On Friday, Women’s March organizers in Eureka, Calif., announced that they had canceled the third annual protest scheduled for this coming January — because the previous protests had been too white (never mind the county is 74 percent white). In recent weeks, however, the national movement has been racked with scandal. The official position — that the protest lacked “representation from several perspectives in our community” — may be a smokescreen for the deeper concerns driving this decision.
Even their own participants seem not to buy the explanation.
“I was appalled to be honest,” local Amy Sawyer Long wrote on Facebook, Newsweek reported. “I understand wanting a diverse group. However, we live in a predominantly white area…not to mention how is it beneficial to cancel? No matter the race people still want their voices heard.”
Here are five other possible explanations for Eureka’s cancellation.
1. The anti-Semitism scandal
The Women’s March is struggling to survive in the wake of revelations that national organizers have clear connections to Louis Farrakhan, the virulent anti-Semite at the head of the Nation of Islam. This issue led the Rhode Island chapter to split from the national organization in May and led the Washington state chapter to disband earlier this month.
A devastating Tablet magazine exposé blew these connections wide open early this month. Tablet reported on an early Women’s March leadership meeting in which Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory — black women added to increase the movement’s racial diversity — argued that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people—and even, according to a close secondhand source, claimed that Jews were proven to have been leaders of the American slave trade.”
This anti-Semitic conspiracy theory traces back to The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a Nation of Islam book that Henry Louis Gates Jr. slammed as “the bible of the new anti-Semitism.”
Linda Sarsour’s troubling connections with the Nation of Islam — specifically her use of the anti-Semitic group’s security team the Fruit of Islam, whom Sarsour has called her “FOI brothers” — further solidified the Women’s March’s ties to the anti-Semitic organization.
Mercy Morganfield, a former spokeswoman for the Women’s March who ran the Washington, D.C. branch, blasted Mallory for appearing at a Nation of Islam event. When Tablet asked her about the anti-Semitism, Morganfield responded, “There are no Jewish women on the board. They refused to put any on. Most of the Jewish people resigned and left. They refused to even put anti-Semitism in the unity principles.”
The Women’s March responded to the Tablet exposé in the worst possible way. The organization’s public relations company sent an email to every journalist who shared the article — even on Twitter — announcing that they had demanded retractions from Tablet but refusing to explain exactly how the article was wrong. They promised to “fact check” at a later time.
“LOL at this ham-fisted, amateur PR response to [Tablet]’s expose on the anti-Semitism that forms the foundation of the Women’s March,” The Federalist’s Sean Davis tweeted. He paraphrased the email, “‘Promise to delete your tweet about an article we don’t like, and we might send you “facts” you’re not allowed to publish because journalism.'”
This response only seemed to attract more attention to the Tablet exposé.
Hey, @womensmarch, if you wanted to inspire more interest in the @TabletMag expose, congratulations! You've ensured that this hit on you will be read and digested, far and wide. This is not how you engage in damage control, not even a little bit. https://t.co/klOzAqQxba
— Tyler O'Neil (@Tyler2ONeil) December 12, 2018
Anti-Semitism is far from the only problem plaguing the Women’s March. The Tablet exposé also reported on the movement’s money problem. Local chapters had repeatedly asked the national chapter to provide information on its finances, and the Women’s March finally released a public document — which backed up the Form 990 report showing the organization had raised roughly $2.5 million.
Yet Tablet reported that just through donations on the website CrowdRise, the Women’s March and various entities connected with it appear to have raised more than $3 million.
“For those of us on the inside 2.5 million as large as that number is—appears to be deceptively low. I witnessed us putting out a call for donations at 8am and amassing 50K in donations by 5pm. Where is the rest of the money?” Morganfield asked.
“What I know for sure from this financial report as flawed as it is—this group took in 2.5 million dollars and didn’t give a cent to the states,” or to other liberal causes, she complained. “They get millions of dollars, and who does all the work? The states.”
“D.C. was their biggest chapter. We never received one dollar from them,” Morganfield added bitterly. “They promised us money. Never gave us a red cent. I’ve asked to see their financials at least 15 times. They won’t even answer emails.”
When the Chicago chapter of the Women’s March announced they had canceled the January protest, the organizers criticized the national leadership’s connections to anti-Semitism but also noted that they had already put “so much time, money, energy and effort” into a “March to the Polls” before the midterm elections in November, Newsweek reported. It seems plausible that this reference to spent resources might have been a veiled attack on the national Women’s March, which allegedly refuses to fund state efforts.
The Eureka activists may also have decided to call off their local version of the protest due to depleted funds or to frustration with the national organization’s lack of generosity.
3. Low turnout
Liberal frustration with President Donald Trump remains high, but there might be good reasons for the Eureka organizers to expect a drop in turnout for the 2019 protest.
Many progressives who were willing to take to the streets in 2017 and 2018 may be less excited about marching with an organization whose leaders have known ties to anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan. The Tablet exposé may hurt turnout across the country.
If fewer activists were planning to attend, or if excitement is considerably lower, the Eureka organizers might have decided to save face and come up with some excuse to cancel the protest.
4. A media experiment
The local chapter may have decided to cancel the event with the “too many white people” excuse in order to alter the narrative on the Women’s March. With horrible press about anti-Semitism and money abuses driving the narrative on the movement, Eureka could have decided to take public action, drawing attention to another issue — the lack of racial diversity among some of the protests.
By pivoting the issue to skin color, the Women’s March can deflect from the bad press by trying to play up their efforts to include more non-white people. Activists can focus on inclusion and distract audiences from the more devastating issues.
With the national Women’s March chapter having failed so spectacularly to deflect the bombshells of the Tablet article, a local gambit like this might change the narrative, or so local activists may have reasoned.
5. Hitting “pause” due to internal confusion
The Women’s March started as a protest against Donald Trump’s inauguration, so it is clearly a repudiation of the president. However, the movement has struggled to define which issues it actually stands for.
The usual smorgasbord of progressive issues has come up at each protest — everything from LGBT rights to climate alarmism to abortion to indigenous rights to Muslim inclusion and more. Many of these causes may clash, however. For instance, many lesbians warn that transgenderism “erases women.” Many forms of sharia (Islamic law) involve penalizing and even killing LGBT people. Liberals support abortion, but what about sex-selective abortion, by which many parents choose to kill girl babies in order to have boys instead?
The Eureka Women’s March chapter did not disband this month. Indeed, organizers announced that they were “exploring holding an event in March to celebrate International Women’s Day.” Before that event, the chapter aims to become more inclusive.
“Instead of pushing forward with crucial voices absent, the organizing team will take time for more outreach,” the press release explained. “Our goal is that planning will continue and we will be successful in creating an event that will build power and community engagement through connection between women that seek to improve the lives of all in our community.”
Perhaps the local chapter is not just reaching out to be inclusive, but also to define and figure out its goals and issues. Besides addressing the charges of money mismanagement and anti-Semitic connections, the Women’s March needs to explain exactly what it stands for, and perhaps Eureka’s activists understand that.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.