Wednesday, July 17, 2002

American Taliban

When the news first broke of an American national being found in the midst of the Taliban forces, and the identity of John Walker Lindh was broadcast across the aether, one of the graduate students in the lab claimed to have grown up next door to John Lindh and to have played with him in their adjoining yards. No one believed him until the next morning when I answered the lab phone (I'm the only person in the lab who does) and was greeted by a Federal Agent who said it was imperative that he contact my labmate. I explained that he was not in the lab, but would return shortly, which was not what the agent wanted to hear, and wondered whether their voice recognition software was putting a black mark in my FBI folder. The student brought in some pictures from a scrapbook of him and the American Taliban playing together as children. It has colored my reading of the news regarding the American Taliban to be a friend of a friend.

I was reminded of John Lindh as I was reading the website of the REAL American Taliban, David McNamara. McNamara calls himself "anti-porn guy," which is an understatement of all that he is against. The parallels between his views and those of the Taliban are a stark reminder that all religious fundamentalism is the same, regardless of the religion in hides behind. It is also a reminder that as we point our collective American fingers at Islam we are ignoring our own lunatic fringe, who are just as dangerous and far better funded than Al Qaeda.

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