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PC at Williams

For those who care about such things, this may be an interesting week at ephblog. We have been “borked” by Esa Seegulam ’06. As a result, we have lost two of our authors, Joe Cruz and Sharifa Wright, not unsurprisingly, the only authors who are in the employ of Williams. I, at least, will have much more to say about this in due course, but here is some of Seegulam’s work (sent in an e-mail to all sorts of people, including the minco mailing list).

Here is an interesting website which is supposedly “a group web log devoted to all things Eph. We post information and opinion relating to Williams College and its graduates around the world. We care about the history of Williams, current controversies on campus and alumni activities. We have a special focus on annual reunions.”

Another interesting part of the website deals with quotes on theMiddle
East (http://quotes.loweeel.com/Ephblog.shtml), all of which, I should
add, are a collection of anti-Muslim, Anti-Islamic, anti-Arab quotations
of very poor taste. The first one, by “anonymous,” (of course), goes
like this:

“You know what I just realized? At this very moment, there are Muslims exploding in the Middle East, and not in the way they like to explode — strapped with bombs and shrapnel on a bus full of children.

“Anonymous” on Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003.

Interesting too, are the links provided from this page of quotes to other pages such as this blog by “Maggie” with the following piece of a posting:

“You are Arabs and you produce nothing of any value..not politically, or socially, or economically, or philosophically.

You are a dead society with dead values.

That isn’t a racist statement. Its an autopsy of your culture.

And I don’t hate you, I just don’t want you to rot in my gutter so I have to smell it. Go someplace else to die.”

Most interesting, however, is that the authors of the site include current Williams students, our very own assistant professor of philosophy, Joe Cruz, and our beloved Sharifa Wright from the Alumni Relations Office. Surely they would not attach their names to such open bigotry; surely they do not know that this part of their little project exists. I wonder what they would have to say about this.

Thanks to our sources for forwarding the e-mail to us. For now, I’ll leave it as an exercise for our readers to pick out all the stupidity here.

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#1 Comment By (d)avid On May 10, 2004 @ 8:08 am

I’m sorry to hear that the Senate blocked Ephblog’s nomination to the Supreme Court because of non-mainstream political views. Real shame with Rhenquist retiring at some point in the (not so) distant future.

We shouldn’t be so blythe about what sites we link to. I can see why the college was concerned. It was ambiguous as to whether the “Quote Wall” was a part of the site. Lowell is an author on Epgblog after all and the formation of the Quote Wall was discussed on the blog. Some of the material on the quote wall is offensive and the fact that it is cribbed from other sources doesn’t make the words any better. I can see why a college would not want its employees associated with a blog (unofficially connections to the college), whose content could be deemed questionable by students, past, present and future.

That said, I am not entirely sure the College has the legal right to limit Cruz and Wright’s authorship of this site. It depends entirely upon how the email was worded. My guess is that the college simply pointed out that it looks bad to be associated with a blog who links to bigoted quotations.

Linking to a website, unless accompanied by a disclaimer, is usually taken as an endorsement. Ephblog seemed to very explicitly endorse the Quote Wall (formed for Ephblog, under internal links, the authors openly blogged about its creation, the keeper is an author). Any confusion was understandable (Eric’s changes help somewhat).

An excuse that “Ephblog will link to any alum’s blog” seems either weak or bad policy. Suppose that Ray Cyst class of 1964 keeps a blog. Suppose further that the content of the blog is commentary on the evils of miscegination, the inferiority of races, and other vitriole. Would we link to such a blog? Even though the Ray is an alum? I would hope that there is some minimal standards a blog has to pass before we link to it.

The college has an image to keep. It is already hard enough to convince minorities that a largely white (and rich) campus in rural Massachusetts is a welcoming environment. Discovering an alumni website with insensitive content can’t help. Finding out that two college employees are affiliated with the site would only further reinforce any misgivings a minority high school student may have.

#2 Comment By David Kane On May 10, 2004 @ 8:19 am

Just to clarify, the College has played no part (that I know of) in these events. Seegulam e-mailed minco and various others (including all of the on-campus authors). No College official has weighed in.

I think that your point about the status of the Quote Wall is well-taken. Eric and I will be moving that in-house, as it were.

But that alone does not address all of Seegulam’s (and perhaps your) concerns. We will still link to Lowell’s site via the blogroll. (This is because we link to all Eph sites.) As long as he chooses to participate, we will also have Lowell as an author and, since authors control their “about” sections, there will be a link there as well.

I suppose that it is theoretically possible that there might be an Eph with a site so noxious that we would not link to it, but I have never come across such a site.

I certainly agree that Lowell’s selection of quotes is edgy, but are any of his quotes so totally out of bounds that ephblog should not link to his site?

#3 Comment By Loweeel On May 10, 2004 @ 9:08 am

Regarding the “Maggie” quotes, as a matter of practice, I try to link to the source/webpage/blog/article of the author of a particular quote once per section. Such a link is not an endorsement of the author’s opinion, merely a pointer to the author’s opinions.

In fact, it’s exactly analogous to citing one’s sources in a bibliography. God forbid Esa ever have to do a paper on Nazi Germany and *gasp* cite Mein Kampf, have it in his bibliography. Because those books in a bibliography can be read by anybody, and using any source and giving accurate attribution to the author is OBVIOUSLY an endorsement to the author’s opinion. [/sarcasm]

I feel sorry for Matt Drudge, though. I mean, since he has links to all those different people, he must endorse all those different opinions… I don’t know how he manages to support helen thomas and cal thomas at the same time, but that’s why he’s Drudge and I’m not.

If, as some (incorrectly) say, linking is a form of endorsement, then why stop there? After all, a link is just a pointer, but ownership of something should obviously be seen as a much greater form of endorsement. Therefore, any of those students who own Mein Kampf for their polisci/history classes obviously endorse Hitler’s ideas. I mean, they don’t just reference his book, they OWN it.

And to think, this whole thing could have easily been avoided had Esa used one of the MANY forms of contact that I have posted both on my quotes page and this site to contact me, and explain that he found the “anonymous” quote offensive, and ask me to take it down. So much for the mutual respect of the Williams community.

#4 Comment By (d)avid On May 10, 2004 @ 9:37 am

When Matt Drudge (or any other blogger) links to a site, I take him to mean “This site is worth a look” or “This site is interesting occassionally.” He obviously doesn’t explicitly endorse every stance taken (I don’t think such a viewpoint would even be coherent). But he doesn’t link to everything on the web. He picks his links for a reason, there is at least some level of endorsement of the links. I don’t think Lowell’s site crosses the threshold of “don’t link to it,” but I think there should be baseline standards (no need to spell out the standards explicitly — we’ll know it when we see it).

The bibliography example is interesting, because citing a source is generally considered an endorsement unless it is accompanied by a disclaimer or some clear context. The quote wall has no context. The creator of the website obviously chose the quotations, but the reader is left to infer why. Whereas, in a paper citing Mein Kampf, the usage of a quote will make it clear whether the author is endorsing the view or criticizing it or citing it as an example of a type of thought.

Glancing through the quotes, I didn’t find anything on Loweeel’s quote site terribly offensive. I disagreed with a lot, but I disagree with most things on the web. Most of the potentially offensive material came from comedians or were supposed to be funny. Certain types of comedy derive their humor by shocking the audience with “I can’t believe they said that.” Shock humor can be done well (e.g., George Carlin) or poorly (e.g., Andrew Dice Clay). The whole point is to offend sensibilities. I can see why college employees might be careful about what types of materials they associate themselves with.

I hope that Joe and Sharifa continue to participate on the blog even if they aren’t official authors.

#5 Comment By Eric Smith ’99 On May 10, 2004 @ 9:40 am

Just to stir things up, regarding where (d)avid says that were the content of a Williams person’s blog unsavory, we shouldn’t link to them…

I’m not sure I agree with that. I don’t think linking to someone means that you thereby say that you agree and/or condone their opinions.
For instance, I might link to Dan Brown’s website and note that I think his work is awful and highly overrated – perhaps to be expected from an Amherst alum.
Or I might link to Aidan’s blog and say that I like the way he wrote about puppies on a given day. That link may remain and then he may go on to write the most horrific things about kittens a few weeks from now – that doesn’t necessarily negate my opinions of his writings about puppies.

I will say, without a doubt, I feel that many of you are taking this way too seriously and are giving web attribution far too much credit.
It is easy to add/remove links – and it is easy for the person on the other end to change what content is at that link. So it is a bit silly to give to much credence to what is found on those links, and the implications that you feel then result.

Like I said before, our search page is on Google – and I assure you that were you so inclined, from that page you could find the most horrific things you have ever born witness to in print and photographic nature.

In general though, I feel that free speech is just that – you say whatever the hell you want – and I reserve the right to say that I agree/disagree with it – hell, I can even think you are out and out wrong.
But you are still allowed to say it, and I am still allowed to point at it and laugh.

It would be great if we could actually discuss this instead of just bickering though – and I think that is the point that many are raising or have raised.

#6 Comment By Aidan On May 10, 2004 @ 11:36 am

puppies are great; kittens should be drowned in brown burlap sacks.

#7 Comment By Loweeel On May 10, 2004 @ 11:58 am

Wow… I guess if we don’t immediately de-link Aidan, and remove the link to the comments to this post from the board, we’re endorsing kitten-drowning.

S. Aidan Finley — kitten-Ying to Glenn Reynolds’ puppy-yang. (see here if you don’t get the reference)

#8 Comment By Max K On May 10, 2004 @ 12:48 pm

I’d like to repeat the question that I posted in the previous entry:

Why not simply link to the main page of Lowell’s quotes site and label it “Lowell Jacobson ’03” (just like all the other alum web sites) instead of linking directly to the quotes pages with a disclaimer?

#9 Comment By Sharifa On May 10, 2004 @ 1:18 pm

Let me be clear – no all mighty administrative hand of Williams College forced my resignation from this blog. I, Sharifa Wright, found the nature of some of the utterances concerning the Middle East on Quote Wall linked from this site to be offensive. This is a personal stance and people are at liberty to disagree with me. I do not believe that Williams graduates or students are incapable of the ideas expressed, but I would prefer if we do not celebrate it and I choose to not associate with it.

On the topic of “Endorsement” – you cannot liken a collection of quotes to a paper with footnotes that are meant to _qualify_ an author’s central idea. Sadly, these comments were not qualified (Maggie said this, is not a sufficient.) If the owners of these blogs were to stand up in a crowded room, repeat one of these statements and simply follow it with ” Maggie said this”, you would have a hard time convincing most people that there is no kernel of endorsement there. Where some kind of qualification is lacking, I think it is understandable that an audience may assume concurrence. Obviously, in this case the assumption is wrong, but you must admit that things are not crystal clear and one should not be alarmed at the assumption. I believe that we are responsible for any ideas that we recycle or introduce into an environment regardless of its nature. Even seemingly harmless ideas come with a degree of incubus.

The reason EphBlog exist is to promote some kind of “Ephness” — through our association with this college we have something of a kinship. It’s a fuzzy relationship, and I think that discourse is the only way to maneuver through the issues we may embark on together. Let us not tear the issue apart and say that we will discuss ‘endorsement’ objectively and ignore how or why we came to the issue. If the statements made were about what flavor of ice cream tickles one’s fancy, this would be a different kind of debate. Consider that the “mutual respect” that exists in the Williams community may have been blind sided by the fact that this student felt threatened because he went looking for the comfort “all things Eph” and found anti-muslim rhetoric. He is free to feel this way, free to share his opinion about it and you are free to disagree with him or try to understand his position. Freedom reigns.

Obviously any Google search can yield even more venomous content, but do we have to be a doorway to it?

#10 Comment By Eric Smith ’99 On May 10, 2004 @ 1:19 pm

Max – that is the plan of action, I have just been too busy to get to it just yet.

Perhaps this evening.

That said, the entire Blogroll page will probably get some top placement warning that reminds users that were they to actually click on one of those links, they would in fact be leaving this site, and they are on their own after that.
There might be scary stuff out there.

#11 Comment By David Kane On May 10, 2004 @ 2:06 pm

Thanks to Sharifa for her participation with ephblog. She would be welcome back at anytime. However, I do have some comments:

1) Ephblog, as a collective community, does not “celebrate” anything per se. We link to all Eph sites, like that of Lowell. Lowell links to all sorts of folks, one of whom is Maggie. I don’t know whether Lowell celebrates what Maggie has to say, but it seems a stretch to indict ephblog — not for something written here, nor for something written on what we link to, but for something two links away.

2) I think that you raise a set of interesting points with regard to Lowell’s blog. In an ideal world, you would still be an author at ephblog and you could start a thread with thoughts about this; other people could chime in if they wanted to. I have made many such posts on other topics. Alas, if you are not an author, it becomes harder for you to start that conversation. All the readers of ephblog are the poorer for it. I hope that you decide to join us again someday.

3) You write that “this student [presumably Esa Seegulam ’06] felt threatened because he went looking for the comfort “all things Eph” and found anti-muslim rhetoric.” Perhaps I am wrong, but I doubt it. Although it is pleasing to picture Seegulam curled up in his dormroom, wrapped in a purple blanket, looking for comfort and surfing over to ephblog, I doubt that that was the way things happened.

I think that Seegulam was clicking around the links at ephblog, went from there to Lowell’s site, clicked around some more, and got quite pissed off, both about what he found at Lowell’s site and about what he found linked to from there.

Instead of taking up with his concerns with Lowell (how hard would it have been to send an e-mail to someone in the class of 2003?) or the site founder (me) or the maintainer (Eric), he decided to send e-mail out to the on-campus participants of ephblog. The effect of this e-mail — and I would argue, the intent of it — was to get people to stop participating. Seegulam did not want to converse. He wanted to stop the conversation.

Alas, with your (and Joe Cruz’s) resignation, he has partially succeeded. And that is a shame.

#12 Comment By (d)avid On May 10, 2004 @ 2:39 pm

Looking over the contents of the quote section more thoroughly, I can see why Esa didn’t bother to ask Loweeel to take down the quotations deemed offensive. The body of quotes point towards someone who:

1) Is a strong Libertarian and opposed to Communism or Socialism;
2) Is against gun control;
3) Is against taxes;
4) Is unsympathetic to political correctness;
5) Has little use for claims of racism;
6) Dislikes Middle Eastern cultures.

The quotes paint a picture of a coherent ideology for the person who collected those quotes. Why would Esa bother to ask the proprietor of the web site to remove the offending quotes? The request would almost surely be rebuffed, especially since the quotations are scattered across a few categories (see Israel etc.). Esa’s email seems to be an entirely rational (and effective) response to wbe matter he found offensive. I don’t particularly appreciate the sanctimonious tone of his email, but I agree with the tactic he chose. Engaging in a dialogue with Loweel would be unlikely to provide any satisfaction (to either party).

It is a joke to disavow the quotes as being said by someone else. Similarly, claiming everything was in jest is also dishonest. The ideological slant of the site owner is clear.

Saying there is bad stuff on the web is also disingenuous. The linkage between Ephblog and the Quote Board was ambiguous at best. I thought that where Eric was kind enough to provide server space for Ephblog, Lowell was doing the same for the Quote Board. I see no need to de-link Lowell’s list of quotes (which would be easy to do as Eric points out). Williams alums come in all ideological stripes. Max K’s suggestion seems to be a satisfactory relationship to the list of quotes Esa found objectionable.

#13 Comment By Eric Smith ’99 On May 10, 2004 @ 3:07 pm

The link to the previous quote board is now no longer in our “inside links”. In a matter of minutes will be a new quote board that we do take responsibility for (rather Dave Kane will, and myself secondarily) that will take its place in the right hand side bar and hosted on this site.

As for the old one, it still remains in the Blogroll section, under Lowell’s name, and the individual warning has been removed from his name/link and instead nonsense has been scrawled above the entirety of the thing.

I must say, personally this is probably the part of my Williams experience that I miss the least.

#14 Comment By Julianne On May 10, 2004 @ 4:23 pm

“) Is a strong Libertarian and opposed to Communism or Socialism;
2) Is against gun control;
3) Is against taxes;
4) Is unsympathetic to political correctness;
5) Has little use for claims of racism;
6) Dislikes Middle Eastern cultures.

The quotes paint a picture of a coherent ideology for the person who collected those quotes. Why would Esa bother to ask the proprietor of the web site to remove the offending quotes? The request would almost surely be rebuffed…Engaging in a dialogue with Loweel would be unlikely to provide any satisfaction (to either party).”

Are you saying that anyone with a coherent ideology is closed to reason, or that Lowell’s particular ideology is closed to reason?

Either way, I’d love to hear an elaboration of the argument, seeing as I can’t seem to fill in any rational premises to make the conclusion follow.

#15 Comment By Taimur Khilji On May 10, 2004 @ 4:57 pm

Indeed Esa has done something out of the ordinary, he has pointed out quotes that he and other Muslims find offensive. Now, instead of basking in collective ignorance, view it as an opportunity to begin to understand other cultures.

Instead of trying to find simple answers (Williams being PC, against free speech etc) to complex issues, please understand why people from other cultures would find those comments offensive and how it may not be something we as relatively well informed kids (i hope) wish to subscribe to.

Instead of dismissing it as something stupid on his part, try to understand what may lead him to do such a thing.

Instead of Blaming Esa for Sharifa’s and Professor Cruz’s departure, think why two adults(who can think for themselves) may want to distance themselves.

Instead of taking sides, (good guy/bad guy mentality) view this objectively, instead of pointing fingers try to identify the causes of the problem.

If you consider people from other cultures your equal then begin to treat them as equals and view this not as an opportunity to regress, but as an opportunity to grow.

The only thing PC about this is the fact that you labeled the discussion ‘PC at Williams’.

#16 Comment By Eric Smith ’99 On May 10, 2004 @ 5:42 pm

“Indeed Esa has done something out of the ordinary, he has pointed out quotes that he and other Muslims find offensive. Now, instead of basking in collective ignorance, view it as an opportunity to begin to understand other cultures.”

The only thing out of the ordinary that he has done is mistakenly attribute a series of quotes to being related in any way to EphBlog and it in no way is.

Were he to point out something awful that one of us said – this would be truly something worth debating.

But instead he pointed out that someone entirely unrelated to EphBlog once said something that he disagrees with – and had he bothered to look into it, perhaps he would have seen that many of us disagree with it as well.

But instead he has somehow seen a correlation that is just not there between those quotes and us.

If he sees something ON EPHBLOG ITSELF – then I encourage pointing it out.

But please don’t come to us because someone on another site, totally unrelated to us says something.
I have never heard of this Maggie person until today, and she likely hasn’t a clue about EphBlog.

This whole thing is making me dizzy from me shaking my head in disbelief.

I really don’t get how it isn’t clear that this has nothing at all to do with EphBlog.

If I had stated right here that I hate white people who drive cars – now that, that is something to go after.
But that is another matter entirely.

#17 Comment By David Kane ’88 On May 10, 2004 @ 5:58 pm

Indeed Esa has done something out of the ordinary, he has pointed out quotes that he and other Muslims find offensive.

“Out of the ordinary”? Surely, you must be kidding. Williams has, at least for the last 20 years, had many, many students who delight and specialize in pointing out things that they find offensive. And, like most of those, Esa wanted something done about it. And, like too many of those, he succeeded.

Esa compaints are, in the Williams context, so ordinary as to be banal.

And this leaves aside the fact that almost all of us agree almost completely with him that these quotes are offensive! (I hedge on this a bit because it is not clear to me how much Esa finds Lowell’s quote board itself, as opposed to the things it links to, offensive.)

With luck Esa (or Taimur), either here or on his own blog, will be willing to engage in a discussion about which quotes on Lowell’s site are beyond the pale offensive and/or whether or not ephblog should link to them.

The participants in ephblog are nothing if not willing to debate something like this.

#18 Comment By Taimur Khilji On May 10, 2004 @ 6:48 pm

‘The only thing out of the ordinary that he has done is mistakenly attribute a series of quotes to being related in any way to EphBlog and it in no way is’

If they are unrelated and have nothing to do with ephblog, then what is all the fuss about?

Lowell is free to put up anything he feels like, as long as it has no spill over effects. In this case they were, as ephblog provides a direct link to that site.. Sharifa’s point about going through google makes sense. As Lowell happens to be one of the champions of this site and uses the site to provide a direct to link to those quotes is something questionable. Think presidential race (bush and kerry ad campaign).

I got the chance to view his site and given the context, it seems reasonable why you guys are pissed off. Esa could have done a better job in addressing the issue. But i don’t think ephblogs should be proud to provide direct links to such sophisticated humor.

#19 Comment By (d)avid On May 10, 2004 @ 6:57 pm

Julianne, I was making a probabilistic argument rather than a deterministic one. Esa’s complaint was that Lowell’s quote board was racist against Middle Eastern cultures and born out of a left leaning political correctness. Given that Lowell’s quote board mocks or criticizes claims of racism, Middle Eastern culture, and political correctness, I see little reason for Esa to believe that his complaint would be well received. It is logically possible that Lowell would greet an email saying, “I believe these 10 quotations are offensive to people in the Middle East. Please take them down so as not to offend anyone’s sensibilities and create a friendly atmosphere,” with an apology and deletion of the offending quotes. However, it is far more likely that Lowell would dismiss such as email as overly sensitive and borne out of liberal political correctness. In fact, he could respond simply by saying, “Read these six quotations,” since Esa’s email would be a perfect example of precisely the type of racial dialogue that Lowell’s quotes rail against.

Anyone who took the time to put together the long list of quotations and post them publicly, obviously feels strongly about the subject(s). There are many subjects about which people with opposing viewpoints will not reach a compromise position (e.g., abortion, Israel/Palestine). People less committed to positions may be able to find common ground, but those with strong opinions on polarizing issues are less likely to generate a constructive dialogue and reach a mutually satisfactory solution.

So, I am NOT saying that “ideology is closed to reason.” Indeed, if it is a sound ideology, it should be based upon some type of reason. Nor am I saying that Lowell’s libertarian ideology is opposed to reason. What I AM saying is that when two individuals possess sufficiently different rational bases for their beliefs, the individuals are less likely to share enough common ground to fruitfully discuss the matter.

#20 Comment By Loweeel On May 10, 2004 @ 7:00 pm

Actually, this site provided a direct link to a page that has LINKS to those quotes.

The ONLY link from EphBlog was to the EphBlog page. That page itself THEN had links to the other sections of my quotes page. Thus, in order to see any of those quotes, once leaving EphBlog, Esa had to THEN click on another page.

The fuss is that he implied a connection, and disseminated that there was a connection to quite a wide audience (including 2 listservs), without even inquiring by me or anybody else at EphBlog what the deal was.

The old saying is true, “When you assume, you make an ass out of ‘u’ and me.”

#21 Comment By Loweeel On May 10, 2004 @ 7:03 pm

(d)avid, had he approached it in that manner, ie, “I don’t like what’s on your page”, I probably wouldn’t have taken it down.

However, had I received an email stating something like, “It doesn’t reflect well on EphBlog that these quotes are just a few clicks away”, then I probably would have, at the very least, changed the format so that the other quote sections were not so easily accessible from the EphBlog section.

But he didn’t do either, and it’s a moot point by now.

#22 Comment By M. Esa Seegulam On May 11, 2004 @ 1:35 am

Here are my disjointed responses to a few points:

First of all, none of my emails are ever written as secretive discussions, or I would not send them to half the campus. Ephblog’s “sources” are great for forwarding them to you however, and are welcome to do so with any of my already very public emails.

Moot point or not, I did not contact Lowell regarding the quotations because of the very reasons (d)avid pointed out above. From the nature of the entire collection of quotes, I was not prepared to waste my time asking someone such as him to be mindful of spreading hatred. If one has a problem with racism, one would not be likely to first phone up Hitler and ask him to start being nice to people. One would naturally appeal to those with a conscience.

Nor are my objections based on the premise of political correctness. I personally feel that as a matter of principle, a site such as Ephblog which exploits our common connection to Williams College to the fullest extent should not have links to racism, prejudice and hate, regardless of where they appear and regardless of whether or not such links are to external websites without any affiliation to the College or the main site. With regards to the link and its obvious lack of affiliation with Ephblog by URL or color coordination, I present the following scenario. Had I found a link to hardcore pornography, a completely legal type of entertainment in the United States, on the website of the Dean’s Office, I would naturally be surprised that Dean Roseman would condone such a link. A statement saying “the Dean’s Office does not endorse links to external sites” would probably clarify that, but it would still be weird to have it there. Similarly, a web log celebrating all things Eph, proudly displaying the Williams ‘W’ would benefit from a disclaimer if one of their authors condones racism and Islamophobia. Ideally, the link should not be there at all, but a disclaimer would alleviate the problem, stop associating Ephblog with such propaganda, and would probably save Ephblog from the resignation of its authors.

I did not “mistakenly attribute a series of quotes to being related in any way
to EphBlog.” I did the converse. What I am saying is that by directly linking to such a
series of quotes *without a disclaimer*, Ephblog relates itself in *some* way
to said quotes.

The two former authors of Ephblog are well-educated adults of sound mind and are capable of making decisions independently of others. That their resignations would be blamed solely on my actions is asinine. Sharifa’s testimony supports this well.

To answer David Kane who wants to know my opinion on “which quotes on Lowell’s site are beyond the pale offensive” I would say: every single quote regarding Muslims, Arabs and Islam that I have had the stomach to read has thus far fit that category. Additionally, there are numerous other quotes on separate issues that I find morally repugnant.

Finally, I am not an alum yet, but I hope to be one some day. That would require me to not fail out of school. I will be off studying for my finals while the rest of you duke it out in this forum. Thanks for all your comments.

#23 Comment By David Kane On May 11, 2004 @ 4:11 am

Many thanks to Esa for taking the time and trouble to give us his thoughts. I recall this time of year to be a busy one in Billsville, so I do appreciate his efforts. With any luck, once finals are over, he will have the time and inclination to return to the dispute.

Rhetorically, I am not sure that using a phone call to Hitler as an analogy for an e-mail to Lowell is the best tact to take. But I am no expert on analogies!

I am glad to see that we have been able, with help from Esa, to get to the center of the dispute. Esa argues that a cite like ephblog — or like the one that ephblog hopes to be — should not link to cites like Lowell’s. This is a reasonable opinion and I hope that we can, as a virtually community, thrash it out. But that discussion is now occuring in another thread.

With regard to the resignations of Sharifa and Joe, my claim is not that Esa controls them like some puppet master. My claims (perhaps false) are:

1) If Esa had not sent them any e-mails, they would still be authors on ephblog.

2) Esa’s mental state — yes, I realize it is difficult to determine this — when sending this e-mail was something along the lines of “ephblog is closely associated with hate speech; Joe and Sharifa are good people who are unlikely to want to be associated with hate speech; once Joe and Sharifa learn about the hate speech, they will (ought to) resign.”

Given Esa’s point of view, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with this, but I think that the result is a shame. Lowell may or may not be guilty of “hate speech” but he is clearly willing to read and respond to what other people have to say on the topic.

I think Esa, like all we good Ephs, has a positive moral obligation to confront what he sees as bigotry. I try to do this myself when I come across less-than-savory descriptions of groups near and dear to my heart, like members of the US military.

In any event, I’d like to thank Esa for taking the time to post here. His response to Lowell’s site has made me rethink my own thoughts about it. This is *not* to say that I agree with him, or with Lowell, but I know that I am a better person for having thought harder about the issues involved. His willingness to enter the arena of debate also stands in sharp contrast to the pathetic performance folks like Perez and Smith in last fall’s Barnard/VISTA contretemps.

#24 Comment By Loweeel On May 11, 2004 @ 8:59 am

Every single quote? Come on! You might not agree with them ALL beyond-the-pale offensive is just intellectually lazy.

“The [Wall Street] Journal ran a little chronology of Baath-party rule in Iraq. The first line said, “1947: Arab students, influenced by the national socialist movements in Europe, founded the Baath party.” That’s what they are, isn’t it? National socialists. Nazis. Arab variety. And the Iraqis have lived with Hitlerism for all this time, longer, now, than the Germans did.” – Jay Nordlinger

“The liberal tradition in the West tries to impute to the behavior of the native or the underdog an idealist position which is not really there. They want to think of the peoples of [the Middle East] as “noble savages,” as Jean-Jacques Rousseau put it. Instead of saying, what we have here is an outmoded form of thinking clashing with an attempt to construct modern states…. When it comes to thinking about Middle East politics, the American liberal mind is often chasing rainbows. They are living in a world of delusion.” – Kemal Salibi, Lebanese Historian

“In most parts of America, we will be setting our clocks back an hour tonight. As Egypt airs the Protocols of the Elders of Zion series on state television, they set their clocks back a few hundred years.” – Lawrence Simon, 10/26/02

“Americans and Jews are to the governments of Syria and Saudi Arabia what blacks were to segregation-era Southern Democrats. They’re a way for despots and kleptocrats to focus the hatred of the people they oppress away from themselves and onto a convenient target, to keep those people so focused on hating and anger that they’re unable to think clearly about how the real cause of the mess they’re in is their own governments.” – Bryan Trosko

OOOOH… they’re ALL beyond-the pale offensive! [/sarcasm]

#25 Comment By Loweeel On May 11, 2004 @ 9:01 am

Sorry, that meant to say, “you might not agree with them, but calling them ALL beyond the pale offensive”.

And your “all that I could stomach to read” is certainly different from your email, in which you stated that ALL the quotes were anti-Arab, anti-Islamic AND anti-Muslim.

#26 Comment By Loweeel On May 11, 2004 @ 9:44 am

Incidentally, by comparing me to Hitler, Esa has invoked Godwin’s law, and defaulted on the conversation.

And speaking as the relative of Holocaust survivors, I find Esa’s comparison (which HE made, not linking to one that somebody else wrote), incredibly repugnant and “beyond-the-pale” offensive (and no, that’s not sarcasm).

Just gotta love that whole “Jews/Israelis are the new Nazis” canard that keeps getting so much play on the far-left.