Women’s March leader defends movement against claim of ’embracing hate’

Leaders of the Women's March, including Bob Bland (front row L, with white hat and flag), Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory, July 14, 2017. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

One of the organizers of the Women’s March, Bob Bland, has hit back at an opinion piece published Tuesday in the New York Times, critical of the “chilling ideas and associations” of some of its leaders.

New York Times staff editor Bari Weiss, in a piece headlined “When progressives embrace hate,” wrote that she was initially moved when “millions of Americans flooded the streets in cities across the country to register their rage that an unapologetic misogynist had just been made leader of the free world,” the day after the presidential inauguration in January.

But since then, she said,  “the movement … has embraced decidedly illiberal causes and cultivated a radical tenor that seems determined to alienate all but the most woke,” citing what she calls the “alarming ideas” of March co-chairs Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory. “Will progressives have more spine than conservatives in policing hate in their ranks?” she asked.

Four co-organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, from left: Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez, in New York, January 4, 2017.(Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

In a Letter to the Editor, published on Thursday, Women’s March co-president Bob Bland responded that she viewed Weiss’s dissent as distracting and dangerous, “at a time when we need to stand united,” calling her an armchair critic and “[apologist] for the status quo, racist ideology and the white nationalist patriarchy.”

Bland wrote that, in the process of organizing the March in January, there were times that “even with as much empathy as I could muster, I couldn’t relate to someone else’s point of view,” but that she sees this as the nature of intersectional activism.

Weiss has already responded to Bland via Twitter, stating she is happy about receiving a response: “But nothing in this letter grapples with the substance, just the optics.”

“Discomfort is often necessary for growth,” wrote Bland in her letter.

Of both, there promises to be no shortage.


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