Women’s March Cofounder’s Refusal To Condemn Racism Implicates Intersectionalism

Women’s March Cofounder’s Refusal To Condemn Racism Implicates Intersectionalism

Supporting Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan and saying hateful things to co-founder Vanessa Wruble sure doesn't look like intersectional feminism.
Georgi Boorman
By

On January 14, Women’s March leaders Tamika Mallory and Bob Bland joined the cohosts of “The View to talk about the controversy currently enveloping the organization: namely, that its leaders are anti-Semitic and have baked racist beliefs into the Women’s March platform — an accusation leveled by none other than Women’s March founder Teresa Shook.

Offensive Statements Against Jews (And Israelis)

The radically anti-Semitic associations of Mallory and co-organizer Linda Sarsour are well-documented. Sarsour is rabidly anti-Israel and called Imam Siraj Wahaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who defended Egyptian terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman, a “respected scholar,” and her “mentor, motivator and encourager.” She also said Israelis should not be “humanized”  because they are “oppressors.”

Mallory is most recently known an Instagram picture she took with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, also a known anti-Semite. It was never deleted.

Farrakhan’s most recent expression of hate to go viral was in a speech on the 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March, in which he said, “You know what they do, call me an anti-Semite, stop it. I’m anti-termite,” he said, also calling Jews “stupid.”

Mallory was also accused of telling Vanessa Wruble, an activist of Jewish ancestry, that “Jews needed to confront their own role in racism.” Wruble was later “pushed out” of the organization, according to the New York Times, and believes her Jewish identity was partially responsible for the separation. Here is the full interview with Mallory and Bland on “The View”:

To her credit, Bland stated that “the Women’s March unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism.” “The View” cohost Meghan McCain then pressed her, “So you condemn Louis Farrakhan’s statements about the Jewish people,” to which she responded, “Yes, and we have repeatedly in statement after statement this year,” directing the audience to their website.

This is from the “Women’s March Statement on Anti-Semitism, Homophobia and Transphobia:”

 Women’s March is an intersectional movement made up of organizers with different backgrounds, who work in different communities. Within the Women’s March movement, we are very conscious of the conversations that must be had across the intersections of race, religion and gender. We love and value our sister and co-President Tamika Mallory, who has played a key role in shaping these conversations. Neither we nor she shy away from the fact that intersectional movement building is difficult and often painful.

Minister Farrakhan’s statements about Jewish, queer, and trans people are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles, which were created by women of color leaders and are grounded in Kingian Nonviolence. Women’s March is holding conversations with queer, trans, Jewish and Black members of both our team and larger movement to create space for understanding and healing.

Our external silence has been because we are holding these conversations and are trying to intentionally break the cycles that pit our communities against each other. We have work to do, as individuals, as an organization, as a movement, and as a nation.

A separate statement released by Sarsour reaffirms the alleged commitment to “fighting bigotry in all its forms,” and that “every member of our movement matters to us, including our incredible Jewish and LGBTQ members.”

“We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-semitism. We regret that,” the statement read, also reiterating that the Women’s March is “an intersectional movement.” 

Rachel O’Leary Carmona, chief operating officer of the Women’s March group, told The New York Times in the December 23, 2018 report that “steps were being taken” to add Jewish women to the Unity Principles. This has been done, but it’s notable that it took two years and massive controversy to obtain the change.

Tolerance Is Hard When You’re Associated With Farrakhan

It’s really not hard to see why Women’s March activists are having a “difficult” and “painful” time building the movement, which is evidently stunting their ability to defend Jewish women from anti-Semitism the same way they seek to defend other racial and sexual minorities. The movement is proud to be “intersectional” and is “committed to dismantling systems of oppression.”

If you don’t know what intersectionality is, it’s essentially a matrix for determining where you belong in the victim hierarchy. So, being a woman means you face patriarchal oppression, but being a black woman means you are even more of a victim because you are racially oppressed, and being a black lesbian woman means you are still greater a victim because you are sexually oppressed, too.

The oppressor-oppressed worldview from which intersectionality springs is part and parcel of neo-Marxism, which also sprung privilege theory. The matrix of oppression that identifies privilege as a form of oppression and organizes groups into an hierarchies of victimhood and privilege is the key to understanding Mallory’s statement to the Times regarding the meeting with Wruble: “Since that conversation, we’ve all learned a lot about how while white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy, ALL Jews are targeted by it.” Even Wruble agreed that Jewish women should “grapple with their racial privilege.”

In other words, from the neo-Marxist perspective, Jews are a “middle-man oppressor.” They “uphold white supremacy” in their whiteness and benefit greatly from the oppressive capitalist system, the “myth of meritocracy,” as privilege theorist Peggy McIntosh would put it, but they also are also victims of the same white supremacist system.

It’s important to realize that the statement clearly isn’t referring to the fringe neo-Nazi white supremacists in saying that Jews “uphold” white supremacy. She is referring instead to the broader socioeconomic system that privileges whites. When she says they’ve been “targeted,” she is probably referring to the explicit dehumanization and hatred that fuel the likes of the Tree of Life shooter, which she views as the extremist end of white supremacist oppression rather than the bulk of it.

Neo-Marxism: Just As False Now as It Ever Has Been

Further evidence of how neo-Marxist thinking has guided the Women’s March and resulted in minimizing (at the very least) the Jewish identity within the movement is found in the same report: Wruble said one of the activists planning the first Women’s March told her, “We really couldn’t center Jewish women in this or we might turn off groups like Black Lives Matter.”

Jews can’t be a focus because black activists will be offended, you see. In the most charitable interpretation, this is because some members of Black Lives Matter have taken Palestinian activist positions against “Israeli occupation,” and the potential for pro-Israel rhetoric from Jews in the Women’s March could drown out those voices.

At worst, the statement could refer to desiring the involvement of true black supremacists, black separatists, and anti-Semites such as those belonging to the Nation of Islam. (Wruble says she was told NOI would be providing the security for the march.) Either way, it demonstrates that, according to the organizers’ ideology, perspectives from some minorities were more important than perspectives from other minorities, solely by virtue of their race.

A third party, Evie Harmon, was privy to some of the early conversations about the Women’s March and said she overheard Mallory and Perez, “a Latina criminal justice reform activist,” “berating” Wruble. They allegedly referred to “you people” repeatedly and went so far as to say “you people hold all the wealth.”

Mallory denied this exchange took place but admitted to saying that she didn’t trust some of the white women she had been working with, according to the Times.

This idea that Jews are by definition part of the oppressive class as “whites” despite the fact that they are a specific ethnicity with thousands of years of heritage is why Mallory has such a hard time unequivocally condemning anti-Semitism. Although she stopped short of saying explicitly, “I have a problem with Jews as a people group,” Mallory made it abundantly clear in her appearance on “The View” that she is on some level sympathetic to anti-Semitic views.

Mallory repeatedly refused to explicitly condemn Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, opting instead to say, “I don’t agree with these statements.” She even backtracked from that weak statement by clarifying, “It’s not my language, it’s not how I speak, it’s not how I organize.”

Black Americans Don’t Need Support from Racists

Her insistence that she had to be at a Nation of Islam “holy day” because “that’s where her people are” is an admission that the racist Nation of Islam beliefs — such as black supremacy, that Jews are the “slum lords” of the black community, and that Jews are “termites” — were not abhorrent enough to warrant disassociation from the religion, despite the fact that there are plenty of other ways African Americans can come together in solidarity that don’t involve inciting hatred toward other people groups.

Mallory pushed back on the condemnation of her association with Farrakhan by saying she also goes into prisons and is “trying to help people move from wherever they are today and build that unity and bring them to a place where we live in a more fair and equitable society.” But we know Mallory wasn’t at Saviour’s Day to evangelize equality contrary to NOI teachings, because Mallory didn’t just show up to the celebration, she took a picture with Farrakhan and posted it to Instagram for the world to see who she stands with, calling him the GOAT (greatest of all time). You would think that if ever there were a place to clarify one’s rejection of racist rhetoric, that post would have been it.

Yet even on “The View” Mallory did not say one positive thing about Jews or claim that her attitude toward them is friendly, but vaguely referred to her “twenty years of activism” as evidence of where she stands. This media appearance, to a mostly female, liberal-leaning audience, would have been a critical moment to be as explicit as possible in her condemnation of anti-Semitism and her solidarity with Jews.

But that’s not what happened. Mallory is such a radical neo-Marxist, such a faithful adherent to privilege theory and intersectionality, that she is not even willing to speak well of Jews and ill of Jew-haters to save the movement she’s leading.

Taking her statements on the whole, especially if Wruble is to be believed, it certainly seems like she thinks Jews are oppressors and that resisting their position of privilege, or at least putting their problems on the back burner, is part of her plan to move toward that “fair and equitable society.”

Georgi is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist, host of The 180 Cast, and coauthor of "Clocking Out Early: The Ultimate Guide to Early Retirement." Follow her on Twitter.

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