Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Talk: “American Taliban”

American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right by Markos Moulitsas

I bought the Kindle version of this book on November 17, 2010, not long after it was released (which was September 1, 2010). It did not take me nearly two years to get through it. In fact, it was months before I even started reading it (there were several ahead of it in my reading queue). Once I did start it, however, I flew through it because it’s a very easy read.

The book is basically a documentation of the way in which the USA’s religious right is in most respects indistinguishable from the Islamic extremists of the Taliban:
“The American Taliban—whether in their militaristic zeal, their brute faith in masculinity, their disdain for women’s rights, their outright hatred of gays, their aversion to science and modernity, or their staunch anti-intellectualism—share a litany of mores, values and tactics with Islamic extremists.”
Moulitsas sets out countless examples of why this is true. Any progressive, or reasonably aware centrist, will recognise the examples and what they show. Some of the examples are kind of funny—in a shake your head way—and some are downright terrifying. The determination of the American Taliban to suppress dissent is one of the most terrifying of their traits:
“…we understate the danger posed by their demands for uniformity of thought—their thought—at our own peril.”
I completely agree. And Moulitsas drives home the point when he says in the final page that whether the American Taliban succeeds or not will depend, in essence, on whether good people do something to stand up to them, and “to resist the imposition of a bloodthirsty, repressive, dogmatic worldview.”

What this is talking about is basically what the character of Doremus Jessup was getting at in the excerpt of Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here that I quoted in my post about that book.

This isn’t the sort of book that will convince conservatives, even secular ones, because the American Taliban dominates and largely controls political conservatism in the US. However, it will be useful for anyone who is aware of the threat and wants some specific examples to use when expressing opposition to the American Taliban.

The only real drawback is that the book is now two years old. Published before the 2010 US Congressional elections, it has nothing about the results of that awful election. However, I don’t think that really matters. Besides, plenty of information about the two years since the book was published is available on Moulitsas’ Daily Kos site, along with countless other progressive political sites.

This book is part contemporary history, part political analysis—and part warning. It’s well worth a read.

What I read: American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right by Markos Moulitsas. I read the Kindle edition, but the paperback is 256 pages. Amazon is out of stock at the moment, but check out the book’s page on Amazon to see when it might be available.

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