Saturday, May 15, 2021
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Book Review: “American Taliban”

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The other day, I received American Taliban, by Markos Moulitas of Daily Kos, as a birthday present from my wife (thanks!), and I began reading it with great hopes. Finally, a leading progressive was going to fight fire with fire, call it like it is, and prove beyond a doubt what many progressives and liberals believe in their guts - the right wing and the Boehner/Cantor/McConnell/Cheney/Palin-led Republican Party are, increasingly, morphing into an American version of the Afghan/Pakistani Taliban - intolerant, misogynistic, theocratic, totalitarian, violent, virulently homophobic, etc.

But that's not what happens in "American Taliban." Sure, there's a case to be made here, but Markos doesn't make it - at least not as effectively or rigorously as it should be made. That's highly unfortunate, a missed opportunity extraordinaire.  

In reading this book, I kept thinking to myself, ok, now Markos is going to provide voluminous evidence and airtight logical arguments to prove his thesis.  OK, now he is going to - as Matthew Yglesias puts it - explore "a number of issues...that relate to the fundamental congruence of values between different forms of populist nationalist movements around the world." And now, he's going to do this without "eliding a huge number of morally and practically relevant considerations" that make the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban qualitatively different from the "American Taliban" and other "right-wing populist nationalist movements" out there.

Again, though, this isn't what happens.