Women’s March Should Lose Sponsorships if Leaders Can’t Condemn Hate

“I’m not an anti-Semite, I’m anti-Termite.” That quote alone tells you all you need to know about Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam and close affiliate of prominent members of the Women’s March, specifically co-founder Tamika Mallory.

Despite the questions raised regarding her ties with Farrakhan, it’s taken nearly two years for Mallory to address her relationship with him publicly. The controversy lies in that, across multiple interviews, Mallory would not openly and directly condemn Farrakhan and his hateful rhetoric, leading many cities’ local Women’s Marches to separate from the main organization.  They have also begun losing sponsorships, most unexpectedly and importantly that of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). That said, the DNC did not comment specifically why they dropped their support nor did they mention anti-Semitism in their statements.

With the various marches in January, it’s important that Mallory be questioned about her ties with Farrakhan and her refusal to condemn his hateful vitriol, especially when his speech alienates many women from the women’s movement. There is no reason for any prominent public figure to support someone like Farrakhan, and sponsors and supporters have every right to drop their ties with the Women’s March until their concerns are addressed.

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz stated that if the founders of the Women’s March refused to publicly denounce the anti-Semitic rhetoric and behavior from Farrakhan, she would no longer support it. Other sponsors of the March, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and EMILY’s List, have already withdrawn their support. However, organizations like the ACLU, NAACP and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund are still listed as partners of the national organization at the time of this publication.

Despite whatever contributions Mallory claims Farrakhan has made to the black community, he endorses many troubling conspiracy theories pertaining to Jewish people and has also made several deplorable remarks regarding the gay community and white people.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a partisan legal advocacy group that monitors the rhetoric of public figures, even lists Farrakhan as an extremist. He blames the Jewish community for the general oppression of African Americans, including “the horror of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, plantation slavery, Jim Crow, sharecropping, the labor movement of the North and South, the unions and the misuse of our people that continues to this very moment”. He vocally supports the conspiracy theory that the Jewish people control Hollywood and the American government. Farrakhan, along with the Nation of Islam, believe that white people were created by “the evil black scientist Yakub” through eugenics and that whites are “inherently deceitful and murderous,” according to the SPLC. He also believes that promoting gay marriage “promotes filth” and that interracial marriage is evil, and that “Hitler was a very great man.”

Comments like these are simply scratching the surface of Farrakhan’s ideology, yet the founders of the Women’s March have not publicly withdrawn their support of Farrakhan. What is more troubling is that organizations like the ACLU have not distanced themselves from the Women’s March despite the organization’s inability to denounce Farrakhan’s hateful rhetoric directly.

If prominent individuals on the left and left-leaning organizations are quick to call out conservatives and Republicans for not condemning problematic figures within the party, which is absolutely justified, why are the leaders of the Women’s March not holding themselves to the same standard?

Many on the left praised companies like Apple, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook for banning Alex Jones for his problematic rhetoric and conspiracy theories, even though many mainstream conservatives have publicly condemned him. Yet figures like Farrakhan are still allowed on social media and have not been met with the same scorn as Alex Jones despite their similar views on certain dangerous conspiracies.

More recently, the GOP and the White House have finally denounced Congressman Steve King of Iowa after another controversy regarding indefensible white supremacist ideas and sympathies. Regardless, many members on the left say the condemnation is still not enough because it didn’t happen sooner.

Mallory, along with other individuals instrumental in the formation of the Women’s March like Linda Sarsour, have openly praised Farrakhan, been to his events, and spoken in his defense in the past. With actions like these, average women and sponsors of the Women’s March have every reason to be skeptical of their inability to condemn Farrakhan directly and withdraw their support. Mallory and Sarsour have made statements that the Women’s March rejects anti-Semitism, but these statements only go so far when they cannot denounce anti-Semites like Farrakhan himself.

While the DNC did withdraw its support from the national organization, what is important is that they did not condemn Farrakhan’s hateful rhetoric nor did they address anti-Semitism. Until the leaders of the Women’s March and left-leaning organizations can openly denounce Farrakhan and disassociate the movement from him and other anti-Semites, sponsors and women have every right to withdraw support, especially when such hateful rhetoric targets many people who participate in the Women’s March every year.

Rebecca Rinaldi is a fourth year Criminology, Law and Society major. She can be reached at rinaldir@uci.edu.