Women’s March’s con­tro­ver­sial ties plague Demo­cratic lead­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

The Women’s March is rapidly be­com­ing bet­ter known for its em­brace of fringe is­sues and rad­i­cal fig­ures like Na­tion of Is­lam leader Louis Far­rakhan than its po­lit­i­cal ral­lies, which is cre­at­ing headaches on the cam­paign trail for Democrats like Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Af­ter the Women’s March stunned even lib­eral fem­i­nists last week by rush­ing to the de­fense of Backpage.com, whose founder has pleaded guilty to hu­man traf­fick­ing in Texas, Ms. McCaskill found her­self under fire for her en­thu­si­as­tic in­volve­ment in the Jan­uary 2017 march.

Mis­souri state Rep. Jean Evans, a Repub­li­can, tweeted that she was wait­ing for Ms. McCaskill “to dis­tance her­self from this pro­hu­man traf­fick­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion,” while Catholic As­so­ci­a­tion se­nior fel­low Ash­ley McGuire called on politi­cians to “an­swer” for their sup­port for the Women’s March.

“I think it’s per­fectly le­git­i­mate to ask some­one like Claire McCaskill — who par­tic­i­pated in the Women’s March and called the move­ment ‘in­spir­ing’ — what do you think now?” said Ms. McGuire. “Do you sup­port le­gal­iz­ing pros­ti­tu­tion? Is le­gal­iz­ing

pros­ti­tu­tion an ef­fec­tive way to deal with hu­man traf­fick­ing?”

Clearly, Ms. McCaskill isn’t a fan of sex traf­fick­ing — she worked to pass the on­line traf­fick­ing bill signed last week by Pres­i­dent Trump — but her si­lence to date comes as tes­ta­ment to the clout wielded by the Women’s March de­spite the grow­ing scru­tiny.

Ms. McCaskill is hardly alone among Democrats. In fact, she isn’t even the most stal­wart sup­porter of the Women’s March among the rel­a­tively small co­hort of Sen­ate Democrats seek­ing re-elec­tion in 2018, none of whom has con­demned the group’s ex­trem­ism.

That in­cludes Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts, who spoke at the 2017 march in Bos­ton and served as the hon­orary co-chair of the an­niver­sary march in Jan­uary.

In Oc­to­ber, Sens. Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Wis­con­sin and Deb­bie Stabenow of Michi­gan de­liv­ered rous­ing key­note speeches at the Women’s March con­fer­ence in Detroit.

“The Women’s March has shown it’s run by ex­trem­ists, and the se­na­tors and politi­cians who as­so­ci­ated them­selves with an or­ga­ni­za­tion that’s run by ex­trem­ists need to be asked hard ques­tions about that af­fil­i­a­tion,” said Ms. McGuire.

She and other foes of hu­man traf­fick­ing were shocked when the Women’s March, which backs “sex work­ers’ rights” in its man­i­festo, de­cried the fed­eral and state raid on Backpage.com, call­ing the clas­si­fied ad web­site “an ab­so­lute cri­sis for sex work­ers who rely on the site to safely get in touch with clients.”

“Sex work­ers rights are women’s rights,” de­clared the Women’s March in an April 7 tweet.

The en­su­ing flap came as lead­ers of the left-wing re­sis­tance group al­ready were los­ing sup­port over their sup­port for Mr. Far­rakhan, known for his an­ti­Semitic rhetoric, as well as con­victed cop-killer As­sata Shakur and re­cently de­ported Pales­tinian ter­ror­ist Ras­mea Odeh.

Af­ter the April 2 death of Win­nie Man­dela, the Women’s March praised the South African an­ti­a­partheid ac­tivist for her “lead­er­ship,” de­spite her 2003 con­vic­tion for fraud and theft, her en­dorse­ment of tor­tur­ing peo­ple to death by “neck­lac­ing” and her al­leged in­volve­ment in at least 15 deaths.

Crit­ics on the right have long de­nounced Women’s March co-leader Linda Sar­sour’s anti-Is­rael jabs and sup­port for Sharia Law, as well as her 2011 tweet say­ing that critic of Is­lam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali — a vic­tim of gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion — should have her vagina “taken away.”

Women’s March co-pres­i­dent Tamika D. Mal­lory’s his­tory of prais­ing Mr. Far­rakhan — in­clud­ing her ap­pear­ance at his Fe­bru­ary speech in Chicago, where he pro­claimed “the pow­er­ful Jews are my en­emy” — prompted Planned Par­ent­hood Votes North­west and Hawaii last month to cut ties, say­ing “We at Planned Par­ent­hood re­ject and con­demn big­otry of all kinds.”

Cor­nell Law School pro­fes­sor Wil­liam A. Ja­cob­son, who has chron­i­cled the Women’s March on his Le­gal In­sur­rec­tion blog, ac­cused Sen­ate Democrats of pro­vid­ing tacit sup­port with their si­lence.

“Sev­eral of the key lead­ers of the Women’s March have long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ships with anti-Semitic, racist and sex­ist fire­brand Louis Far­rakhan,” Mr. Ja­cob­son said. “Demo­cratic se­na­tors who em­brace the Women’s March with­out de­mand­ing a change in the lead­er­ship to re­move Far­rakhan sup­port­ers are rat­i­fy­ing the em­brace of Far­rakhan, whether they in­tend to do so or not.”

None of this so far has dis­suaded Sen­ate Democrats fac­ing re­elec­tion in Novem­ber who may have de­cided that the ben­e­fits of be­ing as­so­ci­ated with the Women’s March, which has launched a na­tional Power to the Polls tour to en­cour­age voter turnout, out­weigh the draw­backs.

Ms. Stabenow marched with the group in Jan­uary 2017 and em­pha­sized her close re­la­tion­ship with the group in her Oc­to­ber speech at the Women’s March con­fer­ence in Detroit.

“We’re in a fight for the heart and soul of Amer­ica,” Ms. Stabenow told the au­di­ence. “We’re in a fight for who we are. They do not rep­re­sent who we are. That is not Amer­ica. That hate and racism, that is not Amer­ica. That is not us.”

Ms. Gil­li­brand was joined by Sen. Tim Kaine of Vir­ginia at the an­niver­sary rally in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., where she re­called the first Women’s March fondly.

“It was one of the most in­spir­ing mo­ments of my en­tire po­lit­i­cal ca­reer,” Ms. Gil­li­brand said. “It was so pow­er­ful be­cause it was both in­ter­sec­tional and in­ter­gen­er­a­tional.”

Ms. McGuire pre­dicted that the Democrats ul­ti­mately will pay a po­lit­i­cal price for look­ing the other way.

“I sus­pect that peo­ple like Claire McCaskill hope that this will go away, that spot­lights are not shown on their as­so­ci­a­tions, but I think the op­po­site is go­ing to hap­pen,” said Ms. McGuire, who wrote a Fri­day op-ed on RealClearPol­i­tics ti­tled “The Women’s March and Backpage.com: A Sor­did Story.”

“Al­ready I’ve seen peo­ple post­ing pic­tures of her at the St. Louis Women’s March,” she said. “You can’t hide from this.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

THE FRAY­ING MOVE­MENT: The Women’s March has em­braced in­creas­ingly rad­i­cal points of view over the past year. This shift in stance has cre­ated ma­jor headaches for Democrats who are on the midterm cam­paign trail.

UNDER FIRE: Sen. Claire McCaskill was crit­i­cized for her sup­port of the Women’s March, which de­fended Backpage.com just last week.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, spoke at the 2017 Women’s March in Bos­ton and served as hon­orary co-chair of the march this year.

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