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IMO it's pretty telling that FAIR has had no problem taking a strong position on countless other issues, but when it comes to Israel and antisemitism suddenly the message is vague calls for tolerance of opposing views. I'm sorry, why should we be tolerating apologists for terrorism?

I can respect an organization like FIRE taking a principled stand in defense of pro-Hamas free speech, because they have an unambiguous and concrete mission which they apply to every situation without regard for politics. FAIR is not such an organization. It's reason for existence is precisely to oppose woke ideology in a positive, sensitive, and non-partisan way, without the bitterness, politics, and radicalism of most other anti-woke groups. To ask whether FAIR should be doing something other than opposing woke ideology is to be fundamentally confused about the purpose of FAIR. I haven't been donating to FAIR every month since the literal day it launched so that FAIR could be too cowardly to stand up for Jews when we are under attack around the world.

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Jan 22·edited Jan 22

Agree. There's a time for respectful debate, and a time to draw the line. I am concerned about an influx of board members who would blur FAIR's mission. I wonder if Bion Bartning was involved actively if this article would be published.

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deletedJan 26
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Wise.

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Well said. One of the things I like about FAIR is the way you approach institutions, for example, when writing a letter from your legal team about an unconstitutional practice, such as stating something like only minority candidates need apply. FAIR tends to take the high road in terms of assuming good intentions (providing opportunities for perceived marginalized candidates) while pointing out why this is problematic and by the way, if you don’t fix this on your own we’ll address it with our legal team.

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YES! I appreciate and admire this approach too. My impression of this article is that it introduces democracy as a reason to chip away at FAIR's values. I don't think democracy is a good reason given our imperfect world and the volume of bad thinkers that exist. I think fair has some great thinkers who are on the right track. I don't see a need to adjust anything.

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Hi Polly,

I appreciate your commentary here, but I would respectfully submit that you may be misunderstanding Ilana's point. I can tell you that she—and that no one on FAIR's Board of Directors, including myself—has any intention of diluting, chipping away at, or changing FAIR's values. FAIR's values are the foundation of the organization. They are the principles I try my hardest to live by every day, and which we will always strive to promote and protect. They're also what attracted Ilana, myself, and all of you to FAIR in the first place.

They aren't going anywhere—certainly not while I have anything to do with it.

My reading of Ilana's piece here is not that democracy is a reason to chip away at those values, but in fact a reason to constantly and consistently uphold them. We must appeal to people's better angels, we must be the reasonable people in the room, and we must commit to our principles—even when it's most difficult to do so.

Importantly, we must also change the narrative, which I can guarantee you exists, that FAIR is simply "anti-woke."

Ilana's point, from my understanding, is that we shouldn't be content with that perception, and should actively work to disabuse people of the notion that we are simply "against" things. FAIR is also *for* things, and it's important that we not only keep this in mind ourselves but also communicate this as effectively and vociferously as possible to others.

She's also making the point, which FAIR articulates on our website and which FAIR Advisor Daryl Davis has so eloquently put it many times before: "When two enemies are talking, they're not fighting," and "A missed opportunity for dialogue is a missed opportunity for conflict resolution."

That is the core of FAIR, and it will never, ever, ever change. I guarantee you that.

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Thank you for this clarification. It is reassuring. I haven’t heard a criticism - perceived or other - that FAIR was taking anti-woke positions. Having said that, action is usually in the realm of what might be called woke overreach, not to disparage but to address imbalance. Any talk of change is disturbing. I am glad to hear there is commitment to the original values. Thank you for taking the time.

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Goodness this sure reads like a page from Academia. The Ivory Tower world precludes reality and this piece sure illustrates how far they are from the common man/woman‘s world. What the author failed to mention is how Democracy is something that has to be fought for every day. This moonbeam narrative that there’s two sides to every story is how we created this mess in the first place. Thoughtful dialogue is always encouraged but at the end of the day decisions have to be made.

To stand in the face of pure evil does NOT require thoughtful dialogue, or two sides. To do so would only drag out the horror. I’m sure there were two sides for many of the conflicts our world has endured but in order for order to occur, a necessary decision to stand up and defeat it must take place.

Please, enough of this academic banter. Would be great to hear from real people fighting real battles who have boots on the ground rather than pontificating from their lofty perch above the fray. The time for meaningful dialogue is over. It’s time for meaningful action.

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What precisely is pure evil? Are you talking about an ideology? An action? Or people? The implications of these are entirely different.

Confronting an ideology that is pure evil involves rescuing believers from bad ideas. If an ideology is pure evil, it does massive harm to the believers, not just the targets. The believers should be considered prisoners to be rescued, or at least given a clear path of escape.

If an action is pure evil, that gets into standards of social pressure, law, and law enforcement. What is the proper mix of rewards, punishments, and restrictions to minimize the occurrence of these evil actions?

But if humans are pure evil? They are no longer people, merely dangerous predatory animals to be eliminated. Usually through homicide.

I have never seen the third option go well. It turns into a purity spiral, where the slightest variance from the official orthodoxy is an indication of being "pure evil", and grounds for execution.

And I have spent a LOT of time with my boots on the ground.

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More chatter as the world continues to spin. Thanks for proving my point

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Jan 22·edited Jan 22

Seems to me you're not far apart. I do not subscribe to "pure evil" as being a state, possibly sociopathic predators fall into that category. But I understand someone thinking that. The trans lobby pushing gay kids into surgeries and creating an environment where young teens seek and achieve the attention bestowed by declaring for being trans ... and schools facilitating this is an error. So is defining benchmarks for achievement tranched by race. Absolute benchmarks are the only way. These are the areas of "error". I see it as error in creating a fair and healthy society. I think you're both on the right track.

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Ah Democracy. Not a very good system, especially when some proportion of the population is incapable of rational thought, but better than every alternative.

I would say that democracy is rooted in the principal that "all people are created equal" and all are entitled to the same treatment under the law which includes voting. I disagree with the notion that democracy requires that all people are internally consituted in a certain acceptable manner - ie capable of rational thought, and not crazy or hateful or deluded. We, rightfully so, judge actions and not feelings or beliefs; we do not coerce citizens into holding accepted beliefs.

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If you define "capable of rational thought" as someone who exclusively uses reason for conclusions, nearly the entire human species is incapable of rational thought. And that's a good thing. People whose emotion centers of the brain are damaged become catastrophically impaired, because they lose the ability to make decisions. Almost all of our decisions fundamentally come down to what feels right, though reason may be involved in providing data points.

If you define "capable of rational thought" as a human being who has had extensive formal education in dialectic, rhetoric, logic, reasoning and debate, that's rare. Such subjects were largely pulled from public education a couple generations ago.

Rational thought is also teachable. And learnable. But it comes with teaching the virtue of humility.

I don't know you, so I can't know what you mean by specific words. But too often, I have seen "hateful" used as a synonym for "blasphemous". That is, varying from an established orthodoxy is "hateful". This creates a problem when "hateful" is set up as an opposition to "capable of rational thought." It suggests that any variance from orthodoxy is an indication of being irrational.

That's, um, a problem. At least for my definitions of rational.

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Thanks for this, Ilana. I hope this vision of “what could be” unfolds! And it’s a good reminder to offer alternatives, not just critiques.

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Professor Redstone is reductionist; she reduces the argument to an either/or. Certainly there are times, and one hope it would be MOST times, when respectful debate should be valued and practiced. But there are other times when the stakes are too high (supporting Hamas) or it is useless to argue because the other side is intransigent and simply drains one’s energy. In his book, Woke Racism, John McWhorter makes the later point that some people can not be reasoned with.

Redstone nicely articulates the chief problem I have with FAIR and why I question my membership in this organization. Offering a better way, a more fair approach, is invaluable. That is what FAIR can do best as in education. But I fear the professor and far too many others have too charitable view of their fellow inhabitants of this splintering world. There’s little point in arguing with the Nazi, Jihadist, et cetera banging at one’s door.

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I agree wholeheartedly - and I hope that FAIR sticks to the mandate. There are good minds at FAIR. MY fear is that their values will get diluted by the influx of others who hold views that do not align with FAIR's original values, which should be absolute. I do not agree with CRT or the trans lobby. There are sufficient laws to ensure rights for all humans, the rest is just lobbying for power.

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Jan 22·edited Jan 22

With regard to Trump, MAGA, and the "racist" right (among others), John McWhorter is one of those people who cannot be reasoned with. His latest pearl of wisdom regarding a potential American civil war in the offing was "Bring it on!"

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Jan 22·edited Jan 22

"Does FAIR want to be a place known for loudly condemning anything “woke” and “politically correct”?"

No. This is a mischaracterization of what FAIR is. FAIR is fair, without the discrimination stemming from the imperfect CRT. Discrimination by race or sexual preference is wrong, and disability can be accommodated in many situations. We need to be clear - the mandate of FAIR is already established. If a strata of society is considered 'oppressed' consider creating an environment that facilitates getting people up to speed.

Specifically I'm thinking of DELTA which encapsulates why many people object to "woke-ism".

Staffing an airplane with only women. What compromise has been made about the pilots ability? Why not just implement a program to attract and accelerate the training of more women pilots (i.e. provide robust child care assistance) and get them up to speed so they can enter the workforce and compete on a skills basis. Delta is forfeiting operational integrity for PR points.

I've encountered people who view themselves as oppressed, they use this belief aggressively, turning themselves into oppressors of the "fulfill my demands or I'll complain to HR" ilk. This is not a good direction for society.

Ultimately if we're clear on the goals of FAIR those should be absolute. Democracy is too often determined by who has the loudest voices, and that isn't the majority - it's the activists.

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I agree. Civil discourse is important and should be a priority as it is in line with the goals of FAIR from the beginning. May I suggest there’s a roadblock to this- that the ideology you describe as one to criticize is not itself amenable to civil discourse. We can point to many examples of this fact. This, we must have a way to deal with this. I suggest offering members training in how to do so by teaching them skills such as Marshal Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication techniques (or another technique that you like). His form of communication and the philosophy behind it does work to quell others anger and our own frustration so that civil discourse can take place and be reintroduced to our society.

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Thank You Ilana, this was the well articulated assessment of why I joined FAIR and why I remain. You set a template for how important our relationships with each other are. And how to articulate our differences based on the principles that are deeply important to us, not the assumptions that lay waste to dialogue.

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Personally, I wish more people would adopt the attitude you describe when speaking to others. Name-calling completely removes me from a conversation because I believe we are all capable of explaining our position and giving reasons for our position. What we have run into in recent years is many people deciding to put their fingers in their ears based on deciding others aren't as "human" as they are. Of course they are. We were never meant to think the same, look the same, or be the same. That's a different world entirely. I am capable of sharing space with someone I disagree with vehemently while also treating them like a human being. Please, decide to fight against anything that takes from an individual's right to be human. It seems like an easy choice to me.

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Great piece, Ilana! If only every major institution could standby this principle!

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I'd suggest more extensively grappling with the fact that the world has a pretty wide range of views that far exceed those of roughly "respectable US intellectuals". How far are you really willing to extend respectful disagreement "criticism, questioning, or examination"? Holocaust Denial? Killing authors for blasphemy? Calls for "ethnic cleansing"? Genocidal ethnonationalism? Etc. Indeed, go too far in one direction, you end up with a Party Line that can't be questioned. But do you really think it's workable to go entirely in the opposite? And if not, where is your line, and why should it be the One True Line?

Let me be clear, I don't mean laws, or mobbing, or anything of that sort. I mean, when is it OK to say "I don't want to have a "conversation" with e.g. Holocaust Deniers. I DO assume they have bad intent. I don't want to engage in "questioning" with them as to whether the Holocaust took place". This the other side of the issue.

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Well said. There are some conversations that will only leave you feeling diminished, angry or dirtied. I don't think it was ever the mission to correct every wrong. FAIR will implode if it tries to be all things.

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I see no need for FAIR to come out with a Marshall Plan. FAIR is fighting the use of policies which we see as detrimental. There is ideological diversity in FAIR and we do not need to prescribe.

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Jan 22·edited Jan 22

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes."

The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1848

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Democracy. What we’ve witnessed of democracy is the public discourse has been dominated by activists with their own axes to grind. The majority remain silent. This is a truism. Why agonize over what FAIR is? It’s mandate is set. It has support. Good work is being done to iron out the injustices of CRT and the trans lobby in schools. FAIR has no mandate to comment on Middle East politics and if you ask me, schools should not tolerate activities based on foreign politics. Not saying we cant have our opinions, because I certainly do.

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"Does FAIR want to be a place known for loudly condemning anything 'woke' and 'politically correct'? Or does it want to be something more?" In a sense, it should be *less* than that. Being against intolerance means being against all forms of intellectual cultism. Woke-*ism* is one such form, but not the only one, and not everything that gets that label pinned on it necessarily represents cultism. In fact, condemning anything simply because it's been labeled that way is itself a form of intellectual cultism. The way the question is being posed in the present context is particularly ironic, since it's Zionism that constitutes a form of anti-human identity politics, and not the mainstream of anti-Zionism which has historically called for a democratic, secular state for all its people.

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Since when have anti-Zionists ever cared one single bit for Jews or our lives? All I see are anti-Zionists apologizing for a fundamentalist terrorist regime that murders Jews in cold blood and promises to do more of the same. Take your antisemitism to some other organization. It has no place in FAIR, whatever the author of this piece may think.

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