Women’s March has a blind spot

Women’s March has a blind spot

How is it that the Women’s March, the group that organized the mass demonstration in Washington the weekend after the Trump inauguration, espousing social justice and condemning racism and bigotry, turns a willfully blind eye toward anti-Semitism?

The most recent and dramatic example came about after Rev. Louis Farrakhan, perhaps the most vocal anti-Semite in the land, spewed forth a hateful diatribe last month that, in part, held Jews “responsible for all this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out.” At 84, the leader of the Nation of Islam who has called Hitler “a great man” and has a long and vile record of condemning “Satanic Jews,” delivered a three-hour speech at his group’s annual convention on Feb. 25. True to form, Farrakhan concluded by asserting that “White folks are going down, and Satan is going down, and Farrakhan by God’s grace has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew — and I’m here to say, your time is up.”

Following the convention, Women’s March cochair Tamika Mallory posted a picture of herself with Farrakhan on Instagram, and two other cochairs — Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, a strong critic of Zionism — have also expressed admiration for him. All three women have resisted denouncing his hateful remarks. 

A number of activist Jewish women and others who identify with the Women’s March have expressed dismay with the group’s unwillingness to include anti-Semitism as a serious form of racism and bigotry. Perhaps it’s because Jews are seen by these critics as white people of privilege and power, not as a people with a long history of being minority victims of persecution and genocide. Only when the media pointed out the Women’s March’s lack of response to the Farrakhan speech did the group issue a benign statement saying it was “not aligned” with the minister’s views on Jews. 

In the meantime, the latest Anti-Defamation League report shows that anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. increased by almost 60 percent last year — “the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number since the ADL started tracking such data in the 1970s,” the report said. But don’t expect any action on the part of Women’s March to this form of racism. John-Paul Pagano, writing in The Atlantic last week (“The Women’s March Has a Farrakhan Problem”), concluded: “That the group refuses to be accountable for a high-level alliance with an open anti-Semite disqualifies it from ranking among today’s movements for social justice.”

Unfortunately, though, the Women’s March attitude is not atypical of those activists who speak out on bias against all minorities except Jews.

read more: