The progressive Left is failing to confront hate in their own ranks by embracing activists with a long history of illiberal rhetoric and views, among them Linda Sarsour, who served as one of the four national co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington.
“Will progressives have more spine than conservatives in policing hate in their ranks? Or will they ignore it in their fury over the Trump administration?” staff editor Bari Weiss asked in an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Tuesday.
In the article, Weiss criticizes the progressive movement for having embraced Sarsour and some of her associates without questioning the deeply regressive and hateful views that they hold, which directly contradict the values liberals claim to defend.
“Nothing is creepier than Zionism,” Sarsour wrote of the movement for national Jewish self-determination in 2012, one of the numerous controversial statements made by the Palestinian-American activist that Weiss references as evidence that Sarsour is a bigot in progressive clothing.
The picture that emerges is that of anything but a feminist and defender of human rights. “You’ll know when you’re living under Shariah law if suddenly all your loans and credit cards become interest-free. Sound nice, doesn’t it?” Sarsour claimed in one tweet. At the same time, Weiss wrote, Sarsour showed little regard for victims of Islamic extremism when she attacked “the anti-Islamist feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the most crude and cruel terms, insisting she is ‘not a real woman’ and confessing that she wishes she could take away Ms. Ali’s vagina — this about a woman who suffered genital mutilation as a girl in Somalia.”
Weiss explained that Sarsour is not the only leader of the Women’s March movement that harbors outrageous and alarming views. Just last month, the official Twitter feed of the Women’s March offered birthday wishes to Assata Shakur, a convicted killer who is on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists. “Happy birthday to the revolutionary #AssataShakur!” read the tweet, which featured a “#SignOfResistance, in Assata’s honor.”
In response, CNN’s Jake Tapper observed in a tweet, “Shakur is a cop-killer fugitive in Cuba,” and asked, “Any progressives out there condemning this?”
Instead of defending or attempting to explain the tribute, Sarsour attacked Tapper, saying he joined “the ranks of the alt-right to target me online. Welcome to the party.”
Fellow Women’s March co-organizers Tamika Mallroy and Carmen Perez have also expressed several times in the past their deep admiration for Louis Farrakhan, the racist and anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader who called Hitler “a very great man” on national television and insisted that Judaism is a “gutter religion.”
In 1990, Farrakhan peddled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories when he claimed that “The Jews, a small handful, control the movement of this great nation, like a radar controls the movement of a great ship in the waters.” Five years earlier, Farrakhan had warned Jews in a speech at a Nation of Islam gathering in Madison Square Garden that “when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!”
While acknowledging that Sarsour has been a target of the far-right, Weiss brushed off allegations that all criticism of Sarsour is illegitimate or rooted in hatred.
“Maybe I’ll be accused of siding with the alt-right or tarred as Islamophobic. But what I stand against is embracing terrorists, disdaining independent feminist voices, hating on democracies and celebrating dictatorships,” Weiss wrote. “If that puts me beyond the pale of the progressive feminist movement in America right now, so be it,” she concluded.
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