This time Greta talked to Roy Speckhardt, who is Executive Director of the American Humanist Association and on the SCA board, about the hiring of Edwina Rogers and what she’s been saying and how it’s all panning out.
He said she had a particular combination of skills and experience that no other candidate had. I can easily believe that (and see it as a compelling reason to hire her, and so on). Skills and experience matter; no question.
But. There is a problem, nevertheless. Greta sums it up in one question:
…were there any concerns raised during the hiring process having to do with the fact that, you know, frankly, for several years, she’s been working for a party that has been working very much against the values of most people in the secular and atheist movement, you know, not just in terms of the separation of church and state, but on issues such as gay rights, issues such as, you know, abortion rights, birth control rights, etc.?
That is the problem. Good that she has skills and experience, but on the other hand, she’s been using them for the benefit of a political party that is the energetic enemy of secularism and many of its values. That’s a problem.
And a secondary problem that has been developing since she began answering questions is that she’s denying that. Instead of saying (for instance, “Yes, you’re right, but the reality is that I disagree with them on all the core secular issues, so don’t you think I’m exactly the right kind of person to change their minds?” she’s been saying no it’s not, no they don’t, no I didn’t. That’s not working for us.
Greta explained why.
…frankly, during the interview she was extremely evasive, there were several questions, she dodged direct questions, I would repeat questions several times and she didn’t answer them. And these were questions that are serious questions, they’re pertinent questions, these are questions that people in the community have been asking about her and that are very much relevant to her position as Executive Director of the SCA. And I think, obviously, one of the things that this community values is honesty and directness and caring about evidence and reality. Do you have any issues with this evasiveness? Do you have a sense of how she’s going to be with the press and the media, [garbled] people within her own movement?
I think that’s a key question. We care about honesty and directness and paying attention to evidence and reality. That seems to be not very negotiable.
I found Speckhardt’s answer quite startling.
I don’t take your characterization as accurate that she was being evasive. I listened to her interview, and actually, the first thing I thought of was, “Gosh, you know, I’ve done a lot of media interviews, and if you do media interviews, you learn how to get your talking points across and not worry, necessarily, all the time about the questions being asked. If you want to get your own message across, this is a technique that you’ve got to learn, to get out there and put across your viewpoint.” And I felt like she was being very careful and even reiterating over and over and over again, if necessary, to address the questions that you kept asking and re-asking her. And, so I don’t, I don’t think she was being evasive at all, In fact, I think, in some ways, she could have gone on to more talking points, not sticking to the questions that were being asked as much.
That looks as if he’s saying she did a good job of ignoring the questions and just sticking to her talking points. He said that’s not what he meant, he meant the opposite, and that can be made to fit – you can take “being very careful” and “reiterating over and over and over again” to mean “to be responsive” as opposed to “in her efforts to stick to her talking points.” But then it doesn’t describe what happened. What happened fits much better the interpretation that she did a good job of just saying what she had planned to say while ignoring the questions.
We’re a testy bunch, we secular atheist infidels.