The good news and the bad: Sarsour, Mallory, and Bland out as Women’s March leaders, but Sarsour in as a Bernie Sanders “surrogate”

After both Tablet and and the New York Times exposed the anti-Semitism present among some Women’s March (WM) leaders dating from the group’s formation in 2016, the organization has been racked with disunity and discontent. None of the leaders, including Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland, were free from the taint of anti-Semitism, and I wrote a bunch of posts on the organization, urging that they dump these leaders in the cause of unity.

Well, that’s finally happened. As the New York Times (below) and Washington Post report, three of the four leaders (Perez is the exception) have “resigned”, though I suspect they were nudged to resign, since none of them previously showed any desire to leave in the face of criticism. (The official WM announcement is here.)

From the NYT:

The organization said in a statement that their terms expired and that 17 new board members had been appointed after a national search.

Their departure, earlier reported by The Washington Post, follows complaints from some local women’s march leaders that the New York-based group was too insular to lead a national movement. It comes after two of the earliest organizers of the march on Washington accused Ms. Mallory and a fourth co-chair, Carmen Perez-Jordan, of making anti-Semitic remarks.

. . . The group angered some activists in other parts of the country when members tried to trademark the name Women’s March in the wake of the 2017 march, which was put together by loosely connected volunteers, many of whom found one another on Facebook.

. . .Ms. Mallory’s close ties to the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who is respected in the black community, but is widely reviled in the Jewish community for virulently anti-Semitic remarks, had long raised eyebrows in New York.

The accusations, made public before the 2019 march, heightened a sense of infighting. In some cities, including New York and Philadelphia, two separate women’s marches were held.

There are many new board members, and nobody can accuse the WM of not being diverse. From the Post:

A diverse cast of 16 new board members that includes three Jewish women, a transgender woman, a former legislator, two religious leaders and a member of the Oglala tribe of the Lakota nation will inherit an organization recovering from a failed attempt to trademark the Women’s March name and fractured relationships with local activist groups and the Jewish community.

• Samia Assed, a Palestinian American activist from New Mexico who serves on the board of the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice and leads the organization’s New Mexico chapter.

• Zahra Billoo, a civil rights attorney and executive director of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

• Mrinalini Chakraborty, executive director of Men4Choice, who has been a Women’s March organizer and national field director, and founded Women’s March Illinois.

• Rabbi Tamara Cohen, who runs innovation for Moving Traditions, a national organization focused on teens and gender and Jewish identity, who spearheaded the creation of Tzelem, a group for transgender and non-binary youth.

• The Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Oklahoma.

• Sarah Eagle Heart, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the former CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy.

• Lucy Flores, a former Democratic state assemblywoman from Nevada who made headlines this year for accusing former vice president Joe Biden of inappropriate touching. She lives in Los Angeles, where she runs Luz Collective, an organization focused on empowering Latinas.

• Ginny Goldman, a political strategist who founded the Texas Organizing Project in Houston.

• Ginna Green, who runs the strategy arm of liberal Jewish group Bend the Arc and was among a group of Jewish women to lead the 2019 Women’s March on Washington.

• Shawna Knipper, an advocate for organ transplants who received a kidney donation in 2014 and an organizer with Women’s March Pennsylvania.

• Isa Noyola, a Latina transgender activist who serves as deputy director for Mijente, a national grass-roots hub for activism in the Latino community. She is the former deputy director of the Transgender Law Center and in 2015 organized the first national protest of violence against transgender people.

• Kelley Robinson of the District, who serves as Planned Parenthood’s national organizing director.

• Rinku Sen, an Indian American writer and civil rights activist who is the former executive director of racial-justice group Race Forward and publisher of Colorlines.com.

• Leslie Templeton, a youth activist who has focused on disability, health care and drug policy and has served on the Women’s March Disability Caucus.

• Lu-Shawn Thompson, widow of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson. She has worked to get more black women elected to political office.

Among these, only Billoo (who works for the Council on American-Islamic Relations) poses a potential problem, as she has a history of pretty strong anti-Israel and anti-Zionist (ergo anti-Semitic) remarks, which you can see in this article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
I suspect that any of the previous anti-Semitic shenanigans by the WM will be forestalled this time by the Jews on the board, who include a rabbi.

The bad news is that, according to several sources, including the Jerusalem Post (click on screenshot below), Linda Sarsour, whom I regard as an anti-Semite and an Islamist sotto voce, has been chosen by Bernie Sanders as a “surrogate”. What’s that? According to the Jerusalem Post, it’s “another politician, celebrity or person of influence, campaigning on a candidate’s behalf.”

Sanders appears to be like me: a nonbelieving Jew, and that will garner some of the Jewish vote in 2020. But using Sarsour as a surrogate, while not a good way to get votes from Jews (we know what she’s about), may be a good way to get votes from the anti-Israel Left. This choice alone is enough to make me not vote for Sanders in a primary (I would of course vote for him if he ran against Trump), but I don’t think there’s much chance of Bernie being a Presidential candidate next year.

In the meantime, Sarsour is already acting as a surrogate:

h/t: j. j.

21 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 17, 2019 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    This choice alone is enough to make me not vote for Sanders in a primary (I would of course vote for him if he ran against Trump), but I don’t think there’s much chance of Bernie being a Presidential candidate next year.

    Yeah, I got behind Bernie the day he announced in 2015, but that was more a matter of a frostiness for Hillary and a natural inclination to root for the underdog, than of being enamored of his policy positions. And I’m not supporting him this time around, given the glut of other qualified candidates for the nomination.

    I also agree with you that, even though he consistently polls among the top three contenders, there’s not much chance of Bernie’s being the Democrats’ ultimate nominee. Hell, when it comes to the first Jew to take up residence at the White House, I think there’s at least as much chance it’ll be Doug Emhoff (Kamala Harris’s husband) as First Dude with an office in the East Wing (though that looks like a long shot at the moment, too).

    • Historian
      Posted September 17, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      I agree that it is unlikely that Bernie will be the Democratic nominee. The question is whether his ardent supporters will refuse to support the nominee, thus helping Trump. We don’t want a replay of the 2000 election and the role Ralph Nader played.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 17, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        I doubt Bernie will make a third-party run, as Nader did in 2000. And although Bernie did the right thing in 2016 by showing up at the convention and supporting Hillary, I realize that some of his supporters didn’t follow suit. But I think that had to do with their personal animus for Hillary owing to her perceived role in the short-shrift Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC gave Bernie during the delegate-selection process.

        Let’s hope nothing similar happens again with Bernie or any of the other Democratic contenders next year.

  2. darrelle
    Posted September 17, 2019 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Looks like a great opportunity for Sarsour to spin her anti-Israel history into a “I’ve always loved Jews!” image. Plenty of people will be fooled.

  3. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted September 17, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    That was a long time coming.

    It’s worth reading the NYT article, the one which tells the story of Vanessa Wruble, one of the original organisers of the march, because it makes clear how vulnerable well-intentioned, tolerant organisations are to blatant entryism.

    Wruble seems to have actually invited one of the three into the women’s march, in a display of goodwill, and then they in turn invited the other two to join. And in a flash these loudmouths had pretty much taken ownership of the whole shebang, in spite of the fact that they were significantly more extreme than the other members.*

    This is the same kind of entryism that ends up undermining moderate liberal organisations very quickly unless they have something specifically in place to stop it.
    The initial leaders/organisers of the Women’s March were just _too nice_. Sarsour, Mallory and Perez took full advantage of that.

    Look at what happened to Labour once they made the mistake of changing the process by which party membership is attained…again a moderate organisation with good intentions opened itself up to outsiders, and was swiftly undermined then colonised by the loudest, most extreme actors, who nudged their way into positions of power and installed a loon as party leader.

    It’s like that saying, ‘don’t be so open-minded that your brain falls out’. Well don’t be so tolerant that you end up welcoming your enemies across the threshold.

    *The NYT article is paywalled so I can’t go back and check the exact details.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted September 17, 2019 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it is catastrophic for the UK that the opposition leader is a cretin like Mr Corbyn.
      And he is a closeted (well maybe not that closeted) Brexiteer too.

  4. Posted September 17, 2019 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Bernie’s campaign seems to be going backwards. I just hope that his faithful hordes can transition to supporting another candidate when he eventually pulls out of the race. My guess is they will but the process will be loud and painful. But they can’t possibly not vote against Trump.

    • darrelle
      Posted September 17, 2019 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      I am certain that some will not vote against Trump. I’ve come across individuals talking that way already and Bernie is still a front runner.

      • Posted September 17, 2019 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        At this point, he’s only a front runner in his mind. He’s visibly lost energy. His supporters are not going to show uncertainty until he actually drops out. I would expect no less of them. However, after he drops out the pressure to pick a remaining candidate and support them will be enormous.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 17, 2019 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Me too. I’ve spoken to a few of them and they all said Biden and Trump were both as bad as each other. None of them said they’d vote for Biden, and very few of them said they’d vote for any of the others either. A few of them outright said they’d vote Trump if Bernie doesn’t win the nomination.

        They didn’t seem to have taken any lessons from 2016.

        • Historian
          Posted September 17, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

          I fear that you are correct. The people you are describing are the purists, that is, they view those who don’t support their positions one hundred percent are equally bad. It is not inconceivable they could make the difference in the battleground states. Yes, they are incapable of learning. I can only hope there are not too many of them.

        • Harrison
          Posted September 17, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          Biden is not worse than Trump, but I would honestly take Hillary redux over Biden if I could. Among the contenders who are even remotely serious, only Harris is worse.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:16 am | Permalink

            I could never remotely understand the hatred she received. She was chilly, not massively likeable, and she had a political past(a pretty mundane one, nothing like as machiavellian as everyone made out)…but the level of vitriol she inspired from the extremes of both sides was completely bewildering to me.
            She was one of the most confident, competent, ferociously intelligent candidates of recent times and Sanders supporters would talk about her like they could smell the sulphur in the room, to paraphrase Hugo Chavez. I think most of the rest of the world just couldn’t understand the hatred at all.

            • Posted September 18, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

              Even though I voted for Hillary and would never vote for Trump, I get why she’s hated. Her speeches were so self-centered and tone deaf. Every time I heard her deliver a prepared speech, I thought to myself, “Who writes this stuff?” When she entered the stage, she would point at audience members she supposedly recognized and give a fake smile of fake delight. They didn’t convey honesty and connection with people. She probably would have made an ok president from a policy point of view but not much of a leader, IMHO. Still way better than Trump though.

  5. Jon Gallant
    Posted September 17, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    In 2016 I was sentimentally inclined toward Bernie because, long ago, he had been what was called “a YPSL” (back when I hung out with the Schachtmanites, a related species). But now, Bernie is showing increasing signs of dementia. On one recent occasion, he shouted that climate change threatened the
    ” existence of the earth”. Next, he or his new surrogate might accuse Jared Kushner of threatening the existence of New Jersey, and advise us all to wear aluminum foil hats.

  6. Posted September 17, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Bernie Sanders doesn’t seem to be a good judge of character. Last time he picked Paul Manafort’s co-conspirator from Ukraine, Tad Devine, as his campaign manager (and turned a significant proportion of his supporters into anti-Hillary non-voters or worse). Now his picked a rabid and stupid antisemite as a surrogate, again playing straight into trump’s plan to divide the left into two camps: antisemites vs. those who will choose to remain neutral as to whether the others are antisemites or not.

    In any case, by the time next November finally rolls around, Democrats will be so exhausted from it all that they’ll be too tired to vote.

    • Harrison
      Posted September 17, 2019 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      FWIW Sanders does not take reliable Dem voters and turn them into non-voters. He instead attracts non-Dem support that then don’t stick around in the Dem tent once he’s gone. It’s silly to blame that cohort on the failure of the eventual Dem nominee when they weren’t going to support that person even in the reality where Sanders never ran.

      • Posted September 18, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        Just going on personal experience. I know at least one person who started of a staunch Hillary supporter, then got heavily involved in the Bernie campaign and wound up hating Hillary so much that she didn’t want to vote at all. I doubt this person is the only one who went through such a massive swing.

        (Though I also don’t mean to blame Bernie for Hillary being such a bad choice for a candidate, and failing to win over people who were already on her side.)

  7. Filippo
    Posted September 17, 2019 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    ” . . . complaints from some local women’s march leaders that the New York-based group was too insular to lead a national movement . . . . two of the earliest organizers . . . accused Ms. Mallory and . . . Carmen Perez-Jordan, of making anti-Semitic remarks.”

    What does “insular” mean in this situation? Sounds like “white noise” to me. Totally uninformative.

    If the NY Times had evidence of Antisemitism, why wouldn’t it publish it in this article, as opposed to simply informing readers of “accusations”?

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 18, 2019 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      The NYT article mentions the ‘anti-Semitic’ remarks. Mallory/Perez/et al are reported to have said ‘you people hold all the wealth’ to the Jewish organiser interviewed in the article, and told her she should look at her own racist complicity in Jewish guilt for the slave trade, etc.

      It’s there in the article, although the NYT only has a ten article limit per month, beyond which you have to subscribe.

  8. Posted September 17, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Is this Bernie surrogate thing like a spokesperson?


%d bloggers like this: