In the days after the Sept. 11 attacks—launched by a group of Islamist terrorists (al-Qaida) given safe haven and protection in Afghanistan by the Taliban—most Americans did not harbor positive feelings toward that regime. Yet somehow, 20 years later there is one group, right-wing white Christian nationalists, who now sing the Taliban’s praises. If you were prescient enough to see that one coming, well, that’s some serious Professor Trelawney-level talent.
For some time now, these right-wing extremists who (falsely) claim the mantle of patriots have been just raving about the Taliban. Why? Because both groups hate LGBTQ folks, Jews, women, liberals, a non-theocratic society, and “globalism,” for starters. The hard right also hates Muslims, but they mostly concern themselves with Muslims here in the U.S., not so much Muslims in other parts of the world—so long as they stay there.
There are plenty of receipts, some of which were assembled by New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, a long-standing expert on the extreme Christian right whose 2006 book broke new ground. She provided examples that demonstrate the ideological affinity built around the concept of hating a common enemy. Earlier this summer an “alt-right” bunch created a Twitter account that tracked and lauded the Taliban’s successful step-by-step conquest of Afghanistan. One retweet auto-translated a message that read: “Liberalism did not fail in Afghanistan because it was Afghanistan, it failed because it was not true. It failed America, Europe, and the world [sees] it.”
Along similar lines, white nationalist “Groyper” Nick Fuentes—he’s also a close chum of Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar—wrote on the encrypted app Telegram: “The Taliban is a conservative, religious force, the U.S. is godless and liberal. The defeat of the U.S. government in Afghanistan is unequivocally a positive development.” The fact that the Taliban’s victory came on President Biden’s watch only added to the general glee on the right. Joanna Mendelson, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, noted that a dangerous number of right-wing extremists are displaying “almost this infatuation and admiration” for the Taliban. She added: “the fact that the Taliban at the end of the day could claim victory over such a world power is something that white supremacists are taking note of.”
An account linked to everyone’s favorite assholes, the Proud Boys, put this message out on Telegram: “These farmers and minimally trained men fought to take back their nation back from globohomo. They took back their government, installed their national religion as law, and executed dissenters … If white men in the west had the same courage as the Taliban, we would not be ruled by Jews.” I expect the Proud Boys don’t want to turn the U.S. completely into Afghanistan, with its incredibly high poverty rate, but they don’t seem to make the connection between a society based on religious freedom, equal rights, and pluralism and the level of development our country has managed to achieve. Just sayin’.
Here’s another one, from a blog post connected to Atomwaffen Division and the National Socialist Order, a neo-Nazi terrorist group: “NATO is pulling out of Afghanistan after 20 years of war with the Taliban and losing. …This should in fact be celebrated as a victory against the Jewish-controlled world. While the Taliban does have its faults, they are nonetheless a marked enemy of the Jews.”
Antisemitism is a common theme in these right-wing messages, which also typically denigrate Islam overall, despite their kind words for the Taliban. Intellectual consistency isn’t exactly a hallmark for these guys. Ultimately, the enemy of their enemy is their friend.
These sentiments don’t just appear on encrypted apps and blog posts; they reflect mainstream thinking in today’s Trump Republican Party. Don’t believe me? Here’s Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of the twice impeached former guy’s strongest allies (he’s also officially under investigation for sex trafficking and, unofficially, for being the smarmiest looking guy in America whose name doesn’t begin with T and end with UMP).
He sees the Taliban as more legitimate than the duly elected president of the United States. No snarky comment can do justice to how disgusting that statement is.
Then there’s the leading media voice of Trumpism, Tucker Carlson. He’s almost giddy about having the opportunity to bash liberalism (oddly, he calls it “neoliberalism,” a mostly economic term that centers on the principles of democratic capitalism, but accuracy has never been his strong point) and specifically its “gender studies symposium” as a major factor in helping the Taliban defeat the previous government. He blathered on about the notion that “men can become pregnant” as somehow being a fundamental value that was pushed by the U.S. on Afghanistan’s traditional society.
I wonder, was this notion also being pushed under Trump, the guy who actually signed the surrender agreement pulling our troops out of that country under the terms of what one conservative foreign policy expert called “one of the most disgraceful diplomatic bargains on record”? Either way, Carlson praised the Taliban’s overall views on gender politics, saying that at least “they don’t hate their own masculinity. They don’t think it’s toxic. They like the patriarchy.” It certainly seems as if Tucker does, too.
One of the other core ideas animating right-wing trash-talking on Afghanistan relates to refugees—people who, in case anyone forgot, risked their lives working with the U.S. Carlson hit this point hard as well, lying about “millions of foreign nationals whose identities we can’t confirm mov[ing] here,” and warning ominously about “many refugees from Afghanistan resettling in our country . . . probably in your neighborhood.” Because what else would you expect a xenophobic, fearmongering fuckface like Tucker to say. He then spoke of incoming refugees numbering in “the millions” before concluding: “First we invade, then we’re invaded.”
John Cohen, chief of the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, expressed a number of chilling facts on a call with law enforcement officials to which CNN gained access. First, right-wing white Christian nationalists see the victory of the Taliban as a “success” that can serve as a template for their violent takeover of the U.S. government. Second, a number of these extremists are also connecting events in Afghanistan, in particular the migration to our country of a significant number of Afghan refugees to “the great replacement concept.”
This nakedly white supremacist claptrap, also promoted on his Fox News show by the aforementioned Grand Wizard Carlson, centers on the fear that immigrants are changing our country’s demographics and replacing the white Christians who are the only real Americans, depriving them of their rightful place as the people in charge of America. Most often the focus has been on Mexicans, but Afghan Muslims are both brown and non-Christian, so they can do double damage on this front. Cohen warned “there are concerns that those narratives may incite violent activities directed at immigrant communities, certain faith communities, or even those who are relocated to the United States.”
This anti-immigrant bile is also an element of common antisemitic hate connecting these Taliban-loving right-wingers and the anti-immigrant hate that sparked, for example, the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre where 11 Jews were murdered. At the center of all these hatreds stands the Great Replacement, which Jews are supposedly facilitating with their liberalism and globalism—seen both in their support for “brown” Latino immigration and bringing in “brown” Afghan refugees.
I know this doesn’t make a lot of sense to most of us. Unfortunately, it made enough sense to motivate the Pittsburgh terrorist, along with another synagogue shooter in Poway, California, who killed one worshipper in 2019. You may also recall the Charlottesville neo-Nazi ralliers who chanted “Jews will not replace us.” Those are the lovelies Trump referred to as “very fine people.” These strands of right-wing hate all really do run straight through Mar-a-Lago.
Another through-line is the clear rejection of democracy and open support for dictatorship on the right—as long as it’s a dictator they like, such as The Man Who Lost an Election And Then Tried To Steal It. QAnon and other pro-Trump online communitiies have straight-up called for a Myanmar-style military coup that would put Trump back in power. Trump’s own former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, when asked about the prospect at a QAnon event, agreed, stating “it should happen here.”
This embrace of authoritarianism—a direct rejection of the democracy that stands at the core of the American experiment in self-government—is yet another point where Carlson and Trump echo their most extreme followers. We’ve seen Fuck a l’Orange show his love for authoritarians like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinpiang, among others, on many occasions.
Just last month Tucker had his own lovefest with Hungary’s right-wing would-be dictator Viktor Orban. He visited Budapest, conducted a fawning interview, and then told his Fox News audience that Orban leads a “small country with a lot of lessons for the rest of us.” Like mucking around with his country’s independent judiciary, crushing media that doesn’t toe the party line, and forcing universities who teach things he doesn’t like to close or leave the country. When the political and intellectual leaders of a movement act this way, it’s not hard to understand why a chunk of their acolytes go along the same path, one that leads to the profoundly anti-democratic notion that the Taliban are worthy of praise. If Trumpists can worship Putin, Orban, and the Taliban, one can only imagine what kinds of characters they’ll be cuddling up to next. Talk about strange bedfellows.
Hate begets hate. So many forms of hate intertwine in the dessicated web of right-wing extremism that it can be hard to keep them straight. They want their brand of white Christian nationalism to dominate America, which means they want to keep out Muslim refugees fleeing Afghanistan—whom they hate. But they also admire the most extreme Islamists in Afghanistan, the Taliban, who drove those refugees out in the first place, who hate Christians as infidels, whose forces fought and killed U.S. soldiers in that country for twenty years and who, oh yeah, helped facilitate the 9/11 attacks. It’s almost incomprehensible. Until you remember what’s changed in American life since Sept. 11, 2001.
We elected a Black president, who won with a resounding majority not seen in a generation. And not just any Black president—although surely any would have been enough to generate a powerful backlash—but one named Barack Hussein Obama. Despite the fact that he centered his entire political career on the idea that people of different backgrounds could come together as one unified American people, those opposed to a truly multiracial democracy struck back, and propelled his polar opposite into the White House in 2016. In another sense, those extreme right-wing forces emerged with such explosive energy not in spite of Obama’s powerful advocacy of democratic pluralism, but rather because its potential success threatened their power all the more.
How one of our two major political parties got taken over by people who reject the basic principles of democracy most Americans thought were a requirement of patriotism will be a question we as a society will be grappling with for the foreseeable future. Actually, that’s assuming we’ll remain free enough to substantively grapple with it at all—rather than, if those forces win a comprehensive victory, be forced to accept such a development as the final stage in America’s political journey.
Trumpism brought to the fore, and into the mainstream, a form of hatred that has long lurked on the American right—hatred of anything that differs from what they see as traditional white Christian America. Whether that’s hatred of brown people, of equal rights for women or, heaven forfend, LGBTQ Americans, of progressive ideology more broadly, or, of course, hatred of the always handy scapegoat/stalking horse for radicalism—the Jooz. At its essence, this hatred is ideological in nature. These right-wingers love the idea of authoritarianism built around a strictly conservative dogma, and the Taliban qualifies for sure. They envy the Taliban for being able to exercise absolute power, eliminating anyone that disagrees. That’s what Trumpists want for themselves.
Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.