Monday, August 6, 2007

Markos Moulitsas: A Lifetime Insensitive to Democratic Party Constituencies

Markos Moulitsas: A lifetime of insensitivity
to the diverse constituencies of the Democratic Party.

I just watched a videotape from YearlyKos 2007, the annual meeting of the whitosphere sponsored by DailyKos. Describing the purpose of this YearlyKos video, one woman said, "This is a community that really is discovering itself by real name and what people really look like for the first time, and it is truly, truly exciting." Through this video, I confirmed a suspicion: that the Democratic Party's most loyal constituency - Black people - was virtually ignored in this presentation.

At the 2004 Democratic Convention, 20% of delegates were Black and Blacks were the only demographic group whose voter participation significantly increased. But, out of some sixty people interviewed in this YearlyKos video or seen perambulating in the background, not a single one of them was Black. Moreover, non of the participants featured in this video were non-white Latino or Asian. Aside from the presence of Markos Moulitsas and his wife, the video was as all-white as a meeting of the Klu Klux Klan.

This video, entitled "Putting Names to Faces," confirms that this year's YearlyKos was just as virtually all-white as last year's YearlyKos. The video featured DailyKos front-pagers, but not one non-white front-pager was shown.

As a Black member of the Democratic Party, I can't get "excited" that a virtually all-white pressure group wants to "crash the gates" of the Party and remake the Democratic Party in its own image. To me, it is a recipe not for success, but rather for electoral and social and political disaster, if followed to its logical conclusion.

A determined effort to make the Democratic Party into a whites-only party will lead to electoral defeat and quite possibly lead to civil strife. If the white supremacist (supreme at least in numbers) bloggers are successful, they will alienate the Black and Latino base of the Democratic Party, decrease Blacks' political influence and lead to new civil strife, national riots that could be greater than those which led to the diversification of the Democratic Party in the 1960's.

Just like last year's video evidence, this video shows the real agenda of DailyKos and YearlyKos: to create a smaller and less radical Democratic Party that doesn't include Black and Latino people, and thereby politically neuter and decrease the influence of Democrats in national politics.

The exclusivity of DailyKos and YearlyKos should surprise no one, since Markos Alberto Moulitsas Zúñiga's aversity to diversity was apparent as early as 1993, when he was a freshman at Northern Illinois University.

On December 2, 1993, staff reporter Jean Voltz of the Northern Illinois University campus newspaper, the "Northern Star," reported on the spring 1993 staffing of Northern Star, including the announcement that Markos Moulitsas would serve as "special projects editor" for the spring 1994 semester. (Apparently, some people already referred to Markos Alberto C. Moulitsas Zúñiga as "Markos Moulitsas" at that time.)

However, prior to this appointment as special projects editor, Cherry Andel, a business student at NIU, had criticized Moultisas' stand against gays in the military, saying:

I'd like to address this letter to Marcos C. Moulitsas. First, do not assume that former military service people share your views. Rest assured that this one does not. I resent the fact that you assume that just because I'm prior service, I share your opinion.

Second, if a military unit is inefficient and morale is down, that is the entire unit's fault and not just one soldier's fault. As military personnel, we are trained to accomplish a mission. If you cannot accomplish that mission because you're worried about who's watching you while you change your underwear, it sounds like you don't have the right mental attitude. Northern Star, February 5, 1993
Ms. Andel was referring to Moulitsas' January 25, 1993 essay published at the Northern Star campus newspaper in which he said:
Military Right

Published on: Monday, January 25, 1993

It's truly disturbing how much ado has been made over Bill Clinton's campaign promise to lift the ban on homosexuals from the U.S. military. It's ironic how it has taken a president who has never served in the military to make a promise that affects the military in such a negative manner.

Those who have served in the military, such as myself, understand the demands and pressures of military life are incompatible with allowing integration with homosexuals. I'm neither socially conservative or prejudiced, and neither is liberal columnist Mike Royko, Gen. Colin Powell, and influential liberal Democrats Sam Nunn and Les Aspin, all who've come out against lifting the ban.

Under military circumstances, as much has to be done as possible to focus the unit's mission and keep disciplinary problems to a minimum. Worrying about whether the known homosexual sleeping next to you is watching as you change your underwear may seem trivial as you read this, but to the soldier who's short-tempered after three weeks in the field and four hours of daily sleep, it becomes a matter of great importance to his pride and sensibilities. And in any case, there aren't many people who would change clothes in a group of co-workers if members of the opposite sex were in the same room watching. There is something inherently uncomfortable about it.

Such fears would go a long way in disrupting efficiency and morale in a unit.



Freshman Northern Star, January 25, 1993
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Brand, a sophomore at NIU, characterized Moulitsas published positions against religion as "obscure, distorted, and ignorant" and constituting "downright discrimination" against religious people. She said,
One cannot possibly fully understand the workings of one man's mind, let alone find it one's place to judge the monstrous network of any realm of spiritual belief and all its endeavorers. I understand that in your healthy skepticism you would find it impossible to seek refuge in any religion, but everyone's world is as tangent and deserving of respect, as subjectively REAL, as yours is to you. Northern Star, October 14, 1993
Moulitsas record on covering color-aroused antagonism in the student paper seemed to show his insensitivity as well. In August and September of 1993, Moulitsas was assigned to write a a four-part series of articles on "racism" for the "Northern Star." In the third essay of the series, Moulitsas wrote:
Read the following story: An African-American female student is walking by Village Commons Bookstore heading towards Lincoln Hall with her eight-year-old brother and six-year-old sister. Suddenly, a pick-up truck carrying about seven or eight white males pulls up along side the three and showers them with eggs while shouting ethnic slurs. And although the student isn't hit, her brother and sister are.

How is a person supposed to deal with such a situation? How does a person remain at ease after experiencing such a painful racial attack?

Thankfully, events like these are not an everyday occurrence on this campus. NIU has a relatively low amount of overt racism, and racial violence shows up on campus only once every couple of years.

Still, African-Americans do feel quite a bit of quiet racism built upon the ignorance and insensitivity of people unable to understand the differences in cultures and the pressures of being a minority.

"It's very subtle," said Paula Thomas, president of the NIU Black Choir. "Sometimes people are unaware that they are offending you. Most of it is just ignorance." Northern Star, September 1, 1993.
In fact one paragraph of Moultisas' story showed the very real severity of the problem of interaction between people of different skin colors at NIU:
Within the last couple of years, racial events at NIU have ranged from the painting of swastikas on the dorm rooms of Jewish students, dorm residents seeing "Kill All Niggers" painted with shoe polish on the snow outside their windows, and NIU student Paul Engel's poetry which was labeled Nazi, racist and homophobic by much of the NIU community to less blatant, but equally destructive racial slurs thrown out of car windows. Northern Star, September 1, 1993.
However, he said in a essay concluding the series, Moulitsas that he was glad his work confronting the issue was simply over and done with:
Today the Star ran the last of my four-part series on racism at NIU. Having been a project that dominated my life for the last couple of weeks, I was more than glad to have it finished and over with so I could return to the mundane world of Faculty Senate meetings and other reporter stuff." Northern Star, September 2, 1993.
Apparently, this was an an assignment that Moulitsas did not relish and he was glad to have his study of racism over and done with. In spite of being partly Salvadoran, Moulitsas never considered himself to be subject to racism and always considered himself to be simply "white." When he finished writing his series on racism for the school paper, he said,
And as I left the ugly reality of racism behind, it struck me that what was such an easy and trivial exercise for me would be impossible for anyone whose skin color or religious persuassion (sic) made them the target of bigotry and discrimination. They would never be able to escape who they were. Northern Star, September 2, 1993. (Emphasis added.)
One wonders whether for Blacks the act of retelling their experiences with color-aroused antagonism was as "trivial" as Moulitsas experience reporting upon them. In any case, by comparing himself to and distinguishing himself from those who "would never be able to escape who they were," because of their skin-color or religion, Moulitsas clearly is saying that he could escape because his religion and skin color did not make him a "target of bigotry." So, when he finished his two week journalism assignment to think and write about matters of bigotry, it was "easy" for him to forget all about it, even though he was still a staff reporter for the student newspaper.

It seems likely that Blacks on campus felt insulted once again when they read in the campus newspaper that the student reporter who had done the four-part series on color-aroused antagonism was "more than glad to have it finished and over with," a public statement that would have seemed like more of the same "ignorance" that Paula Thomas complained of above. Indeed, this was probably precisely the sort of pervasive and public insensitivity that Ms. Thomas was complaining about. Although Moulitsas had now studied "racism" for two weeks, he clearly was not moved to do anything at all about it and made no effort in his series to inspire others to do anything about it.

Moulitsas observed during his series that minorities were "underrepresented in the faculty ranks" at his alma mater, with Blacks and Latinos representing "2 and 2.2 percent of the total faculty, respectively." And yet, 14 years later, there was still a higher percentage of minorities on the faculty of Moulitsas alma mater than there are Black and Latino participants at DailyKos and YearlyKos.

Of course DailyKos defenders insist that outside forces make it impossible for them to recruit more minorities to DailyKos and YearlyKos. Moulitsas would have us believe that it was easier to find Black doctorates for an Illinois college faculty in 1993 than it is to find Black Democrats with broadband connections in the year 2007. Is YearlyKos an Overwhelmingly, Disproportionately White Gathering?

Moulitsas' approach to politics in general and to Party diversity in particular remind me of the words of a 1980's rap song: "Self-destruction, ya headed for self-destruction!" But, in his determination to create a virtually all-white political apparatus and take over the Democratic Party, Moulitsas seems determined to take the entire Democratic Party down with him to electoral defeat.


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