On January 21st, 2017, millions of Americans and others around the world took to the streets to march. We were all marching for different reasons, with different issues on our minds, but at the end of the day, there was a shared sense of being and a shared dislike of the newly inaugurated president.
This was the first Women’s March. 2 months ago was the second, somewhat smaller one. Both have been organized at a national level by an organization fittingly named Women’s March. This organization grew quickly and became one of the leading faces of the resistance movement against President Trump. They’ve helped to support candidates around the country, bring attention to certain issues, and help organize protests and marches around the country over the past year and a half or so.
I thought, for about 11 months following the original women’s march, that the national organization was going to be strong organization dedicated to helping to create important change in our country at a time when that change seemed hard to accomplish. I no longer believe that.
My reason is twofold. First, the organization is not dedicated to the “unity principles” they claim governs their actions. My reason comes from actions taken by the organization in lead-up to the second women’s march. An article in the New York Times in early January 2018 explained how many women who expressed interest in organizing a march in their hometowns, particularly in red states, were told by the national organization that they could hold marches if they wished, but were asked not to associate themselves with the national movement, and were not given any support.
This made no sense to me. In this time in our country’s history, we’re supposed to be working together to bring people together, and progressives should be supporting one another as we try to make change in the country. Where someone lives should not dictate whether or not they get a voice in the decision making process. The national Women’s March organization is dedicated to taking hard-line liberal stances and running marches in big cities where that platform has ample support. But they don’t want anything to do with you if you don’t fit their perfect idea of what someone should believe.
In spite of this, I still supported the organization and marched this past January, because I believed in the movement and believed that, following the second march, the organization would realize they were wrong and try to adapt, especially heading into the midterms. I’m not sure whether this was right or not, and I don’t know if we will ever know.
The second part of why I’m withholding my support from the organization indefinitely is enough on its own. The organization is now embracing hatred.
On February 25th, Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, gave a speech for a Saviour’s Day gathering of his supporters in which he called Jewish people his enemies, and claimed that Jews were leaders of organizations responsible for racism against black people.
In attendance that day was Tamika Mallory, the co-chair of the National Women’s March organization. She claims she was in attendance because she always attends Saviour’s Day celebrations. She has the right to attend whatever she wants to attend. But where the problem comes up is in the reaction from her and others once it was discovered that she was in attendance that day.
When she was called out for having been at Farrakhan’s speech, she became immediately defensive and called upon others in the organization to support her and made claims that people were just using this as a method to take down her organization.
Finally, she released a statement condemning anti-semitism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia. (While the conversation was solely about anti-semitism, she brought other issues into the fold as well, which, while I agree with her, was not the point of what people were concerned about). But she failed to condemn Farrakhan (who is also homophobic and transphobic, which Mallory also noted in her statement).
Jake Tapper, the CNN anchor, put the situation simply: you either condemn Farrakhan and what he says unless you either agree with it or don’t want to alienate those who do.
Tamika Mallory failed to condemn Farrakhan. It’s not a hard thing to do. The vast majority of people would support her if she did. I don’t believe that she agrees with him, but she may not fully disagree. And my guess is that she certainly is afraid of alienating his supporters.
Anti-semitism is something I cannot witness someone supporting and continue to support them. Regardless of how I feel about someone before, if they express anti-semitic views, my support is completely gone. The leaders of the women’s march failed to adequately condemn anti-semitism at its root in the country, and allow for people with those beliefs to be welcomed into their organization. I can’t support that organization.