Markos Calls Out Right-Wing Extremists

Markos Moulitsas

DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas speaking last Wednesday night at LA's Immanuel Presbyterian Church.

This couldn’t be a worse time in America’s turbulent history for progressives to be defeatist and apathetic. Today’s Republican Party, in all its unapologetic nihilism and sociopathy, could potentially make substantial gains in November’s midterm elections – if not take over Congress entirely. The United States is literally at a fork in the road: one path heads toward enlightenment and egalitarianism; the other, toward theocratic despotism. The choices we make in November could determine which path America takes.

Progressives really need to take the possibility of a right-wing authoritarian regime in the United States much more seriously, and take the necessary steps to prevent these forces from gaining power. That was the message DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas delivered to an audience who gathered last Wednesday night at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles organized by the Los Angeles Media Reform Group.* Moulitsas spoke and signed copies of his new book, American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right.


Crooks and Liars cofounder John Amato and Alliance Hollywood's Nomiki Konst with Markos.

In the book, Moulitsas compares American right-wing extremism – made up of elements such as anti-abortionists, religious fundamentalists, anti-tax Tea Party activists, and militia groups – to the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban. Moulitisas says there is very little difference between the values of the American right and the Taliban, and both groups are willing to use force if they don’t get their way politically. He points out that the American right shares these views with the Taliban: theocratic tendencies; a zeal to keep women as second-class citizens; a pathological aversion to sexuality; a distaste for modernity; and a hostility toward science, education and intellectualism.

“It’s really fun to laugh at them,” Moulitisas told the audience, referring to the American right. “as long as they don’t shoot people up and take power.”

LAMRG cofounder Tapia Martinez warms up the crowd.

The comparison to the Taliban has elicited criticism from an unexpected place: other liberal commentators. The American right isn’t committing widespread, sadistic violence of the kind the Taliban are infamous for, Moilitsas’s liberal critics say. But Moulitsas counters that American right-wing extremists are quite capable of such behavior, and have done so in the past – for example lynching in the Jim Crow South. It’s the modern American legal system that is constraining right-wing extremists from carrying out their most violent fantasies. That’s why, Moulitsas said, there have been concerted efforts by the right to delegitimize the American legal system and undo the protections vulnerable minority groups have won in recent decades.

“We can’t sit here and pretend that this isn’t a violent movement…just because (conservative commentator) Ann Coulter hasn’t beheaded anybody,” said Moulitsas. “The fact is, they’re primed for violence.”

Moulitsas pointed to the uptick in violent incidents connected to right-wing extremism since Barack Obama’s election to the presidency in 2008. So far, he said, the Tea Party has served as a non-violent outlet for right-wing aggressiveness, but there could be a shift into more widespread violent incidents if Republicans don’t take control of Congress in November, and especially, if President Obama wins re-election in 2012.

markos“These are not people who value democracy,” Moulitsas said.

It’s troubling that some on the left want to downplay the threat that right-wing extremism in the United States poses. The famous saying by novelist Sinclair Lewis is a warning all of us must heed: “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” Pretending that fascism can’t happen here because that isn’t part of the American psyche is just plain naive and dangerous. It’s part of the myth of American exceptionalism at its best, Moulitisas says. People are capable of the worst atrocities under the right circumstances – say, an economic collapse or perpetual warfare. And those who seek absolute power – as many on the American right desire – will do anything to get it. Many civilizations throughout history have degenerated from enlightened societies to corrupt dictatorships after some sort of colossal shock or change. Many people of good conscience were either too fearful or too dismissive of the threat to stop that descent.

Sylvia MooreThe U.S. is going through such a shock right now. Moulitsas is correct when he says that we can’t be polite to or negotiate with extremists, no matter where they reside, in the Middle East or in America. Our society – including our media and our civic institutions – must no longer enable and legitimize right-wing extremist rhetoric, but expose and ostracize it.

Sylvia Moore

Listen to the full event here

Photographs by Talib Haqq, Wadeva Images.


*The LA Media Reform group is sponsoring this event in collaboration with the LA Progressive, Alliance Hollywood, and Netroots Nation:

  • The Los Angeles Media Reform Group focuses on holding news outlets accountable to the public interest and encouraging citizens to create their own media, and to be critical consumers of the mass media. Its next annual workshop will be Saturday, February 26th, 2011, at Occidental College.
  • The LA Progressive is a two-year-old electronic magazine that comments daily on issues of political, social, and cultural consequence to progressives in Los Angeles and everywhere.
  • Alliance Hollywood is a social advocacy group that utilizes the voice, media and financial power of the entertainment industry to fight corporate interest groups on Capitol Hill.
  • Netroots Nation amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate.

la media reform groupLA Media Reform Group Members: Dick Price, Nomiki Konst, Sharon Kyle, Sylvia Moore, John Amato — back row. Amanda Shaffer and Will Coley — front row. Missing: Anjuli Kronheim, Crystal Rafferty, and Tapia Martinez.


  1. Ryder says

    So… this piece is all about creating fear in readers, in order to consolidate power on the left?


    What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    The Right has complained of the left that they are trying to create an impossible socialist utopia… and will bankrupt the nation as it converts innovative American risk takers (you know, the ones that turned a backwater British colony into a world power with highest standards of living)… into people fully dependent on inadequate government services for everything from income to health, to housing, to food…

    I ask you, who has been more correct? Has the right become violent? They have enjoyed the right to keep and bear arms for hundreds of years… where is the war waged by our gun toting right wing population??? Is it they who are shooting up our city streets?


    Yet their predictions of a failed left leaning utopia bankrupting the nation are turning out to be VERY true.

    Our national debt tracks social programs perfectly… and the programs keep coming… obscene medical benefits, retirement benefits, government worker benefits… all paid for with borrowed money… and now social security is running negative just as the biggest USERS of social security are now entering retirement, and will drag our entire economy to its knees.

    EVERYONE knows this. The numbers are plain, and every economist and congressman can tell you. You can visit government web sites that will tell you in black and white how screwed we are by these schemes.

    And still the socialist programs (which we were told would end poverty LONG ago… but obviously haven’t!), and the failed centralized government education system (which we were told would improve education in the US, but obviously haven’t!)… and the programs keep on coming… Already Obamacare is turning out to be very different than what we were told.

    So, as far as predictions of right wing violence… I think you are engaging in a massive fantasy… who exactly are they going to attack? Their neighbors? To what ends? You are trying to generate fear and distrust of our neighbors, and that is a pretty nasty thing to do. They have been well armed for ages… and the facts seem to be that you are in far more danger from gang related drug battles than shotgun toting country boys who are “out to get you” for some strange reason.

    Yet on the other hand… THEIR warnings about the progressive left all seem to be coming true… and expanding poverty AND dependence on government… more and more intrusion of government into daily life where there is nothing they won’t regulate or tax out of existence.

    Sorry… I think you are out of touch, and are rather on the nasty side of human kind for spreading fear of your neighbors in order to grow power.

    At least the right isn’t promoting fear of progressives on the left… they say to fear government growth and the AGENDA of the left… as opposed to you that tries literally to compare the rank and file right to terrorists who will do violence.

    Could you possibly be more desperate?


    • Paul McDermott says

      Ryder, you seem to be ignoring the elephant in the room. It is our huge and ever-increasing military budget that is driving up the national debt. Why do we have to be the world’s policeman? It is this large U.S. military presence around the world that is making us the world’s pariah.
      You would no doubt concur with the Washington Post and teabag republicans that it’s our entitlement programs, like Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and public healthcare that need to be jettisoned and not our military overreach.

  2. Joshua says

    ““When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” ”

    I get annoyed when leftist quote this because it flies in the face of history. Look at the Big dictatorships and genocidal regimes that have appeared in the Last 100 years are any of them BOTH relgious and Nationalistic? Soviet Communism, Italian Fascists, The Nazi Regime , Chineese Communism, The Kymer Rouge and the Baathist regime of Iraq, most are viciously atheistic , based on a secular ideology that has much more in common with the Modern Left than the Modern Right. The Only Theocratic Dictatorship That I am aware of is Iran and they pale in comparrison to the aforementioned Tyrants (so far).

    How Markos “proves” his beleifs is, more likeley than not, a series of Fallacious arguments strung together for a left wing echo chamber. None of his points can survive logically applied Historical Facts, he and his arguments are phony.

    I am sure he will make a bunch of money plugging his book. Markos along with other Leftist Grandstanders (Al Gore comes to mind) are just wolves-in-sheep’s clothing, or more acurately , Capitalists-in-Progressive’s clothing , getting stinking rich by parroting what the Leftist want to hear.

    Don’t beleive me, why not reserch it and see for yourself?

    • Paul McDermott says

      Josh, you seem to have selectively picked out secular ideologies, although Nazism, Italian and Spanish fascism were not secular. I would propose to you that any narrowly rooted ideology, fostered in an atmosphere of hostility and supported by authoritarianism, leads to violence.

  3. Robert A. Letcher says

    one way to read the upcoming election may turn out to be as a final, official validation of the commonly held notion that the country suffers from irreconcilable differences. It.s not clear that the framers–ooops: the Framers–had anything more than democracy for white, male property owners; in my view, that’s the Senate’s job, Maybe not everything is as scaleable as needed to span the distance between post-Revolutionary US and contemporary (pre-Revolutionary?) US, what will keep people who don’t win from getting behind Sharon Angle’s “2nd Amendment Remedies”? Only a few countries have decided to go into history’s dustbin peacefully. I’m worried…. very worried.

  4. Jay Levenberg,Esq. says

    I wish Markos would save his energy for the radical Islamists that want to destroy this country. I’m not fond of the home grown radicals either but we really must be paying more attention to the more direct threat to this country. There are many in this country that think the leader in Iran is some kind of crackpot. In fact, he is more like Hitler than anything else. Yet, this Administration wants to negotiate with him. He will use any means at his disposal to destroy us including negotiations that lead nowhere. Unless and until this country decides on strict sanctions against Iran with or without the help of the UN, Iran will develop a nuclear weapon and worse, they won’t hesitate to use it.

    • Paul McDermott says

      What a bunch of hooey! Iran poses no threat to the U.S. If Iran does decide to build a bomb, it would only be to defend itself from Israeli aggression.
      Sure Ahmadinajad is a bit of a crackpot, but look at all the crackpots sprouting up all over the U.S. and Israel. An atmosphere of hostility breeds weirdos who ascribe to beliefs that are less and less connected with reality. And then, in addition to the weirdos, we have those who profit off those hostilities.

  5. says

    The problem is that having a slightly-less-right(ie left) authoritarian regime isn’t that much better of a choice, which is basically what we have now. Sure there are a number of differences between the far-right and the left, but these differences are much smaller when you compare the “right” to the “left”.

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