The Democratic National Committee, under the leadership of interim chairperson Donna Brazile, has pared down the list of candidates for the next chairperson of the Party. And as befits Brazile, it did so clumsily, as
The Democratic National Committee is kicking a candidate out of the chairmanship race after he told The Hill that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) should not be the party’s next leader because he is a Muslim.
In a Jan. 5 email to The Hill, Vincent Tolliver, a former House candidate in Arkansas, said that Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, should not be chairman because of Islamic positions on homosexuality.
“His being a Muslim is precisely why DNC voters should not vote for him,” Tolliver wrote. “Muslims discriminate against gays. Islamic law is clear on the subject, and being gay is a direct violation of it. In some Muslim countries, being gay is a crime punishable by death.”
“Clearly, Mr. Ellison is not the person to lead the DNC or any other organization committed to not discriminating based on gender identity or sexual orientation,” Tolliver continued. “I'm shocked [the Human Rights Campaign] has been silent on the issue. A vote for Representative Ellison by any member of the DNC would be divisive and unconscionable, not to mention counterproductive to the immediate and necessary steps of rebuilding the Democratic Party."
The action came on the heels of Tolliver on Saturday having
participated in the DNC-sanctioned candidates forum in Houston.
The DNC announced on Tuesday that Tolliver would also be one of 11 candidates participating in the next forum in Detroit on Feb. 4.
But Tolliver is no longer invited to participate in the event.
"The Democratic Party welcomes all Americans from all backgrounds. What we do not welcome is people discriminating against others based on who they are or how they worship," interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile said in a statement to The Hill.
Point of order, Madame Chairwoman: Mr. Ellison (as far as we, or Brazile, know) has discriminated against no one. He has expressed a noxious viewpoint. In the world of public employment (which this is not) or in the city square, this would be termed "viewpoint discrimination."
Brazile proceeds to claim
we ask all our Chair candidates to pledge ‘to uphold the interests, welfare and success of the Democratic Party of the United States,’ and to participate in the process ‘in good faith.’ Mr. Tolliver’s disgusting comments attacking the religion of a fellow candidate fall far short of that standard. Accordingly, Mr. Tolliver is no longer a candidate for DNC Chair."
The gentle chairlady has not explained what part of “Muslims discriminate against gays. Islamic law is clear on the subject, and being gay is a direct violation of it. In some Muslim countries, being gay is a crime punishable by death" is inaccurate.
(I pause briefly to note this has nothing to do with Trump's refugee action. Four of the nations on his list punish homosexuality by death; three on his list do not; four which have the death penalty for homosexuality are not on his list.)
Ellison's spokesman himself pointed out "Keith has shown first-hand his commitment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, organizing tirelessly against the Minnesota anti-marriage equality amendment in 2012...." Being a thinking man, Ellison does not allow his religion of choice to dictate his views on all political or social issues, which the DNC (or candidates for its chairmanship) might have emphasized had it not shut Tolliver down. That, in turn, would have provided a neat contrast to many of the evangelical followers of the GOP, for whom "abortion is murder" is second only to "I am the Lord thy God." Theocracies may be dangerous to children and other living things.
Of course Brazile, who unethically tilted the presidential nominating process toward Hillary Clinton, may have her own motives. Tolliver might have picked up one, maybe two, votes while the primary impact of his statement (had he been allowed to remain in the race) would have been to provoke a backlash in favor of Ellison. His election would not amuse such neo-liberal stalwarts as Barack Obama and Joe Biden. That sound you hear is of the popping of the cork in Tom Perez's champagne bottle.
We can as Democrats shut up our opponents by suppressing their speech, as the destructive Brazile prefers. However, anarchists in Berkeley, California and- far more ominously- Trump, Bannon, Conway et al. already are going down that road, and it is not a pretty sight.