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Taliban Cops Aren't as Bad as American Cops
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Journalism needs a new rule. Are you reporting about a human rights violation in another country? If the United States commits the same offense, you should be required to refer to that fact in your article or broadcast.

Criticizing how a nation treats its prisoners or responds to internal dissent implies that the behavior being discussed falls outside international norms. If your own country does the same thing and you don’t mention it, your lie by omission strips your story of context.

There have been many examples of such journalistic malfeasance in coverage of the Taliban since their takeover of Afghanistan.

“Taliban fighters used whips and sticks against a group of women protesting in Kabul,” CNN reported Sept. 9. “The fighters also beat a number of journalists covering the demonstration, according to witnesses.”

This is terrible. Violent suppression of peaceful protests should be covered and widely circulated, as was this story. Although, it’s not hardly surprising that a brand-new revolutionary government may not be terribly tolerant of criticism less than two weeks after seizing power. The same goes for the brutal mistreatment of reporters.

Compared with the terrifying arsenal of devices wielded by the police and other officials against peaceful marchers who dare to protest the policies of the two-centuries-old United States of America, those Afghan women got off easy. Weapons deployed by U.S. authorities against peaceful Black Lives Matter marchers include pepper spray, pepper balls, blast balls, paintballs, tear gas, sting-ball and flashbang grenades, sponge rounds, rubber and wooden bullets and beanbag rounds, Tasers and Long Range Acoustic Devices, aka sound cannons.

“Horrible, nauseating pain hit my body,” journalist Cory Choy, who was covering the 2014 BLM protests when he was attacked by a sonic weapon deployed by the NYPD, told Popular Mechanics, “and then I realized it was sound. At first you just think, ‘What’s happening to me?’ Your body goes into complete pain and panic mode. It’s the sound equivalent of looking into the sun.”

In 2020, Buffalo police gratuitously shoved a 75-year-old attending a BLM protest to the ground, leaving the man unconscious and bleeding from his ear, without calling an ambulance. That same year, mounted police in Houston used horses to trample demonstrators. I would rather face sticks and whips than a weaponized horse.

The fact that American cops treat protesters more viciously and more violently than the Taliban in no way excuses the brutality of the Taliban. But news consumers need and deserve context. In this example, beatings of the Afghan women should probably have run under the headline “Compared to Americans, Taliban Response to Protests is Restrained.”


Western media outlets responded with similarly context-free outrage to the Taliban’s announcement that demonstrators would have to apply for a permit before they were allowed to protest on streets in Afghanistan. “The interior ministry of the new Taliban government is seeking to end protests in Afghanistan after days of demonstrations that have brought heavy-handed assaults on protesters,” reported the Associated Press. But their lede was belied by the second sentence of their coverage: “The minister has issued an order to end all protests in the country — unless demonstrators get prior permission, including approval of slogans and banners.” You can protest. But you need permission, which is appalling.

The right to peacefully petition the government over grievances goes back thousands of years and has been honored by absolute monarchs. No one, anywhere, should have to apply for a protest permit.

As everyone who has ever been involved in street activism knows, however, Americans do not enjoy significantly more rights than the people of Afghanistan when they decide to pick up signs and march down a public street. Like the Taliban, American cops require that you file for a protest permit. If you ignore the requirement, they crush you like a bug.

On the weekend of Aug. 28, National Parks police issued six protest permits to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, a commemoration of the first March on Washington, a march in favor of D.C. statehood, another for criminal justice reform and, ironically, a march for the First Amendment. These protest permits allowed these groups to walk on the National Mall, which is public property. I say the First Amendment is my protest permit.

Philadelphia, cradle of American liberty, requires a protest permit for any gathering involving more than 75 people. These rules are commonplace throughout the United States, as are the notorious “free speech zones” that place demonstrators so far away from the targets of their complaints that they might as well be on the moon.

Perhaps someday outrage over oppression in places like Afghanistan will prompt Americans to take note of, and do something about, suppression of dissent here at home.

Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.”

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Judicial System, Police, Taliban 
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  1. I’d like to see a similar standard for anyone proposing ‘change’ through the state. It should be acknowledged openly and repeatedly that all such twaddle is the advocacy, for political purposes, of violence against anyone who disagrees. Includes ordinance, law, ‘code’, ‘policy’, ‘guideline’, constitutional amendment, ‘executive order’, etc. No brainwashing/scepterflage because you’ve appealed to the biggest goon for aid—a goon so horrendous and large that the threat of violence need only be in the æther.

    Oops, there went every ‘progressive’ mewl (noun) chickenshit bully TR’s ever proposed or believed. Damned theatrical hypocrite.

  2. ruralguy says:

    Weapons deployed by U.S. authorities against peaceful Black Lives Matter marchers include …

    Peaceful BLM “protests”? I drove through 3.5 miles of those peaceful protests in St. Paul Minnesota, along University Avenue, a week after the “riots.” Over 1500 businesses incurred property damage, in Mpls and St. Paul, with 500 set on fire. In that 3.5 mile drive, I saw every business and store was boarded up, except for the burned-down businesses. BLM and the antifa graffiti marred everything. I knew two owners of businesses, because I shopped there about once per month. The University Ave business owners were mostly Asian. Some were just devastated, losing a lifetime of savings, because they couldn’t afford the insurance. Other lost decades of savings. My relatives tell me Lake Street in Minneapolis was the same, except there was five miles of destruction. The destruction also occurred outside of those riot zones, with the left’s idolized blacks looting and destroying grocery stores everywhere. Seriously, Ted Rall, how can you possibly see peaceful protests in that anarchy, looting, rioting, and arson?

    • Replies: @Currahee
    , @WJ
  3. Currahee says:

    Ted Rall, serious?

    • Replies: @Wyatt
  4. Dear Neocons,

    Nobody cares about the Taliban outside of Afghanistan. Give it up.

  5. Rambam says:

    BLM is a U.S. intelligence operation. Their riots are television productions.
    They use actors. Really poor actors. Your use of them in this article strips your story of context.


  6. Oh yeah, the peaceful protests that burned down the blue cities (not that I give a shit) and every bit of the BLM chaos was approved with a permit. Ted, really? THAT’S the hill you die on to make your ridiculous point? You’d do better to point out that our civilian police are really highway men, robbers and thieves and instruments of tyranny with their traffic tickets and civil asset forfeiture and everyday brutality on behalf of local, state and the federal government. That they stop some protests (right wing) while allowing BLM the full fury of the negro agenda in the streets puts context to the argument that the U.S. is far, far worse than the Taliban in that the tyrannical U.S. still claims we have equal protection under the law, a longtime lie. Throw in canceling, deplatforming from social media and banking, and we’re worse in the U.S. than the old Soviet Union. You ignore all this and denigrate the Taliban? To say one is better is to ignore the reality of both.

    For fuck’s sake, Ted.

    • Agree: ruralguy
    • Replies: @Anon
  7. Wyatt says:

    Ted Rall, serious.

    Count the extra chromosomes 😀

  8. Weapons deployed by U.S. authorities against peaceful Black Lives Matter …..

    And that’s where I stopped reading right there.


    What the fuck is wrong with you, Ted?

    To say nothing of the fact that NOTHING was deployed against them. They were allowed to burn, rape, murder, and take over.

    I am as usual gobsmacked that people like Ted are so out of touch with reality. Truly insane.

    • Agree: ruralguy
  9. meamjojo says:

    I’d like to see us follow the Taliban justice system for punishment.

    Thieves lose their fingers or hands. Find a way to steal again, off with your arms. Shoot someone with a gun? Lose both hands. You won’t be able to hold a gun any longer!

    And punishment in the public square in the stocks or by hanging till dead sets a fearsome example.

  10. Anon[222] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim Christian

    You nailed it!

    I don’t think that I’d like to live in a place where thieves have their hands chopped off in public but it would be really good to live in a place where people weren’t stealing stuff all of the time and on so many levels.

  11. anon[681] • Disclaimer says:

    Rall is exactly right here. US pigs are the most psychotic, criminal pigs in the world. Government clot shot requirements will kill or cripple the stupider ones and purge the less stupid ones, reducing the overall criminal capacity of US pigs and reducing the cost of these parasites’ pensions. So that’s one advantage. But you all will eventually have to view pigs as the 4-F grunts of an occupying army.

  12. WJ says:

    “Peaceful BLM protests”? Such stupid shit is not worth arguing , reading , discussing. The writer is on a fuckin dope.

    Trump would still be president if he had ordered real bullets used against the BLM assholes.

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