Late Tuesday, after days of criticism for meeting with — and even cheering — Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a known anti-Semite (to say the least), leaders of the Women's March attempted to distance themselves from Farrakhan's years of anti-Jewish, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-women remarks in a watered down statement released on Twitter.
Anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism and white supremacy are and always will be indefensible.— Women's March (@womensmarch) March 6, 2018
Please read our statement: pic.twitter.com/bRFqAGf81t
Leaders of the March claim that they are committed to "fighting oppression," and abiding by the group's "Unity principles," which include outright rejection of anti-Semitism, bigotry, racism, and white supremacy, and say they are "conscious" of "conversations" that take place across the "intersectional movement."
To that end, they claim that they reject Louis Farrakhan — though they never actually explicitly say they do.
"Minister Farrakhan's statements about Jewish, queer, and trans people are not aligned with the Women's March Unity Principle," the leaders write. "The 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."
Their silence for nine days — since leader Tamika Mallory nodded along to Farrakhan's expressly anti-Semitic "Saviours Day" speech — was because they were having these deep and meaningful conversations, looking to come to terms with the various factions of their movement that might occasionally stand in opposition to each other.
But the Women's March statement falls far short of truly condemning Farrakhan, apparently because the Women's March believes that he and his followers have something to contribute to the cause of intersectionality, or, in the alternative, that their contributions to the movement are so valuable that the Women's March is willing to overlook and compromise its key principles to keep the leader of a hate movement within their circle of influence.
It's not as if Farrakhan was merely controversial in his Saviour's Day speech. He told the audience that "the powerful Jews are my enemy,” and that “the Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.” And he has a history of hate so extensive that the Southern Poverty Law Center keeps one of its famous dossiers on him.
Part of the problem is, of course, that the Women's March has been embracing anti-Semites from the very beginning — including Farrakhan himself. The leader appears in pictures with Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory, both Women's March founders, and Women's March founder Linda Sarsour has routinely made anti-Semitic remarks in her independent speeches (and has appeared at Nation of Islam events). As part of their International Women's Strike, the group specifically targeted Israel as an enemy of their movement.
They can't distance themselves from Farrakhan simply because, it seems, they don't necessarily disagree with Farrakhan. Only this time, the Women's March had to release a statement, because they received criticism from some of the "right" people: members of the mainstream media and prominent social justice warriors.