furnished to Hedges by the Information Collection Program of the U.S.-funded Iraqi National Congress. The program promoted stories to major media outlets in order to orchestrate U.S. intervention in Iraq in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Most significant of his reports in this period was a November 8, 2001, front-page story about two former Iraqi military commanders who claimed to have trained foreign mujahedeen how to hijack planes without using guns. Hedges quoted a man whom he believed to be an Iraqi general: "These Islamic radicals ... came from a variety of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco. We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States". The two defectors also asserted there was a secret compound in Salman Pak facility where a German scientist was producing biological weapons.
According to Jack Fairweather in Mother Jones: "The impact of the article ... was immediate: Op-eds ran in major papers, and the story was taken to a wider audience through cable-TV talk shows. When Condoleezza Rice, then President George W. Bush's national security adviser, was asked about the report at a press briefing, she said, 'I think it surprises no one that Saddam Hussein is engaged in all kinds of activities that are destabilizing.'" As late as 2006, according to Fairweather in the same article, conservative magazines including The Weekly Standard and National Review continued to use this article to justify the invasion of Iraq.
It later was revealed that the story which Hedges reported was "an elaborate scam". The defector whom Hedges quoted, who had identified himself as Lt. General Jamal al-Ghurairy, was a former sergeant. The real Ghurairy had never left Iraq. Hedges said that he had taken on reporting this account at the request of Lowell Bergman of Frontline, who wanted the defectors for his show but could not go to Beirut for the interview. The trip had been organized by Ahmed Chalabi, whom Hedges considered to be unreliable. Hedges said he had done the piece as a favor to Bergman, explaining, "There has to be a level of trust between reporters. We cover each other's sources when it's a good story because otherwise everyone would get hold of it." Hedges had relied on the U.S. embassy in Turkey for further confirmation of the man's identity.
Hedges wrote two more articles that year that were informed by Chalabi-coached defectors. The second one, claiming that Iraq still held 80 Kuwaitis captured in the 1991 Gulf War in a secret underground prison, was also found to be baseless.
Hedges was an early critic of the Iraq War. In May 2003, Hedges delivered a commencement address at Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois, saying: "We are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige and power and security." His speech was received with boos and his microphone was shut off three minutes after he began speaking.
|Part of a series on|
the United States
The New York Times, his employer, criticized his statements and issued him a formal reprimand for "public remarks that could undermine public trust in the paper's impartiality". Shortly after the incident, Hedges left The New York Times to become a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, and a columnist at Truthdig, in addition to writing books and teaching inmates at a New Jersey correctional institution.
In March 2008, Hedges published a book titled I Don't Believe in Atheists, in which he expresses his belief that atheism presents a danger that is similar to religious extremism.
In his December 29, 2008, column for Truthdig, Hedges stated that "[t]he inability to articulate a viable socialism has been our gravest mistake. It will ensure, if this does not soon change, a ruthless totalitarian capitalism". He elaborated upon this in a 2013 interview with The Real News, claiming that
"the left has been destroyed, especially the radical left, quite consciously in the whole name of anti-communism", and "we have allowed ourselves to embrace an ideology which, at its core, states that all governance is about maximizing corporate profit at the expense of the citizenry. For what do we have structures of government, for what do we have institutions of state, if not to hold up all the citizenry, and especially the most vulnerable?".
In a March 2009 column, Hedges warned that human over-population and mass species extinction are serious problems, and that any measures to save the ecosystem will be futile unless we cut population growth, and noted that, "As long as the Earth is viewed as the personal property of the human race, a belief embraced by everyone from born-again Christians to Marxists to free-market economists, we are destined to soon inhabit a biological wasteland."
Hedges appeared as a guest on an October 2011 episode of the CBC News Network's Lang and O'Leary Exchange to discuss his support for the Occupy Wall Street protests; co-host Kevin O'Leary criticized him, saying that he sounded "like a left-wing nutbar". Hedges said "it will be the last time" he appears on the show, and compared the CBC to Fox News. CBC's ombudsman found O'Leary's heated remarks to be a violation of the public broadcaster's journalistic standards.
On November 3, 2011, Hedges was arrested with others in New York as part of the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, during which the activists staged a "people's hearing" on the activities of the investment bank Goldman Sachs and blocked the entrance to their corporate headquarters. Hedges has appeared on the syndicated Democracy Now! television program; on Breaking the Set on RT (formerly known as Russia Today), and on CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.
In October 2012, Hedges publicly supported Jill Stein, the candidate of the Green Party of the United States, in the 2012 United States presidential election. On April 7, 2013, Hedges delivered the keynote address at the Green Party of New Jersey state convention.
On September 20, 2014, a day before the People's Climate March, Hedges joined Bernie Sanders, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, and Kshama Sawant on a panel moderated by WNYC's Brian Lehrer to discuss the issue of climate change. Hedges and Klein also participated in the 'Flood Wall Street' protests that occurred shortly thereafter.
On November 11, 2014, Hedges published an article explaining why he and his family have become vegan. He explained that this is "the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species".
Hedges contended at the Left Forum in 2015 that with the "denouement of capitalism and the disintegration of globalism", Karl Marx has been "vindicated as capitalism's most prescient and important critic". He said that Marx "foresaw that capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction. He knew that reigning ideologies—think neoliberalism—were created to serve the interests of the elites and in particular the economic elites."
On April 15, 2016, Hedges was arrested, along with 100 other protesters, during a sit-in outside the U.S. Capitol during Democracy Spring to protest the capture of the political system by corporations.
Commenting on the 2016 election during an interview on The Real News, Hedges asserted that the modern American Left's embrace of neoliberalism resulted in a dysfunctional democracy and has given rise to a Trump presidency, which he characterizes as "proto-fascist". Hedges argues that logical result of neoliberalism is neofascism. At a March 2017 speech delivered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Hedges insisted that resistance to the Trump Administration must be broadly socialist and anti-capitalist in nature:
This resistance must also be accompanied by an alternative vision of a socialist, anti-capitalist society. Because the enemy in the end is not Trump or Bannon—it is corporate power. And if we do not stop corporate power, we will never dismantle fascism's seduction of the white working class and unemployed."
In 2012, after the Obama Administration signed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, Hedges sued members of the U.S. government, asserting that section 1021 of the law unconstitutionally allowed presidential authority for indefinite detention without habeas corpus. He was later joined in the suit, Hedges v. Obama, by activists including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg. In May 2012 Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled that the counter-terrorism provision of the NDAA is unconstitutional. The Obama administration appealed the decision and it was overturned. Hedges petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, but the Supreme Court denied certiorari in April 2014.
On October 5, 2014, Hedges was ordained a minister within the Presbyterian Church. He was installed as Associate Pastor and Minister of Social Witness and Prison Ministry at the Second Presbyterian Church Elizabeth in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He noted having been rejected for ordination 30 years earlier, saying that "going to El Salvador as a reporter was not something the Presbyterian Church at the time recognized as a valid ministry, and a committee rejected my 'call'".
Chris Hedges of The New York Times wrote a page-one piece headlined "Defectors Cite Iraqi Training for Terrorism".
How a fake general, a pliant media, and a master manipulator helped lead the United States into war.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chris Hedges.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Chris Hedges|