Women’s March Leaders Face Anti-Semitic, Corruption Charges Ahead of Second Anti-Trump Event 

Linda Sarsour Women's March (Theo Wargo / Getty)
Theo Wargo/Getty
PENNY STARR

The anti-Trump Women’s March that hit the streets the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration is now gearing up for a repeat event on January 19 in Washington, DC, but some of its founders are facing charges from former fellow activists that the left-wing group is promoting the bigotry and corruption it claims to oppose.

Teresa Shook, credited as one of the women who launched the march on social media, spearheaded the criticism last month when she called on the women now running the “movement” to step down.

Those women include Women’s March National co-chairwomen Carmen Perez, Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, and Linda Sarsour, who is a Palestinian American known for her anti-Israel stance.

The HuffPost reported in November:

In a Facebook post published Monday afternoon, Shook wrote that the four public faces of the Women’s March should resign because they have strayed from the group’s goals.

“I have waited, hoping they would right the ship. But they have not,” Shook wrote. “In opposition to our Unity Principles, they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs.”

“I call for the current Co-Chairs to step down and to let others lead who can restore faith in the Movement and its original intent,” Shook continued. “I stand in Solidarity with all the Sister March Organizations, to bring the Movement back to its authentic purpose.”

March leaders have also come under scrutiny for their association with anti-Semite and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The Washington Examiner reported: 

Ms. Mallory, who attended a Farrakhan event in February and called him the “GOAT” [greatest of all time] in a 2015 Instagram post, said her critics have skewed her words and accused them of trying to “rewrite history.”

“I also think that people need to understand that it is a form of black-on-black violence, in my opinion, to pit black people against each other,” said Ms. Mallory, adding, “That’s not something that anybody’s ever going to see me participate in.”

Women’s March leaders also deny that they contracted the Fruit of Islam (FOI), the Nation of Islam’s security wing, to provide security for its leaders.

The latest round of criticism came in an in-depth article the Tablet website published on Monday, including what unfolded as the women behind the march first met up in New York City:

It was there that, as the women were opening up about their backgrounds and personal investments in creating a resistance movement to Trump, Perez and Mallory allegedly first asserted that Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people—and even, according to a close secondhand source, claimed that Jews were proven to have been leaders of the American slave trade. These are canards popularized by The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a book published by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam—“the bible of the new anti-Semitism,” according to Henry Louis Gates Jr., who noted in 1992: “Among significant sectors of the black community, this brief has become a credo of a new philosophy of black self-affirmation.”

The Tablet reported Mallory and Bland deny this account but “six of the seven women in attendance would not speak openly to Tablet about the meeting, but multiple sources with knowledge of what happened confirmed the story.”

The Tablet also examined the controversy surrounding the Women March’s finances:

Over time, new details of the Women’s March’s organizational structure have been dragged into public view that reveal complicated financial arrangements, confusing even to experts.

Yet within no time, the March leaders would be named 2017 Women of the Year  by Glamour magazine. There was a glossy book published with Condé Nast, a lucrative merchandise business selling branded Women’s March gear, and millions of dollars raised through individual donations and institutional funding from major organizations like Planned Parenthood and the powerful hospital workers union, 1199SEIU. 

The women in question have pushed back against the criticism and did so also after Shook’s attack, posting an “official statement on anti-Semitism and all forms of Bigotry” on November 20 on its Facebook page, crafted by Sarsour:

The Women’s March exists to fight bigotry and discrimination in all their forms — including homophobia and anti-semitism — and to lift up the voices of women who are too often left out. We believe in a world where women from all backgrounds are equally represented in government, media, politics, and everywhere and invite everyone who shares these values to join us.
It’s become clear, amidst this media storm, that our values and our message have — too often — been lost. That loss caused a lot of harm, and a lot pain. We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-semitism. We regret that.

Every member of our movement matters to us — including our incredible Jewish and LGBTQ members. We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused, but we see you, we love you, and we are fighting with you.

Sansour said the group is “deeply invested in building better and deeper relationships with the Jewish community.” The group also responded to the Tablet piece, sending an email to the publication, which describes itself as an online magazine featuring “Jewish news, ideas, and culture”:

Women’s March models intersectional leadership through our organizing work, which includes 200 women who worked on the conveners table, 500 partners, 24 women involved in developing the Unity Principles—including some of the folks who are expressing concern now. They were part of the process then, and did not express the concerns they are noting today. Women’s March is greater than our small team of national staff and leadership, and we’ve never claimed their identities equal full representation of U.S. women.

Following the Tablet expose, the four women who are now the leadership of the Women’s March — Mallory, Perez, Bland, and Sarsour — held a Facebook Live event this week where they defended themselves without specifically addresses their critics’ claims.

“One of the things that has happened is that we have been put to such a high standard, unreachable standard, that we would never hold any men in the movement to,” Sarsour said in the video.

“I don’t think it’s just men,” Mallory said. “Women also. Even other women who are at the helm of leadership in different organizations that are mainly white-led organizations are not held to the same standards that we’ve been held to.”

Sarsour also criticized her “feminist” counterparts for “undermining [their] leadership.” 

“There is a lot of talk about ‘smash the patriarchy,’ when, in fact, the very people who uphold the patriarchy are women and women who claim to be part of the movements that we’re a part of,” Sarsour said.

“During Wednesday’s live-stream, Ms. Sarsour said that the group planned to enlarge its tent by unveiling a 30-member women’s steering committee and revamping its Unity Principles,” the Examiner reported.

“We will have a great program of women leaders,” Sarsour said. “You will be very proud of the updating of the Unity Principles. You will see the efforts we have put in to keep making the table bigger.”

The National Review published a commentary on the state of the Women’s March, speculating on its unraveling: 

The apparent bigotry of women such as Sarsour and Mallory seems to be a feature, not a bug, of their identity-based ideology and their insistence on intersectionality. A narrative of historical, society-wide victimization is at the heart of their vision of progress. And any such story requires a hierarchy of grievances, which naturally separates the interest groups supposedly tied together by their shared victim status.

At the same time, every story of victimization requires a victimizer. Intersectionality and its accompanying goal of privileging the powerless necessarily requires identifying and attacking the powerful oppressors — whether it be the specter of capitalism, the ogre of white male privilege, or a figurehead such as Donald Trump. In the case of Women’s March leaders, the search for a villain has taken a sinister turn into anti-Semitism.

Of course, most left-wing agitators drawn to identity politics as a means of motivating the alienated will not go so far as to vilify or hate Jewish people. But the devolution of the Women’s March serves as a cautionary tale about what can happen to political movements that idolize victimhood and invent useful enemies to energize the oppressed.

But if you visit the Women’s March website, the trouble facing it is absent, replaced with enthusiasm for a second march in the nation’s capital next month.

“It’s time to march again,” the website said. “The 2017 Women’s March inspired hundreds of women to run, millions more to vote, and dozens to win elected office. The 2019 Women’s March marks two years of resistance to the Trump presidency, two years of training new activists, and two years of building power. And this time, we’re coming back with an agenda.”

“On January 19, 2019, we’re going to flood the streets of Washington, D.C., and cities across the globe,” the website also said. “The #WomensWave is coming, and we’re sweeping the world forward with us.”

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.

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