In his 7-question September 22 Q&A with Markos Moulitsas, Time magazine's Ishaan Tharoor timidly challenged the left-wing blogger on his extremist rhetoric about how conservative Americans, particularly religious ones, are the "American Taliban."
Moulitsas was interviewed as part of his publicity tour for his new book, "American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right" which "takes aim at what Moulitsas thinks is animating this right-wing revival," Tharoor noted. "You refer to a whole swath of U.S. conservatives as American Taliban. Is that really helpful?" Tharoor began meekly. Moulitsas, of course, cranked it up to eleven and let loose with a boilerplate screed about how evil and subversive American conservatives are:
Since 9/11, I've been hearing accusations over and over again that liberals like me want the terrorists to win. I have no love for fundamentalist Muslims — I think they're basically hard-right Christians. There's a shared intolerance. Liberals like me don't want the terrorists to win just like we don't want the American Taliban to win. I don't think there's any reason to say it nicer. It's a two-word way to bring home just how dangerous these people are.
In response, Tharoor then asked:
But we don't see these Americans blowing up statues of the Buddha or riding around in pickup trucks with AK-47s.
More importantly, you don't see Americans stoning adulterers or gays, but I see what Tharoor is getting at. Nonetheless, Moulitsas doubled down on his harsh rhetoric:
The fact is that their movement is predicated on the notion that violence is a viable alternative. Abortion doctors have been killed; there's an ammunition shortage across the country because some of these people are hoarding stores for the coming apocalypse. Sharron Angle [a Republican running for the Senate in Nevada] has warned that if voters don't elect the right candidates, they may have to resort to "Second Amendment remedies." The American Taliban may be more constrained by American society and laws than their Middle Eastern counterparts, but that's not a function of tactics, more just the society they live in. Their goals are the same.
This time Moulitsas gave a concrete example, fair enough, but one loopy statement by one candidate is hardly an accurate picture of the entire conservative movement. What's more, Moulitsas unfairly associated all pro-lifers with the tiny violent fringe who are not representative of the peaceful pro-life movement. All the same, Tharoor failed to suggest that Moulitsas might be more interested in writing a best-selling leftist screed than giving an accurate critique of his political opponents. Indeed, for the rest of the interview, Tharoor treated Moulitsas as a qualified expert to write on the conservative movement, including how Ronald Reagan would allegedly be treated as an apostate from conservatism were he alive and running for office today. Complained Moulitsas:
I also think it's laughable that they keep on talking about Ronald Reagan as the patron saint of modern conservatism. I have sections of the book where I discuss how he would now be drummed out of the Republican Party because he was pro-amnesty, he met with our enemies, he wasn't rabidly anti-gay, he raised taxes. He was a downright left-wing radical compared to the current bunch.
Of course, various other lefty bloggers have been making similar complaints, namely Cenk Uygur, a recurring guest host on left-leaning cable news network MSNBC. But Tharoor failed to raise any skeptical notes about these talking points. Photo credit: Alex Wong of Getty Images via Time.com website.