Woman as Reason: Anti-Semitism mars Women’s March

January 21, 2019

From the January-February 2019 issue of News & Letters

by Terry Moon

By the time we go to press the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and in many other cities across the U.S. will have occurred. If it is as large, diverse and history-making as the first one was on Jan. 21, 2017—after “grab-them-by-the-pussy” Donald Trump was “elected” president by losing the popular vote by over 2.87 million—it will be in spite of the leadership of the Women’s March.


Tens of thousands of women did march on Jan. 19, 2019, in the U.S. and around the world. These women are gathering for the march in San Francisco. Photo: Urszula Wislanka for News & Letters.

It was not the hastily thrown together leadership that brought out the masses in 2017. What created these outpourings was, as we wrote then, a humanism: “It meant something that the women’s marches caught fire. It wasn’t explicit that it was a humanism that brought people out, but it was implicit in all the signs calling out Trump for hate, in the insistence that we were there because we welcome immigrants and refugees, that we know in our bones that Black Lives Matter and police killings must stop and that we want justice for LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and others”[1] and that we are for the right of women to control our own bodies.

But if those marches are small this year—and a few local March leaders unaffiliated with the national Women’s March, Inc. (WMI), have already decided not to march, including in Chicago and New Orleans, whereas New York will have two marches, one sponsored by WMI and another by those critical of WMI over anti-Semitism, and the National Organization for Women is withholding funding from WMI—we will be able to blame the leaders of the WMI, some of whom have indulged in defending the anti-Semite, sexist, homophobic, counter-revolutionary Black nationalist Louis Farrakhan and have refused to step down amid the calls pleading with them to do that.


Why haven’t three women who are supporters of Farrakhan—Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour—stepped down from leadership, or severed ties with someone who spews hate whenever he speaks publicly?

Their excuse is voiced this way: “We attack the forces of evil, not the people doing evil. We understand our failure to clearly articulate this difference early—fighting anti-semitism (sic) vs. denouncing Farrakhan…”[2] In an incredibly sophistic article in Rewire, Shaul Magid used the same logic—a “logic,” it seems, that only applies to those who spew anti-Semitism: “It would be nice for Mallory to have repudiated Farrakhan more fully but the fact that she and Sarsour unequivocally repudiated his antisemitism (sic) yet acknowledged the good he has done does not make them antisemites by association.”

By this logic, Trump has never been repudiated by WMI leaders. Oh no, they only fight his racism, sexism, homophobia, hatred of immigrants, etc. But, really, hasn’t he helped some people, just as Farrakhan has? How about that wonderful Harvey Weinstein? Sure, he raped, abused, and ruined women’s careers and their lives but just look at the wonderful non-sexist movies he made; and gee, some of those women he abused, didn’t he also help them too? Let’s be sure not to condemn the man, just his sexism. This is sophistry, it is lies, and it is an excuse not to have principles, not to fight hatred, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, when fighting it makes you uncomfortable. The “forces of evil” that the WMI claim they “attack” are carried out by human beings committed to spreading this “evil.” They too must be named for what they are and the evil they do.


In 1992 the African-American public intellectual Henry Louis Gates, Jr., did name names in arguing against a rising anti-Semitism among young Black intellectuals.[3] He names Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam as those who published “the bible of the new anti-Semitism…The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews…The purpose of The Secret Relationship, [Farrakhan] said, was to ‘rearrange a relationship’ that ‘has been detrimental to us.’” Gates explains, “by ‘rearrange,’ he means to convert a relationship of friendship, alliance and uplift into one of enmity, distrust and hatred.”

In answering the question, Why?, Gates writes: “The strategy of these apostles of hate, I believe, is best understood as ethnic isolationism—they know that the more isolated black America becomes, the greater their power…. [T]o continue to maintain a comradely silence may be, in effect, to capitulate to the isolationist agenda, to betray our charge and trust.”

Some of the leaders have done just that, betrayed their charge and trust. They need to either step down or take the harder road and condemn any and all barriers to freedom and new human relationships, not in the abstract, but in the nitty-gritty naming of names and condemning those who carry out evil as well as the evil itself. Only in that way can they support, instead of impeding, the humanism that poured out so massively in the past two years’ women’s marches.

[1]Democracy in the streets votes Trump out! In Chicago,” by Terry Moon, News & Letters, Jan.-Feb. 2017.

[2]Is the Women’s March Melting Down?” by Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel, Tablet Magazine, Dec. 9, 2018.

[3]Black Demagogues and Pseudo-Scholars,” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The New York Times, July 19, 1992.

One thought on “Woman as Reason: Anti-Semitism mars Women’s March

  1. This shows very concretely (unfortunately) how faulty thinking can mislead people into completely unacceptable conclusions: “We attack the forces of evil, not the people doing evil.” WHAT? Very well refuted: “[I]t is an excuse not to have principles, not to fight hatred, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, when fighting it makes you uncomfortable. The ‘forces of evil’ that the WMI claim they ‘attack’ are carried out by human beings committed to spreading this’“evil.’” Debate and discussion are important over differences, but principles of humanism cannot be compromised, especially when someone like Farrakhan has such a long history of anti-human thought, writing and behavior, going back to his unproved association with the assassination of Malcolm X, as Malcolm was breaking with narrow Black nationalism and moving toward humanism. By the way, the Nation of Islam is now buying up property in Detroit, joining many capitalist land speculators making money off low-income Detroit residents.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *