Is the Women’s March Melting Down?

Is the Women’s March Melting Down? By Leah McSweeny.

On Nov. 12, 2016, a group of seven women held a meeting in New York. They had never worked together before—in fact, most of them had never met—but they were brought together by what felt like the shared vision of an emerging mission …

According to several sources, it was there [on the rooftop of a Manhattan hotel] — in the first hours of the first meeting for what would become the Women’s March — that something happened that was so shameful to many of those who witnessed it, they chose to bury it like a family secret. Almost two years would pass before anyone present would speak about it.

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.”

To this day, Mallory and Bland deny any such statements were ever uttered, either at the first meeting or at Mallory’s apartment. …

None of the other women in attendance would speak openly to Tablet about the meeting, but multiple sources with knowledge of what happened confirmed the story. Multiple other sources confirm that soon after, Wruble was no longer affiliated with the Women’s March, Inc—as the nascent group was starting to be known. …

And that wasn’t the only incident from the initial encounter that would have far reaching consequences. … Many of those involved began questioning why it was that, among the many women of various backgrounds interested in being involved in the March’s earliest days, power had consolidated in the hands of leadership who all had previous ties to one another; who were all roughly the same age; who would praise a man who has argued that it’s women’s responsibility to dress modestly so as to avoid tempting men [Louis Farrakhan]; and, at least in one case, who defended Bill Cosby as the victim of a conspiracy. …

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, 1199 SEIU. Fortune magazine named Mallory, Linda Sarsour, Perez, and Bland to its list of the “World’s Greatest Leaders” … [New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand] declared, “these women are the suffragists of our time.” …

The Women’s March leaders have often dismissed their critics as right-wing or driven by racism, but over the past two months their fiercest challengers have come from within their own shop—with women of color, and their own local organizers, often leading the pack. As of this article’s publication, numerous state chapters have broken off from the national organization—notably Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, D.C., Alabama, Rhode Island, Georgia, Illinois. …

For Morganfield, a former spokesperson for the Women’s March who also ran the D.C. branch, the various problems that people have had with the Women’s March — ideological, managerial, fiscal — should be seen as all of a piece. She recalled being startled earlier this year when Mallory — already a nationally recognized leader of the Women’s March — showed up at the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day event. “When all of that went down, it was my last straw,” she told Tablet. “You are part of a national movement that is about the equality of women and you are sitting in the front row listening to a man say women belong in the kitchen and you’re nodding your head saying amen! I told them over and over again: It’s fine to be religious, but there is no place for religion in its radical forms inside of a national women’s movement with so many types of women. It spoke to their inexperience and inability to hold this at a national stage. That is judgment, and you can’t teach judgment.”

The development of the origins of the Women’s March and its transformation into a vehicle that promoted a small coterie of women — three of whom bizarrely professed their admiration for the openly anti-Semitic, homophobic, and misogynistic Nation of Islam preacher Louis Farrakhan—was a deliberate act, one that had nothing to do with the general spirit out of which the March was born.

Too much diversity for those middle class white women? Someone really didn’t think this through … Islam and race are far stronger than mere feminism aimed at getting better jobs and unearned privileges for white women.