Thursday, August 05, 2010

Regarding My Dismay with the Medieval Academy of America

by EILEEN JOY

So, somewhat atypically for me, the further away I get from the announcement by the Medieval Academy of America regarding their decision to keep their annual meeting in Tempe, Arizona next spring, the more upset I feel I am becoming. More typically, my initial reaction to particular events, issues, etc. is to overreact, and then I calm down, listen to what other people have to say, and bit my bit, I modify and temper my initial reaction [while hopefully having some principles I don't want to nor will compromise--I do believe there are such things, and every now and then, real bodies and minds are at stake in relation to the principles we are willing to articulate and try to put into material practice, or not].

The more I re-read the MAA letter, the more its [painfully neutral] tone and refusal to address or even acknowledge the actual ethical and political concerns at stake really just . . . saddens me. First, before saying anything else, I want to thank John Sebastian for commenting on the IHE article and explaining how he himself, as one in the 46% majority of MAA members who voted not to move the meeting, made his decision and why he felt actually going to Arizona would do more good than staying out of Arizona. He also wanted us to [I think] not vilify out of hand those MAA members who voted to stay in Arizona nor paint them all with the same ideological brush. Fair enough. But I've given this a lot of thought, and if we hesitate to condemn, or to strongly disagree with, this decision of the MAA's on the principle that there are members of the MAA who are good and decent [and heterogeneously opinionated] people and brilliant, admirable scholars, then we'll all just have to shut up and go home. No one--least of all me--means to impugn the persons of the membership of the MAA in the 46% majority nor in the executive leadership of the organization. But do I condemn the final decision and am I dismayed by the rhetoric and palpable silences of the letter? Yes, I do, and I am. It strikes me as somewhat stunning that the letter itself indicates a certain level of discomfort with the "appropriateness [or lack thereof] of making collective political statements," and then, by democratic default, they made one--and a disappointing one at that--anyway. Because refusing to make a statement is a statement, and I learned that from history.

Second, before continuing, I want to also address Aunt Pansy's comment in the ITM post "Medieval Academy--Yes on Tempe" that "it seems rather churlish to condemn the prose of a committee working by email." I do not think it is churlish to critique and call into question the prose of a committee made up of specialists in literary and historical studies and who communicate via writing and speech for a living. The situation called for a delicate, well-worded [and one could hope, ethically-engaged] response, and we had a right to expect that from our esteemed colleagues, whose work and thought and writing we have long admired. In a situation such as this one, I should not have to guess at the motives--scholarly, political, ethical, or otherwise--behind such a letter. I should be able to expect, and I did expect, a clear, articulate explanation, or rationale, for the final decision that would pay sensitive heed to the ethical qualms involved on the part of the whole MAA membership [pro- and con-staying in Arizona]. I expect the finest writing imaginable from those who teach writing and practice it for a living. I expect as well a deep, humane attention to the very vulnerably human [and even post-human] aspects of the situation in Arizona [to those who are most vulnerable, there and elsewhere] from those who till daily in this field we call the humanities and who pride themselves on their historical erudition. Yes, I expect that.

This morning I awoke with something else in the letter [that I didn't really pay too much attention to yesterday] really nettling me--to whit, that the MAA and the Programming Committee at the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies would work
to ensure that the program of the meeting reflects and relates to similar issues at stake in medieval society, including such topics as race, ethnicity, immigration, tolerance, treatment of minority groups, protest against governmental policies judged unjust, and standards of judicial and legislative morality.
While I know many are and will be pleased that the the program of the MAA meeting in Tempe will work to ensure that its sessions reflect "similar issues at stake," the key phrase here is "in medieval society." I will be accused of churlish nit-picking [and so be it], but it seems that, just as with its laundry list of the "wide range of issues" that the MAA stated affected its final decision, they seem to be at pains here to assert their purview [scholarly, ethical, and otherwise] as being limited to the so-called Middle Ages themselves, or more generally, to "medieval society," and however cautiously phrased, an artificial line separating the past from the present is ever so carefully re-placed. My hope for this meeting, now that it will go forward as planned, is that some of the papers submitted and accepted for presentation will acknowledge and elucidate that there is no neat line [temporal or otherwise] separating the past from the present, and that what is happening in Arizona now, legal proposition- and otherwise [vis-a-vis "illegal" immigration, racial profiling, labor, the so-called drug wars, etc.], is one of many outcomes of all of the ways in which our deepest pasts [medieval and otherwise] continue to structure and haunt the present, and in various, often uncanny ways. As Aranye Fradenburg put it in her recent essay, "(Dis)continuity: A History of Dreaming" [contributed to Elizabeth Scala's and Sylvia Frederico's The Post-Historical Middle Ages], more eloquently than I ever could,
On the whole we seal ourselves off from . . . the modernity of the Middle Ages. Despite the difference Charles Muscatine made, it remained surprisingly hard for us to sustain focus on the prominence of political disturbance during the Middle Ages, at least until Steven Justice took up the baton. This focus is confusing: we fear Whiggish over-identification with our forbears' struggles for freedom. If, however, the Magna Carta people were just a bunch of brutal warlords who didn't want the monarchy messing with them, freedoms were what they wanted, and their signifiers lived on to be taken up again (and again) in later (and different) times. There is also little to console us in a long history of the struggle for social justice. What makes such a history most difficult to enjoy is that we don't want to know how fragile our own achievements in democracy might be. But we can't ignore this fragility, this vulnerability to return, in an age that has launched assault after assault on civil liberties in the pursuit of a new "crusade." A genealogical understanding of our attempts to explore the unknown--our history of seeking, which includes seeking better lives--requires that we renegotiate these splits. [p. 99]
It is to be hoped that the organizers and members of the programming committee of the MAA meeting in Tempe next spring will keep these words of Frandeburg's in mind, and that they will labor to encourage and to accept papers that seek to understand the "issues" and human rights concerns at stake in Arizona as part of longer histories that do not belong only to the medieval period, or only to modernity. It is to be hoped that some of the medievalists who travel to Arizona next spring might do so with a desire to "renegotiate" the "splits" between "then" and "now," across which, like the mis-firing of neuron synapses, ideas rise and fall back and rise again in different, sometimes unrecognizable forms, but with palpable material results nevertheless. One hopes that some of those who travel to Arizona next spring will do so with a desire to better understand what I would call the creatureliness and self-estrangement that defines all historical actors, past and present, and entwines us inexorably with those who, today, are actually scared to be in Arizona, and perhaps, have nowhere else to be. And that this should be the concern of medieval studies is beautifully explained by George Edmondson in his essay "Naked Chaucer" [also contributed to Scala and Frederico's The Post-Historical Middle Ages] , where he writes,
Adapting Auerbach [on the "creatural" aspects of late-medieval art in Mimesis], we might say that modernity's investment in bipolitics has put us back in touch with a late-medieval theory of universalism: the creatural as the sign of "the equality of all men." In other words, we find ourselves aligned with the medieval other at the point where we catch, in the other's creaturely state, an anamorphic glimpse of our own self-estrangement, our own dislocation. [p. 157]
This calls up as well the question of the neighbor and neighborliness--another great medieval theme. In the biopolitical order overseen by a sovereign, which is both the medieval and our own own time, we might use the occasion of the Arizona meeting as a critical site for reflecting upon the subjection of bodies to that order--ours as well as those of the co-called "illegals" who are not so much saved or redeemed by history, but remain intractably subject to it, as are we. I will not go to Arizona and never intended to, even before the MAA's decision. But I believe that wherever medievalists gather, they signify a community, for better or worse, that includes all of us, present or not. I would simply ask that they not consider the current events of Arizona politics outside the purview of our scholarly concerns. If anything, our knowledges and expertise could not be more necessary to the situation and perhaps could even be consoling to those who, at this time, are most in need of consolation. That is my hope.

23 comments:

meg said...

I too have become more upset with time, and I realized (partly in consequence of the discussions on IHE & ITM, to say nothing of FB) that the letter is what bothers me, not the decision.

Karl Steel said...

Thanks so much for this.

Mo said...

Eileen, I really appreciated your comments on that article. I found some of the other comments heartbreaking ("illegals"!!!), and your responses kept me from despair.

LF said...

I, too, am really, nettled by the MAA's statement about the conference's ostensible focus on the history of discrimination. Not only does it imply that scholarship can (and should?) be separated from its current historical context, but the rhetoric of compensation is vile. "We're going to give our money to a state that perpetuates horrible discrimination, but it's OK, because we will talk (amongst ourselves) about how horrible discrimination is." If they just owned up to not wanting to lose their money, I'd actually feel better. What a mealymouth piece of garbage that letter is.

Nina said...

I can't help but think of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," an eloquent indictment of white middle class fence-sitting that might almost be thought of as medieval in its attention to rhetoric and its citation from a wide-ranging plethora of authoritative sources. Perhaps we should all re-read it now and ponder the timeliness (timelessness?) of its message.

P. Ingham said...

While I, too, signed the petition, emailed the committee, won't be attending, and wish the MAA had made a different choice, I guess I'm a little confused as to the critique here: why isn't the plan to roster sessions highlighting "similar" issues in the Middle Ages understood to emphasize the continuities between then and now? Wasn't this the whole idea behind initiatives like the "Postcolonial Middle Ages"? And, too, the fact that the committee plans to have a local leader (Church leader--not my very favorite, but still) who has been involved in the local debate address the conference (in a keynote?) seems a step in the right direction--at least it seems based on an effort (however limited) to urge upon us these continuities--isn't this one legitimate version of the crossing of temporalities that In the Middle has so powerfully promoted?

I guess I'm just wondering why these particular acts are being set against Aranye's fantastic point against "Discontinuities"-- why aren't we/can't we read them as efforts at raising, and querying the continuities of intolerance, race and ethnicity, etc? Isn't this another way of showing that the Middle Ages is still very much IN us (not "other" to us), even as it signals a desire and hope in dreaming a different future?

That said, rock on. I'm all for exercising a little of the "critic provocateur" now and then--heh heh.

Eileen Joy said...

@P. Ingham: if, by working to ensure that the meeting

"reflects and relates to similar issues at stake in medieval society, including such topics as race, ethnicity, immigration, tolerance, treatment of minority groups, protest against governmental policies judged unjust, and standards of judicial and legislative morality,"

the MAA *meant* everything you say here--i.e., they intend to organize sessions and accept papers that highlight, following Fradenburg and others, the (dis)continuities between then and now, and I would say also, all the ways in which, vis-a-vis the situation in Arizona, the past *inhabits* and re/turns to [in uncanny ways], then sure, I'm all for that and I wouldn't *want* to assume otherwise, normally. But the MAA letter is so guarded and even muddled in so many ways, that I remain not entirely convinced that that *is* what they mean. The reason for my own hesitation may have to do with not being able to completely forget Gabrielle Spiegel's presidential column, when she was president of the AHA, "Getting Medieval and the Torture Memos" [Sep. 2008], where she essentially criticizes analogy as "a weak instrument of historical thinking," and she was especially critical of medievalist [like Bruce Holsinger] who *supposedly* [in her view] used "weak" analogies to draw connections between, say, the Bush White House legal memorandums on torture and the Inquisition.

I don't want to go over old debates here, especially since I myself wrote a long riposte to Spiegel's essay in March of 2009 [a polemic, I might add!]; suffice to say I am somehow pre-programmed to be on the lookout for statements that *seem* to indicate that the medieval past and the present are different realms, forever "alter" to each other, and the term "similarities" in the MAA letter was a red flag for me, signalling something like: "we'll look at stuff in the Middle Ages that is *similar* to what is happening in Arizona, but that is not the same thing as saying there is a critical relation between the two periods, and the Middle Ages are our proper domain and that is where we will stay in terms of whatever critique we might have [or not]." If my interpretation of the language in the letter is wrong, I'll be happy to be corrected.

[to be continued]

Eileen Joy said...

[continuing]

Having said all of this, I would like to also re-iterate a point that so far, really only Jeffrey has made [in a comment to our original post, "Medieval Academy: Yes on Tempe"], that we remain disappointed that the MAA letter was not willing to make the *collective* statement

"that the law passed by the legislature is racist and wrong. The MAA email was careful, it was factual, and it lacked moral courage."

I have been so caught up in parsing out various facets of the letter that even I myself have forgotten to reiterate Jeffrey's important point here: regardless of whether the meeting is held in Arizona, or not, and regardless of all the very rich debates we can have, and are having, over all of the good [or bad] reasons to stay or not stay in Arizona, and what the best sorts of "protests" and/or labors-toward-effectual-change might be, especially within the context of medieval studies/the university proper, what happened to, at the very least, making a public statement regarding the un-Constitutionality and the racism/xenophobia of the laws themselves recently passed in Arizona [the "papers, please" law + the ban on ethnic studies]?

And please [not P. Ingham but anyone else], do not harangue me/us with these arguments:

1. you haven't read the law; if you
had read it, you would see it's not really racist

2. no one cares what a bunch of medievalists have to say on the matter

3. the forum for such statements is more properly elsewhere

4. since there's a difference of opinion on the law, we should remain mute on the subject until the courts decide

5. if you don't live in Arizona or a border state, you have no right to have this opinion because it isn't your concern

6. popular opinion has spoken; therefore democracy works, and if you don't like the results you must be against democracy

The laws recently passed in Arizona are 1,000% wrong, legally, ethically, morally, and humanistically. I have a right to expect an organization that represents the most bright and erudite historians and students of the past, which includes the history of jurisprudence, of democracy, of xenophobia, of nations, of national identities and ethnicities, of wars (religious, ethnic, and otherwise), of colonialism, etc., to make a statement to the effect that these laws are wrong, on *every* level.

[to be continued]

Eileen Joy said...

[continuing]

It's uncanny to me as well to reflect on the MAA's letter through the lens of the recent meeting of the New Chaucer Society in Siena, Italy, where Aranye Fradenburg's plenary address, "Living Chaucer," asked us to reflect on all of the ways in which we are always already *affiliated* and inter-subjective with a past that *lives* alongside us [as signifiers, as texts, as artifacts, even as cognitive structures]. I can't do justice to Aranye's talk here in a comment thread and I actually plan a longer post on the NCS meeting in a few days, with a more concerted attention to her remarks, but what I do want to highlight here [and those who were there, please correct and/or enlarge my memory] is that she urged us [and I think "urged" is the right term] to reflect on past "self-objects"--like Chaucer himself-as-narrator but also the literary narratives themselves that he produced--as living *processes* that enable a *shared* attention and affective companionship, one that might offer consolation, through ludic play and the open-endedness of everything, for the griefs of this world. Some of the large themes of her talk [which again I cannot do full justice to here] were:

community/open-ended cooperation
friendship
constituitive dependence
healers/sufferers
well-being
the transformative powers of inter-subjectivity
territorial assemblages & signalling systems
radical democracy
play-as-becoming

One of my favorite lines was that play "demands an attention to the real world, to which it directs itself . . . unafraid, or maybe a little afraid." And also: "The friendly mind is always in liminal spaces [like the woods] . . . eager to play, and welcoming." Her chief figure for all of this was, of course, Chaucer himself, or Chaucer-as-narrator.

I can't help but feel that Fradenburg's entire talk was the best antidote to the MAA letter that had not yet even appeared.

Constituitive dependence. Friendship. And I would self-estranged creatureliness. This is what ties us to those in Arizona who are subjected to these laws, and suffer under them. It is not *despite* the fact that we are medievalists that we should know [and care about] this, but precisely because we are. Because we've read Chaucer. Because we've studied the Crusades. And so on.

Eileen Joy said...

And one final [Other] word here, prompted by P. Ingham's nod to critical provocation/polemic:

no matter how many scholars will assert otherwise, our scholarship can never be politically "dis-interested." Now, as a literary critic [myself], do I believe it would ever be possible to practice what Michael Calabrese called for in his 2002 "Performing the Prioress" article: an "Arnoldian disinterestedness"? As I wrote in my own essay, "The Signs and Location of a Flight (or Return?) of Time" [contributed to Jeffrey's "Cultural Diversity in the British Middle Ages" volume]:

". . . while I agree with Calabrese that we should avoid adopting in our literary scholarship contrived political *affects* that are nothing more than postures, while also embracing an academic culture that is as open to as many competing viewpoints as possible, I ultimately concur with Francoise Meltzer that 'the study of culture without politics is an inane undertaking,' although I would substitute 'humanism' for her 'politics'." [p. 212]

As intellectuals, whether pre- or post-Derrida, we pride ourselves on our supposed objectivity and ability to see a problem, or issue, or text, or whathaveyou, from every possible angle. We're trained to be skeptics, to be distrustful, to be paranoid, to read between the lines, and to be dismissive. But total and absolute distinterestedness comes at a great cost. What we do is never just about texts, or just about the past. Whole orders of meaning and material life are held together in and by language and we have ethical obligations in relation to that. And some people really *are* paying attention.

Eileen Joy said...

@Nina: I, too, have been catching echoes of MLK's "Letter From Birmingham Jail," especially on the comment thread at the IHE weblog, which is why I recalled his line there about "creative extremism":

""the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists"

This recalls [again!] something Fradenburg said in her NCS lecture: radical [democratic] change [and healing] require creativity.

meg said...

At the risk of a fusillade of rotten tomatoes, I'd like to harangue all of us (including myself) with the "But the law doesn't SAY that" point. No, wait!

Those who insist on this point (JBM in the IHE comments, et al.) are being harmful literalists, and I think some of the blame belongs at the feet of the humanities. People who involve themselves in the MAA question should have by now learned how to parse the implications of texts and actions, but it's clear from some (not all) of the opposing comments that they never did. For some of them, I wonder if they even realize there *are* implications.

Combined with the MAA letter, that's what disappoints me most about this whole issue: that so many people fail to see and/or consider implications. We are well and truly scrod when only the literal is considered real.

Anonymous said...

I hate this law. It is stupid, hateful, and unconstitutional. But my hesitancy to join this particular protest is founded on whether or not a "boycott" is the appropriate form of protest. A blanket boycott of everything Arizonan (even their ice tea? is the Grand Canyon a collaborator?)

Virtue may well be its own reward, but shouldn't our first priority be to help those most affected? Does a boycott disproportionately affect an important state institution (Arizona State University, its faculty, students, and administration) that has been by and large ardently outspoken against this law? Does it hurt our colleagues more than it helps anyone?

My question is this: if it weren't for the coincidence of MAA being held in Tempe this year, what would you be doing about this law? Why not go to Arizona and do that? Why not go to Arizona and picket? Why not go to Arizona and march? Why not go to Arizona and support Latino-owned, immigrant-owned businesses, restaurants, caterers? That seems more in the spirit of friendship to me.

Eileen Joy said...

@Anonymous: it's *precisely* because of your lucid and important points here that I began my post with the codicil relative to John Sebastian's comments over at the IHE webzine, because I am not--at this point, anyway--as much interested in debating what the best forms of protest might be, as I am in thinking through the question of whether or not the MAA should have been, or should be, willing to make a "collective" political and/or ethical statement re: the recent laws passed in Arizona. Whether or not boycotts are really effective [and related to that and pointed out usefully by you: whether or not some of us may be hypocrites in relation to all of the political stances we do or do not take--i.e., do we REALLY care about the plight of the so-called "illegals" in Arizona or about whether or not ethnic studies can be taught in the public schools is Arizona or did we just "wake up" to these issues vis-a-vis the MAA's plight/dilemma? etc. etc.], I think most of us have already discussed at great length, on this weblog in the past few weeks, and elsewhere, all of the different [and equally viable] ways in which medievalists could intervene into the state of affairs in Arizona *as medievalists* but also as citizens of this country. We do not all agree on the possible avenues of interventions; we do not all agree about the efficacy or even sincerity of boycotts; we do not al agree about the impact a medieval studies organization might have upon this state of affairs; we do not all agree that humanities scholars should involve themselves, or not, in this state of affairs; and so on and so forth.

As regards wanting [or needing] to help those "most affected," that was precisely what I was hoping I was getting at with this post. From the very beginning, my entire focus has been on "those most affected." I'm an inellectual, and a writer, so I do what I can from the limited pulpits and forms of media I have at my disposal and from the emails I have been receiving over the past few days, some, who ARE among those most affected [some academics, some students, and some outside the university altogether], have told me that they are grateful for the voices raised on their behalf, from whatever quarters, no matter how small, how large.

P. Ingham said...

Eileen:

Okay, fair enough.

Having spent a number of years in the trenches on exactly these kinds of methodological questions, I want to seize every opportunity, from whatever quarter, to complicate the ascription of an absolute alterity to the Middle Ages. The post by the MAA did highlight, explicitly, an interest in the similarities (NOT the differences) between then and now. Given that--which is a huge advance on where we were even 15 years ago--I couldn't see exactly where the insistence that this was about medieval alterity was coming from. [That is, even if the MAA's official statement doesn't satisfy, I don't see any specifically anti-theoretical implication in using the terms "medieval society," so not like Michael Calabrese's essay (which I've also critiqued) referenced to in the comment.]

Yes, it does beg the question that you raise which is the approach/politics of any given assessment. Those questions of course remain at issue--I just meant to note that an interest in, or curiosity about such problems in "medieval society" isn't inherently conservative in and of itself.

I do recall the MAA I attended in Miami--which had a great program committee (a little shout out to Michelle Warren and Tom Goodman, among others) and a great program highlighting many of these "postcolonial" commonalities across any so-called historical divide. I do think that we can still learn things about the Middle Ages on such topics--and that events like the awful Arizona law can become, in fact, provocations to knowledge of all types, creative, political, literary, historical. This, too, is a way the Middle Ages still lives in us and with us, as I'm sure you'd agree.

Patty

Marty Shichtman said...

Eileen,

I want to thank you for writing this beautiful and eloquent piece. The MAA is, indeed, making an important political statement by, in essence, choosing to do--and, really, say--nothing. It is a statement that reflects poorly on all of us as academics, as intellectuals.

Eileen Joy said...

@P. Ingham: how *weird*! The BEST and last MAA meeting I ever attended was the one in Miami. Interestingly enough, I actually thought about mentioning it in one of our posts here re: the MAA decision because the plenary there by Patrick Geary was amazing, especially with respect to thinking the connections between past and present vis-a-vis nations/national culture. And the session organized by Michelle on David Wallace's book "Premodern Places," at which 3 non-medievalists offered appraisals of the book's value [Jose Rabasa, Leah Marcus, and I can't recall the 3rd speaker], was incredibly invigorating for re-thinking the so-called "middle ages" across difference global locations and temporalities [and to have Rabasa there! what a stroke of brilliance].

So, I appreciate you reminding us of this meeting. This is also the meeting where I first met Rick Emmerson who convinced me to not leave MAA just yet as he had lots of ideas in store. And then . . . he left. That was the death-knell, for me anyway.

Liz said...

I greatly appreciate everything that's been said here. I'm dismayed both by the decision and by the letter.

A simple, but crucial point that I haven't seen emphasized here: if I were a Latina/o member of the MAA, I would feel unsafe attending a conference in AZ. It is that simple fact, more than anything else, that tempts me to leave the MAA. By holding the conference in AZ, the MAA is not only condoning racist laws--and I would emphasize there is no highbrow neutrality possible here; to keep the conference in AZ IS to take sides--but it is also discriminating against its own members on the basis of race.

Eileen Joy said...

@Liz: thanks for your comment here--a much-needed point here and one I was trying to get/hint at when I concluded my post with the point re: those most in need of consolation, by which I meant Latino- and Hispanic-Americans [none of which, in my mind, are "illegal," regardless of the state of their "papers"], some medievalists, some not.

A commenter on another post reminded us of Badiou's point that there is only "one country." No one is illegal. No one.

Anonymous said...

By holding the conference in AZ, the MAA is not only condoning racist laws

No. It isn't. No more than attending MLA in the United States condones the unjust and illegal wars being conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor does attending the BABEL Conference in Austin condone the ruling Republican party's official platform that sodomy is criminal behavior.

Because one congressman in a fit of understandable anger yelled "boycott" (he and others have since backed off this position) and everyone and her brother eager to do SOMETHING jumped (except MAA) does not mean that MAA is condoning a racist law.

MAA's weak tea letter is admittedly lacking. MAA would do well to make a more passionate and extremely public statement condemning the law. But please do no exaggerate tepidity for condoning racism.

Eileen Joy said...

@Anonymous: thanks for your comments here; I do not personally accuse the MAA as a whole or any of its members as condoning racist laws by virtue of their decision to hold their annual meeting in Arizona next spring; this goes again to the issue of whether or not, when we condemn or abhor or simply disagree with the MAA's decision [from a variety of antagonistic perspectives], we are also ascribing to the MAA or to specific persons within the MAA, particular supposedly heinous viewpoints & ideologies, and I think this kind of discussion keeps us [unfortunately] away from the real issues [and persons] at stake here. At the same time, in Liz's defense, if the MAA is not willing to make a "collective" statement regarding the recent passage of certain laws in Arizona, by default, if not condoning those laws, they are at least signalling that a strong statement against those laws have not been deemed necessary or important. So, while I find myself very much nodding my head reading your comments, can you not also see that *not* saying anything, on the MAA's part, provides a palpable silence that serves, not the victims in this story, but the oppressors?

Anonymous said...

can you not also see that *not* saying anything, on the MAA's part, provides a palpable silence that serves, not the victims in this story, but the oppressors?

Yes, I can certainly see and understand this. But I also feel that projecting our discontent on MAA rather on the Jan Brewers of the world also distracts us from the important work of overturning this law. If we want to see what condoning racism looks like, we only need to look at the comments following thee IHE story! I share your outrage on this. It's enough to bring me to tears.

I have to believe that there is common ground here between the 46% and the 42% (I imagine if MAA published the comments to the poll this theory would bear out). I have to believe that there is positive solution based on love and unity, rather than settling for a negative punitive solution rooted in contempt for the past sins of the MAA.

Eileen Joy said...

@Anonymous: Bravo to everything you say here. I join you in these sentiments.