Last week, the Los Angeles Times—the paper I grew up with—published a column asking if it is possible to admire Louis Farrakhan and still support the cause of women. Farrakhan is the leader of the Nation of Islam, and is infamous for his rhetoric against Jews and gays, among others. Reminiscent of another leader who claimed that there were “some very good people” in a recent White Nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, Farrakhan has called Hitler “a very good man” and denounced Jews as “satanic” and “termites.” Farrakhan is also connected to a number of leaders of the Women’s March, including Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory.
The author of the article claimed that she found Farrakhan to be “vile.” However, she also felt that the good done by the Women’s March overshadowed the fact that some of its very leaders are followers of Farrakhan. This statement in itself is perplexing. Are we not marching for those very reasons? To show that even if President Trump can raise the stock market and drop unemployment rates, this does not excuse behaviors such as groping women and calling Mexicans “murderers” and “rapists?” Do we not show up on Saturday and Sunday, spend our weekends walking, to show that we cannot and will not allow racism, sexism, and any other prejudice, to live in our highest offices? When we shout “time’s up,” are we not referring to the fact that the time is up for any hatred or mistreatment of others to exist?
The cities currently canceling Women’s Marches because of their many connections to anti-Semitism are the ones to admire. Instead of favoring a man who has called the known terrorist group Hezbollah “freedom fighters,” let us extol the virtues of those who understand that the hateful rhetoric used on one group is only a sentence away from attacking yet another minority. Hate, as we are reminded too often, does not differentiate between religion, race, or sexual orientation. So, no, you cannot admire Farrakhan and claim to support a cause that promises to champion all human rights. No, you cannot sigh and excuse yourself by stating that life is full of contradictions. Those are the very attitudes that have brought us to our current state. When you grab your hat and your picket sign, remember that you march not just against Trump, but against anyone and everyone who aims to debase and divide humanity. It doesn’t get clearer than that.