Faced with the threat of a boycott by actress-activist Alyssa Milano, organizers of the Women’s March are standing behind Brooklyn native Linda Sarsour in a flap that is revealing serious frictions within the #MeToo movement.
The Women’s Movement leaders posted a statement on their Facebook page on Nov. 8 praising Sarsour, one of the women who organized the historic and massive protest march in Washington, D.C. that took place on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated.
Milano, the actress and women’s rights advocate credited with helping to start the #MeToo movement, told the Advocate in an Oct. 30 interview that she will not agree to be a speaker at the next Women’s March unless Sarsour and another Women’s March organizer, Tamika Mallory, denounce controversial statements about Jews made by Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.
The next Women’s March is set to take place on Jan. 19, 2019 in Washington DC.
When asked to comment on the Milano controversy, Sarsour directed this newspaper to the statement on the Women’s March Facebook page.
“Women’s March wouldn’t exist without the leadership of women of color, and we stand with Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory. Women’s March leaders reject anti-Semitism in all its forms. We recognize the danger of hate rhetoric by public figures. We want to say emphatically that we do not support or endorse statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan about women, Jewish and LGBTQ communities,” the statement reads in part.
At a rally earlier this year, Farrakhan told a crowd, “The powerful Jews are my enemy,” the Advocate reported.
Mallory was sitting in the audience during Farrakhan’s diatribe, the Advocate reported. And when Mallory was criticized, Sarsour reportedly jumped to her defense.
Milano, star of several iconic television shows, including “Who’s the Boss?” and “Charmed,” had called on Sarsour and Mallory to issue strong condemnations of the Nation of Islam leader.
“Anytime that there is any bigotry or anti-Semitism in that respect, it needs to be called out and addressed,” the Advocate quoted Milano as saying.
“I’m disappointed in the leadership of the Women’s March that they haven’t done it adequately,” the actress-activist told the Advocate.
It’s not clear if Milano will accept the Facebook page statement as a strong enough condemnation of Farrakhan by Sarsour and Mallory. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Women’s March organizers charged that the Milano-Sarsour flap is being fueled by the right.
“It’s important to remember that many on the right are thrilled to use any tool they can find to divide and undermine our movement, one that inspired the #WomensWave we saw this week in the midterm elections. Our women of color leaders at the Women’s March have risked their safety to build a bold direct action strategy that addresses the real threat against our communities and country, the threat of white nationalism, which is fueled by anti-Black racism and anti-Semitism. We all know the real cause of violence and oppression of our communities,” the statement reads.
Sarsour, the former executive director of the Bay Ridge-based organization Arab-American Association of New York, was one of a small group of women who put together the massive Women’s March protest in the nation’s capitol in 2017 as well as subsequent demonstrations against Trump administration policies on women.
The 2017 demonstration drew 500,000 people, according to estimates.
“The Women’s March on Washington exceeded our expectations. It will go down as one of the largest protests in U.S. history. We proved that when women lead, we can bring millions together across the country and we can create a movement that everyone sees themselves in,” Sarsour told this newspaper following the protest.