Controversy

With the annual Women’s March just days away, the event remains roiled by controversy

Allegations of anti-Semitism are continuing to haunt the leadership of the Women’s March, prompting speculation that the absence of several prominent civil and women’s rights groups from this year’s list of partners are a direct result. But organizations asked about their decision to not sponsor the Women’s March haven’t directly cited the controversy as a factor. Emily’s List, a political action committee that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, told NBC News that they had opted to spend their resources “hosting a training for women coming into D.C. with the Women’s March, rather than a sponsorship of the March itself.”

Buzzfeed News also reported on Tuesday that Democrats eyeing bids for the White House appeared to be steering clear of the event, with no announced plans to attend the march. Contacted by reporter Ruby Cramer, seven prominent Democratic hopefuls did not respond to questions about the march. Four responded that they would be traveling elsewhere or did not have plans to participate.

A spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee also told Cramer the party has partnered with Women’s March organizers in the past on various projects, but has never been a sponsor of the national event, but adding that “the DNC stands in solidarity with all those fighting for women’s rights and holding the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers across the country accountable.”

In November last year, the original founder of the Women’s March, retired lawyer Teresa Shook, called on current leaders Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez to step down for failing to uphold the group’s principle of justice and inclusion for all. At the root of the controversy was Mallory’s attendance at Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan speech in which he referred to Jews as “Satanic” and as his “enemy.” Mallory, who has previously referred to Farrakhan as “the greatest of all time” on Instagram, said she attended the event in part because of the support shown by the Nation of Islam following the death of her son’s father and declined to condemn his comments outright. Appearing on The View on Monday, Mallory again declined to condemn Farrakhan but instead said that she disagreed with “many of Minister Farrakhan’s statements” and noted that “it’s not my language, it’s not the way that I speak, it’s not how I organize.”

“I should never be judged through the lens of a man,” she added.

In a statement issued in wake of the controversy, the Women’s March said they “reject anti-Semitism” in all its forms. But the scandal has deepened in recent days amidst allegations that Vanessa Wruble, a Brooklyn-based activist who founded women’s rights group March On, was forced out of the group after facing criticism from Mallory and Perez for being Jewish. According to online Jewish magazine Tablet, Mallory and Perez allegedly told Wruble ahead of the first Women’s March that she needed to grapple with the historical role of Jewish people in the slave trade and prison industry — assertions that have previously been made by Farrakhan in a book titled The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and the Jews that has been described by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. as “the bible of the new anti-semitism.” Evie Harmon, a white woman who helped organize the March, also told Tablet that she heard Mallory and Perez berate Wruble, saying, “‘You people this,’ and ‘You people that’ and the kicker was, ‘You people hold all the wealth.’” Mallory has denied those accounts, but acknowledged telling white women during an argument that she didn’t consider them “trustworthy.”

“Every single one of us has heard things that offended us,” she insisted. “We still do the work.”

Despite the controversy, key sponsors such as Planned Parenthood have continued to support the Women’s March organization, noting that the group had repeatedly put out statements unequivocally rejecting “bigotry in all its forms.”

Read the full story at Buzzfeed News and NBC News.

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