My beef with the Women’s March is not over its goals, which (I think) are to promote equality of women everywhere; I certainly agree with that. And in general I think the movement has been a net good: by promoting women’s activism in politics and society, it must have been at least partly responsible for the rise of progressive women candidates in this fall’s elections, many of whom were voted in.
No, my beef is with the leadership of the Women’s March and the tone they’ve imparted to the March. I refer in particular to Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Tamika Mallory, who have regularly praised terrorists (including cop killers as well as Hamas), associated themselves with anti-Zionism and the eliminate-Israel BDS movement, and osculated the tuchas of Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam and America’s most famous anti-Semite and homophobe. He’s also a sexist and a critic of against transgender people.
The views of the leadership have trickled down to some of the feminists in the movement. So, for example, Chicago’s Dyke March, which occurred several months after the Women’s March, kicked out a group of Jewish lesbians who wanted to march under the “Jewish Pride” flag, simply because it showed a Jewish Star of David imposed on a rainbow-striped flag.
It just won’t do for a progressive and supposedly intersectionalist group (its formal name is “Women’s March Inc.”) to demonize other historically oppressed groups, namely Jews and gays. But one of the implicit aims of at least the leaders of Women’s March, Inc. seems to be eliminating the state of Israel and promoting anti-Semitism.
Note that the “Unity Principles” of the Women’s March, Inc. (I use its name to distinguish it from different Women’s March groups; see below), are these:
We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights. We must create a society in which women – including Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.
As the NY Post article below points out, Jewish women are conspicuously absent from this statement, even though, on a per capita basis, U.S. Jews are subject to more hate crimes than members of any other group.
At any rate, in just the past few days the Women’s March seems to be fracturing over the anti-Semitism of its leadership. A few days ago, I reported that actor Alyssa Milano said she won’t speak at the Women’s March in the future unless its leaders disavow their association with Louis Farrakhan and his reprehensible views.
Now, as reported by Advocate.com (click on screenshot below), actor Debra Messing has joined Milano in repudiating the anti-Semitism of the Women’s March. Messing is Jewish, a big advocate of LGBTQ rights, and was an active presence at the first Women’s March in 2017.
Here’s her statement; I expect there will be more from other people, but I also expect the Women’s March spokespeople will dismiss these statements as the patronizing views of “privileged white women”—indeed, they have already done so (see below). So much for women’s unity!
— Debra Messing✍🏻 (@DebraMessing) November 9, 2018
Third, we have the think tank of Germany’s Social Democratic Party—one of that nation’s two major political parties—rescinding its Humanitarian Award to the Women’s March because of Sarsour’s anti-Semitism (click on screenshot below):
The Jerusalem Post reports the contents of the letter that led to rescinding the humanitarian award:
“An organization that may support feminism, but discriminates against Jews and Zionists and denies Israel’s right to exist should not be honored by a democratic foundation that advocates diversity and speaks out against discrimination,” the young academics added in their letter.
The letter stated that “Since its inception in 2017, Women’s March USA has attracted media attention due to the antisemitism of its board members and chair women. Linda Sarsour, a member of the board and former president of Women’s March USA, is notorious for her propagation of antisemitism toward Israel. This transpired not only through her statement from March 2017 claiming that feminists could not be Zionists simultaneously and that Zionists were Nazis, but also through her demonization and delegitimization of Israel, as well as the application of a double standard. She also calls herself a ‘very staunch supporter of the BDS movement.’ These forms of antisemitism were also visible at the Berlin Women’s March in January 2018. The organizers did not show any attempt of critique or disassociation.”
The graduate student academics said Sarsour “also spreads antisemitic conspiracy theories that resemble the classic antisemitic trope of blood libel. In September 2018, for instance, she claimed that when US police officers shoot unarmed black people, Jewish persons responsible would lurk in the background.. . . According to the open letter, “Sarsour, Carmen Perez [another board member of Women’s March USA], and Tamika D. Mallory [co-chairwoman of Women’s March USA who is [JAC: was] to receive the FES Human Rights Award], have attracted attention due to their long-standing support of the notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan, who, among other things, called Adolf Hitler a ‘very great man’ while recently comparing Jews to termites.”
After recounting some of the praise for Farrakhan and terrorists emitted by the Women’s March leaders, the paper says this:
But in September, Sarsour said American Muslims shouldn’t “humanize” Israelis. There was no overwhelming response from the left to remind her that Israelis are actually human. American Jews who ignore this hatred are fooling themselves. Anti-Semitism is specifically about dehumanizing Jews until their murder makes sense.
In July, she tweeted birthday wishes at a fugitive cop-killer. This is not a woman who has done a lot of introspection and changed her views. Why stand with her?
Make no mistake: These aren’t comments made years ago; they’re happening now. Just last May, Mallory praised the “bravery” of Hamas terrorists. Two weeks ago, Farrakhan compared Jews to termites.
Some marchers think they can find common ground with these women. That’s misguided. A conservative marching alongside white nationalist Richard Spencer, because they both happen to agree on, say, economic issues, would rightly be pilloried. This should be no different.
Sure, protest Donald Trump, if you like. Free expression is vital. But don’t do it under the Women’s March umbrella. Start another march, join with friends, do something different. It’s November, you have more than two months to think and plan.
In fact, an important “splinter group”, the Women’s March Alliance—the one that organizes the Marches in New York City—is now breaking away from the Women’s March, Inc., which organizes only the march in Washington, D.C.. Further, there now lawsuits over which group can use the “Women’s March” name. The fracture between the NYC and DC marches is apparently because of bullying by the national leaders, including Sarsour. The report from Newsday says this:
Organizers of the Women’s March on NYC say the group behind the inaugural Washington, D.C., demonstration tried to bully its way into planning the 2019 march in Manhattan.
. . . Katherine Siemionko, founder of the nonprofit WMA, said Women’s March, Inc., board member Linda Sarsour demanded recently that some of her team members be added to the planning committee for the Women’s March on NYC. If not, then Women’s March, Inc., would create its own march, Siemionko said she was told.
Now, Women’s March, Inc., is planning its own march in the city separate from the Women’s March on NYC, the organization said on Wednesday.
“I think it’s unfortunate that Women’s March, Inc., has used bullying and threats to attempt to hijack the inclusive and beautiful Women’s March on NYC,” Siemionko said. “Their rhetoric represents the toxic patriarchy our women’s movement is fighting against. WMA is working to redirect the movement back to its true purpose — gender equality.”
Indeed! And about those lawsuits:
The branding dispute has now spilled over to the courts, as Women’s March, Inc., attempts to trademark “Women’s March.” WMA, March On and the organizers of sister marches in Los Angeles and Chicago have filed lawsuits in opposition to the trademark application on the basis that the movement’s branding does not belong solely to Women’s March, Inc.
“The fact of the matter is that there are many different Women’s March organizations,” Wruble said. [JAC: Vanessa Wruble was a former organizer of the D.C. Women’s March who left the group and started her own activist organization.]
Perhaps it was inevitable that identity politics—or rather, the explicit marginalization of Jews by a group supposedly dedicated to women’s inclusivity—would fracture the March. The Newsday article adds this:
The different factions born out of the inaugural march are split along ideological lines, as well.
Siemionko and Wruble said their organizations have missions different from that of Women’s March, Inc., and both have distanced themselves from the organization’s approach to leadership.
“We believe in the power of local women versus something that comes more top-down in which there are a few people at the top dictating what happens,” Wruble said of March On.
Following a New York Post opinion article that called for a boycott of the 2019 Women’s March over allegations of anti-Semitism, Siemionko said she felt compelled to issue a statement reiterating that the WMA is not affiliated with Women’s March Inc.
Sarsour, as well as using the Women’s March to further an Islamist agenda, is, I think, using it to further her own career and ambitions, for I believe she really wants to run for Congress. She’s deeply into her own personal power. But even if she doesn’t have legislative ambitions, I see her as an odious and unctuous bully—a woman whom no progressive person should admire, much less follow. I’m stymied why so many self-styled progressivists see her as a role model. (Actually, I’m not that stymied: Sarsour wears a hijab and therefore by definition is both oppressed and a woman of color. In reality, she is neither.)
Get a load of this doublethink. Fendlay seems to take Milano’s withdrawal from the organization pending its disavowal of anti-Semitism as the actor’s “forcing people what to do and think”:
This moment, with Alyssa Milano, is exactly the type of thing black women were expecting. Alyssa is acting in accordance with the tradition of white women who use the labor of women of color when it’s convenient for them, and then use their power to trash those women when it becomes more expedient. Without being invited to speak at all, Alyssa brought up a 7 month old controversy in an attempt to force women of color to do exactly what she wants them to do. Yet these things weren’t a problem for her last month, when she was posting pictures of herself in D.C. protesting Kavanaugh, at demonstrations organized in large part by Women’s March.
And here’s some good doublethink: we should be free to criticize each other, unless you are criticizing someone for anti-Semitism or for supporting anti-Semites:
. . .We must be free to ask questions and offer criticisms of each other, but it matters greatly how these questions and criticisms are framed, and who they really serve. When you attempt to put people in situations where their only option is to behave exactly as you prescribe, that is an attempt to dominate. When misinformation is being spread, when someone’s character is being attacked, it prevents dialogue and understanding because it robs them and their allies of the chance to respond from a place that is anything other than defensive. It takes away our power to speak our truth as truth — only to say “but that’s not true”.
I doubt that Fendlay would say the same thing about supporters of Trump that she says about supporters of Farrkahan!
Here’s some whataboutery: Farrakhan won’t change, and there are more important issues than distancing oneself from Jew-hatred:
. . . All of this isn’t to say that hate speech doesn’t matter. It does. But white supremacists are not joining the Nation of Islam, not now nor ever. And because of their proximity to power in our society — literal access to the highest office in the nation — real white supremacists are who we all need to be focused on, together. As Tim Wise insightfully writes, there is a history here. “This shifting of attention from right-wing, white bigotry and anti-Semitism to Farrakhan is a predictable pivot… And it’s one about which most white folks don’t know very much, but about which black folks certainly do. It’s a history of white people telling black people who their ‘legitimate’ leaders and spokespeople are, or should be, and who among them is illegitimate and needs to be rejected.”
My emphases below. This really is a prime example of Authoritarian leftist deflection and distortion:
. . . Alyssa Milano is calling for this specific kind of performative outrage, making a public statement condemning a Black man. This demand will have no impact on curbing anti-Semitism, neither in the Nation of Islam nor in our society. In conceding to her demand [JAC: What demand?], the roughly 50,000 people who follow Farrakhan, plus the thousands more who work with the NOI in their communities, will also see themselves as denounced, which will have quite the opposite impact. Farrakhan will never change, but if we want the members of Nation of Islam to be more open to different points of view, then having people like Tamika Mallory — who has very clearly organized a movement that is at odds with his views — in the space as a leader is an important liberalizing influence.
Umm. . . it’s not just Farrakhan. The Nation of Islam’s own theology is as loony as that of Scientology, not only full of crazy and wild assertions, but also of anti-White and anti-Semitic sentiments (see here). Yes, the Nation of Islam does do good things in prisons and in the community, but, like most religions, it also spreads a toxic and bigoted view of humanity.
Finally, Fendlay dismisses Alyssa Milano’s dissent because she’s just a privileged white woman whose criticism of anti-Semitism promotes white supremacy. How is that supposed to work?
Alyssa Milano and all the white women lined up behind her are actually enforcing the power of white supremacy through their misguided attempt to challenge hate speech. There are two sinister assumptions happening, which I will pose as questions. Whose power is a threat to who? And, who is worth the labor of our compassion and who needs to be eliminated?
Cassady is doing the Women’s March, Inc. no favors. While thinking she’s defending people of color against racist whites, she’s keeping the March on the rails of anti-Semitism, transphobia, and yes, the NoI’s sexism. Rather than admit that Farrakhan is a hateful bigot and that anti-Semitism and bigotry against gays and transsexuals has no place in an inclusive march, Cassady, Sarsour, and Mallory are sticking to their script.
And they probably must keep sticking to that script, for if they backtrack and admit error (something Control-Leftists don’t do), then millions of women will discover they were misled. And that would be a big loss for the Women’s March.
I’m not a woman, and thus haven’t experienced sexism. But I have experienced anti-Semitism, and I wouldn’t want to be part of a movement whose leaders dance around Jew-hatred while uttering propiatory weasel words.