A message to the Jan. 19 marches: Building unity and solidarity
Women and all gender-oppressed people are under attack. From the federal government shutdown, hitting women workers hardest; to the Education Department’s assault on Title IX; to the war on reproductive justice, especially abortion rights; to the persecution of migrant/refugee women and the kidnapping of their children; to escalating violence against LGBTQ2S people, especially trans women of color; to attacks on disabled women and the incarceration of poor and oppressed women — during this period of ultra-reactionary rule, some of the harshest blows are aimed at the gender oppressed.
How do we mount an effective, winning counteroffensive? There is only one way: unity and solidarity.
Unity against sexism. Unity against misogyny. Unity against rape culture. Unity in defense of trans and gender-nonconforming people.
Unity, above all, against racism and misogynoir—that is, the special oppression of and attacks against Black women.
On Jan. 19, women’s marches against Trump will be held across the country, including worldwide for the third consecutive year. Unfortunately, many will be anything but united. After spurious charges of anti-Semitism against women of color who’ve led the national women’s march movement, there will be separate, competing marches in several cities including New York City.
This splintering weakens the struggle. It serves the interests of Trump, the right-wing Republicans, the Democratic Party leadership and especially the capitalist class they truly represent. There can be little doubt these had a hand to some degree, however hidden, in concocting the phony “controversy” to create this split.
The mounting attacks on march leaders Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez, three women of color, are doing the work of the enemy, even if they don’t realize it. Everyone who really wants to fight against gender oppression must close ranks and reject these efforts to divide the movement, despite any get-out-the-vote slogans from the Democratic Party.
Why this slander? Why now?
Which class benefits from anti-Semitism?
Over the last few decades in the U.S., claims of anti-Semitism have become the go-to move against Black activists especially. This is meant to confuse people, to diffuse support, to block solidarity — in other words, to sow disunity. Which is exactly what has happened in the lead-up to this women’s march.
What a cynical strategy. There is a deep, long, very real history of anti-Semitism. But it is not to be found in the Black or any other oppressed community. It flourished in Europe over centuries, fomented by the czars in Russia and ultimately, horrifically, by the genocidal Nazi regime. Tens of millions died, both at the hands of the fascist death machine and in the heroic effort, led by the Red Army of the Soviet Union, to defeat it.
The U.S. has its own sordid history of anti-Semitism. There was early 20th century anti-Jewish propagandizing by powerful figures such as capitalist Henry Ford. There were long decades of discrimination in housing and employment. And there is the current period, with Nazis marching in Charlottesville, Va., chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” and a white supremacist murdering 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.
However it manifests, scapegoating of Jewish people as somehow the cause of everyone’s troubles always emanates from one source. And that’s the ruling class, which is overwhelmingly WASP — white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Its goals: to break up unity, undermine the working-class struggle and deflect anger from itself as the real cause of our problems.
No other force in society, least of all any oppressed community, has the motive or the power to promote anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism serves only ruling-class interests. The only actual threat to Jewish people is from the ruling class and those it mobilizes.
Solidarity with the Palestinian people
There is another element at work in developments around the women’s march. That is the question of Palestine. As so often happens, solidarity with the Palestinian people’s righteous struggle for self-determination is being conflated with anti-Semitism. This is a false equation, and it makes the claims against Tamika Mallory, who is Black, and Linda Sarsour, who is Palestinian, particularly odious. It’s outrageous that Mallory and Sarsour have been forced to repeatedly affirm their opposition to anti-Semitism simply because they stand with Palestine.
We too support Palestine. As we oppose anti-Semitism and Zionism. As we support the rights of women and all gender-oppressed people.
As we fight against racism. As we defend Black, Brown and Indigenous women.
We call for unity among all working and oppressed people against our real enemies. Crush Trump! Defend women’s lives! Defend LGBTQ2S people! Unite! Unite! Unite to fight!