As Linda Sarsour attempts to deflect the calls for her to resign from the Women’s March, she bears an uncanny resemblance to the man she has staked her own legitimacy on opposing, Donald Trump.
On paper, the co-leader of the Woman’s March and the 45th President have nothing in common. But their indignant refusal to accept facts and blame the media are one and the same.
On Monday, the original founder of the Women’s March, Teresa Shook, called for Sarsour and her Women’s March co-leaders — Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, and Carmen Perez — to resign. In a Facebook post, Shook declared that the four women “have steered the Movement from its true course.”
Specifically, they have “allowed anti-Semitism, anti- LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs.”
In a rather Trumpian move, the Women’s March did not actually address Shook’s concerns. Instead, in a Facebook post on Monday, they accused Shook of being “irresponsible” for having “weighed in.”
Yes, apparently it’s “irresponsible” for the founder of the Women’s March to have thoughts that aren’t lock-step in line with the current leadership.
Such an unrelenting, insecure need for unquestioned loyalty is remarkably similar to what we see emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Then, they hurled vague allegations at “[g]roups that have benefited from our work but refuse to organize in accordance with our Unity Principles.” It was not unlike Trump’s many perplexing, generally unhinged tweets that lobby hate at random enemies, be they the CIA or CNN.
Of course, the substance of Shook’s comments were not surprising to many of us who have watched the Women’s March leaders’ steady willingness to embrace Louis Farrakhan, a man who actively spews anti-LGBTQIA and anti-Semitic rhetoric to this day.
The Women’s March leaders were questioned earlier this year when Mallory commended Farrakhan for his Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day event, during which he said “the powerful Jews are my enemy,” and “the Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.”
Sarsour rushed to defend Mallory and the support for Farrakhan. Previously, Mallory and Perez had both promoted him on their social media accounts with photos and praise.
It was only after nine days of criticism that the Women’s March released a milquetoast statement: “Minister Farrakhan’s statements about Jewish, queer, and trans people are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principle.” All the four women could muster for a man hellbent on homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and anti-Semitism was that he was “not aligned” with their principles—hardly a full-throated denouncement.
This week, Sarsour released a similarly weak response to what she characterized as “recent confusion and critiques,” a creative characterization of the call to step down for fostering an anti-LBTQIA and anti-Semitic environment. The statement blamed the “media storm,” for the fact “that our values and our message have—too often—been lost.”
Ahh, yes, blame the pesky media.
It’s a lament we’ve all become familiar with — thanks to Trump.
This isn’t the first time Sarsour has echoed Trump’s own strategy for deflecting criticism. Last year, Sarsour lashed out at Jake Tapper and accused him of being a member of the alt-right when he criticized the Women’s March for embracing Assata Shakur, a woman convicted in the murder of a state trooper.
It was the left’s version of Trump’s favorite bogeyman: “Fake News,” a cheap shot that defames those with valid criticism.
But Sarsour did — briefly — depart from Trump. Although the lion’s share of her statement on behalf of the Women’s March is spent emphasizing how hard they work and how much they do, there is a moment of contrition and regret — and that may be the most striking difference from the president.
Briefly, the statement acknowledges, “We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-semitism. We regret that…. We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused.”
However, at the same time the statement was posted by the Women’s March, Sarsour released one on her own behalf, and it lacked that small bit of reflection and remorse in the former. Instead, hers was all deception and anger, dripping with an indignant refusal to accept facts, self-righteous boasting, and a defiant attempt to feign legitimacy.
Again, Sarsour began with blaming the “media storm.” Here, though, there was a total and complete unwillingness to own up to the hate she has personally condoned. Instead, it’s a return to Trump’s “Fake News” allegations, replete with a vague “they” who have wronged her.
“Amidst the media storm, they attempted to intercept and lose our message and that loss has caused harm and hurt,” she wrote.
Opinion | Linda Sarsour Blamed The Media - Just Like Donald Trump
Most outrageously, Sarsour warns her followers not to listen to calls for her resignation: “Don’t let people who have not contributed nor put their bodies on the line define this moment.”
Of course, the person leading the call for her resignation, Shook, is the very one who started the movement. How could Sarsour even think to portray her as someone who has “not contributed” to the movement?
The rest of the statement is a testament to her self-aggrandizement, a rhetorical stone’s throw from Trump’s “We’re going to win so much. You’re going to get tired of winning.”
Sarsour asks, “Who created the boldest, most progressive platform for any march in history” and who “co-led FIVE WEEKS straight of organizing around the Kavanaugh hearings, shifted an entire narrative and gave women the space to speak up and speak out in sisterhood and support?” and who “along with progressive partners across this country won back the House? Sent 118 women to Congress, many of them true progressives and women of color?”
While Sarsour answers, “We did. You did,” it is pretty clear that she is really just talking about herself, Bland, Mallory, and Perez.
Sarsour, in fact, goes out of her way to dissuade others from taking the reins: “It’s not all glam and none of you want to be in our shoes.”
Opinion | Linda Sarsour Blamed The Media - Just Like Donald Trump
Of course, the real fear for people like Sarsour and Trump is that there are leaders more devoted to the public good and less obsessed with their own power who do, in fact, want to be in their shoes.
Emily Shire is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Daily Beast, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, and Salon. She is also currently pursuing her J.D. at Yale Law School.
Linda Sarsour Blamed The Media - Just Like Donald Trump