Wednesday, September 22, 2010

For suggestions and discussions concerning the ConCom's statement about Elizabeth Moon

Please use this blog to make suggestions and to discuss the ConCom's statement concerning Elizabeth Moon in eCube #3.


x-hypatia-x said...

You are honoring someone who has expressed views "antithetical to the philosophies and ideals held dear by the WisCon community." Why? Yes, opinions are changed by engaging with them, but "engaging" and "honoring" are far from synonymous. While I would in no way support barring Elizabeth Moon (or anyone who's made similar comments) from WisCon, I believe it is horribly inappropriate to single such a person out for honor.

asim said...

[cross-posted, and sent to the appropriate emails]

I am not Muslim. I speak only as someone striving to be an ally, thereof.

That said, I have some concerns around Wiscon's response. And I think I can sum it up with -- have Muslim Fen been consulted in how this year's Con will be shaped?

As I've said on my journal, I want this debate to happen. Yet a number of people have come to me noting how the people directly attacked by Moon's words might not feel any of Wiscon is a safe space to have these conversations. Reflecting upon what I've read of the evolution of the PoC work at Wiscon, I do not think these fears overwrought.

And this release does not, I think, belay those concerns; I read of plans to confront, yet not of how those confrontations will be managed. Or how those affected will be supported. I realize it's early days -- but this is also the release, the document, that Muslim Fen and allies will be using to decide if Wiscon takes this seriously.

I'd like to hear that appropriate people, people directly affected and their allies, have been contacted. I'd like to hear assurance that those concerns have been, and continue to be, part of the planning. I'd like to hear more -- much more -- on how these plans will ensure we all can attend this con with the best structures for this critical discussion possible.

Jonquil said...

I have seen the Concom issue public apologies in the past, for statements made by and behavior of con participants, notably the gender-exclusive statements about rape made at a panel a couple of years ago. WisCon apologized because "Unfortunately, the panel also became a place in which male survivors, their families, and friends felt marginalized and re-traumatized."

Ms. Moon has, without question, made a public statement that made Muslim, Hispanic, and Native American readers, among others, feel marginalized and unwelcome. She has affirmed this statement.

If Ms. Moon had made this same statement as part of a Guest of Honor speech at WisCon, I suspect WisCon would also have felt obliged to apologize.

I do not understand why the ConCom is continuing to honor -- as opposed to invite, and welcome into discussions -- someone who has made, and affirmed, statements that WisCon would have to repudiate if they were made under WisCon's aegis.

A sincere question: how bad would an honoree's public behavior have to be before WisCon decided to rescind the honor?

Jonquil said...

Asim's point is excellent. I would encourage the ConCom to contact, in particular, three people who wrote about being marginalized by Ms. Moon's post:


lavendertook said...

I think the comcon needs to make a clear call, widely disseminated, of outreach to Muslim SF/F fans, writers, and readers, members and potential members of WISCON, asking what they would like to see done to make WISCON feel safer and welcoming for them in light of Moon's statement. This outreach should be made before a final decision is made on keeping Moon as GOH, and there is no reason the current statement has to be viewed as a final decision. Reconsideration is always a good thing.

It would be best for this call to not only involve asking for emails and letters, but to sign onto a private email group or private dw community, where concom members/Muslim fans--ideally not a mutually exclusive binary--could have a dialog on handling this. Then decisions should be announced, not before.

trinker said...

Jonquil has suggested me as a contact, and I'm willing to talk to the Wiscon concom, but I suggest two Muslim fen instead/in addition:

(I've just pinged them on this and gotten their buy-in. Please contact me via e-mail (trinker - ymail) or via LJ messaging. In this global climate of anti-Muslim hatred, I don't feel comfortable being responsible for linking their names in an open venue, for whatever logical value that has.)

holzman said...

Co-signing Asim, and reiterating Jonquil's question: if Ms. Moon's overt and unapologetic bigotry is insufficient to disqualify someone from being honored by WisCon, what would be?

ladyjax said...

My main request is that the con com make it explicitly clear that it is not incumbent on Muslim members of the community to provide all the teachable moments.

You wanted to keep the invite to Ms. Moon, fine. But this one line from your letter regarding Ms. Moon gives me pause:

"We understand that our decision to continue to honor someone who has expressed these views will upset some members of the community, but we fervently hope that her inclusion will not lead anyone to feel unwelcome at WisCon."

That statement alone is damning. You ask the people most directly affected to still show up and possibly have to deal with more from a GOH who clearly has more a of bully pulpit than they do. It not unlike the efforts to include more POC as part of the con - it was clunky and uncomfortable because as one of those POC, I had an expectation of WisCon - that as a stated feminist space that you'd be a lot farther along on these issues than your brethren.

mizchalmers said...

Dear white feminists,

Quit goddamn fucking up.

A White Feminist

littlebutfierce said...

My thoughts on the issue are here, w/a fair bit of discussion in the comments from other people (hence me not just copy-pasting).

Foxessa said...

Thus her views aren't in a personal vacuum; her views are affecting the rest of the nation, Muslim and not, purposefully.

Ask her (respectfully, of course) to educate herself in these areas. If she says she's too busy, rescind the invitation. It isn't right for you to expect the small Muslim community of Wiscon to do that job for you and for her.

unusualmusic said...

So Elizabeth Moon is still a GOH. And Wiscon thinks that this is apparently a "learning opportunity". Of course, they seem to have ignored the fact that the disproportionate burden of teaching ignorant white people to not be fucking douchebags would fall on the already overloaded shoulders of their victims. But who gives a fuck right? I go to Wiscon because I do not get to see some people but once a year, there. So I wanna go there again next year. I'll simply walk out on Madame Bigot and avoid any panels that she is on.

I am tired of being un-surprised.

EDIT: "We understand that our decision to continue to honor someone who has expressed these views will upset some members of the community, but we fervently hope that her inclusion will not lead anyone to feel unwelcome at WisCon."

Really? Well we just slapped you in the face, but we hope you don't feel as if we don't like you or something? You GOTTA be kidding me.

maevele said...

I'm copy pasting my statement from my journal.

The more I think about the concomm response, the less okay I am with it. I mean, it's their decision, and they have more data than me. I am friends with people on the concomm, who I know are good people with great intentions, so I don't hold it against anybody, but this shit ain't right. I'm not saying that disinviting was the only answer, but claiming good will come of her still being guest of honor? no fucking way. Rescind the Honor part, but still have her as a guest of the con, so she can show up and try to defend this crap or apologize or get educated or at least not be "silenced" as some would try to claim. I get that there was no easy answer, but that letter was not the right move.

You are making fellow fans and writers feel unwelcome at wiscon. Fellow fans and writers who are already marginalized. I am seeing people say they will not come this year because they do not feel supported by the con against this bigotry. Both long time attendees and people who were thinking this would be their first wiscon.

This is my con. I will not stand for this shit. I believe that as someone who is not muslim, and therefore not directly hurt by this shit, and who wants Wiscon to be a welcoming place for all people, I am obligated to do what I can to make it a safer space. It shouldn't be on the few Muslims who come to the con to educate on this. Those of us who give a shit and have privilege need to step up as much as we can. I have shit talked about a walkout during her speech in comments to posts, and I'm committing publicly here to following through, unless a better plan is organized by someone else. Less in protest or hope to get through to Ms. Moon, than merely in solidarity, I guess.

I don't want my con poisoned by this shit. I expect better.

Sigrid Ellis said...

I know these words come too late. The decision has been made, and we'll all see how it plays out. But these are my thoughts.

I am unsurprised that the ConCom chose to continue to uphold E. Moon's invitation as Guest of Honor. The ConCom loses nothing by doing so. A few people of color won't come to the convention, perhaps. We spend one year talking sincerely to each other about race and religion. And then the convention as a body, and most of the attendees, can go home and feel better about themselves -- ourselves, because I'm one of those white feminists -- for having listened and talked and learned.

The people of color, the Muslims, the immigrants, the members of non-mainstreamed cultures who do attend will be listened to for wisdom and denigrated for tone, they will be asked personal questions and they will be dismissed, they will be praised for their insight and told they don't see the big picture. And I suspect a goodly number of them won't bother coming back.

Yet, I suspect, I suspect that this is an acceptable loss to the convention. Wiscon was around before this issue and it will be around after, and membership changes and ebbs and flows. There have been controversies that made people leave and there will be more in the future.

What happens if Moon is un-invited? Some people will say they won't attend Wiscon if there are going to be thought police. Some people will call Wiscon nasty names. Some people will categorically refuse all future invitations to attend Wiscon, before any such invitations may be issued. And some current members of the ConCom, or current highly valued attendees, they may not come back. They may not come back because the value they place on dialog is more important to them than the value they place on reprimanding a bigot. It is a profoundly privileged position to take. The ConCom and the convention have the *option* to choose to not punish Moon by rescinding the invitation and still maintain their dignity, sense of self-worth, and power. In fact, by opening the convention to discuss the issue the ConCom and convention increase their sense of self-worth -- we are open, we are learning, we are working to overcome racism. But the Muslim and immigrant attendees, the groups criticized and insulted by Moon, they don't get that choice. That option is not available to them, to walk away unaffected by Moon's presence at the convention. If they stay, they are forced to engage by our need for dialog. If they stay away, a bigot gets to go to a convention (that they presumably care about) unchallenged.

I don't need Wiscon to make me feel like a good feminist, or a good ally to people of color. I need Wiscon to make me think. To challenge me, to make my head hurt. I need Wiscon to make me feel uncomfortable. I don't need to have a convention in which I force people of color to teach me how to be less of a racist -- I need a convention that *confronts* me with my racism and makes me change. I need a convention that stands up and says "you may be a good writer, but we do not honor unapologetic racists. You may feel free to attend and defend yourself, but we will not honor you."

Don't give the bigot the honor and force the subjects of her words to either prove her views wrong. Don't privilege her any more than she thinks she is. Give her equal footing with everyone else. If she has an unpopular, uncomfortable view, let her scrap it out with the rest of us.

littlebutfierce said...

Huh. I just posted the link to my thoughts on the matter (w/a fair bit of discussion in comments) earlier today & as far as I knew, it appeared on the blog, but now it is gone? I will assume some OpenID hiccup & repost.

allochthon said...

Some ideas from a newbie ally, so potential foot in mouth disease to follow:
- Could we all wear hijabs?
- Put Sickle Moon (ooh, I didn't mean that pun) stickers on our badges?
- Bring copies of the Qu'ran and have readings?

allochthon said...

Ah, heck. I'm going to include the whole post from the LJ community, so the above are a bit more in context:

The onus of making this a learning opportunity is on those of us who have the privilege of NOT dealing with this.

I think the non-Muslim allies need to lead the way here, and carry most, if not all, of the burden.

How do we do that (I ask everyone, but particularly the non-Muslims, because I recognize it's not their responsibility to educate me)?

Potential foot in mouth disease to follow:
- Could we all wear hijabs?
- Put Sickle Moon (ooh, I didn't mean that pun) stickers on our badges?
- Bring copies of the Qu'ran and have readings?
- I expect a protest during GoH speeches is already being planned, I'm a bit behind on the blogosphere's reaction to this. (Edited to Add: Of course Nisi Shawl should be fully honored)

brownbetty said...

As someone who has attended WisCon in the past and hopes to attend again, I am disturbed by the message sent by Ms. Moon's presence as a Guest of "Honour," perhaps an accident of language, but one which nonetheless cannot help but convey meaning. Should Ms. Shawl have to share this honour with a woman who has shown herself to have such xenophobic convictions? How welcome are newcomers to the continent going to feel at this year's WisCon knowing that a woman who has expressed that opinion is designated GoH?

I recognize that the ConCom has been put in an awkward position, but I urge them to consider the much more than awkward position Muslim fans of SF are in.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to seeing some racist, sexist, homophobia writers honoured next year. I mean they are just human too right? This would have been my first year going to Wiscon, but thanks for saving me the money. I think I will donate it to an interfaith initiative.

When a "human" is writing and espousing ideas that are the very converse of the concept and ideals of Wiscon, what does it mean when that community honours them? I had already been warned about the causal classism, racism and homophobia that goes on at Wiscon. I'm guessing you were worried that you had missed a group and want to make sure they felt unsafe too attending the event.

upyernoz said...

i wasn't sure whether i would go to wiscon in 2011. because of personal things going on in my life, i wasn't sure if i could make it. but i wouldn't know until only a month or two before and the tickets are capped at 1,000, so how would i decide what to do?!?!?!

at least this solves my dilemma. no madison for me next memorial day!

Amadi said...

An expansion of my comments: I think a balance may have been struck by retaining Moon's invitation, without the "Guest of Honor" designation, leaving it to her whether she'd still be willing to attend in a fashion that recognizes that she has been a valuable author, but is now mired in a controversy that has left a number of Wiscon attendees and potential attendees dismayed, disgruntled, hurt and horrified. The idea that Moon is still worthy of honor after espousing such dangerous beliefs, makes me feel, personally, unsafe in the Wiscon environment. And I'm neither an immigrant nor Muslimah.

C Hanson said...

I support the ConCom's decision. I do not in any way agree with the statements of belief in Ms. Moon's blog, but I find it impossible to see them as equivalent to a complete destruction of her published works. To be selected as WisCon's Guest of Honor is, yes, an honor. But the selection is not honoring someone for their atatus as a great humanitarian who has the exact right viewpoints on every social issue. It's for writing great fiction dealing with those issues. Her works haven't changed, her ability as a writer hasn't changed, even if the public perception of the author herself has.

allochthon said...

After a good deal of thought, and soul searching, I have to come down on the side of those who are urging the comcon to revoke Ms. Moon's GoH status.

This comment, to me, says it all.


I can't help but wonder, if Moon had said that "many Black people possess all the virtues of civilised persons," there would have been any "controversy" at all. Or, to forestall the "race and religion are different!" arguments, if she had said "many Jews possess all the virtues of civilised persons." Basically, if she had expressed bigotry that can't masquerade as a political leaning or a concern for national security, would there be any soul-searching over what to do? Would the committee co-chairs still be "committed to making WisCon a place where all may participate and be heard"?

Of course, Ms. Moon should still be welcome to attend Wiscon, but she should not be honored (unless a forthright, heart-felt apology is made).

Comcon, I recognize you're in a very difficult position. I commend you for dealing with this head-on. I may not agree with your decision, but thank you for your work.

Yonmei said...

I wrote a lengthy post at FeministSF the blog: Wiscon on the Moon on what I felt about Elizabeth Moon and Nisi Shawl and Wiscon, and then in quick succession read three blogposts by Amal El-Mohtar and Yeloson and Tempest (linked to within my post as an update) which made me think again.

I still think Nisi Shawl is awesome.

Vom Marlowe said...

I keep seeing the repeated 'but her books are still good' argument floating around, both in terms of the concom and the commenters. While that may be true, her physical and vocal presence at a convention involves more than her printed words. It puts her physically and verbally in contact with other people and therefore is of concern if she has expressed inappropriate social behaviors before. (In other words, Harlan Ellison may be a good writer, but only a misogynist would put him on stage with a woman award recipient today.)

Here is my question, directed to the concom:
Moon said, in her post, that she does not give such an unasked for lecture to 'innocent' Muslims, but presumably, *based on her own words which she has not retracted in any way* she does do so to Muslims who she feels are 'guilty'.

Since much of Moon's post is racial code slurs, all the virtue of civilized peoples!!, her words are hateful and hate speech is not an appropriate part of debate. I hope you would agree.

Did you ask Moon, specifically and based on her words, if she planned to verbally accost Muslim fans to lecture them (or Muslim appearing fans, since Moon is clearly clueless)? If you did not ask, and further, if you did not give clear guidelines for acceptable in person behavior, then you have made the fans at the convention UNSAFE. Yes. I just said that outright. You are making this convention less safe.

If you *did* give her guidelines for her behavior (you may not call any random fen uncivilized, violent, etc, you may not lecture people at random, kthnxbai) then why have you not communicated this to the fans, so that they could know what behavior they can expect of Moon?

If I attend Moon's speech, in order to hear Nisi speak, will I have to hear that people I consider friends, allies, employees, and coworkers randomly and untruthfully verbally assaulted and insulted? You have given me zero information on which to make a decision.

Is there anything she might say which you would feel it necessary to stop, to debate, to correct? In what way does giving her, an already privileged member of the dominant group, a one-direction microphone help the currently being attacked group? How does this help debate? What does it do besides single out that group as being 'there' for white fen to rush up to get themselves educated? How is this helpful, sane, worthwhile, or kind in ANY way?

What, if any, provisions have you made to make the Muslim and POC fans at the convention safer from other people who believe like Moon, who will go to hear Moon speak racial slurs because they like her Islamophobia? Have you acquired, for instance, extra security? Have you instructed the security you do have what to do if they see racial bigotry used?

Have you even issued new, strong negatives on behaviors such as touching hair or religious clothing? Before anyone thinks I am paranoid, I am not. What I am is observant. Clueless white ladies plus 'strange' garb equals touching. NOT OKAY. Add in a desire to know and it's a recipe for freaking disaster.

If I can predict this, so should the concom, but so far.... I ain't seeing any measures that have been taken to prevent such hurtfulness, besides some platitudes about how we should all hold hands and talk things out.

I would like answers to these questions before I decide whether to come. Thank you.

karadin said...

Don't honor bigots, if you want to avoid charges of censorship allow her to speak, but take away the Honored Guest title, Moon decided to blog about her views, there needs to be consequences, or it's just going along with anything, as long as that person is popular.

hypatia said...

We know that opinions are not changed by running away from them, but instead by engaging with them, challenging their assumptions, sharing knowledge, seeking understanding, and by lively and candid discourse.

We don't need Moon at WisCon to have this candid discourse, and she's already shown that she is not interested in engaging in such discourse. Telling someone their bile is unwelcome is NOT the same thing as running away from them, and to conflate the two is a mistake on the ConCom's part, in my opinion.

I am disgusted and disappointed with this decision. I think it is a cowardly act that reeks of privilege.

I am weighing not attending out of disgust versus attending specifically because as a white atheist I'm not Moon's target, and am thus among those ideally suited to challenge her views in person.

Because I sure as hell won't be honouring her in any way.

As tithenai said:

The precedent we should be worried about setting is not "blogging could get me disinvited from a convention as Guest of Honour." The precedent we should be worried about setting is "some fans are worth more than others, and Muslims don't matter enough to take a stand for."

The ConCom is setting an ugly precedent with this decision.

allochthon said...

Put Sickle Moon... stickers on our badges?

Stupid, thoughtless, multi-level mistake on my part. I'm sorry.
The crescent moon and star symbol is what I meant.


Based on this history, many Muslims reject using the crescent moon as a symbol of Islam.

A plain green armband would be my next suggestion, if this route were chosen.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest the plain green armband or perhaps a scarf (around the neck, not the head). Or just that people wear something green. That's easy.

I think the concom was in a bad position and that there are serious moral problems with any option including this one. The trouble I would have with disinviting is that it risks making a self-congratulatory statement about Wiscon as morally superior in itself, and possibly projecting a burden of expectation onto a replacement that would be both unfair and objectifying, especially if the replacement were a person of color. We don't want to imply that we wave the wand and then all is well. However, in a short time, a lot of people have made very cogent and powerful statements about why this is not an answer, and all is most certainly not well now, and it seems that there is a very grave responsibility to be discharged now to acknowledge what has happened and address it.

I don't necessarily think the answer is to "make Muslims feel welcome," since you can't "make" a person feel anything, let alone welcome, and if a place isn't home then being made to feel welcome only underscores it. The culture of Wiscon is essentially the American culture in which Elizabeth Moon felt safe making her statement. Token gestures won't change that even if some of them may be necessary. But I believe an essential desideratum is at least one panel on citizenship, immigration, and race/ethnicity, and how the American sense of representing an ideal society which will "tolerate" others so long as they behave ties in with all of that, not least the genocide of the Native peoples.

Agreed that Muslim members of the community should be encouraged to contact the concom. The venue for doing so should maybe more private than this one, so they're not bearing the burden for the rest of us. Let's also not forget that anti-Muslim prejudice targets many who are not identified as Muslim. There are pagans and atheists of Arab descent and members of religious minorities within historically Muslim countries. There are also many subgroups within Islam, as different from each other as for instance different Christian denominations are. There are Muslim peoples who are not Arab and thus may not be directly implicated by anti-Arab prejudice but are hurt by it all the same when it's identified with Islam, as by the overall prejudice against Islam. So please let's not focus only on being diversity-friendly, so that we can all feel better about ourselves. Let's look at what these attitudes do in American society outside Wiscon.

An education session about profiling of Muslim and Middle Eastern peoples as suspected terrorists seems essential, to make it clear why anyone who might look like a terrorist lives in fear.

Finally, if there is a chance to draw international comparisons, let's do so; let's look at how "the Moon issues" are handled in places such as Canada and Europe which have a different history regarding citizenship, immigration, ethnicity, race and religion. Not necessarily better, just different. Let's get away from the default American perspective.

Anonymous said...

Refusing to rescind the GoH status of someone you *say* has said things completely in opposition to what WisCon stands for is cowardly and hypocritical.

Deciding to turn this into a "teaching moment" is cowardly as well, nothing more that a way to assuage guilt and further enable racism.

If you GoH said such things about Black people, Asian People, Jews, GLBT folks or...women, would you still keep their GoH status? If your answer is "no" to any of the foregoing, then I ask why you have a different standard for anti-Muslim rhetoric.

If you're anti-racism you don't choose to honor someone who spews racist rhetoric.

My days of supporting WisCon or over and I encourage everyone to walk out on Ms. Moon or, better yet, walk-out on Wiscon. If an organization honors someone that spews that kind of rhetoric, do you really want to support an organization that enables racism?

saladinahmed said...

I've been told that the WisCon organizers might be interested in hearing from Muslim fans/writers. I've never attended before, had been considering making this my first year. Might not have done so for a bunch of reasons (mostly money, also family commitments, finally book coming out in 2012, so would be more focused on con attendance that year, etc.).

I've made my thoughts on this known in a few other places. Frankly, these days refuting the thoroughly mainstreamed hatred of Muslims has become a dman near full-time job. I don't have it in me to rehash every point I've made, but folks who are interested can read my raving thoughts in a few places:

My most basic direct question for the organizers, though, (other than "Did you really think it was ok to accuse those who don't want to engage with hateful shite of wanting to 'run away'!?") is a procedural one that I've seen posed several times but never answered:

Are there any statements that WOULD be heinous enough to get a one's GoH status rescinded (NOT the same as 'banning')? If the answer is 'No. On principle, no matter what an upcoming GoH said about women, or gay folks, or Jews, etc, we would never under any circumstances rescind GoH status.' then that's that, IMO.

If, however, the answer is anything less concise than that it seems to me we have yet another clear case of a phenomenon that Muslims are becoming more and more familiar with -- the reality that unambiguously bigoted statements about us are, to a degree not seen even with other marginalized groups, simply part of acceptable mainstream 'debate,' and we'd damn well better get used to that fact.

gwailowrite said...

Wiscon is the world's leading feminist science fiction convention that honors a racist. WisCon encourages discussion and debate of ideas relating to feminism, gender, race and class and actively encourages Muslims to teach us why we shouldn't think they are all terrorists.   WisCon welcomes writers, editors and artists whose work explores these themes as well as their many fans and we'll tolerate Muslims once they teach us about themselves. We have panel discussions, academic presentations, and readings as well as many other uncategorizable events, like the panel "White Privilege Means We Don't Have to Actually Do Anything About Racism Except Appear Willing to Be Taught." WisCon is primarily a book-oriented convention... with an irrepressible sense of humor and a racist.

Tracy said...

I have a problem with people not coming to WisCon because Elizabeth Moon is the GOH. I think the people most hurt by Moon's anti-Muslim statements are exactly the people we should be welcoming to WisCon at this point in our nation's history. It is too thin a line for WisCon to draw, honoring Moon for her books (which I love) and disagreeing with her remarks -- while it is theoretically possible it is practically undoable. I would prefer that Ms. Moon were not honored at WisCon.

rdkeir said...

At the top of this page, you say "WisCon is pleased to have Nisi Shawl and Elizabeth Moon as our Guests of Honor for WisCon 35."

I will not be funding the LiveJournal party I have funded the past few years at WisCon. You have made it a welcoming space for a racist, and that is not acceptable.

I don't know if Julie will be able to hold this party or not; I do know that I am not willing to in any way approve of the presence of a racist as GoH.

Meg said...

I wonder if it will end up being as awkward as this:

Is this something you are willing to have the convention be about? Because at this point, if it isn't brought up it will be tact approval of those views, and if it is it has the potential to overwhelm everything else. There is a difference between "discussion" and "entertaining dehumanizing views regarding members of our community."

I, personally, will listen to Muslim fen and do what I can to support them. I know that if the GoH said similar things about gay Americans, I would probably make out with my girlfriend during their speech. I don't feel any need to engage with hateful generalizations about me, so I wouldn't ask Muslim fen to engage with hateful generalizations about them.

It may be a political discussion for Moon, but it's a personal discussion for many other people.

sophy said...

My response didn't fit, so here is a link to my LJ where it does fit:

Benjamin Rosenbaum said...

It is fine for Wiscon to have a GOH with political opinions which do not jibe with the majority of its attendees. It is fine for a GOH to say some dumb things online in a heated moment and not get disinvited for it. It is fine for the concom to passionately disagree with some of a GOH's opinions and want to facilitate a dialog about them. All those things would be okay... in principle.

But the problem here is not merely that Moon has said inflammatory anti-Muslim things, calling into question the patriotism of her fellow citizens, expressing her exasperation at their not assimilating faster, at a historical moment in which they are under attack and peril. The problem is not that act, though it is an evil act.

The problem is that despite the concom's earnest hopes that we will be full of "engaging with [Elizabeth Moon], challenging [her] assumptions, sharing knowledge, seeking understanding,[...] lively and candid discourse", there is no public sign from Elizabeth Moon of any willingness to engage, be challenged, etc. etc. Apparently she has said some reassuring things in private to Nisi and the concom? But oddly she has refrained from saying any of these things in public. In fact, she deleted 500 mostly carefully worded, thoughtful, engaging comments patiently explaining to her what was wrong with her evil act, left the evil act untouched in place, and stopped talking.

I don't know Moon. I am not willing to damn her as a person on the basis of one blog post. one blog post is not enough to form an evaluation of her as a whole human being. One blog post, and then a total unwillingness to engage with all those it attacked, is however plenty to conclude that she is totally unfit to be a Wiscon GOH.

I would actually far rather that Wiscon replace her with a die-hard right-wing Tea Partier who thinks Jews are going to Hell, women shouldn't have the vote, and gays can be cured... but who says "I realize my opinions will upset a lot of people at Wiscon and I also know that they may be wrong, and I am coming to Wiscon with some trepidation so we can learn from each other, and I am deeply sorry for anything I have said that has hurt you, tell me more."

Moon's attitude -- again, from her public statements so far, I cannot look into her heart -- seems to be "I write books with strong women so I'm a feminist author, and so I get to be GOH, and I still think Islam unfits you for citizenship and not only won't your PC whining change that, I don't want to hear it."

If I am characterizing her attitude incorrectly, I would like to discover that from Moon -- not from the concom pleading on her behalf.

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