In February, the organizers of the 2017 Women’s March faced heavy criticism over their ties to Louis Farrakhan, a hate preacher with thousands of followers who has called Jews “Satanic,” claimed they were behind 9/11, and essentially popularized every anti-Semitic slur imaginable. The scrutiny of the Women’s March was precipitated by organizer Tamika Mallory’s attendance at Farrakhan’s annual Saviour’s Day address, where he interspersed his usual anti-Jewish and homophobic invective with praise of her, while she lodged no protest and posted photos from the event. A longtime supporter of Farrakhan, Mallory had previously called him “the greatest of all time” (“GOAT”), repeatedly publicized his speeches, shared his videos and words with her many followers on social media, and urged them to tune in to hear him speak.
Nine days after Mallory’s ties to Farrakhan—and those of fellow Women’s March organizers Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour—were exposed by mainstream voices like CNN’s Jake Tapper and the Anti-Defamation League, the Women’s March finally distanced themselves from Farrakhan, but did not explicitly condemn him. For her part, Mallory was unrepentant and refused to renounce Farrakhan or specifically condemn his hate. She continued to insist, however, that she was in fact a lifelong opponent of anti-Semitism.
Since then, Mallory has done little to dispel the concerns that were raised in that controversy, and yesterday, she deepened them. After Starbucks announced it would be providing anti-bias training to all employees, following a widely condemned incident in which two black men were forcibly removed from a Philadelphia store by police, Mallory took to her social media feeds to finger the real villain of the affair: the Anti-Defamation League.
Mallory, who offered no evidence to support her sweeping accusation, was responding to the announcement that the ADL would be helping design the Starbucks training, as part of a team including the NAACP and former attorney general Eric Holder. (Over its many years of anti-racist advocacy, the ADL has produced a vast array of such materials.) Perhaps attempting to settle the score with the Jewish group that previously caused her so much embarrassment, Mallory called on her followers to #BoycottStarbucks while the ADL remained involved.
Mallory’s criticism of the ADL echoed that of Farrakhan, who has attacked and threatened both the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center for years over their criticism of him. In April 2013, for instance, Farrakhan dubbed the ADL and its leadership “liars and deceivers” on a local radio show:
After over an hour of backlash on social media in response to her attack on the ADL, Mallory posted a follow-up in which she named several small token Jewish groups that she would find acceptable. If she saw any irony in demanding ideological purity from Jewish groups that she did not demand of herself or her allies, Mallory did not acknowledge it.
Ultimately, it is difficult to know what is truly within a person’s heart when it comes to Jews. What we can say for certain is that someone who thinks that Louis Farrakhan is the “greatest of all time” but that the Anti-Defamation League is too racist to conduct a sensitivity training probably isn’t the best judge of character. Likewise, anyone who associates with anti-Semites, praises anti-Semites, publicizes anti-Semites, and bizarrely goes after the #1 Jewish organization devoted to combating anti-Semites, is definitely not entitled to present themselves as an opponent of anti-Semitism—whether they are the president of the United States or an organizer of the Women’s March.