Old Joe Biden’s handlers have done a great deal for the Taliban in the last week, but one thing they can’t do is ensure that the jihad group receives the same kind of fawning, sycophantic press treatment that the Biden administration gets here at home, or at least did up until this debacle in Afghanistan. And so it was that a Taliban spokesman was asked Tuesday about the Taliban’s commitment to the freedom of speech, which is rather like asking Josef Stalin about his commitment to safeguarding capitalism in the Soviet Union. The Taliban spokesman, however, responded with a deft bit of whataboutery that showed he wasn’t some bumpkin who just rode into Kabul on a donkey to see the big doings: “This question should be asked to those people who pretend to be promoters of freedom of speech who do not allow publication of all information. I could ask Facebook company. This question should be asked of them.”
It’s to laugh, it’s to cry. The Taliban guy’s answer didn’t tell us anything about the Taliban’s commitment to the freedom of speech, which is nonexistent anyway, as criticism of Islam is outlawed on penalty of death by the Islamic law that the Taliban have vowed to implement, but it was interesting to see that the news about the determination of Facebook, and presumably also the other social media giants, to stamp out dissent from the Leftist agenda has traveled all the way to the farthest reaches of Afghanistan. Many Americans seem to assume that the Taliban are a bunch of half-savage Luddites from the sticks, but they turn out to be quite aware of the wider world, and quite certain of their place in it.
Maybe the Taliban is secure in the knowledge that the social media giants don’t seem to be all that concerned about their use of their platforms. Taliban spokesmen operate freely on Twitter, while someone the Twitter top dogs think is really dangerous, one Donald J. Trump, remains banned. Facebook banned the Taliban years ago but is even now allowing Taliban leaders to communicate with the Afghan people through WhatsApp, which Facebook has owned since 2014. Most astonishing of all, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) that is run by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube lists al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other jihadi groups as terrorists, but not the Taliban. This is the group that lists my organization, Jihad Watch, which simply tracks and analyzes jihad activity, under the category of “violent extremism.” But not the Taliban.
Taliban jihadis have clearly been watching as the infidel social media giants allowed them to use their platforms and turned a blind eye to their terrorist activity while moving swiftly and ruthlessly against dissidents in the United States and elsewhere in the West, and even against a sitting president of the United States. Now they no doubt see the Western establishment media running interference for them, spreading soothing myths about a “moderate faction” of the Taliban even as one Taliban spokesman reminded the world on CNN that the jihad wouldn’t end with Afghanistan, but would eventually be coming to your town, too. It must be hard for them to avoid the conclusion that Allah is indeed merciful: He confuses the infidels into making excuses for the warriors of jihad and spreading comforting fantasies about them, even as they remind the infidels that they’re still on the list for conquest and subjugation.
But as the Taliban spokesman noted, the social media giants are otherwise occupied. They’re too busy acting against conservatives to pay much attention to a group that just mounted a real insurrection and has openly avowed that it plans to export its jihad outside Afghanistan once again, as it did on September 11, 2001. No one really takes that seriously, and if the Taliban or its jihadi allies succeed in carrying out another major attack against the U.S., the political class and the establishment media will find some way to blame it on Donald Trump and his supporters. And the scapegoating and silencing of them will continue.
The Taliban spokesman’s comment about Facebook makes it clear: the whole world knows that the social media giants are clamping down on dissent, and yet no one seems willing or able to do anything effective about it. It’s hard to see how this could end well, except possibly for the Taliban.