A number of liberal writers are condemning American Taliban, the just-released book by prominent liberal blogger and political organizer Markos Moulitsas. Moulitsas, also known as Kos and the chief of prominent website Daily Kos, argues in his book that elements of the U.S. conservative movement are akin to the Taliban, a militant terrorist group responsible for thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some liberals--though certainly not all--think that's a bad idea. Here's why.
The book's official description reads, "America's primary international enemy--Islamic radicalism--insists on government by theocracy, curtails civil liberties, embraces torture, represses women, wants to eradicate homosexuals from society, and insists on the use of force over diplomacy. Remind you of a certain American political party? In American Taliban, Markos Moulitsas pulls no punches as he compares how the Republican Party and Islamic radicals maintain similar worldviews and tactics. Moutlitsas also challenges the media, fellow progressives, and our elected officials to call the radical right on their jihadist tactics more forcefully for the good of our nation and safety of all citizens."
- 'Dishonesty and Scaremongering' The American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie reviews the book: "Like Liberal Fascism, American Taliban is another entry in the tired genre of 'my political opponents are monsters.' Indeed, Moulitsas begins the book with the Goldbergian declaration that 'in their tactics and on the issues, our homegrown American Taliban are almost indistinguishable from the Afghan Taliban.' And he fills the remaining 200-plus pages with similar accusations. ... Yes, progressives are depressed and despondent about the future, but that's no reason for dishonesty and scaremongering, and it doesn't excuse the obscenity of comparing our political opponents to killers and terrorists. As reality-based members of the American community, we have an obligation toward the truth, even when it isn't particularly convenient."
- 'Juicing Sales,' Accomplishing Little The Atlantic's Patrick Appel writes, "Kos uses a couple figures on the far right - such as Pat Robinson - to smear half of America. Calling political opponents terrorists is so disgusting and so obviously beyond the pale it hardly requires rebutting. ... I've no problem with pundits - liberal or conservative - coming out swinging. My problem with polemics like Liberal Fascism and American Taliban is they don't accomplish anything besides juicing book sales and temporarily riling up like-minded folk."
- Makes Liberal Movement Weaker Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias writes, "There are scenarios in which tagging your political opponents with smears can be effective, but I don't see any evidence that the particular apocalyptic 'my enemies are totalitarian madmen' strain of Birch/Beck/Goldberg conservatism has helped anyone win any elections. ... This stuff doesn't win votes anyone because, after all, it's a form of preaching to the choir. Which is fine--the choir needs some sermons. But there's no real upside in lying to the choir. Political movements need to adapt to the actual situation, and that means having an accurate understanding of your foes."
- Liberals Shouldn't Sink to the Right's Lows The Daily Beast's Ben Crair says the book "might have just as easily been written by Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. This is a liberal's attempt at a conservative bestseller. ... Moulitsas made it his mission to create a movement on the left similar to the one that Limbaugh and Coulter helped to build on the right. ... If the Democrats run the country for the next 50 years because Moulitsas has taught them to fight fire with fire, then I guess I won't complain. I just wish reading American Taliban didn't make me feel like a member of the Conservative Book Club."
- Negative Reception Shows Real Liberal Movement Mother Jones's Kevin Drum says the real liberal movement isn't in Moulitsas's book, it's in the rigorous self-policing of liberals like Jamelle Bouie who negatively review the book. "I haven't read American Taliban and don't plan to. I figure I already dislike the American right wing enough, so there's little need to dump another load of fuel onto my own personal mental bonfire. But here's what's interesting: this review isn't on a fringe blog site. It's not from a reviewer for the DLC. It's not written by some apostate liberal like Mickey Kaus. It's written by a mainstream liberal writing in one of America's premier mainstream liberal publications. Did Liberal Fascism get any similarly incendiary reviews from mainstream conservatives writing in any of America's premier mainstream conservative publications?"