American Taliban

As the world waits with bated breath for the release date of Markos Moulitsas’ American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right we have little to go on but the promotional material. So far, the early indicators aren’t great. For starters, they appear to be deliberately echoing Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism in their cover art:


For another, the jacket copy heavily features a misleading out-of-context quote from Rush Limbaugh.

At any rate, I’m hoping the book is better than this stuff suggests since I do happen to think there are a number of issues that could be explored that relate to the fundamental congruence of values between different forms of populist nationalist movements around the world. One important such observation, I would say, is that American conservatives have an unfortunate tendency to collapse all populist nationalist movements composed of Muslims into a monolithic and totalitarian “Islamist” menace that they identify with al-Qaeda. But if you were to turn around and try to identify the American conservative movement with the Taliban on the grounds that both are right-wing populist nationalist movements, American conservatives would—quite rightly—point out that this involves eliding a huge number of morally and practically relevant considerations.