The American Taliban

The American Taliban

By M. L. Simon

The American Taliban

I don’t mean Johnny Walker. I mean the strain of American religious bigots who have been here since the beginning. The “my way or the highway” religionists. The “believe-like-me-or-else” religionists.

It is no accident that Jerry Falwell and Osama bin Laden have the same complaints about America. Too sexually permissive, too many homosexuals, too much alcohol and drug use, and not enough emphasis on religion in the schools and in the country.

What the Republican Religious Right and the Taliban forget, or more likely pay no attention to, is that most people don’t want to live in a theocracy. Given the choice, people the world over are putting the religious enforcers out of business.

In America, the choice was made quite early and at relatively little cost. I’m refering to the Salem Witch Trial where religious dogma was enforced by the secular authorities.

In addition, we had the example of the European religious wars fought on the basis of who was or was not a true Christian. We also had the notable example of the Inquisition that killed and tortured people with the wrong beliefs to save their souls.

Thomas Jefferson saw the folly of this sort of behavior and made religious indifference the conerstone of American federal government. Government was not allowed to be for or against religion. It could not favor one sect or religion over another. In this atmosphere, through a pluralism of beliefs, America is now one of the most religious countries on earth. Compare this with Europe, where interest in religion is indifferent at best. The rule is: if you force a man to do something, he will do the opposite. Otherwise, he will do as he pleases.

But we still have remnants in America of the Puritan totalitarianism. It is not just the American Taliban of the right against some recreational drugs and not others. We also have the Taliban of the left and the Tobacco wars. We know that the drug war has done nothing substantial to restrict supplies, but it has driven up the price. Correspondingly, the tobacco war has made no serious restriction on the availability of tobacco and use has stabilized or even started to rise.

So what have these puritan wars accomplished? They have enriched certain classes of people at the expense of others—your typical socialist wealth transfer. In the case of drugs, the main beneficiaries are enforcers, criminals, and terrorists. In the case of tobacco, the beneficiary has been government. Both cases represent a tax on the people. In the case of tobacco, the taxes come from the users and go to government. In the case of drugs, everyone is taxed to support the Government’s Cocaine Price Support and Gang Finance Program. The profits, of course, go to criminals and terrorists. Your government at work.

There are other issues that people believe can only be solved by men with guns—that organization otherwise known as government. Take gay marriage, or abortion, or the rights of plants, or what to eat for dinner, or what kind of fuel your car should use. Everyone thinks government should step in and force people to do the right thing. The problem with all these rules is that they act as a brake on whatever problem solutions might otherwise come up.

Take the anti-abortion folks. Had they put as much energy in finding a non-coercive solution to the problem of abortion as they had in getting the government to act, the number of abortions in America might have been greatly reduced. When they needed allies, they made enemies. Or the tobacco mess. Government is now addicted to tobacco money. Will there be much incentive to actually be effective in reducing smoking? The same can be said of drug war money. The government is addicted. The government’s only incentive is to maintain policies and programs that maintain or increase the number of users. And you thought the reason that the government was losing the war is because of the crafty Mexican smugglers. Government needs to come with a warning label: Ladies and gentlemen, whatever your problem—government is not the answer. Long-term use of this system for problem solutions can be dangerous to your Life, your Liberty, and your Pursuit of Happiness.

This week’s saying: Drug prohibition is a joke inspired by religion designed to enrich criminals and terrorists in the name of promoting morality. It is working, except for promoting morality.

Ask a politician: Do you support drug prohibition because it finances criminals at home or because it finances terrorists abroad?

This week’s politician:

Sam Brownback of Kansas (R)

Senate Judiciary Committee

phone: (202) 224- 6521

FAX: (620) 275-1837

www e-mail site:

M.L. Simon is an industrial controls designer and independent political activist (c) M. Simon – All rights reserved. Permission granted for one time use in a single periodical publication. Permission also granted for concurrent publication on the periodical’s www site.

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