Monday, January 14, 2008

This is Worth its Own Diary!

Promoted from the comments section of a recent diary on Frank Wolf and the Theocrats...
I'm Jeff Sharlet, the author of the 2003 Harper's article that identified Frank Wolf as connected to the Family, a secretive network of elite fundamentalists in government, the military and business. Harper's, as many readers know, is an old and august magazine, hardly prone to conspiracy theory; that article went through fact checking and legal review. Nothing was disputed.

Late April, I'll be coming out with the result of four years of research related to the group Wolf is associated with: "THE FAMILY: THE SECRET FUNDAMENTALISM AT THE HEART OF AMERICAN POWER," to be published by HarperCollins on May 20. (In stores late April).

Here's a sample of the rhetoric of Doug Coe, the leader of the Family. In this sermon, he's discussing his method for winning a congressmen to his peculiar concept of Christ: "You say, hey, you know Jesus said you got to put Him before
mother-father-brother-sister? HITLER, LENIN, MAO, THAT'S WHAT THEY TAUGHT THE KIDS... Mao even had the kids killing their own mother and father. But it wasn't murder. It was for building the new nation. The new state. The new kingdom."

Here's Coe on the secrecy of the organization he built: "The more you can make your organization invisible the more influence it will have. Jesus Christ, when he organizes, the way he puts the organization together he makes it invisible."

In THE FAMILY, I tell the 70-year-history of the group (as well as write about several different fronts of contemporary fundamentalism). The group has long been involved with some very nasty stuff -- genocide in Indonesia, support for military dictators in Central America, etc. Wolf's specialty is Eastern Europe.

In 2004, Wolf's Democratic opponent tried to put this issue into the public. The Washington Post broke several rules of journalistic ethics to defend Wolf. (I taught journalism for 2 1/2 years in New York University's graduate journalism program, I'm a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and Harper's, I've been a senior writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education; which is to say, I'm for better and worse a media insider). The paper had to issue two corrections, as I recall, though they never apologized for writing an editorial defending Wolf BEFORE they sent out a reporter to investigate the allegations.

I can't speak to Wolf's qualities as a congressman, but I'm quite certain that a close association with a group as contemptuous of democracy as the Family is not good for the citizens of northern Virginia or the rest of us. I hope you'll all take Representative Wolf to task for refusal to come clean on his associations.

And, I admit, I hope you'll buy the book. THE FAMILY. It's an uphill fight to get this issue into the public. Both Harper's and the LA Times have examined the Family and found some frightening things (please -- ignore the conspiratorial stuff online), and yet the rest of the press takes a pass. That's not the way it is everywhere -- in 2004 and 5, Norwegian reporters, concerned about their own conservative government's ties with this group, put it on the front page for weeks. That government was voted out. That's how democracy works, right?

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