Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the DNC, became the latest liberal figure to disavow the Women’s March, saying she cannot stand alongside leaders who refuse to denounce “peddlers of hate.”
“I walked away from the Women’s March on Washington two years ago absolutely electrified by the promise of what a movement built around sisterhood and solidarity could accomplish,” Wasserman-Schultz wrote in a USA Today Op-Ed published Friday.
“Today, sadly, I must walk away from the national Women’s March organization, and specifically its leadership.
“While I still firmly believe in its values and mission, I cannot associate with the national march’s leaders and principles, which refuse to completely repudiate anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. I cannot walk shoulder to shoulder with leaders who lock arms with outspoken peddlers of hate.”
Wasserman Schultz was referring to the well-documented links between Women’s March leaders Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory and the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan’s openly anti-Semitic religious organization. She’s not the only one who’s distanced themselves from the national march over the controversy.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center, EMILY’s List and the Democratic National Committee I once led are among the groups distancing themselves from the national event,” she wrote. “The Washington State Women’s March rebuked the national group, noting its leaders’ failure to ‘apologize for their anti-Semitic stance.”
Wasserman Schultz took special exception to Tamika Mallory’s attendance at a Nation of Islam Saviour’s Day event and subsequent refusal to disavow Farrakhan.
“NOI has been deemed a hate organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mallory’s attendance at NOI’s annual Saviour’s Day event last year was especially alarming,” she wrote.
“It was there that Farrakhan said Jews were ‘the mother and father of apartheid,’ and claimed that Jewish people are responsible for ‘degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men.’
“Farrakhan has a long history of anti-Semitism. He has said that Hitler was a great man, compared Jews to termites, and tweeted about ‘the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan.’ What is more, he does not hide his bigotry, regularly maligning women and the LGBTQ community.
“It should not be difficult to condemn this hate speech and the person who constantly voices it,” she continued. “Yet, at almost every turn, Mallory has failed to clearly denounce Farrakhan. Instead, she has attended Farrakhan’s speeches and posted her support for him on social media, referring to him as the ‘GOAT’ — or, the Greatest Of All Time. Just this week, she was repeatedly asked on national television to clearly condemn him, and she instead dodged the question, taking issue with the words he chose and the fact that Minister Farrakhan is male, rather than acknowledging the hurtfulness of his rhetoric toward Jews and the LGBTQ community.”
She didn’t exempt Sarsour or Perez, either, noting that Sarsour had gone out of her way to criticize “folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”
“Faced with two choices, staying silent while refusing to join the national march, or speaking out, I choose to speak out. Women have been forced to stay silent for too long, and we must demand the same principles from our movement as we do from our society,” she wrote.
“We must fight oppression and bigotry in all its forms. Otherwise, what — or who — are we marching for?”
This is all very nice, although we must point out a good deal of this information was accessible to anyone who wanted to look for it long before the December exposés by Tablet and New York Times. That said, when Wasserman Schultz and other key leaders begin to defect, it’s clear that the movement as a whole is pretty much disintegrating.
The congresswoman will be participating in a local march separate from the national organization. However, many marches are simply disappearing, and those that still exist will likely be much smaller this year. From all indications, it’s too late now to make any change to save one of the biggest and most visible anti-Trump movements there is.
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