Progressives who have never quite cut the cord with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan despite his anti-Semitic rants are suddenly paying the price, starting with the Women’s March leaders.
Calls for Women’s March president Tamika D. Mallory to resign erupted after she attended a Feb. 25 speech in Chicago at which Mr. Farrakhan railed against “the Satanic Jew,” saying “powerful Jews are my enemy” while singling her out for recognition.
“Tamika Mallory, one of the March organizers, was in the audience, and got a special shout-out from Farrakhan,” said the Anti-Defamation League in a Feb. 26 report. “Mallory posted two Instagram photos from the event, which Carmen Perez, another Women’s March organizer, commented on with ‘raise the roof’ emojis.”
After two weeks of scathing publicity, Ms. Mallory issued a statement Wednesday saying that she has “heard the pain and concern” of her fellow activists, but that “wherever my people are is where I must be.”
She also said that had been attending the annual Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day event for more than 30 years, starting when she was a child, leaving little doubt that she was familiar with Mr. Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic rants.
“I first went with my parents when I was just a little girl, and would begin attending on my own after my son’s father was murdered nearly 17 years ago,” she said in the Newsone post. “In that most difficult period of my life, it was the women of the Nation of Islam who supported me and I have always held them close to my heart for that reason.”
Her comments came a day after the Women’s March said it would not tolerate “anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia,” adding that “we condemn these expressions of hatred in all forms.”
“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,” said the statement.
Prior to that, Ms. Mallory pushed back against those calling for her to renounce Mr. Farrakhan, tweeting that “Jesus had a number of enemies as do all black leaders. Period point blank,” as well as, “I will not be bullied!”
Cornell University Law School professor William Jacobson called the group’s statement “weak and generic,” and condemned three of the Women’s March top four leaders: Ms. Mallory, Ms. Perez and Linda Sarsour.
“The Women’s March statement is too little, too late. Three of its leaders have a history of associating with and supporting Farrakhan,” said Mr. Jacobson. “These connections have been public, yet the Women’s March remained silent.”
The flap has left the group reeling as it attempts to keep the focus on its next big event, the March 14 National School Walkout, a protest for tougher gun-control laws sparked by last month’s Parkland shooting.
At the same time, Mr. Farrakhan isn’t a public-relations nightmare for just the Women’s March—he’s also coming back to haunt progressives who have long tolerated and even hosted the unrepentant anti-Semite.
The Congressional Black Caucus came under fire after a previously unpublished 2005 picture of Mr. Farrakhan at a caucus meeting—standing next to then-Sen. Barack Obama—was released in January by the photographer, who said he “swore secrecy” in order not to hurt Mr. Obama’s presidential bid.
One caucus member — Rep. Danny Davis, Illinois Democrat — fueled the uproar when he later told the Daily Caller that “the world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question and his position on that.”
Mr. Davis issued a statement Monday in which he blasted the report as a “smear” and pointed to his record of opposing “all forms of hatred, bigotry and separatism,” including anti-Semitism, but failed to mention Mr. Farrakhan.
“That leaves Davis open to the charge that he’s complicit in Farrakhan’s bigotry,” said the Chicago Tribune in a Wednesday editorial.
Also coming under scrutiny is Democratic National Committee deputy chair Keith Ellison, who acknowledged last month that they attended a 2013 dinner together with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
“Keith Ellison used to be a member of the Nation of Islam and a Farrakhan supporter. Recently it was disclosed that Ellison had met Farrakhan long after the relationship supposedly ended,” said Mr. Jacobson. “Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus also have associated with Farrakhan. So clearly Farrakhan is a progressive movement problem, not just a Women’s March problem.”
The left’s troubles with anti-Semitism can be traced to the advent of the intersectionality movement, which holds that all oppressed people are interconnected and includes Palestinians, leaving progressives who support Israel stuck in a political no-man’s land.
Hence events such as last year’s Chicago Slut Walk and Chicago Dyke March, which banned “Zionist displays” such as Stars of David and threatened to remove those who brought them. The Dyke March reportedly did eject several Jewish marchers.
The Women’s March drew criticism last year when Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted in a 1970 bombing that killed two Hebrew University students, was listed as an organizer of the Day Without a Woman international strike.
Ms. Sarsour, a supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, hugged and praised Odeh at an appearance in Chicago before she was deported in September for lying on her visa application about her criminal record.
“Yet now Mallory, Perez and Sarsour have invented a brand of ‘intersectionality’ that includes the Nation of Islam, and thus excludes Jewish people,” said liberal columnist Susan Shapiro in a Wednesday op-ed in the New York Daily News headlined “Liberal Feminists for Farrakhan?”
Ms. Sarsour reportedly spoke at a Nation of Islam event three years ago, while Ms. Perez posted a photo on Instagram in which she and Ms. Mallory held hands with the Nation of Islam leader at a 2015 Chicago event, calling it an “unforgettable special evening.”
“Thank God this man is still alive and doing well. He is definitely the GOAT. Happy Birthday @louisfarrakhan,” tweeted Ms. Mallory in a May 11 post flagged by the Times of Israel.
Tablet writer Yair Rosenberg called Ms. Mallory and Ms. Perez “groupies of Louis Farrakhan, whose anti-Semitism and homophobia rivals Richard Spencer’s,” which ADL president Jonathan Greenblatt described as “100% right.”
Mr. Greenblatt, a former Obama administration official, offered “kudos” Tuesday to the Women’s March for “a strong statement.”
“Yet leaders who attend Farrakhan’s speeches or have heard his anti-Jewish & anti-LGBTQ hate should not hesitate to condemn it,” he said.