Many Americans wonder how people like the Taliban ever become popular and take power in countries like Afghanistan. Some wonder if we aren’t seeing the beginnings of an American Taliban. (By the way, don’t forget that we armed the Taliban for a decade in the 1980’s against the Soviets.)
Mullah Omar was a gifted politician as well as a popular cleric. He had a gift for reducing the social and economic problems of his country to simple religious terms and solutions. He spoke of political problems in religious terms such as “good vs. evil”. Of course, the Taliban were good, and their opponents were evil. Afghanistan is a country with a long tradition of religious tolerance. Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Hindu religions coexisted for centuries in a country that was the crossroads of trade between the East and West. It became a disaster when religion and governmental policy were merged.
Omar started as the governor of a small Province in Western Afghanistan. Omar began by forcing all schools to teach Islamic theology and law. Eventually, the Taliban version of religious law became the law of the land, Afghanistan became an Islamic State, and the rest is all too well known.
In America we have been going through what the right wing has called a “culture war”. It is really a conflict between the secular vs. the religious. The kinds of words being spoken by GOP are not about cultural values – they are about religious values they want codified into law. Consider some of the GOP platform post-convention, and the speeches made during the GOP Convention. If speeches and platforms are any indication, consider these GOP promises:
* Change America from one Nation under God to A Christian Nation and allow Christian groups to discriminate in hiring practices if, say, hiring a gay or a Muslim, would violate their religious beliefs
* Continue to permit employers to discriminate against women with regard to equal pay for equal work and make it virtually impossible for women to get any justice (see Senate vote of McCain April 22, 2008). Appoint Supreme Court Judges such as Scalia and Thomas to eviscerate anti-discrimination laws protecting women in the workplace.
* Criminalize abortions, even when pregnancies are the result of rape or incest.
* Lifestyle decisions and sexual orientation not consistent with our “Judeo-Christian” heritage would not be afforded legal protections and could be criminalized
Those are just a few examples. If you are not Republican, you are not Christian – and that is the fundamental construct of Islamic radicals, i.e. to merge political positions with religious doctrine and then demonize the opposition. Just watch FOX news’ Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.
Maybe you have a dissonance similar to mine when I hear Sarah Palin justifying the criminalization of all abortions under any circumstance as, well, Christian. Didn’t Jesus advocate protecting and changing people, instead of putting them in jail? Remember the passage of the adulteress in Scripture? Would Sarah Palin be next to Jesus and protect the adulteress, or would she be one of the crowd with a stone in their hands?
The Christianity of the GOP is not the one I want to see replace our Constitution anymore than the vast majority of Muslims want to live under the Taliban’s version of the “law”. The moment this becomes a “Christian Nation” is the moment we cease to be a “free Nation”. Where have you gone Thomas Jefferson? (Or Joe DiMaggio, for that matter).
Maybe what we need is an American Crusade to beat back the lip-sticked pit bulls at the gates of our Democracy.