A Teachable Moment For Maggie Bornstein And Other Youth Activists Succumbing To Ends Justifying The Means Activism?

by Travis Mateer

Since moving to Missoula in 2017 from Massachusetts, political activist Maggie Bornstein has dedicated herself to influencing Montana politics.

In September of 2018, Bornstein framed her youthful enthusiasm for political activism in Montana like this:

My name is Maggie Bornstein and I am currently in my sophomore year at the University of Montana, where I study African-American studies. Originally from Massachusetts, the first time I registered to vote in Montana was with FMF, and it wasn’t long after that I became an intern, then a fellow, and now and ambassador for the 6-Mill Levy on the campus that is my second home. In my current position, my love for education, youth power, and Montana have collided, and to put it simply, I am living the damn dream.

For Bornstein, living the damn Montana dream entailed a meteoric rise in the liberal activist world. Just two years after her work at Forward Montana, Bornstein’s political pedigree and accolades saw her up for some recognition with the 25 Under 25 awards as Bornstein prepared to graduate and enter THE REAL WORLD. From the link:

This spring, she will graduate with majors in African-American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Sociology and a certificate in Global Migration Studies. After working with Forward Montana during the 2018 cycle, she began her work with UM’s Women’s Resource Center, and began her directorship in the fall of 2019. Presently, Maggie serves as an intern with the Montana Human Rights Network, an ASUM senator, and a facilitator with the YWCA GUTS! program.

I didn’t know or care about any of this until a letter to the editor popped up from Maggie Bornstein claiming Mayoral candidate Jacob Elder had right-wing funders who were militia supporting homophobes. I wanted to know more about where Borstein was getting this idea, so I looked up her contact info and called her.

After leaving a message, Maggie Bornstein called me back and we discussed our mutual concern about Jacob Elder. Bornstein indicated she couldn’t specify the sources of the claims she made in her public letter because it was based on information she learned about while interning for the Montana Human Rights Network, a fact I later confirmed in an email exchange with Travis McAdam.

That email exchange occurred on a Friday, which must have made for a LONG weekend for Maggie Bornstein. Why am I making the claim that Maggie Bornstein had a long weekend? Unlike Bornstein, I provide something called EVIDENCE of my claims.

The evidence that Maggie Bornstein had a long weekend waiting to communicate with me is this text message I received on Monday, May 10th, and 5:49am (I have cropped the image to omit the phone number):

I never responded to this text message because I felt doing so would be like walking into a trap. I figured this was just a bit of damage control (mixed with some projection) after probably getting a talking to by her non-profit employer regarding the needed boundaries between non-profit work and political activism.

But I’m not writing this post and sharing screen shots of text messages because of interactions from all the way back in May.

No, I’m writing this post because Maggie Bornstein has apparently learned NOTHING from the last few months of her activism, so it’s time for a more direct effort at providing an educational opportunity. If not for Maggie Bornstein, then for any young people out there who might be more receptive to listening to your elders (even if we are white and packing penises).

After writing this post about a politically connected couple benefiting from their access to subsidized housing (which draws heavily from the research of Mayoral candidate Greg Strandberg), City Council candidate J. Kevin Hunt brought attention to Strandberg’s research on Facebook.

This was Maggie Bornstein’s immediate reaction and my response:

I was not the only one who wanted evidence. After candidate Hunt made a similar request, this is how Bornstein responded:

I’m not going to counter Maggie Bornstein’s self-assessment that she is capable and intelligent. Instead, I’m going to opine on what I think Maggie Bornstein’s political activism is reflective of, and it’s not good.

Across many different kinds of demographic groups and institutions there seems to be a sense that the ends justify the means.

What is emboldening this, I would argue, is asymmetric encouragement by the predator class in order to keep us fighting each other over black/white, Democrat/Republican binaries instead of unifying the masses against the sociopath .000001%.

If Maggie Bornstein had been paying attention to the activism surrounding the abuse of Tax Increment Financing, she might have noticed how threatened our local oligarchs were at the sight of a VERY intelligent progressive like J. Kevin Hunt finding common cause with a conservative like Jesse Ramos.

THAT is the kind of collaboration that keeps the tippy-top investing in divide and conquer tactics so we, the peon serfs, will continue doing the dirty work for them while they spend time turning space into a tourist attraction for billionaires.

People who are aware of these dynamics are my allies, regardless of how they politically self-identify.

And the people who are NOT aware of these dynamics are, at best, providing comfort to sinister forces.

Please don’t help the entities that see us as herd animals to be culled. They are getting enough assistance already.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to A Teachable Moment For Maggie Bornstein And Other Youth Activists Succumbing To Ends Justifying The Means Activism?

  1. Pete Talbot says:

    Folks may have gotten the impression that mayoral candidate Greg Strandberg was homophobic when he penned this post back in April, 2020: http://www.bigskywords.com/montana-blog/shes-a-man

    • Timothy Adams says:

      I think this is more transphobic than homophobic. This is a legitimate debate among cisgender gay men, most of whom are not attracted to females or vagina. In fact, a lot of the claims being made by those who identify as trans end up erasing the existence of gay men and lesbians, since the assertion that gender is only a societal construct directly contradicts the fact that gay men and lesbians are born that way, not made. From what I’ve seen privately, a lot of lesbians have raised concern about the fact that if these young women were not herded into the trans train so young by trusted teachers/parents/medical professionals, they would just up to be lesbians.
      Regardless, Greg shouldn’t be so callous or malicious in what amounts to anti-gay harassment. He should at least apologize for the post, especially if he is serious about being mayor.

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