The ubiquitous anti-Semitism inside the leadership of the Women’s March has been well documented over the past few weeks. Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour have finally been put on the hot seat, but the issue of antisemitism on the left extends far beyond a few bad apples at the top of the Women’s March.
It is convenient to call out the most egregious offenders and claim accountability has been achieved because it allows Democrats to ignore the broader issue in their own party. We must realize that this is not a new issue and just because the leaders of the Women’s March have been called out does not change the fact that there are still anti-semites within the mainstream Democratic ranks.
The main point of contention surrounding Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour has been their connections to the notorious anti-semite and leader of The Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan. The ironic part about this is that a number of high ranking Democrats have been closely associated with Farrakhan for their entire careers with minimal blowback. Former Deputy Chair to the DNC Keith Ellison, for example, has had a long history of connection to Louis Farrakhan.
The Washington Post gives at least three examples of when the two have “crossed paths” in recent memory. Ellison attended a dinner for the Iranian President in 2013 where Farrakhan was present, they were only feet from each other at a function that happened in the early 2010s, and as recently as 2016 Farrakhan and Ellison had a private meeting in a hotel suite. None of this, however, stopped him from becoming one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the country in 2017.
That is the old Democratic party we are told, the “new era” of their party is young, fresh and diverse. While they may be diverse, it does not change the fact that some of them have engaged in repeat anti-semitism. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar — who actually took over Ellison’s former congressional seat — has a long history of questionable comments herself. In 2012 Omar said that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” New York Times columnist Barry Weiss noted that the Jewish power to hypnotize the world also just happens to be the plot of the most successful Nazi film ever made. Despite these troubling remarks, Omar remains one of the most celebrated figures on the left.
The list of mainstream figures in the Democratic party who have engaged in this sort of conduct does not stop at Keith Ellison and Ilhan Omar, of course. Anti-semitism is the dark stain on the white dress that is supposedly the Democratic Party. Their espoused values of acceptance and tolerance somehow go out the window when we start talking about Judaism– the rest of their party turn a blind eye to it because it is politically convenient.
None of this is to say that the right has no issues with racism or bigotry because of course to say that would be to ignore reality. What I am saying is that while the right has correctly isolated people like Steve King, I do not see the left even considering doing the same to the bigots in their own party. The DNC disassociated from the Women’s March and now pretend that their job is done. Their job is not done, it is just beginning if they are serious about living up to their values and if they are serious about shaping an America where no group is targeted because of their immutable characteristics. Maybe before being so quick to attack the other side for their vices, they may want to look themselves in the mirror. There is a saying that you must “master yourself before you seek to master others”, and that is a virtue that has been largely lost in today’s society.
The right and left should be united on stamping out bigotry in whatever form it may come, however, when we put partisan politics before basic decency it is a real issue. Condemnations, like we saw regarding the Women’s March, are a good start, but pretending like the road ends there would be to simply ignore the broader problem at hand.