By Ishaan Dasgupta
Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece and views expressed in this article are not necessarily reflective of The Beehive’s associated writers.
The Women’s March on January 2017 stood out as a bold act of defiance to Donald Trump, as it was the largest single-day protest in American history. However, whilst they were protesting against a provocative leader, two of their own figureheads, Linda Sarsour and Donna Hylton, are very controversial figures themselves. One is an advocate for an oppressive interpretation of Sharia Law, and the other is a flat-out murderer. This begs the question; why are these women allowed to taint and stain the message of such an influential and important movement?
First, let us examine each “leader” more closely.
Let’s start with Linda Sarsour. Linda Sarsour is a Palestinian-American activist, and has done numerous amounts of protesting for different causes. She is known for her activism, but one of her core views undermines the very meaning and message of Women’s March. Linda Sarsour is a proven supporter of the oppressive set of rules implemented in Saudi Arabia; their own warped sense of Sharia. Some interpretations of Sharia Law that have been implemented in some Muslim countires oppress women and homosexuals, and are utterly hideous perversions. In Sudan, for example, women must stand at the back of buses, separate from men, and in Saudi Arabia women are not allowed the basic commodity of driving a car.
Instead of arguing against this treatment of women, it seems that Linda Sarsour is in support of this ideology. We can see this from her tweets.
It seems that she is disregarding the issue of women driving with the counter claim of paid maternity leave. Is it right that she is shrugging off a basic right (in developed countries)? She should not be considered a viable leader and inspiration for women’s rights; her support for this practice undermines everything the march stands for.
Moving on from political and religious beliefs, another leader, Donna Hylton, has her controversy. In fact, let’s not call it controversy, let’s call it objective proof that she is a criminal and psychopath.
This is a strong statement, but it is entirely true.
In 1985, she and two other criminals drugged and kidnapped a 62-year-old man named Thomas Vigliarolo. They kidnapped, raped and tortured him, including squeezing his testicles with pliers and burning him. Hylton herself inserted a yard-long pole up the man’s rectum. This occurred for 15-20 days. She served 27 years in prison, a quite lenient sentence. She was only caught after delivering a ransom note to the man’s friend.
Would you be fine with giving a woman who committed such unspeakable acts a platform? The fact that she is even allowed to see daylight perplexes me, let alone the fact that she can lead this march.
It’s as if people forgot her crimes when she went on stage.
In conclusion, I think that these two women should not be encouraged or followed, as their beliefs and acts contradict the message of the movement they are going with. This in a wider context is worrying; giving these people a platform means that they can carry on (in the case of Sarsour) holding these beliefs without repercussions.
As for Hylton, I do not think that people who have committed the same crimes as her should not get any fame or attention. This is a strong view, but I believe that this humanises these psychopaths, and we run the risk of forgetting about their actions.