American Taliban, Cont.

Yesterday, Gen. David Petraeus condemned the planned book burning by right-wing Christians in Florida as harmful to American interests:

Gen. David H. Petraeus on Tuesday denounced plans by a Florida church to burn copies of the Koran this weekend, saying the demonstration could ‘endanger troops’ and damage the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan.

‘It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems,’ Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said in a statement. ‘Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.’

Media Matters' Oliver Willis reads Petraeus as equating Christian fundamentalists with the Taliban -- like Markos Moulitsas would -- but that strikes me as a real stretch. Petraeus is talking about Taliban propaganda, and in that context, to say that "this is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses" isn't to compare the two groups but to say that the Taliban will almost certainly use this display of hostility toward Muslims to inflame its supporters, and push its claim that the United States is waging an explicit war against Islam. Which, unlike the alternative reading, has the virtue of actually being true.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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