Opinion: The Taliban Didn’t Take Over Texas, Christians Did

Greg Abbott isn't the Taliban; he's us
Greg Abbott isn't the Taliban; he's us Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
There are a ton of memes going around now that basically say, “no one could have prepared for how quickly the Taliban would retake Texas.” The implication is that the recent forced-birth law is similar to that of Islamic extremism in the Middle East following the end of the Afghanistan War.

It’s not. It’s homegrown, deep-fried, Made in America Christian fundamentalism as mostly practiced by white people since before I was born. We don’t get to pretend that this is some “foreign” invasion, or that the evil of the law is color-coded a scary brown. This is our Frankenstein.

As I recently pointed out in a long and exhausting article, the American forced birth movement is based on a series of cunning lies spread by figures like Jerry Falwell that found openly fighting for segregated schools to be of no use in their quest for power. On top of that, the forced birth movement is intrinsically linked to misogynistic backlashes following the Women’s Liberation movement of the ‘70s. Fact: when Roe v. Wade was decided, there was virtually zero nationwide opposition from any group save Roman Catholics, and the Southern Baptist Convention was firmly in favor of it.

The fight to curtail reproductive freedom was launched years later by televangelists and people who wanted to keep religious schools white. They found a willing audience who was alarmed at a changing world where those assigned female at birth (AFAB) increasingly earned existences without their husbands as well as the fact that abortion numbers officially went up once it was widespread legal.

Things like the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the move to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment during the Carter Administration had far more to do with the rise of the forced birth movement than Roe v. Wade. At a basic level, the empowered religious fundamentalists knew that the best way to keep patriarchy in power was to chain AFAB people to the birthing bed. It’s a control mechanism as old as civilization.

This has been going on for four decades, now. Almost uniformly, it is pushed by extremely mainstream political figures, all of whom identify openly and enthusiastically as Christians. When Governor Greg Abbott signed the law on May 15, he made it clear his reasoning was linked explicitly clear to his twisted interpretation of Biblical scripture.

“Our creator endowed us with the right to life, and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion.”

I understand the desire to contextualize what is happening in Texas by comparing our leaders to the extremists in the Middle East. All of this is terrifying and wrong, and trying to find a way to process it is an act of mental self-preservation. In doing so, our minds immediately focus on archetypes and symbols as a coping mechanism. None of us are inherently bad people for calling the lieutenant governor Taliban Dan.

However, in doing so all we are accomplishing is the ongoing demonization of Muslims by proxy. Calling Texas Republicans the Taliban shields them from the honest examination of the madness that we will need in order to undo their horrors. It is a statistical certainty that a huge chunk of the people who oppose the new law are themselves Christians who don’t want to be associated with this strain of harmful dogma. They want to push it away, make it Other.

We do not have that luxury. These monsters are our neighbors, born and raised in our lands, fed and watered from our gardens. They did not come from outside, and it’s a sin to hang their atrocities on blameless Muslims who do not sit in any seats of power in Texas. The Taliban is far away; Texas Republicans are here and wearing the spurs.

At its core, referring to the Republican leadership as the Taliban is using a racist bandage to cover a wound we don’t dare look at. This is a war between brothers. We have to accept that and leave Islam out of it.
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner