Why the Women’s March Leadership Thought They Could Get Away with It
The Women’s March movement was built upon a highly idealistic foundation. That idealism is perhaps best conveyed by this quote:
“In our first leadership meetings, we envisioned building the Women’s March as a flat structure with no one single leader, and inclusive of all voices,” Wruble recalled. “I was hoping through that, through working together, we could forge real relationships across different races, religions, and cultures. We could be the adults in the room after men—the patriarchy—had, quite frankly, completely screwed this country up.”
It was also highly ideological, with Intersectionalism as a core belief (emphasis added):
In an email to Tablet the Women’s March wrote:
Women’s March models intersectional leadership through our organizing work, which includes 200 women who worked on the conveners table, 500 partners, 24 women involved in developing the Unity Principles—including some of the folks who are expressing concern now.
I think that the idealism ended up cutting both ways. On the one hand the membership’s determination to be utterly inclusive and non-judgmental created the opportunity for people with bigoted beliefs to rise to top leadership. On the other hand, when these leaders began to publicly associate with and positively affirm the bigotry of Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam that same idealism created a powerful backlash. This quote from the Tablet article sums up the situation. Note that Breem says that Farrakhan is “against everything” they believe in, which certainly includes but is not limited to his anti-Semitism.
“Many of us were upset,” Beem told Tablet. “She is the face of a women’s march, and our mission and values are equality and inclusion. To openly praise someone like this went against everything we were supposed to stand by.” Beem described a sense of awkwardness as Mallory went on to defend Farrakhan to over 40 women on the call. And she wasn’t alone, Beem said; Perez and Bland jumped in to defend him as well.
But the question remains as to just why Tamika Mallory believed that she could identify so completely with Louis Farrakhan and why two other leaders so openly supported her.
I think that the answer is to be found in the hierarchy of victimhood that resides at the center of Intersectional theory. Tamika Mallory is a black woman, thus occupying the top two victimhood categories in Intersectionalism. This sense of identity had provided her with a protective cloak in the Progressive movement. That is, by virtue of her identity with the victim groups of blacks and women, to criticize her was indistinguishable from criticizing the black race and the female gender. And, when “white women” criticized her they were exhibiting “white supremacy,” not a valid concern (see her Tweet at the right). We can easily see this attitude by reviewing the leadership’s responses to criticism from within the Women’s March organization.
“The response that gives them the most sympathy is ‘This is white women trying to come out against women of color,’” said Morganfield. “The context is always, ‘the white media are trying to bring down women of color.’ And in this case, they’ll probably say it’s white Jewish women, which of course discounts the fact that there are black Jews. There’s somewhere close to 300,000 black Jews! What about them? It’s just divisiveness.’”
How dare those white women criticize me, someone whose superior victimhood status renders me beyond their criticism! This same ideological position is likely why Bob Bland and Carmen Perez defended Tamika Mallory.
Most regular Democratic politicians have a utilitarian, practical attitude towards the various sub-groups in their political coalition. They understand that to completely and publicly identify with any one group could cause blowback from other groups. They therefore maintain enough ambiguity regarding their relationships to ward off conflict.
The Women’s March leadership is not comprised of practical politicians. Rather they are extreme ideologues who have come to believe that by virtue of their superior victimhood status they should be immune to any and all criticism, particularly from white people, including white women, and most definitely white Jewish women. They didn’t count on the fact that many members and leaders in the Women’s March didn’t share this ideology to the extent necessary to thwart all criticism.
In the end, while anti-Semitism is far more than enough evil to tear a movement apart, I believe that this issue served as a rallying-point for a far broader set of concerns. When we see the vile, hate-drenched racism towards “white women” in general and the appalling moral entitlement displayed by the Women’s March national leadership, it’s pretty certain that this resulted in great resentment.
That burning resentment turned to open rebellion when the leadership openly identified with a man and organization that is not just anti-Semitic but also misogynistic.
Unfortunately, the Women’s March experience may well be unique. In fact, it may temporarily protect the Progressive Movement from its anti-Semitism by driving this belief further underground. There it will be able to fester and grow unseen until it erupts in a more virulent form.