San Diego Union-Tribune

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Friday, January 18, 2019

 

ROCKY ROAD FOR WOMEN’S MARCH?

ANTI-SEMITISM AMONG LEADERS HURTS MOVEMENT

 

By Myriam Miedzian

 

It is with great sadness that I will not attend the San Diego Women’s March this Saturday.  In the past two years, I was thrilled to be one of tens of thousands protesting our government’s sexist, racist, anti-immigrant policies.

 

This year, I will join organizations including the NAACP, The Democratic National Committee and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which have withdrawn their sponsorship because of anti-Semitism among the march’s top officials.

 

I understand that the Women’s March San Diego is not closely linked administratively or financially with the national march.  But the marches are viewed by the public as closely linked, and I cannot appear to be supporting the Women’s March.

 

It all started last year when Tamika Mallory, one of four women who govern the Women’s March, attended a 2018 Louis Farrakhan address and then described him as GOAT (greatest of all time) on a social media post.

 

Farrakhan is one of the country’s, probably the world’s, most notorious anti-Semites.  (“Satanic Jews have infected the whole world with poison and deceit.” “Hitler was a great man,” etc.)

 

Mallory explains her attachment to him as due to Farrakhan being supportive during a family crisis.  She has repeatedly refused to condemn him, most recently on the TV show “The View,” where she was pressed to do so repeatedly.

 

The other three leaders of the march stand by her refusal to condemn, join her in asserting they are not anti-Semitic, and refuse to demand that any of them resign.

 

In addition, according to several sources, including Vanessa Wruble, an early founder of the march, anti-Semitic behavior was exhibited by Mallory and Carmen Perez, also on the governing board, at the first meeting of Women’s March organizers. Jewish people have a collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people, they said.  Quite a claim in light of the fact that Wruble, who is Jewish, was committed to strong representation of women of color and recommended Mallory and Perez be put on the governing board!

 

Wruble was soon pushed out of the organization.  She believes being Jewish played a role.

 

Mallory and Perez also reportedly asserted the blatantly false claim that Jews were the leaders of the American slavery trade.

 

There has been a tendency in recent years to ignore or play down anti-Semitism.  The Holocaust, in which six million Jews were murdered, took place more than 70 years ago.  In the U.S. we no longer see signs telling Jews they are not welcome in hotels, clubs or restrictive neighborhoods.  La Jolla, where I live, was completely closed to Jews until the 1960’s creation of UCSD which led to the need to house Jewish professors.

 

The recent Nazi anti-Semitic chants in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue – 11 worshippers murdered, 7 injured – have brought a bit more attention, but still many consider anti-Semitism a minor problem.

 

Let’s turn things around a bit and hopefully make them more accessible to more people.

 

What if the women running the Women’s March were white and one of them explained that her going to a Ku Klux Klan rally was due to Klansman Grand Wizard David Duke having supported her in a family crisis?  She refuses to condemn Duke, but says she is not a racist.  Other white leaders of the march stand by her, and also claim not to be racist.

 

In addition, there is evidence that some of the white women running the march made racist comments at an early meeting.

 

What are the odds that black march participants would be convinced by the women’s assertions that they are not racist?  Wouldn’t they insist these women resign as a condition of staying in the group?

 

Wouldn’t the same be true of Hispanic women of some leaders of the march expressed their enthusiasm for building a wall to keep “dangerous criminal Mexicans and Central Americans” out of the country?  Wouldn’t they be outraged at this blatant anti-Hispanic racism?  Wouldn’t they demand that these leaders resign?

 

Some cities have cancelled their marches.  My hope is that if enough of us do not march in other cities, we will be able to march again next year with the newly formed March On group which is sponsoring an alternative march in New York City.

 

Miedzian, a La Jolla resident, is an author and former philosophy professor.