Rightwingers Just Having Fun Rooting Against America, Democracy, Afghan Women
It's objectively bad that the Taliban has overthrown the Afghan government. However, Americans weren't able to come to a bipartisan consensus about a lethal pandemic, so it's hardly a shock that Republicans are gloating over what they consider President Joe Biden's Saigon moment. (You'll recall when Republicans used to label Barack Obama's stumbles his "Katrina moment," even though like Afghanistan, Katrina was something George W. Bush had originally fucked up.)
I personally don't like calling the GOP the “American Taliban" because Republicans are awful in their own unique way, like Tolstoy's unhappy families. Conservatives also like to boast “well, at least we don't cut off fingers!" while actively oppressing trans people. Still, you'd think even the worst rightwing politician could avoid gushing over the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. But Rep. Lauren Boebert from Colorado definitely needed someone to write “Do Not Congratulate" in bold crayon on her daily briefing.
Makes sense. You tried to overthrow the US government so of course you support the overthrow of the Afghan governme… https://t.co/HjzsAbn88n— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@Rep. Eric Swalwell) 1629160007.0
Monday, Boebert tweeted: “The Taliban are the only people building back better." She's not only a lousy congresswoman but she's a mediocre standup comic. We'll quickly translate what passes for thought in her Wild West ghost town of a brain: Joe Biden's “Build Back Better" agenda is his plan to "create jobs, cut taxes, and lower costs for working families," which presumably Boebert opposes or maybe she just thinks Biden's just talking loud and saying socialism. Regardless, she's implying that the Taliban is successfully “building back better," instead of committing massive human rights violations. Just to be clear, Afghanistan's not suddenly competing with Denmark or Finland for happiest country on Earth.
Army veteran David Weissman, a former Trump supporter, expressed shock that Boebert's tweet was still up almost a day later. But she's not capable of shame. She probably doesn't even think her remarks are glaringly unpatriotic. See, Boebert, like her MAGA cohorts, doesn't believe Democrats are “real" Americans, so when she applauds the perceived failures of Democrats, she doesn't think she's rooting against America in general. But she might also think that toys talk to each other when people aren't around (you can't prove they don't). It really doesn't what she believes. She's a US congresswoman expressing outright glee over an American-made catastrophe.
What the Taliban intends to “build back better" is an oppressive patriarchal regime. When they were last in charge from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban closed girls' schools and banned women from working. These restrictions eased during the US occupation. (Yes, there were some positives from the invasion. Life is complicated that way.) In 2009, Afghanistan passed the Elimination of Violence Against Women law, which criminalized rape, battery, and forced marriage. It also made it illegal to prevent women of any age from studying or working.
America's jacklegged withdrawal threatens those gains. It is tragically reminiscent of when federal troops abandoned the former Confederate states, leaving Black people to the non-existent mercy of white conservative racists. Perhaps this is why Republicans find this situation so hilarious.
So, yes, we have to discuss Tucker Carlson again. We're not any happier about it than you are.
During his Monday night white power hour, Carlson blamed the very gains we just mentioned for Afghanistan's eventual fall. Americans should've realized that women don't know nothing.
CARLSON: Thanks to American-imposed gender quotas, dozens of women ultimately were installed as representatives in Afghan's parliament. How did that work?
It worked like a fucking democracy, which Afghanistan never was completely, but damnit, women are half the population. The supposed “quotas" aren't the problem. Carlson claimed that women representatives caused revolts, but officials “kept doing it," despite the backlash. The American Right have made similar complaints about diversity in our own government.
CARLSON: They kept pushing radical gender politics anyway, because they could, because they were in charge of these Stone Age people they were going to educate.
This is grotesquely racist, though arguably a form of Star Trek imperialism: We shouldn't impose our more evolved views on “less developed" people. The results are always disastrous. This is paternalistic bullshit, of course, and it ignores the agency of marginalized people.
CARLSON: This is the face of the late American empire, gender studies seminars at gunpoint.
Carlson's monologues are the ones that sound like overblown graduate school thesis rhetoric.
It turns out that the people of Afghanistan don't actually want gender studies symposia. They didn't actually buy the idea that men can become pregnant. They thought that was ridiculous.
They don't hate their own masculinity. They don't think it's toxic, they like the patriarchy, some of their women like it too, so now they're getting it all back. So maybe it's possible that we failed in Afghanistan because the entire neoliberal program is grotesque.
Carlson seems to think only men matter in Afghanistan and that women, free of “gender studies" voodoo, will embrace their inevitable subjugation. The Taliban has promised to respect women rights “within the bounds of Sharia Law," which means women will have no rights.
Farzana Kochai, who served as a member of the Afghan parliament, is rightly worried about her future and her freedom as a woman in Afghanistan: "This is something that concerns me more. Every woman is thinking about this. We are just trying to have a clue ... would women be allowed to work and to occupy a job or not?"
Hillary Clinton famously stated that women's rights are human rights. It's not neoliberalism or feminism that has fallen in Afghanistan but democracy itself, and only the most petty, small-minded among us would consider that a punchline.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."