Revolution #181, November 1, 2009
Sunsara Taylor challenges...
A Shameful “Disinvitation”
Sunsara Taylor has been on tour over the past year speaking to diverse audiences on the themes addressed in Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World by Bob Avakian. In July Taylor accepted an invitation to speak to a meeting of the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) on Sunday, November 1, on the theme “Morality Without Gods.” Now there is an attempt to prevent her from speaking. Suddenly, some members of the program committee spearheaded by a professor from the University of Chicago, took action to force through a vote to disinvite her, completely distorting her views and claiming that her talk would be of no interest to their membership.
Here are some of the things in the description of her talk that provoked these efforts:
“We live in a time of moral crises. These crises are NOT, as the Christian fascists like to consistently insist, because of ‘abortionists, the ACLU, homosexuals, and science instructors who teach evolution.’ These crises exist because the stability and way of life of millions of people are being disrupted by the effects of imperialist globalization. Around the world: massive global migrations, the rise of a transnational sex slave trade consuming millions of young women and girls, the wars and widespread use of torture by the U.S., and the increased disparity between the obscenely wealthy and the billions who have been cast into desperation, poverty and disease with no hope of a decent life.
“Why have these changes led to a resurgence of reactionary fundamentalist religion here and all over the world?
“How do we counter that with a secular morality of our own?
“...In this talk, Taylor will bring alive many of the themes spoken to by Avakian in Away With All Gods! to answer these questions and to explore communist morality as a real and viable alternative: a morality rooted in, and serving as a guide to get to, a world without men oppressing women, without a handful accumulating vast wealth at the expense of the many, without white people lording it over people of color, without one country trying to run the whole globe, and a world where critical thought and the scientific pursuit of the truth, as well as artistic and intellectual ferment and the flourishing of individuality, are fostered.”
Hearing about the attempt to cancel this talk, many of the people with whom Taylor has appeared speaking on these same questions, as well as others who respect her work, wrote to the EHSC to attest to the positive nature of the programs she has done and of her approach to opening up debate and controversy in an extremely principled way. Others in the EHSC who have been apprised of this have expressed their strong disagreement with disinviting her, have begun to challenge the ethics—and motives—of those who are so adamantly trying to keep her from speaking and have called for this decision to be reversed. Taylor has challenged this unprincipled distortion of her political views and has insisted that she still plans to fulfill her agreement to speak to the meeting of the Society. (See Sunsara Taylor’s open letter to the Program Committee, Members and Friends of EHSC, which gives a clear picture of how this developed and what the real terms of the dispute are, online at revcom.us.)
According to the EHSC’s Mission Statement:“We value the importance of living an ethical, responsible, and joyful life. We promote intellectual, philosophical, and artistic freedom, avoiding dogma and rigid creed.”
But what kind of ethics and intellectual and philosophical freedom is being promoted if a chilling atmosphere is allowed to take hold in centers like the Ethical Humanist Society, giving in to attempts to censor voices that challenge the dominant thinking in society and propose an ethics grounded in striving for a better world?
As Sunsara Taylor put it in her letter to EHSC: “This attempt to cancel my talk has clearly been driven by political and ideological disagreements with me by some on the EHSC program committee. This is shameful for any organization, but coming from an organization that prides itself on ethical action and promoting intellectual, philosophical and artistic freedom it is all the more disturbing.”
If those in the EHSC behind this are successful, not only will they have deprived their own membership, and the public who is invited to their meetings, of the opportunity to hear a different perspective on burning questions of the day; much more importantly they will have put the EHSC objectively in the camp of a whole group of intellectual gatekeepers who engage in promoting false verdicts and lies about the history of communism, and about the viewpoint and goals of communists today.
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