A recent Harvard-Harris poll reveals that 57 percent of Americans have an “unfavorable opinion of Black Lives Matters protests and protesters.” Broken down further, the results only get worse for the Democratic party, which has made support for the movement a litmus test for its candidates.
Over 60 percent of whites, suburbanites, rural voters, and people aged 35 and over share the unfavorable opinion of Black Lives Matters, according to the poll. Most strikingly, 60 percent of self-described “independents” and 55 percent of “moderates” join them. Hispanics, who tend to vote Democratic in large numbers, are evenly split.
But the problems do not end there. The Democratic party’s support for the Women’s March — Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Cory Booker, and many others publicly praised and endorsed it — may prove just as damaging. Conservative media have long criticized the outrageous views and associations of the March’s organizers, especially those of Linda Sarsour, its most visible leader. But the New York Times has lately joined in.
Last week, Times staff editor Bari Weiss wrote that the solidarity of the Women’s March had “moved” her. In that, she definitely is not alone. One poll from February showed that 60 percent of Americans supported the March. But after finding out about the March’s leadership, Weiss could no longer support it. “What I stand against,” Weiss wrote, “is embracing terrorists, disdaining independent feminist voices, hating on democracies and celebrating dictatorships. If that puts me beyond the pale of the progressive feminist movement in America right now, so be it.”
Weiss’s article in the New York Times will help spread the word about the organizers of the Women’s March. Soon, and with help from other moderates in the mainstream media, Americans of all stripes will realize that they were swindled by the Women’s March.
That is what happened with Black Lives Matter. Originally, it was a fairly popular movement. But over time, the movement discredited itself with its actions and support for cop killers, Fidel Castro, and a boycott of Israel. What seemed to be a movement protesting the police’s seemingly disproportionate use of force against black people — which the American people still believe to be true, according to the Harvard-Harris poll — came to be associated with violence and hatred of police.
What if opposing the Women’s March movement may put moderates ‘beyond the pale’ of the Democratic party itself?
The Women’s March, if it does not quickly change direction and leadership, may also come to be associated with disreputable radicalism. But all the evidence suggests that its leaders are choosing to double down instead.
In response to Weiss’s criticisms, Women’s March co-president Bob Bland wrote a long, self-discrediting letter to the New York Times. Bland offered no defense of her organization’s support for cop killers, anti-Semites, and racists. Instead, she excused it as a feature of the “inclusive and intersectional” movement, and made wild accusations: “Ms. Weiss is endorsing a sensational alt-right attack,” she wrote. But Bland would go even farther: “Critics like Ms. Weiss,” she concluded, “remain apologists for the status quo, racist ideology, and white nationalists.”
Did you catch that? If you are a liberal who thinks that, in 2017, enthusiastic support for Fidel Castro and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is a bit much, a co-president of the Women’s March will call you an “apologist” for racism and white nationalism. How’s that for a campaign pitch to undecided voters and winnable independents?
But this is the Women’s March’s modus operandi. In response to Jake Tapper’s criticism of her support for Assata Shakur, a cop-killer and one of America’s most-wanted fugitives, co-president Linda Sarsour accused Tapper, a CNN anchor, of “join[ing] the ranks of the alt-right to target me online.”
Her false victimization was as transparent as her accusation was ridiculous. But no more ridiculous than when the official Women’s March Twitter account repeatedly and incoherently defended Assata Shakur in the face of strong criticism.
These two movements are not going to shape up anytime soon. Nor are they likely to lose the support of progressives. These two facts combine to leave Democrats with a difficult choice. When they are pushed, will they stand with Black Lives Matters? Will they stand with Sarsour, Bland, and the rest of the Women’s March radicals?
Abandoning them would incur the wrath of the party faithful. Not abandoning them could incur the wrath of nearly everyone else. Either way, Republicans will exploit the issue, and Democrats will embarrass themselves.
Astonishingly, the Democratic party may have found a way to squander the moral high ground and scare off the moderates gifted to them by President Trump.
— Elliot Kaufman is an editorial intern at National Review.