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Taliban, American style
Jack Balshaw 11/21/01

We've heard a lot about the Afghan Taliban in the last year, much of it during the last several months. The basic background is that after the Russians left Afghanistan there was a civil war to determine which faction would rule the country. The Taliban was one of the factions and represented a clan that made up about 40% of the population. They seemed more civilized and orderly than the other factions and so they prevailed.

Once they were in control however, their civility turned into heavy-handed suppression of anything that didn't meet their religious "values". Our information about them focused on their severe treatment of women and their religious fanaticism. It seems that the price the Afghan people have had to pay for choosing the more "reasonable" Taliban over the other groups is a regime that enforces its values with a heavy hand, a regime that uses its power to eliminate all opposition to its values.

Recall, the nature of what we call the Taliban is a group that, once in power, uses that power to impose its ideology on everyone. It appears to me that we may have an American version of this.

Under President Bush, the Republican controlled House and Senate rammed through their ideological agenda without compromise until one Senator's defection, because of these excesses, put the Democrats in control of the Senate. This split in control has forced the Republicans to compromise their ideological legislation.

One of the Presidents first acts in office was to abolish federal funding to any group that supported women's choice in the pro/anti abortion debate. This was a political move implementing core beliefs of a religious ideology.

The initial reaction to the September 11 attack on New York and Washington from leaders of the religious right (Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson) was that this was God's punishment for our unholy ways. Sounds like some other fanatic's rhetoric.
And now the latest dictate from the "party of states rights" is that Oregon's right to die legislation must be negated. This is again the politicizing of a religious position.

While we demonize those religious extremists known as the Taliban, we should remember that the forcing of religious and other beliefs as well as ways of life (values) on others via a political process is what the whole issue is all about.

Our legislators aren't limited to religious motives. Their uncompromising actions when they controlled Congress and their attempts (and success) in using the national preoccupation with the September 11 tragedy to further their ideological political agenda show them to be focused in implementing their ideologies.

This all gets tied up in the September 11 action in that bin Laden is a religious extremist supported by a extremist religious based government. Similarly, our present administration must cater to its religious fundamentalist right wing in order to remain in power to further pursue its other conservative ideology.

Think again about the basic CONCEPT of what the Taliban is doing, governmental enforcement of an ideology. Are our government's actions regarding the Kyoto environmental agreements, the willingness (pre Sept 11) to proceed unilaterally in dumping the Anti Ballistic Missile treaty in our own interest, Congress's winner take all attitude in political matters and the Executive branch's use of the law to further their ideological ends much different? Is pressing for law enforcement expansion and tax relief while our national attention is on Afghanistan the signature of people who want to work together?

If the analogy is carried too far, it becomes extreme. But, if the techniques are compared, there is much similarity between the two antagonists. Think about it. 


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