On 8.26.12 I ran a piece about The Newsroom‘s Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) calling the Tea Party “the American Taliban” — an assertion that is 110% correct. But let’s remember also that British documentarian Adam Curtis pretty much owns this analogy, having presented a version of it in his 2004 documentary The Power of Nightmares.
The Tea Party and the Taliban share the following traits and/or beliefs: (a) ideological purity; (b) a pathological hatred of the U.S. government; (c) a regarding of education as a problem and in some cases a dark force as it tends to undermine the teachings of the Lord/Allah; (d) a need to control women and their bodies; (e) a fundamentalist belief in scriptural literalism; (f) a denial of science, unmoved by facts, undeterred by new information, a hostile fear of progress; (g) a regarding of compromise as weakness; (h) a tribal mentality; (i) severe xenophobia; and (j) intolerance of dissent.
In 2004 I wrote the following about Curtis’s film: “[It] weaves together all sorts of disparate historical strands to relate two fascinating spiritual and political case histories, that of the American neo-conservatives and the Islamic fundamentalists. The payoff is an explanation of why they’re fighting each other now with such ferocity (beyond the obvious provocation of 9/11), and why the end of their respective holy war, waged for their own separate but like-minded motives, is nowhere in sight.
“That’s right — the Islamics vs. the neo-cons. You might think the United States of America is engaged in a fierce conflict with Middle-Eastern terrorists in order to prevent another domestic attack, but what’s really going on is more in the nature of a war between clans. Like the one between Burl Ives vs. Charles Bickford in The Big Country, say, or the Hatfields vs. the McCoys.
“It’s not that Curtis’s doc is saying anything radically new here, certainly not to those in the hard-core news junkie, academic or think-tank loop, but it makes its case in a remarkably well-ordered and comprehensive way, which…you know…helps moderately aware dilettantes like myself make sense of it all.
“The Power of Nightmares contends that the anti-western terrorists and the neo-con hardliners in the George W. Bush White House are two peas in a fundamentalist pod, and that they seem to be almost made for each other in an odd way, and they need each other’s hatred to fuel their respective power bases but are, in fact, almost identical in their purist fervor, and are pretty much cut from the same philosophical cloth. It says — okay, implies — that both factions are too in love with purity and consequently half out of their minds.”
The Power of Nightmares, a three-part series, is available at Internet Archive [http://archive.org/search.php?query=the%20power%20of%20nightmares].