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Veg*n Atheist/Agnostic/Freethinkers Chat

Starting this since it came up in another thread that we'd like to chat. (Even if it's just me and JessaCita professing our love for Julia Sweeny!;))

I probably don't have to say this because of how cool everyone on VegWeb is but...
Let's please not get into heavy debate in this thread.

Let's just chat about veg*n Atheist/Agnostic/Freethinkers issues...
For example, books that we're reading or would like to recommend, how we/if we celebrate holidays etc. that kind of thing. Or whatever else takes your fancy.  :D

I'm going to have to say that I think we will have to disagree and_it_spoke.

Had you fought a war against a particular race, then changed your mind and thought it was wrong, you would think that you would publicly criticized your own actions.

Some of his quotes about blacks are extremely vial. (I don't want to post them, but I'm sure anyone could find them on the web if they would like.) I don't think it is unrealistic to expect a public acknowledgement and the statements/actions to be recanted- no matter what year.

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I personally never understood what all the hoopla was about Ghandi. I don't like his philosophy, I don't like his methods. I own a gun and will use it to defend myself, my family, and my friends. There is no way I'd ever passively stand by and allow people to do violence against others without defending them. I will NOT instigate violence, but I will not stand by idly and allow someone to beat me up.

I also think his racist comments are a product of some ... odd ideas he had. His philosophy had too much self-sacrifice in it for my taste. It was equality for all ... until it was time to sacrifice yourself for a movement. 

Truth is, I think he happened to be born in the right place, at the right time. Eventually Britain would have pulled out of India - the internal politics of Britain were progressively worse, and they were stretching themselves too thin. Ghandi just made it happen a little faster. I doubt his methods would have worked had he been born in another place, in another time. Some regimes simply don't care if they have to bulldoze through millions of pacifists. Hitler wouldn't have been stopped, for instance, by even millions passively standing by and refusing to fight. Heck, it would have made it easier for him!

However, he did say some cool quotes that look good on bumper stickers, i.e. "be the change you want to be." And I definitely understand why others think he is a great man. I simply can't share that view as my philosophy and Ghandi's are worlds apart.

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If the man moved on from that period in time, and just left it there, where is the harm?

The harm is in the continued tacit support for the racist views from a man idolized by millions, probably at least a billion.  The harm is that a lot of people can come away thinking that Gandhi, even late in life, was anti-black.  For many people, that is legitimation for anti-black views.  This is different from you and your diet, because I presume that nobody looks to you for dietary guidance who does not know that you have abandoned meat.

And again, even lacking a public apology, if he gave up his racist views there will be evidence to support that.  For someone whose life is as well-documented as Gandhi's, it would be extraordinarily unusual if no such evidence survived.

Additionally, there were no claims at the time that these statements were racist. These are recent assertions, from what I can tell. How can someone apologize for something they may not be aware of doing?

I don't understand what you're saying here.  Can you elaborate?

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If the man moved on from that period in time, and just left it there, where is the harm?

The harm is in the continued tacit support for the racist views from a man idolized by millions, probably at least a billion.  The harm is that a lot of people can come away thinking that Gandhi, even late in life, was anti-black.  For many people, that is legitimation for anti-black views.  This is different from you and your diet, because I presume that nobody looks to you for dietary guidance who does not know that you have abandoned meat.

And again, even lacking a public apology, if he gave up his racist views there will be evidence to support that.  For someone whose life is as well-documented as Gandhi's, it would be extraordinarily unusual if no such evidence survived.

Additionally, there were no claims at the time that these statements were racist. These are recent assertions, from what I can tell. How can someone apologize for something they may not be aware of doing?

I don't understand what you're saying here.  Can you elaborate?

Very quickly (stupid work!), I'm saying that Gandhi, like anyone was a product of his times. In retrospect, his views are racist. Not considered so at the time. That doesn't make his statements good or right, but they can make sense in periodic and societal context.

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If the man moved on from that period in time, and just left it there, where is the harm?

The harm is in the continued tacit support for the racist views from a man idolized by millions, probably at least a billion.  The harm is that a lot of people can come away thinking that Gandhi, even late in life, was anti-black.  For many people, that is legitimation for anti-black views.  This is different from you and your diet, because I presume that nobody looks to you for dietary guidance who does not know that you have abandoned meat.

And again, even lacking a public apology, if he gave up his racist views there will be evidence to support that.  For someone whose life is as well-documented as Gandhi's, it would be extraordinarily unusual if no such evidence survived.

Additionally, there were no claims at the time that these statements were racist. These are recent assertions, from what I can tell. How can someone apologize for something they may not be aware of doing?

I don't understand what you're saying here.  Can you elaborate?

Very quickly (stupid work!), I'm saying that Gandhi, like anyone was a product of his times. In retrospect, his views are racist. Not considered so at the time. That doesn't make his statements good or right, but they can make sense in periodic and societal context.

That sounds a lot to me like the rhetoric that people use to ignore when someone was a slaveowner, or the genocides of Columbus.  That reasoning doesn't take me any distance at all.  Everyone currently doing harm today is a product of our times.  That doesn't make it okay.  That doesn't make it excusable.  There were people in Gandhi's time (not that long ago, you know) who knew better, so even if that were an excuse, it's not a very good one at all.

Not considered racist at the time?  Not considered racist by whom?  By most Indians?  By most white people?  I can tell you with certainty that there sure were a HELL of a lot of people who did know that the policies of South Africa and India were racist and wrong.  The blacks in Gandhi's society oppressed by these policies knew they were racist.  And they weren't alone.  (In fact, there were clearly enough such people that the supporters of the racist views felt it necessary to demonstrate and take political action in support of those policies.)  So unless we're saying it's okay to believe whatever the majority believes -- and God save us if we say that -- then this is to me no excuse at all.

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If the man moved on from that period in time, and just left it there, where is the harm?

The harm is in the continued tacit support for the racist views from a man idolized by millions, probably at least a billion.  The harm is that a lot of people can come away thinking that Gandhi, even late in life, was anti-black.  For many people, that is legitimation for anti-black views.  This is different from you and your diet, because I presume that nobody looks to you for dietary guidance who does not know that you have abandoned meat.

And again, even lacking a public apology, if he gave up his racist views there will be evidence to support that.  For someone whose life is as well-documented as Gandhi's, it would be extraordinarily unusual if no such evidence survived.

Additionally, there were no claims at the time that these statements were racist. These are recent assertions, from what I can tell. How can someone apologize for something they may not be aware of doing?

I don't understand what you're saying here.  Can you elaborate?

Very quickly (stupid work!), I'm saying that Gandhi, like anyone was a product of his times. In retrospect, his views are racist. Not considered so at the time. That doesn't make his statements good or right, but they can make sense in periodic and societal context.

That sounds a lot to me like the rhetoric that people use to ignore when someone was a slaveowner, or the genocides of Columbus.  That reasoning doesn't take me any distance at all.  Everyone currently doing harm today is a product of our times.  That doesn't make it okay.  That doesn't make it excusable.  There were people in Gandhi's time (not that long ago, you know) who knew better, so even if that were an excuse, it's not a very good one at all.

Not considered racist at the time?  Not considered racist by whom?  By most Indians?  By most white people?  I can tell you with certainty that there sure were a HELL of a lot of people who did know that the policies of South Africa and India were racist and wrong.  The blacks in Gandhi's society oppressed by these policies knew they were racist.  And they weren't alone.  (In fact, there were clearly enough such people that the supporters of the racist views felt it necessary to demonstrate and take political action in support of those policies.)  So unless we're saying it's okay to believe whatever the majority believes -- and God save us if we say that -- then this is to me no excuse at all.

It's not making excuses, it's context. Don't forget, Gandhi went on hunger strike for the right of Black "untouchables" to be allowed into temples... it's all very contradictory.

To judge Gandhi simply on his south African period is silly. Just as to look at his life solely  post South Africa is incomplete. Taken on the whole, Ganhi had good and important things to say.

You know, I'm learning about this situationas I'm agueing it - which is probably not the best way to do. But as a messenger for peace and understanding Gandhi had a powerful voice. The message should not be marginalized because of the contradictions of the man, I guess is what I want to say here.

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You know, I'm learning about this situationas I'm agueing it - which is probably not the best way to do. But as a messenger for peace and understanding Gandhi had a powerful voice. The message should not be marginalized because of the contradictions of the man, I guess is what I want to say here.

I agree, but I think we can continue to derive worth from Gandhi's message without acting as though it's ever okay for anyone, in any society, to support the oppression of human beings.  That's wrong, it's always wrong, and Gandhi was wrong for doing it.  And if he never turned away from those views, then he does not deserve to be idolized.  He would not, in that case, be a good guide to how a human being should be -- and that's EXACTLY what a lot of people look to Gandhi for.  Respecting what's good about his message doesn't mean taking him as such a moral guide, nor does it mean we should pretend that it doesn't stain his character to have been a racist.  It does.  It makes him much less than he otherwise would have been.

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Quote:
I agree, but I think we can continue to derive worth from Gandhi's message without acting as though it's ever okay for anyone, in any society, to support the oppression of human beings.  That's wrong, it's always wrong, and Gandhi was wrong for doing it.

However, we don't know Gandhi's final stance. And there's the trouble.

From there we just all have to opine. I've stated mine - his actions show a change of course. Others need more concrete proof. That's cool, too.

Let's not get too crazy and poison the well when it comes to pacifism, non-violence and truth seeking.

I smell a group hug coming on.

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Just wanted to add to this thread (if no one saw it already): Yvette Ehler was kind enough to take me up on my suggestion of changing "Faith" in the member profiles to "Religious Views." I felt that this is far more neutral, especially given that Agnosticism/Atheism are defined by a LACK of faith, and shouldn't therefore fall under the headline of something that they aren't. Some people may read it the wrong way and think that it means "My religion is Agnosticism/Atheism", but for these people it's intended to be read as "My views toward religion are atheistic" etc.

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