Last week Seattle Indivisible announced that they will not be hosting ex-Wall Street exec, activist, and current #Resistance figure Amy Siskind, who was scheduled to speak and read from her new book at the end of September at an event sponsored by the group. Siskind has become something of an anti-Trump hero since the election, and it seemed a natural fit for Seattle Indivisible, an organization that also launched in response to Trump. That, however, was before Siskind was accused of ignoring the concerns of people of color on social media.
The blowup started August 10, when, just before the anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Siskind tweeted, "A reminder: we didn't have neo-Nazi rallies until Trump took office—let alone in the light of day in our nation's capital! Their hate used to be unacceptable and hidden until Trump came along and legitimized them." People of color and others objected to this and pointed out that the U.S. has a long history of white supremacy, both culturally and baked into our establishments and systems. Siskind was also dragged for supporting John McCain and Sarah Palin over Barack Obama in the 2008 election. She published an essay explaining both the tweet and her vote, but Seattle Indivisible, according to the group's Facebook page, "wanted to alter the event to turn it into a teachable moment that would help in responding to these controversies in the future." Siskind was not, apparently, into this idea, and they ended up canceling her appearance.
Enter The Riveter, the women-focused coworking space that subsequently stepped in to host Siskind's talk.
"We invite difficult conversations at The Riveter," communications manager Amy Kugler told me. "We are aware that there are many discussions around Amy Siskind's work, and we've asked her to discuss the recent social media activity. She agreed to do so."
In the meantime, Siskind—who was at the bottom of a Twitter dogpile just a few weeks ago—started one of her own by tweeting about Zina Bash, the White House lawyer who was accused of being a clandestine white nationalist for allegedly flashing a white power symbol during the Bret Kavanaugh hearings on Tuesday. It may of looked to the casual observer that Bash was innocently resting her hand on her arm, but no, according to those fluent in 4chan, it was definitely the white power symbol and Bash was definitely flashing it.
Bash, it should be noted, is the Mexican-American granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, and while she could indeed be a white nationalist (she does work for the Trump administration), white nationalist groups don't generally let people like her in. That didn't stop Amy Siskind and many, many others from spreading this particular piece of gossip to millions of followers.
“What fresh hell is this!!!???,” Siskind wrote on Twitter, “Kavanaugh’s assistant Zina Bash giving the white power sign right behind him during the hearing? This alone should be disqualify!!!”
Later, after Bash's husband pointed out that his "white nationalist" wife isn't actually white, Siskind deleted the tweet.
Folks, I am deleting my earlier tweet which has become way too much of a distraction. Kaivan has it right - the concern is the white nationalist policies of the Trump regime - and Kavanaugh’s positions. I have no idea if this was a comfortable resting place for her hand or more. https://t.co/qkglPE7K2x— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) September 5, 2018
In a message, she told me that she is, "learning as I go." However, the drama didn't entirely end there. On Thursday during the Kavanaugh hearings, Zina Bash, explicitly, flashed the same hand gesture, and this time, there was no mistaking it.
Is Zina Bash a Mexican-American white nationalist or is she a master troll? I have no idea, but you can ask Siskind what she thinks about it at the Riveter later this month. “I am grateful to the folks at The Riveter for hosting me," Siskind told me. "Our democracy is at risk—awareness and engagement are imperative now.” Indeed.