[INDOLOGY] Supporting each other in public

Koenraad Elst koenraad.elst at gmail.com
Sun Jun 30 10:39:48 UTC 2019

Dear listfolk,

According to list rules, "members will be expected to maintain
commonly-accepted standards of decorum in their postings to the group.
Contributions are expected to be polite and well-considered. (…) In
particular, personal attacks of an ad-hominem nature, rude language,
and off-topic postings are violations of the list rules."

By that criterion, Patricia's attack on me was a multiple violation of
list rules. It had nothing Indological and was thus completely
off-topic. It was not exactly polite, and it was very much a personal
attack. To use Antonia's words, it aimed "to sow unacademic dissent
among individuals". In her last mail Patricia sounds more
conciliatory, which is a good development and for me a reason to leave
it at that.

But not, it seems, for others. When I read these attacks, I thought:
whatever I write in response, quite a number of list members, whether
they speak up or not, are going to blame *me* for *her* politicization
of their nice list. And any aspect of anything I write will be held
under the magnifying glass by pedants trying to find fault with it.
This has happened in the past, and sure enough, it is happening again,
though so far in low key.

Thus, Antonia here reads these attacks, takes them in stride as if
perfectly normal, then reads my reply, and suddenly, after all this
rough riding, becomes very touchy-feely when reading my first
description of these same attacks as a "screaming tirade". I think
those words are pretty mild compared to what I have been called, and
pretty accurate: a "tirade" means a "serial shooting", and it was
indeed an enumeration of various claims that were each calculated to
damage me. The word "screaming" evokes the mood in which she seems to
have written it. This part is admittedly only intuitive, maybe late at
night my perception was less than perfect, I don't mind dropping that
word. Morning has broken.

Then follows the predictable call for a ban. Apparently in the
Indology Soviet, list rules should be changed so that SJWs are free to
attack dissidents but the latter are prevented from responding. All
this under cover of esoteric jargon like "dog whistle" and
"gaslighting". (Not that these novel concepts couldn't be useful.
Thus, the Indian partial inversion in meaning of "secularism" from its
original European meaning would be a fine example of "gaslighting".)

Note also a very morbid streak in the SJW worldview: its
conspiratorial thinking. Thus, "there is nothing unintentional about
this and it is a performance for those lurkers who silently agree. It
is meant to bait those who do not agree into 'debate'" etc. I know
SJWs don't like debate, for they would lose on any subject that
matters here, and also on principle: in their totalitarian utopia,
there is simply no room for debate. There should be diversity in skin
colour, sexual orientation etc., but not in opinion. That's why they
always come in the news when, in Oxford or so, they have managed to
prevent or shut down another debate.

And then these gifted mind-readers claim to know what unstated purpose
is actually "meant" when I simply answer an e-mail. No innocence
anymore, everything is part of some political strategy. Those who try
their hand at pop-psychology against me ("full of anger") should
tolerate that I psycho-analyze that trait as a *projection* of their
own stand in the world. And now we get to read that the length of my
mails is a "technique" to suck people's energy. It is sick to
postulate an ulterior intention behind my response e-mail's length,
which was only determined by the number of allegations that I had to
answer. Nevertheless, I'll stop here.

But not without affirming that at my age, I have a right to talk
"condescendingly" to trespassing youngsters. I can only hope they
learn from it, that's what we're here for.

Kind regards,

K. Elst

On Sun, Jun 30, 2019 at 3:42 AM Uskokov, Aleksandar
<aleksandar.uskokov at yale.edu> wrote:
> I would like to concur with Antonia, I find Koenraad's postings incredibly condescending ("Though visibly lacking in the maturity needed for teaching on an august subject ..." "such a junior scholar to be nominated to this teaching post as a meant-to-be-prestigious international university ..." Really?). I don't think the forum should stay away from discussing politically charged issues, but what happened to being courteous?
> Aleksandar Uskokov
> Lector in Sanskrit
> South Asian Studies Council, Yale University
> 203-432-1972 | aleksandar.uskokov at yale.edu
> ________________________________
> From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Antonia Ruppel via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
> Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2019 7:53 PM
> To: Koenraad Elst
> Cc: Indology
> Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Supporting each other in public
> Dear Koenraad,
> I usually try to read your emails all the way through, even though their length does not invite that. (Which, by the way, also is a well-known technique: just put something very long and mostly undigested in front of others, so that they have to spend the time and energy to work their way through it and perhaps even feel they need to respond to it all.)
> With your last email, I just made it to the words 'Patricia's screaming tirade' to know I didn't have to go on reading.
> Dominik, thank you for your email. You are absolutely right that it isn't enough to voice our support for others privately; but we need to do it in public on-list. I would thus hereby like to voice my public support to Patricia and everyone who has spoken up, in detail but never lenghtily, about AAIS.
> While I don't think that further discussion of AAIS is *needed* to show the true colours of the organisation, one brief observation on AJIS made by a friend not on this list may still be of interest:
> "I note that in the few instances when the terms “Muslim” and “Islam” appear on the website or in the journal that they serve merely as markers of difference with “Hindus” and “Hinduism,” and “Islamic civilization” is pointedly juxtaposed with “Indic civilization"."
> Finally, I support any initiatives there may be for amending the guidelines of the Indology list, especially as concerns explicit prohibition of gaslighting and dog-whistling. This list is a valuable (and invaluable!) resource for all of us, and we should not allow it, or our field, to be used by any person or organisation that aims to sow unacademic dissent among countries, religions or individuals.
> All the best,
>       Antonia
> On Sun, 30 Jun 2019, 01:28 Koenraad Elst via INDOLOGY, <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> Dear listfolk,
> About Copernicus, I knew very well that he didn't live to see the
> reaction to his theory, and I had always learned that that was on
> purpose: he knew his theory was unorthodox and risked repression from
> his own employer, the Church. That doesn't make him a bad example of
> the only thing for which I used him as an example, viz. being a
> minority of one and still being right.
> Then Patricia's screaming political tirade. It didn't take long for us
> all to receive an example of the "kindness" and "fellow-feeling" that
> Dominik waxed so eloquent about. Those list members who are allergic
> to politics and waiting for an occasion to blame me for the dirtying
> of their list with politics: please note where this injection of
> politics has come from. The whole letter consists in a favourite
> debating tactic among people who don't know a given subject, viz. to
> divert attention away from it, here mainly with the SJW rhetorical
> tactic par excellence: guilt by association.
> Note first of all that none of the specifically Indological points I
> made has been addressed. Instead we are treated to a list of SJW
> jargon unrelated to India, much of which was unknown to me and
> certainly also to many other list members. Thus, "gaslighting" seems
> to mean, according to the article she refers to: "disingenuously
> redefining a concept beyond recognition". I have no idea which part of
> my message this could refer to, I certainly have never consciously
> done such a thing. And I know for sure that she has no way of knowing
> that my allegedly doing this was "disingenuous": you may see what
> someone does, but for his motive behind this action, you need either
> his own statement of motive, which in this case I have never given; or
> you have to have telepathic powers. I didn't know we had paranormally
> gifted people on this list (or superstitious people only believing
> that they can read others' minds). Then again, with a teacher of the
> History of Yoga, we should be ready for some siddhis. And come to
> think of it, maybe some other Yoga Sutra virtues too, like
> self-control and friendliness, not quite in evidence here.
> It is really rich to be accused of "victimization" by someone who has
> just volunteered a message almost entirely about her own victimization
> at Nalanda. By the way, it was unfair for her to be fired so unkindly,
> but it was first of all a great privilege for such a junior scholar to
> be nominated to this teaching post as a meant-to-be-prestigious
> international university; I know quite a few Indian whiz kids who have
> been totally excluded from careers in the Humanities because they were
> classified as "right-wing", in India merely a code for "non-suicidally
> Hindu". I don't indulge in victimhood talk, her own SJW crowd is so
> much better at it; but it is simply a verifiable fact that I have been
> excluded or disinvited numerous times. The exclusion that she bitterly
> complains about for having lived through it once, I have experienced
> many times. And that is not a "right-wing tactic", a figment of her
> own conspiratorial worldview, but a naked fact. Most of us here are
> scholars, for whom facts are sacred. Are you really one of us,
> Patricia?
> Yes, I have been quoted by Anders Breivik. Well actually, no, I
> haven't. His Manifesto reproduces many articles by other people, and
> in two of those, I am being quoted. This looks like a shrill drama for
> pedestrians who only read headlines, but scholars get to read the
> whole story. I am the only person with the honour of figuring in the
> Manifesto both in a positive and a negative role. Negatively, the
> quoted pseudonymous author Fjordman takes me to task for arguing that
> the Muslim demographic explosion in Europe need not be a cause for
> worry. (Disagree with me, Patricia?) Positively, Breivik builds his
> case against Islam by citing numerous testimonies about difficult
> episodes in Islamic history, and this includes my own paper about the
> Islamic renaming of the Hindu Koh (Hindu mountain) as Hindu Kush
> (Hindu Slaughter). I have since then not been given any reason by
> anyone to change anything in my paper
> (https://koenraadelst.blogspot.com/2010/10/meaning-of-hindu-kush.html).
> I stand by that paper, which restates verifiable facts, and these do
> not change just because Breivik joins the many others who accept them.
> Indeed, many unquestioned authorities in the field are quoted by him.
> Briefly, Breivik had enough brains to figure out an issue and select
> the best sources about it (such as Winston Churchill, the crucial
> anti-Nazi), but he was a misguided fanatic, an illuminatus who thought
> he knew it all better than even the political parties that shared his
> concerns, and which he had given up on since for him, only armed
> struggle was the answer. We may compare him to Abimael Guzman, the
> Peruvian philosophy professor who founded the terrorist group Sendero
> Luminoso and killed many more people. My general view on Breivik can
> be read here: https://koenraadelst.blogspot.com/2011/07/if-only-anders-beirvik-had-read.html.
> About Patricia Geller I don't know much, but I know Robert Spencer
> personally, and he is an impeccable scholar who has beaten his critics
> in debate many times. If any of you thinks you know his subject better
> than he himself, I trust he is ready for an open debate. But what he
> says and how good he says it, is not the point here. Freedom of speech
> is universal, it is not limited to only those you agree with. Well,
> for their free expression, they have been targeted by terrorists.
> Fortunately, they had hired security (which the FBI wasn't ready to
> provide), who succeeded in eliminating the attackers, though one guard
> got "victimized" himself. That was of course done by the terrorists,
> not by Geller & Spencer, who get the blame here. The terrorists, by
> contrast, are shielded here by remaining unmentioned. There was talk
> here about the neologism "Urban Naxal", which connects Left-wing
> intellectuals with the terrorists they defend or make a common
> political cause with. Well, here you get a ready-made example: the
> terrorists try to kill scholars for their criticism of a religion
> (which Karl Marx considered the beginning of all criticism), and a
> Leftist professor seconds them with slander of and a false insinuation
> against the victims. Reread your own words, Patricia: you are so eager
> to rage against anyone you can associate with me that you actually
> attack the victims of a terrorist attack.
> No, I do not reduce everything to free speech issues. I have written
> on numerous other topics, and fortunately for me, I don't normally
> busy myself with answering SJW polemics. But here we happen to be
> dealing with real free speech issues, including one that Patricia
> brought up. When scholars, whether we like them or not, are attacked
> by terrorists, it is our duty to stand with the targeted scholars, not
> with the terrorists. And free speech is important: far from being a
> "Right-wing tactic", it is indispensable for liberty and democracy. I
> hope you all care about those.
> Conclusion. Just after the listmaster tried to settle this commotion
> peacefully but in a pro-Patricia sense, she herself badly blew it.
> Though visibly lacking in the maturity needed for teaching on an
> august subject like yoga (which need not be a big deal at her age),
> Patricia Sauthoff has the capacity to learn, like most of us. She has
> just been caught in the act of slander against a fellow list member,
> but she can take it as a learning moment and move on. I believe in
> learning, e.g. in believers outgrowing a silly religious doctrine, and
> I will not make an exception for the deluded followers of the SJW
> doctrine. I just received a crash course in how morbid and hateful it
> can be, and am now eager to set my mind on more positive things.
> Apologies for talking so much about myself, but I was attacked on so
> many points, and since no one here is going to speak up for me, I had
> to do it myself.
> Best regards,
> Dr. Koenraad Elst
> On Sat, Jun 29, 2019 at 9:44 PM Patricia Sauthoff via INDOLOGY
> <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> >
> > For those who are unaware of the tactics adopted by the far-right, you may enjoy reading this short article http://blogs.law.columbia.edu/praxis1313/jeff-stein-strategic-speech-and-alt-right-metapolitics/, You'll see that Dr. Elst utilizes them all, from trolling and gaslighting, to victimization, to turning everything into a free speech issue.
> >
> > Make no mistake, there is nothing unintentional about this and it is a performance for those lurkers who silently agree. It is meant to bait those who do not agree into "debate" in order to try to turn their words around against them, as Elst attempted to do in his response to me.
> >
> > In his earlier email, Elst presents Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer as subjects who have had their free speech trampled. This is a dog whistle. Geller and Spencer are opportunistic far-right anti-Muslim activists. Spencer was banned from the UK in 2013 due to his extremism. A security guard was shot at a stunt in Texas in which they offered a $10K prize to the person who drew the "best" cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed.
> >
> > These writers, Elst, and many other far-right writers were cited for their anti-Islamic views in the manifesto written by the Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevik. If that name isn't familiar, perhaps you'll remember the 2011 Oslo bombing and subsequent mass shooting of teenagers on an island by a "lone wolf" who killed 77 people in total. Brevik's manifesto is now canon among the violent far-right as it lays out tactics and strategies for online harassment and real-world terrorism. The Austrailian-born Christchurch shooter made reference to it as inspiration in his own manifesto.
> >
> > To me, the most worrying tactic of the online far-right is its penchant for making lists of "leftists" in order to target them. Recently an online publication ran an article with a list of journalists they believed to be connected to the anti-fascist movement. The article "was circulated approvingly on white supremacist forum Stormfront the day after its publication; a day later, a YouTube user uploaded a video of imagery of mass shooters intercut with images of the reporters mentioned by Lenihan under the heading “Sunset the Media.”"
> >
> > Scary stuff. Turns out words on the internet aren't just words afterall. I worry that lurkers on this email listserv may build their own list of targets, i.e., some of us.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On Sat, Jun 29, 2019 at 10:17 AM Koenraad Elst via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> >>
> >> Dear Dominik,
> >>
> >> Thanks for being so openly partisan and yet not even threatening to
> >> exclude me, let alone simply censor me. In a better world this ought
> >> to be a matter of course rather than a reason for thanks, but is has
> >> become so rare that it deserves special mention.
> >>
> >> Your point is well taken: make expressions of kindness, human
> >> fellow-feeling etc. public. Only, I have received several messages of
> >> support off-list from members who insist on keeping them off-list.
> >> They claim to have reasons to believe that their social standing and
> >> career chances would suffer otherwise. No use telling them that Good
> >> Guys would never countenance such an intolerant scenario. Public
> >> expressions of support must be an SJW privilege.
> >>
> >> As for your notion of "majority", in India so problematic but on this
> >> list a source of warm feelings of kindness etc., I dare say from
> >> experience that it is not very consequential. In 1990 when I was
> >> hatefully attacked by big experts at the Ramayana Conference in my
> >> hometown Leuven, only for my politely formulated viewpoint that there
> >> had indeed been a temple at the contentious site in Ayodhya, those who
> >> expressed sympathy with me (in private) were in a minority. Yet, the
> >> big experts were resoundingly wrong while I went on to being proven
> >> right: as the 2003 excavations superfluously proved once more, of
> >> course there had been a temple there. And when the UP High Court
> >> acknowledged as much in autumn 2010, at the next AAA annual conference
> >> I was actually congratulated by two American professors. That felt
> >> quite good. The price for staying within the safe and warm majority is
> >> that you'll never get to feel this.
> >>
> >> When Copernicus launched the heliocentric worldview, he was in a
> >> minority of one. Overnight, his theory made all the works containing
> >> references to the geocentric framework obsolete, and their authors
> >> resented him. The support he enjoyed was sparse, the opposition
> >> abundant; but none of that mattered to the next generation, that found
> >> he had been right. And today, the "majority" opinion of those days is
> >> only a historical curiosity. So, enjoy your majority while it lasts.
> >>
> >> Now I don't want to compare myself to Copernicus, if only because his
> >> insight was highly original whereas I only restated what had been a
> >> matter of consensus until a few years earlier. As was clear in a trial
> >> ca. 1885, all parties concerned agreed that a temple had forcibly been
> >> replaced with a mosque, though the local Muslims and the British judge
> >> in his verdict thought that no remedy for that should be tried at this
> >> late hour.  That could have remained the position of the anti-temple
> >> camp. Alas, the "eminent historians" in the late 1980s started
> >> pleading that the temple had never existed and was only a "Hindutva
> >> concoction". They never gave evidence for this break with the
> >> consensus, but the Congress politicians felt intimidated enough to
> >> abandon their earlier attempts for a peaceful settlement giving the
> >> site to the Hindus, leaving the issue to the BJP. More important for
> >> this forum, and far stranger, is that most Western experts started
> >> speaking out against the existence of the temple at the mere say-so of
> >> their "eminent" colleagues. A Dutch scholar who had in tempore non
> >> suspecto adduced more indications for the temple in his own research,
> >> and got retro-actively attacked for this (what had suddenly become a)
> >> deviation from the party-line, even hurried to fall in line and
> >> condemn the temple tradition. But years later, when called to the
> >> witness stand at the UP High Court to present the fabled evidence that
> >> had somehow swayed politicians and Indologists alike, the eminent
> >> historians imploded one after another, an embarrassing coda on which
> >> the lid has carefully been kept (except in
> >> http://indiafacts.org/definitive-ayodhya-chronicle/).
> >>
> >> Even more strangely, many supposedly dispassionate scholars got quite
> >> emotionally involved in this borrowed anti-temple position. This
> >> partly followed from their prior assumption that the pro-temple party
> >> (though containing Congress politicians like Gulzarilal Nanda, Buta
> >> Singh and PM Rajiv Gandhi, who merely wanted a reasonable solution,
> >> see https://www.academia.edu/14614579/The_Three_Ayodhya_Debates) were
> >> the bad guys, and how could these ever be right? There is nothing
> >> wrong with hate if it is against the bad guys, right? So, many of the
> >> attacks I underwent in those days had a particularly self-righteous
> >> and mean quality. Better to be wrong with the eminences than to be
> >> right with the allegedly Hindutva crowd.
> >>
> >> But that was then and this is now. I trust we have learned from
> >> episodes like that one. Hence, no doubt, the practice of real
> >> toleration in free speech on this forum.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Kind regards,
> >>
> >>
> >> Koenraad Elst
> >>
> >> On Sat, Jun 29, 2019 at 4:58 AM Dominik Wujastyk via INDOLOGY
> >> <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> >> >
> >> > Dear colleagues,
> >> >
> >> > When these discussions arise that have a political dimension, and you feel moved to write to one of the good guys with a message of support, please think about sending it publicly.  Messages of support are a very good thing, public or private.  Anything is better than nothing.  But sending such a message publicly can greatly magnify the effectiveness of the support for the individual.  It also sends a message to everyone, on this list and beyond, that there is a ground-swell of kindness, of human fellow-feeling, positivity and watchfulness amongst the majority of our community.  We care about each other and will support each other when attacked.
> >> >
> >> > Best wishes,
> >> > Dominik
> >> >
> >> >
> >> > --
> >> > Professor Dominik Wujastyk,
> >> > Singhmar Chair in Classical Indian Society and Polity,
> >> > Department of History and Classics,
> >> > University of Alberta, Canada.
> >> > South Asia at the U of A: sas.ualberta.ca
> >> >
> >> > _______________________________________________
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> >>
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> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Patricia Sauthoff
> > Postdoctoral Fellow
> > AyurYog.org
> > Department of History and Classics
> > University of Alberta
> > Edmonton, Canada
> > _______________________________________________
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