[Read: These pro-lifers are headed to the Women’s March on Washington]
Tamika Mallory, one of the lead organizers, is at the center of the latest controversy over the march. Nearly a year ago, she attended an event sponsored by the Nation of Islam, where the group’s leader, Louis Farrakhan, made a number of wildly anti-Semitic claims about Jews, including that they control the government and cause homosexuality in black men. She has also posted about her admiration for Farrakhan on social media, calling him “the GOAT,” or “greatest of all time.”
Instead of disavowing Farrakhan, Mallory has consistently equivocated. “I don’t agree with everything that Minister Farrakhan said about Jews or women or gay people,” she told my colleague Adam Serwer in an interview last March. But “the brothers and sisters that I work with in the Nation of Islam are people, too.” In an interview on The View this week, Meghan McCain said she thinks the Women’s March is “anti-Semitism masked in activism.” When the host pressed Mallory to condemn Farrakhan, she refused.
[Read: Why Tamika Mallory won’t condemn Farrakhan]
Jewish women involved with the founding of the march have also accused the lead organizers of making explicitly anti-Semitic statements and purposefully pushing Jewish concerns to the side. According to a report in Tablet magazine, Mallory and another organizer, Carmen Perez, claimed that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people” and were “leaders of the American slave trade.” The march organizers have denied making these comments.
While these allegations have created a firestorm, they have also masked deeper divisions within the Women’s March movement. Some organizers of local marches have apparently been frustrated by the top-down management style and disorganization of the national Women’s March. A competing organization, March On, will also host gatherings across the country this weekend. “Many women in red states, for example, couldn’t follow an organizing playbook crafted out of D.C. or New York City,” Vanessa Wruble, one of the organizers who split with the original march, told Tablet.
[Read: The year of the woman still leaves women with terrible representation in Congress]
Pro-life women have also been excluded from the national march. Although a number of self-described pro-life feminist groups signed up to be sponsors and march alongside the original Women’s March, they were removed from the march’s official list of supporters because of their anti-abortion views. “The Women’s March’s platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one,” the organizers said in a statement at the time. Many women, from conservative Republicans to self-described progressive feminists, have found this alienating. As McCain said on The View, “You’re talking about all women being invited to that march? I’m pro-life. We were not invited.”