Just weeks before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by Islamist terrorists, some of the US's most prominent Republicans are now praising the Taliban to own the libs.
Former President Donald Trump and other Republicans have in recent days used the radical militant group's takeover in Afghanistan to air their grievances against President Joe Biden, "big tech," and Trump's Twitter ban — even as the militants violently cracked down on protests against their rule and people trying to escape.
During an appearance on Fox News host Sean Hannity's show Tuesday night, Trump falsely claimed the Taliban has been around for "a thousand years" (the organization was founded in 1994), and lauded the group as being "smart" and having "good fighters."
Hours earlier, Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter to voice his support for the jihadist group's false claim that civil rights issues in Afghanistan under Taliban rule are comparable to the free speech debate in the US.
When Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid was asked about freedom of speech in Afghanistan under the militant regime, he used whataboutism — a classic Soviet propaganda tool — to deflect blame onto the US and tech companies.
"This question should be asked to those people who are claiming to be promoters of freedom of speech who do not allow publication of full information ... I can ask Facebook company. This question should be asked to them," Mujahid said.
Trump Jr. quoted a tweet featuring Mujahid's comments and added, "LOL... Also not wrong."
The younger Trump was presumably referring to the fact that his father was banned from Facebook, Twitter, and most other major social media platforms after he incited the deadly January 6 Capitol insurrection. Trump Jr. and multiple Republican lawmakers have painted the former president's de-platforming as a violation of free speech rights. The 1st amendment guarantees citizens that the government cannot censor their speech.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz also took to Twitter Wednesday to say that the "Taliban and Trump should both be on Twitter."
He went on to say that the brutal terrorist group is "more legitimate than the last government in Afghanistan or the current government here."
The Taliban recently waged a brutal insurgency against the US, its NATO allies, and the US-backed Afghan government to regain control of the country. The militant group terrorized Afghanistan for years, often killing civilians in devastating bombings and other violent attacks. In one instance earlier this month, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing targeting Afghanistan's acting defense minister that killed eight people.
The Islamist militant group previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, instituting laws based on a strict interpretation of the Quran. The Taliban enforced these laws with brutal public punishments, including executions in Kabul's soccer stadium. Women, in particular, had few, if any, rights under the Taliban and saw their lives and access to education restricted in myriad ways.
The Taliban marched into Kabul on Sunday after rapidly taking over major cities — in many cases without much fighting — prompting the Afghan president to flee the country.
The Taliban has adopted a more moderate tone in public statements this week. A spokesperson for the Taliban on Tuesday said that no one in Afghanistan would be harmed, but within a day, a protest against Taliban rule in Jalalabad turned deadly when the militants opened fire on peaceful demonstrators.
The Taliban spokesperson claimed women's rights would be respected "within the limits of Islam." But those assurances have rung hollow for Afghan women, many of whom in recent days have expressed fears that the Taliban will kill them now that it's back in control.
Trump and Republicans' statements praising the terror group are all the more noteworthy given the GOP's years of chest-thumping about the threat of "radical Islamic terrorism."
In June, Republicans moved to censure Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar after falsely accusing her of equating the US and Israel with the Taliban and Hamas. This came after Omar referenced open International Criminal Court probes into potential war crimes committed by the US, Israel, Hamas, and the Taliban while questioning the top US diplomat on America's opposition to such inquiries.
Less than a month out from the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks, many prominent Republicans, including the leader of the party, are striking a markedly different tone about the Taliban as they criticize Biden over the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
And yet, in just the days since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, some Republicans have used the conflict to accuse others of harboring anti-American sentiment.
One recipient of these bad-faith attacks was CNN's Clarissa Ward, who has risked her security to broadcast a series of devastating reports from on the ground in Kabul and been accosted by militants.
In one report, Ward commented on how "bizarre" the Taliban's behavior was.
After noting how some Afghans approached the fighters to take pictures, Ward said, "They're just chanting, 'Death to America,' but they seem friendly at the same time. It's utterly bizarre."
Trump Jr. and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas immediately seized on Ward's statement, accusing her and CNN of being anti-American.
"Is there an enemy of America for whom @CNN WON'T cheerlead?" Cruz tweeted. "In mandatory burkas, no less."
Trump Jr. piled on, tweeting, "Isn't this the same network that brought us 'mostly peaceful protests?'" likely referring to last year's antiracism protests that swept the country after George Floyd's murder.