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Why Women’s March co-founders were drawn to Farrakhan’s lies

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On Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, one day after Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony, well over 1 million Americans participated in an anti-Trump protest labeled the “Women’s March on Washington.” Jewish participation in the protest was significant and vocal. Now, nearly two years later, a blockbuster piece in Tablet magazine confirms those American Jews marched at an event whose top-tier organizers were enamored with the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan, the octogenarian godfather of current-day anti-Semitism.

No one should be shocked by these latest revelations about the flirtations with Farrakhan by the youngish, multiracial co-founders of the March.

{mosads}Just take the reaction — or non-reaction — of mainstream media to two 2018 statements by Farrakhan, who recently sat at within handshake distance of former President Clinton at Motown diva Aretha Franklin’s Detroit funeral:

  • On the 23rd anniversary of his 1995 Million Man March on Washington, Farrakhan, who lost his Twitter verification for denouncing “Satanic Jews who have infected the whole world with poison and deceit,” said in a new tweet: “White people don’t like Farrakhan. I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” Animalization of human beings was a favorite pastime of Nazi Germany in anti-Jewish, pre-genocidal propaganda of the 1930s.
  • Then in Tehran, Farrakhan, according to Iran’s semi-official state news agency Mehr, chanted “Death to America” while viewing a parade, claiming earlier, during a meeting with the secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, that “America has never been a democracy.” Farrakhan linked arms with anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-U.S. Iran against the backdrop of increased U.S. sanctions against Tehran because “America is conspiring against Iran.” No word whether Farrakhan has used his alliance with the mullahocracy to free Christians arrested in Iran in advance of Christmas.

Imagine the reaction of mainstream media if the prominent American visitor in Tehran had been a right-wing evangelical fundamentalist or a Republican fringe politician on a world tour, denouncing the Jewish nation and America as global co-conspirators against goodness and light. But Farrakhan’s latest outrages generated nary a yawn from the media — not because he’s seen as an aging crackpot, but because of his phoenix-like re-emergence as an icon of the new “intersectional” progressive politics. The ugly, malignant hate that rendered the likes of David Duke radioactive to the mainstream hasn’t cost Farrakhan anything.

To the contrary, it was Farrakhan’s classic anti-Semitism that attracted March leadership in the first place.

The Tablet article refers to multiple sources who said, during a formative meeting of Women’s March organizers in late 2016, eventual co-chairs Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez embraced the absurd thesis put forth in a notorious anti-Semitic screed by the Nation of Islam’s anonymous historical research department, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews (1991).” The book purported to prove that Jewish merchants “dominated” the slave trade between Africa and the Americas. Later, Farrakhan’s followers added the pernicious wrinkle that “Jewish rabbis invented racism.”

Notwithstanding their denials, it makes sense that Mallory and Perez would be drawn to such nonsense. It mirrors their divisive, conspiratorial-driven identity politics, which alleges that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people.” Hence, no Jewish women on the Women’s March executive board. Hence, the hiring of Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam to serve as security for the Washington March.

But why blame these progressive young women for embracing Farrakhan and aligning with him politically? After all, many older progressive, mostly Democratic, politicians have rigorously maintained a code of silence in face of decades of Farrakhan’s hate.

Don’t get us wrong. It’s not only a Democratic problem. GOP candidate John Fitzgerald — nominated with 23 percent of the vote in California’s June’s “open primary” — lost overwhelmingly to Democratic Congressman Mark DeSaulnier. It took the Republican Party in California two months to rescind its automatic endorsement of a candidate who appeared on neo-Nazi websites and radio programs, alleging that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks, that the Holocaust was an “absolute fabricated lie,” and that Jews were behind “diluting races” in America. Among Fitzgerald’s eye-popping platform planks was the endorsement of the Farrakhan’s 1991 book.

In wake of the continued Farrakhan embrace, numerous Women’s March chapters have protested and split off, but to little avail. The movement’s national leadership continues to receive star treatment by the media and social elite while filling their coffers with donations predicated on the delusional mantras that (white) Jews, (apartheid) Israel — and the (Trump-led) United States — are the real enemies of people of color.

And the winner? Louis Farrakhan. The silent, explicit collusion of media, the religious and members of the political class enable him to continue, even normalize, his unholy crusade that demonizes Jews and the democracy that safeguards his right to defame his native America.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of global social action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Historian Harold Brackman is a long-time consultant for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Tags African American–Jewish relations Antisemitism in the United States Donald Trump Identity politics Louis Farrakhan Mark DeSaulnier Nation of Islam Tamika Mallory women's march on washington

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