Stephanie notices some things about the Secular Coalition for America and its brainchild The Global Secular Council (you know, the one that’s not the least bit global, in fact about as unglobal as you can get).
Will the people in the glossy photos do great work under the Global Secular Council banner? Hard to say. There are some people on that list who have done truly impressive work, but I find it a bit odd that they didn’t hold the launch of the website for the release of work from at least a few of them. I’d like to believe they had the time for that between dinner and going live. There had to at least have been work those people had done that they were willing to repurpose under the GSC banner, right?
Not as of launch, no. But maybe they’ll start producing their own content soon, something more than a blog, since that’s what they’ll need to influence government. They’ll have to produce in order to survive. Big names only bring in so many donations before people want them to do more than have dinners and get their pictures taken.
That seems plausible, although there do seem to be a surprisingly lot of people out there who are utterly entranced by people merely having dinners and getting their pictures taken.
This is particularly true when the parent organization has been the subject of financial mismanagement rumors for several months.
[Nope. I don’t have anything but rumors on this one. They’ve come from multiple directions, which suggest they’ve gotten a lot of traction, but not necessarily that they’re true. I have no idea what happened with SCA’s finances, if anything, but that doesn’t keep the rumors from making fundraising harder.]
So they’ll get productive, or they’ll sink. They don’t want my help with the first and wouldn’t need it with the second. Initiatives start and die every day.
Like restaurants and little shops selling silk scarves and crystal.
If SCA has some real challenges, they also have some outstanding assets, at least in potentia.
Speaking of those challenges–the lack of diversity, the huffiness and counterattacks in the face of criticism, the poor understanding of basic concepts revealed in that discussion–pulling those posts of Ophelia’s into one place finally made something click for me.
I was reminded of something I’d tweeted from Barbara Ehrenreich’s talk at Women in Secularism.
Barbara Ehrenreich recently invited to an atheism & science think tank a bit short on “ladies” to contribute on “women’s health”.
I’d forgotten that. I took a lot of notes, because I forget everything, but I haven’t looked at the notes yet.
Then all this happened. Do I know that it was the GSC that invited Ehrenreich? No, but the description and timing sure fit.
Ohhh – I had not thought of that. If so…oy.
Here’s a piece of free advice for whomever is doing the invitations for the GSC: Don’t ever tell someone from an underrepresented group that you’re inviting them to help improve your representation.
No, I’m not telling you to lie by omission. I’m not telling you to cover up something that’s best not raised in polite company. I’m telling you inviting someone to help improve your representation is a crappy thing to do. Hell, it’s probably not even what you’re really doing anyway.
When you notice that your gender or other ratios are badly skewed, not at all representational of the community you claim to speak for (whether global or merely national), it’s a signal that your process was flawed. Maybe you’ve subconsciously been thinking that thinking in tanks is “more of a guy thing” or “more of a white thing”. Maybe the white men who fit your mission just get so much more press that they’re more easily called to mind when you’re brainstorming. Maybe the definition of “big-name atheist thinker” has been historically constructed in such a way that it largely excludes the thinking women and people of color do.
Or maybe you’ve had to take most of the outspoken feminists and anti-racists off your list for one political reason or another, and that made you shy about including marginalized people.
Whatever the reason, the fact that you’ve come up with a list of atheist thinkers and policy people that doesn’t include Barbara Ehrenreich should tell you that your process didn’t work right the first time. Your problem isn’t that you “don’t have enough ladies”. Your problem is that you left amazing talent on the table because your process failed you.
Yes, and yes, and yes. One after another. Especially Maybe the white men who fit your mission just get so much more press that they’re more easily called to mind – which is exactly what I thought when I saw the GSC’s list of “Experts,” and is exactly what I still think. It’s a list of mostly The Guys Who Come To Mind First – which, ironically (or is it ironic?), makes the list boring as well as contemptuous and insulting. Can you really not get away from DawkinsandKraussandHarris for even a second? Why Harris over and over and over and fucking over again, and Churchland never? Patricia Churchland is orders of magnitude more interesting than Harris, but we get Harris for breakfast lunch tea and dinner, year in and year out. And then to take up Steph’s point, why Harris rather than Ehrenreich? And to take up my points from last week, why Harris rather than Namazie or Nasreen or Sahgal? Why is Sam Harris thought to be infinitely interesting, so that people want to hear him talk again and again and again and again, while Ehrenreich and Namzie and Nasreen are thought to be not interesting at all, so that people don’t want to hear them talk even once?
I don’t know if it’s just laziness or just a brainless hero-worship, but either way, it’s deeply unimpressive.