Open Letter from Chicago Tour Coordinator to EHSC 10/18/09
An Open Letter to the Ethical Humanist Society.
In July, 2009, Sunsara Taylor was formally invited to speak at a November 1, Sunday platform by the Ethical Humanist Society of Greater Chicago (EHS). In spite of an unprincipled attempt this past week by some members of the program committee to prevent her from speaking, Sunsara is still planning to honor this already publicized, long-standing commitment to speak at EHS on the topic of “Morality Without Gods.” This is a letter to urge members of the Society and the general public to make known their intention to welcome her as originally planned on November 1st and to reject any attempt to suppress her speech.
The full description of Sunsara Taylor’s planned presentation is in the box [below].
As announced in the October issue of Chicago Ethical Humanist, Ms Taylor will lead a workshop
on “Women's Liberation & The Emancipation of Humanity” on Saturday, Oct 31, at 2 pm, and speak
on “Morality without Gods” at 10:30 am, Sunday, Nov. 1. Both events are free and open to the public
at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago, 7574 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie, IL.
As can be seen in the comments from noted people who are familiar with her work, Sunsara Taylor is an engaged, passionate, and well-reasoned speaker. See separate compilation of statements from Howard Zinn, Father Bob Bossie, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, Cindy Sheehan, atheist Hemant Mehta, Professor Peter Phillips of Project Censored, and more. (Most of these were sent specifically in response to word that some in EHS were trying to cancel her speaking engagement).
Ms. Taylor has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, and countless radio programs. She’s spoken at over 50 campuses across the country, her writing has been published on Truthdig.com, Truthout.org, Counter Punch, and others.
To rescind this invitation now would mean EHS is contributing in a shameful way, even if inadvertently, to the new anti-communist, McCarthy-ist mind set and chill rippling through society today.
The “Who We Are - What We Value” mission statement of the EHS states, “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 intellectual and philosophical freedom is being promoted if a chilling atmosphere is allowed to take hold in centers like EHS by giving in to attempts to censor voices that challenge dominant narratives and propose an ethics grounded in striving for a better world? The attempt to suppress Ms. Taylor is antithetical to the longstanding reputation of the EHS as a center of inclusion and critical thinking.
Sunsara always encourages the toughest questions and disagreements from their most articulate and ardent advocates. Those who disagree strongly with her views are welcome to come and raise them in open discussion.
Instead of this open approach, we have witnessed an attempt to outright cancel her talk.
This past week the co-chair of the program committee, Prof. Anil Kashyap, moved to try to prevent Sunsara from speaking by misstating her views and playing on unwarranted fears. In his objections to Sunsara speaking, he says in an e-mail, “we specifically stipulated that it [her talk] was NOT supposed to focus on the revolutionary communism.” The actual focus of Sunsara’s talk is as described: these times of moral crisis and how to counter the resurgence of virulent, fundamentalist religions with secular morality. Of course it is informed by her perspective as a communist with her vision of a viable, emancipatory society. Come with an open mind and you may be pleasantly surprised and intrigued.
Prof. Kashyap took further exception to the synopsis of her talk. In an email he wrote, “A talk that claims morality is inconsistent with a global economy is nonsense. The first order fact that cannot be ignored is that the greatest anti-poverty program in history is the growth in China over the last 30 years. That was only possible because of globalism. That transformation has lots of problems, but more starving and desperate people have been lifted up faster than ever in human history.”
As a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a consultant to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Prof. Kashyap has strongly-held views on these issues that are at odds with those of the speaker. But why not raise them in open discussion with Sunsara, rather than make this extraordinary effort to stop a long-scheduled public speech at the last minute?
We urge you to:
* Contact the EHS to let them know you plan to attend the November 1 program to hear Sunsara speak. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 847-677-3334.
Please send a copy or write to email@example.com
* Spread the word, and bring your friends on November 1st to the Ethical Human Society.
You will not be disappointed.
Sue B. Co-coordinator of Sunsara Taylor’s tour in Chicago for Away with All Gods
Sunsara Taylor presentation: “Morality without Gods”
We live in a time of moral crises. These crises are NOT, as the Christian fascists like to constantly 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 trans-national 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. Here in the U.S.: the loss of millions of stable middle class jobs, an influx of immigrants from around the
world, the entering of women into the work force in the last generation, and the development of a violent and bigoted movement with Christian fundamentalism woven into its core.
Why have these changes led to a resurgence of a reactionary fundamentalist religion here and all over the world?
Sunsara has traveled the country and reported on the rise of Christian fascism. She has also written and spoken about the ways that U.S. imperialist wars and aggression and reactionary Islamic fundamentalism have reinforced each other, even while opposing each other. In this work she has drawn on the framework and themes developed by Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, including in his pathbreaking book, Away with All Gods!
Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World.
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.