The New Norm of Intolerance

Why Review

Regarding the many public comments deriding the authors of Used to be UU and other books, we at the Fifth Principle Project have pursued a policy of responding with the full thunder of our silence. We have discovered that such commentators are speaking to their own tribe and have no genuine intention of engaging in thoughtful debate.

However, with Rev. Dennis McCarty’s recent publication of the Gadfly Report, Examining Unitarian Universalism’s Reactionary Fringe, we noticed a shift from the shouting of polemics on the “wrong headedness” of authors to a clearly intentional campaign to denigrate the personal character of fellow UUs.

Unitarian Universalism is built upon a tradition of tolerance of differing ideas. We don’t have to think alike to love alike. The First Principle, the inherent worth and dignity of every person, is a social contract that calls on UUs to seek their better angels. The UUA Board’s 2020 charge to the Article II Study Commission offered that “one core theological value, shared widely among UUs is love.”

There were many denominational guardrails and norms available to Rev. McCarty before he typed out the first sentence of his book.

All UUs should be concerned with this shift in tactics. Rev. McCarty is a UU minister. As a minister, he has the power to influence as well as the responsibility to exhibit the highest level of fidelity to shared UU values of fairness and love to all.

Prior to publishing his book, Rev. McCarty contacted several authors and asked if we had any concerns about his forthcoming book. We did. We collectively responded, expressing our concern that the book’s title diminished the integrity of fellow UUs (i.e., the authors) and was considered harmful. We implored him to reconsider the title of his book. Our request was not honored.

In a Nutshell

Upon reading the final text, disparaging fellow UUs was actually the book’s intent. It is replete with a seemingly unrelenting stream of ad hominem attacks.  Evidently, all who disagree with Rev. McCarty are wrong. Such people are then branded as right-wing racist MAGA types, Nazis, or transphobic who seek to maintain and advance white supremacy culture. Merely offering a reasoned appeal to preserve the legacy of liberal religion as expressed in our Principles and Sources is sufficient evidence to be declared as harboring white supremacist thinking.

In a nutshell, this is his book.

The Gadfly Report is an unfortunate and disturbingly anger-driven mischaracterization of anyone who disagrees with Rev. McCarty. When not engaged in ad hominem attacks, McCarty relies on conventions such as guilt by association, self-affirming assertions, sin by omission, charges of gaslighting, pseudo-intellectualism, and reliance on out-of-context quotation fragments.

One Amazon book review starts with, “For someone who flaunts his rarified erudition, McCarty spends 450 pages thumbing his nose at reality. Having read all the books and blogs he thinks he is skewering; I can say he fails miserably.” The comment concludes, “Stick to fiction, Denny, because facts seem to confuse you.”

Ad Hominem Attacks

It is difficult to fully communicate the onslaught of ad hominem attacks in the Gadfly Report. As the co-authors of Used to be UU, we know the enormous personal energy required to write a book. You are constantly writing chapters in your head, editing, reviewing, deleting, and sorting through the whole effort to produce a readable and fair rendering of your thoughts. We simply cannot imagine the amount of anger that roiled about in McCarty’s head to produce the Gadfly Report.

Another Amazon reviewer captured this malevolent spirit.

McCarty did not help the UU religion by publishing this book. In fact, he wrote a book about a radical right-wing within the faith he calls gadflies that aren’t right wing.” The review continued, “Todd seems like a person to be pitied. He (McCarty) says Eklof can’t think clearly, is disorganized, dishonest, and can’t understand and synthesize facts.”

Indeed, hardly a page is turned that does not angrily return to Rev. Eklof. For McCarty, Rev. Eklof is merely a member of an identity group.  A cis-white male lying to himself and to the world about his true views. McCarty writes.

Given Eklof’s constant deceptions and omissions, it should be no surprise that he deceives himself, as well, on his own participation in white supremacy culture. So do his followers. (p75)

McCarty’s barrage of ad-hominem assertions directed at Rev. Eklof is also extended to his supporters. They are all the same, with one goal, to protect their privileges in a racialized society and to oppress minorities.

Guilt by Association

Nazis and Segregationists

A recurring convention of the book is guilt by association. That is, Rev. McCarty attempts to establish a connection between his targeted authors and people or groups that he regards as racist enemies of UUism. This linkage is typically made by “discovering” shared words or phraseology between right-wing conservatives and “his gadflies.”

Below is one example of McCarty’s linkages based on a single word. The target is again Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof, though no author is spared from this guilt by association charge.

In this example, McCarty links Eklof to Nazis and segregationists based on one word, “mongrelization,” a term typically used in a derogatory way to mean the intermixing of race or ethnicity.

He cites an Eklof sermon, “Misappropriation or Mongrelization? Why I Choose the Latter,  delivered March 12, 2023. McCarty writes.

The sermon’s title … is also an example of Eklof’s penchant for careless, even inflammatory language. The slur, “mongrelization,” is most clearly associated with Nazi Germany and the mid-twentieth-century American segregationists. But for Eklof, such language is fairly standard. (p28)

Generally, McCarty’s attempts at guilt by association are tenuous at best. In this case, it is so wildly concocted that it raises reasonable conjecture that McCarty did not read beyond the sermon’s title.

The sermon expresses a hopeful message about the value and obtainability of diversity.

Segregation, as we know, leads to cruel and unjust societies that too often undergo periods of violence and unrest. The solution to such cruelty, injustice, and unrest is its opposite, integration—mixing, stirring the melting pot. Growing up in one of America’s first integrated communities, in which its black and white children, along with Hispanic, Chicano, Filipino, Samoan, Asian, and many others lived in the same neighborhoods and went to the same schools, I learned firsthand how well integration works.

To emphasize his point on integration, Rev. Eklof employed the term “mongrelization” precisely the way Salman Rushdie did in The Satanic Verses in a positive, liberating, and welcoming fashion.

Those who oppose the novel most vociferously today are of the opinion that intermingling with a different culture will inevitably weaken and ruin their own. I am of the opposite that comes with new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in mongrelization and fears the absolutism of the Pure.

Call-out Culture

McCarty’s unpacking of Anne Schneider’s A Self-Confessed White Supremacy Culture: The Emergence of an Illiberal Left in Unitarian Universalism makes a similar word association. McCarty points out that Schneider criticizes call-out culture, as do the right-wing pundit Tucker Carlson and the white nationalist Richard Spencer. (p201) Ergo, they must be of the same feather and flock. McCarty writes.

A careful and unbiased reader (as McCarty declares himself), however, will quickly perceive that “democracy” and “liberalism” are not the real thrust of either the Fifth Principle Project or A Self-Confessed White Supremacy Culture. (p150)

Per McCarty, when “his gadflies” promote democracy and liberalism, they are really promoting fear. He writes (bold added).

Illiberal” and “White Supremacy Culture” are scare terms used by right wing politicians who try to provoke panic … If one follows closely enough, in fact, one picks up much right-wing rhetoric in Gadfly discourse, both on social media and their publications. A good deal of it could have been lifted right out of Fox News, or a speech by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. (p150)

His analysis is stretched. However, he continued (bold added).

One truly strange aberration of Gadfly rhetoric is their use of conservative talking points … In numerous encounters with Gadflies, they unanimously ignore the fact that such terms as “woke,” “WSC,” and “CRT,” which they constantly bandy about, are go-to MAGA, and also White Nationalist, talking points. (p151)

We have another unexplained disconnect in McCarty’s unpacking. While McCarty claims that “his gadflies” ignore the implication of terms such as woke, WSC, etc., Schneider’s book is a graduate-level examination of white supremacy culture. Again, there is the question did McCarty read the book?

Jedi Mind Tricks

When Rev. McCarty’s word-search scholarship fails to link an author to historic evildoers, he simply resorts to making stuff up. If an author did not say or write anything to base an associative linkage, then McCarty contends they were thinking it.

So I think what I see, in Eklof, is a straight, Euro-American male, who lacks self-awareness and has far more patriarchal and white supremacist notions in his subconscious than he realizes or will ever admit. (p96)

Speculating on someone’s subconscious is a weak substitute for actual research but opens a whole new vista for conveniently fabricating content.

Self-affirming Assertions

McCarty concedes that the authors of Used to be UU do not believe in violence, have no intention of oppressing anyone, and are supportive of equality for marginalized people. They simply support a “different strategy” for achieving that equality.

This concession does not permeate the rest of the Gadfly Report. For his narrative to stand, McCarty advances extreme points of view of “his gadflies” through his self-affirming assertions.

Virtually without exception, as many times noted, Gadfly authors have, in fact, made excuses to reject all accounts of systemic racism, homo-and-transphobia, sexism, and ableism, no matter how many such accounts may accrue. This is a striking pattern. (p221). (McCarty italic)

Absolutism is also employed in McCarty’s assertions to affirm the pervasiveness of “his gadflies” societal indifference. We changed McCarty’s italics to bold for emphasis.

Without exception, Gadflies have, for years, refused to even acknowledge hundreds of personal accounts, by marginalized members, and how they have been treated within our Association.

Ignoring the experiences of the marginalized, is unethical and dishonest on its face—let alone condemning those who do listen. (p129)

He concludes, characteristically, with his own heroic self-affirming assertion.

The repeatedly stated Gadfly position is that I—and other ministers—should never have listened to marginalized voices at all. (p129) (McCarty italic)

McCarty omits that the authors never made or endorsed such statements.

Moving from Enemies to Friend

McCarty’s unpacking of Thandeka took an abrupt and disturbing pivot when he turned his attention to his one-time friend and mentor. His typical tirade against white gadflies is abandoned. Thandeka is a black female prominent theologian with a well-developed and respected body of thought. This unpacking is very personal.

The attack on Thandeka is rationalized since her paper, “Why Anti-Racism Will Fail,” is frequently cited by McCarty’s band of gadflies.

Why Anti-Racism Will Fail

Rev. Dr. Thandeka is a Unitarian Universalist theologian, journalist, and congregational consultant who leads the “We Love Beyond Belief” project. She was given the Xhosa name Thandeka, which means “beloved,” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1984.

In her paper, “Why Anti-Racism Will Fail,” she critiqued the anti-racism approach of Unitarian Universalism, stating it demonizes all white people as racists. Instead, she suggested that love and healing offer a more sustainable basis for anti-racism. Her paper referred to the anti-racism program, the Journey Toward Wholeness Path to Anti-Racism.

Thandeka’s learnings from the Journey Toward Wholeness Path to Anti-Racism was that it taught:

  • All whites in America are racists.
  • No blacks in America are racist. They’re prejudiced just like everybody else, but they lack the power of institutional resources to force other racial groups to submit to their will. Thus, they can’t be racist because racism in this conceptual scheme is defined as prejudice + power.
  • Whites must be shown that they are racists and confess their racism.

The problems she cited with this training were that:

  • It violates the first principle of our UU covenant together to actively affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
  • It made an erroneous assumption about the nature and structure of power in America.
  • It misinterprets actions resulting from feelings of shame and powerlessness as evidence of white racism.

The Unpacking of Thandeka

Commenting on his unpacking of Thandeka, McCarty wrote, “She will probably consider this chapter a personal attack.” The chapter reads more like betrayal.

History Together

There is something very unsettling in this chapter. Unlike the other authors covered in the Gadfly Report, McCarty and Thandeka have a shared history. McCarty was a student of Thandeka at Meadville-Lombard Theological School in 1999. Although Rev. McCarty expresses genuine appreciation for Thandeka’s tutelage, he states, “My relationship with Thandeka has long been a fraught one.” (p181).

McCarty offers an analysis that Thandeka lives with intense emotional pain from deep-seated, unresolved, and unacknowledged conflicts over violence and shame. His unpacking is then prosecuted less on the merits of her arguments and more on his interpretation of her mental fitness. “Genius can have stygian [dark] shadows,” he writes.

Illustrations

Below is a summarization of some of Rev. McCarty’s unpacking of his one-time mentor.

  • She holds “increasingly obsolete positions (on anti-racism) even as the scientific study of group dynamics and racial interaction continue to evolve.” (p180)
  • Thandeka has been “simplistic in her perception of the term ‘racism,’ interpreting it only as a pejorative, not as a social dynamic that needs to be studied.” (p180-181)
  • Thandeka once considered McCarty “a great guy,” “exemplary.” McCarty noted that his mentor shared that “she considers me less-than-stable, sometimes frightening, even dangerous.” (p183)
  • “I believe there is a projection going on: a childhood full of shame, not just from her parents, but also from her environment, resulting in an adulthood where she sees so much shame. And there is avoidance going on. For the few harrowing details she does provide, the violence and aggressiveness of her language certainly suggest that there are more harrowing details that she has not shared. (p196)
  • “What I believe we see is a brilliant mind responding, not to the evolving social science on racism, but to what that mind cannot bear to acknowledge in her own experience.” (p192) (McCarty Italic)
  • “I see anxiety manifesting itself, not just in her remarkable and wonderful work on her theology of affect, but also in what she cannot bring herself to comprehensively acknowledge: a lifetime of being Black—and ashamed—in a structurally racist, dominantly white—and shaming toward Black people—society.” (p196)

McCarty’s overall evaluation is that Thandeka is psychologically and emotionally unfit to make sound judgments regarding anti-racism. Hence, she is to be dismissed, and any references to her “Why Anti-Racism Will Fail” should equally be dismissed.

The Thank-you Note

Related to his questioning of Thandeka’s mental status, Rev. McCarty includes a personal story about how his writing a thank-you note to Thandeka got him into serious trouble at Meadville-Lombard. He admits that the note he wrote contained some of the violent imagery he claims Thandeka often used in her lectures.

I had undiagnosed Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder while I was in those pressure-cooker classes. One recurring feature of class was the violent imagery Thandeka herself repeatedly used. I was, I now realize, repeatedly “triggered.”

When some of that imagery came back to her in a communication—an attempted thank-you note, of all things—that I wrote her early one morning, I was called onto the carpet in the Dean’s office and threatened with serious discipline. She (the Dean) told me that a psychologist needed to evaluate me ‘to be sure I wasn’t going to do the same thing to a congregation.’ (p183)

We at the Fifth Principle Project are sympathetic to those who suffer from PTSD, complex or not. Naming one’s trauma is the first step toward healing.

Healing, however, still appears elusive. Nearly 25 years later, his unpacking lays the blame for his own behavior on Thandeka.

For me, it was an education that one should never write one’s professor a thank-you note at 5:00 in the morning, with only an hour’s sleep, having stayed up almost the entire night re-writing a paper. But at the same time every violent image, which she had found so unacceptable, had come out of her classes—voiced by herself. Thandeka refused to acknowledge any role, which her graphic imagery in class might have played, in combination with the intensity of her class itself. (p183 – 184)

Granted, I was exhausted and triggered when I had sent her that note. Had I taken a day to think it over, I would not have done it. But she did “do this to a congregation” with violent imagery. And she regularly did “this” to her class, as well.” And apparently still does. Without acknowledging, or perhaps even herself realizing, the effect it can have. (p 185)

McCarty also offered.

Where I am going with this is that, for all her intellectual brilliance in some ways, Thandeka’s vision is cloudy when it comes to her own suppressed feelings, or the expressed feelings of others. For all the psychological slant of her writing, and “Love Beyond Belief” program of workshops, I observed that she lived with real emotional pain—and also dislocation. (p 185)

I cannot evaluate her writing outside of that context. So while I found much to admire in her teaching, and even in her 1999 lecture on anti-racism, there were also elements where her subconscious psychic violence and willful myopia toward suffering also came out in important ways.  (p 185)

Where Was McCarty’s Editor?

Any book editor would have advised McCarty that his treatment of Thandeka was speculative, inappropriate, and maybe leaning into slander. Put aside an editor’s advice, simple decency would dictate that this unpacking should have been left on the editing room floor.

Learnings

The Gadfly Report demonstrates that no norms are left regarding personal attacks on fellow UUs within the denomination. Instead, we see the denomination’s identity politics honed to a new level. Anyone who stands for the defense of liberal religion is lumped together and denigrated as a class of gadflies. Sadly, McCarty’s new norm of denigration has metastasized into the body of UUism.

An Amazon review reads.

As a Unitarian Universalist minister trying to deal with a ‘Gadfly infestation’ in the congregation I serve, I have wished fervently for this book, and now here it is!

UUism was once a denomination of tolerance. Now it is a denomination seeking the eradication of its “infestation.”

All authors have the right to engage in debate, highlighting inconsistencies in arguments, pointing out the use of erroneous facts, or critiquing poorly formulated conclusions. None of that appears in the Gadfly Report. Instead, it is a collection of opinionated observations that weaken with repeated use.

We close by sending one of Rev. McCarty’s thoughts back to him.

Repeated accusations do not constitute reality, though. They merely constitute repetition. (p202).

 

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larry lunt
larry lunt
8 months ago

The goal of anti-racist training is to turn around the economic/social racial disparity in the U.S. That’s why the NEA wants to teach concepts of crt in schools and I assume that’s the goal of the UU 8th principle. The argument is that the “implicit” (subconscious) racial bias of white people is a significant cause of ongoing economic/social inequities in the U.S. But, there’s no evidence that the implicit racism of whites is a significant contributor to racial inequity in the U.S. The 8th principle simply assumes it’s true and points a guilty finger at all white people. I’m sure… Read more »

Pat Mohr
Pat Mohr
8 months ago

So McCarty considers everyone not caught up in the postmodern CRT-inspired, anti-Enlightenment vortex of UU anti-racism to be MAGA racists. What ever happened to that disdain for binary thinking? Do as I say, but not as I do?

As you noted, he apparently thinks ad hominem arguments are ok too… but isn’t that a violation of ministerial guidelines? Yet. I haven’t heard any UU leaders call him or Sarah Skochko down for their attacks. I suspect that the 2023 GA is not going to be filled with the “love” so advertised!

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago
Reply to  Pat Mohr

The book tells you what “love” at the center of UUism will really mean.

Steve
Steve
8 months ago

Two curious things about author McCarty.

On the Auburn UU Fellowship website, he posted (5/22/22) that his 2018 book, Reflections: on Time, Culture, and Spirits in America, “was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.”

Source: https://auuf.org/services/what-is-covenantal-theology-and-why-should-we-care/

There’s no mention of the alleged nomination on the book’s amazon page and I have found no verification elsewhere.

Additionally, his 2021 book, Clueless: My Education in White Supremacy, has disappeared. Unavailable. No new or used copies; no Kindle edition.

Seems like the two most vocal critics of UUAuthoritarianism have credibility issues.

Steve
Steve
8 months ago

Correction: the two most vocal PROPONENTS of UUAuthoritarianism (McCarty and Skochko) have credibility issues.

Barbara
Barbara
8 months ago

It’s an old trick.

Authors who nominate themselves call themselves nominees.

That’s dishonest:

“Work that has been submitted for Prize consideration but not chosen as either a nominated finalist or a winner is termed an entry or submission. No information on entrants is provided.

Since 1980, when we began to announce nominated finalists, we have used the term ‘nominee’ for entrants who became finalists. We discourage someone saying he or she was ‘nominated’ for a Pulitzer simply because an entry was sent to us.”

https://windbreakhouse.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/the-pulitzer-prize-whats-the-real-story/

Anna
Anna
8 months ago
Reply to  Barbara

Anyone can nominate themselves or anyone else for a Pulitzer Prize, so being a “nominee” indicates nothing. Columnist Jonah Goldberg caught flack exactly over this when he or his publisher said a book of his was a nominee.

There are two jury-picked Finalists for each Pulitzer Prize, so being the winner or a “Finalist” are the two genuine accolades.

Carol Reich
Carol Reich
8 months ago
Reply to  Barbara

Golly, I’m going to nominate myself for P P before it is too late. I recall early Gadfly days, posts from the east coast, Mel P, others that were well spoken challenging attacks on Gadfly questions and concerns. I thought then and I believe now with greater certainty, that D McC was judging, strident, narrow, very ego bound. He was firming up his followers support of his ego in early dialogues about the accusations and ‘new’ ly united. I walked away from the ‘brown shirt’ feel of omniscient and omnipresent. I left Christian dogma, hoping to carry good stories, golden… Read more »

Anna
Anna
8 months ago
Reply to  Carol Reich

Jonah Goldberg, Conservative Author, Drops Pulitzer Nominations Claim | HuffPost Latest News

Jonah Goldberg’s Fake Pulitzer Nomination Will Follow Him Forever – The Atlantic

The great irony is, if one were to use Rev. McCarty’s own “guilt by association” arguments, calling his book a “Pulitzer Prize nominee” puts him in league with a conservative Republican.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago
Reply to  Carol Reich

that the angry little boy in him is still offering weak tea to the masses.” Pithy and spot on. Go out to Amazon and you’ll find quite a few folk who love that weak tea. One, Steve Caldwell, has just posted here.

Joan Redding
Joan Redding
8 months ago

My beloved UU Church has become a cult. People are emotionally and verbally abusing other people who question and disagree with them. I believe a church should be a sanctuary where people are nurtured and loved.. I truly believe that every person has worth and dignity and ideally we need to treat ourselves and others with respect and kindness, Name calling changes nothing. I am also on the side of truth (facts) and common sense. There is no reason and rationality in most of the UU churches now, Free Speech is being disdained. The UU Church was at the front… Read more »

Chuck
Chuck
8 months ago
Reply to  Joan Redding

Joan. I had to reread your comments. It was like someone had forwarded comments I have made several times over the last few years. From my perspective you are right on. One side assumes ##ism is clearly binary, the other sees issues as a spectrum. To be human and have experiences means every individual will have preferences. Are preferences valid? Of course! Are some good and some bad? Of course! But it is much better to label them as, some are better than others. Showing dignity and respect includes acknowledging or validating someone else’s authenticity. Acknowledging someone’s authenticity does not… Read more »

Joan Redding
Joan Redding
8 months ago
Reply to  Chuck

Thank you for your comments, Chuck. What you said meant a lot to me, Joan.

Steve Caldwell
8 months ago

Here is the review that I posted after reading my Kindle copy: “Retired UU minister Dennis McCarty has just published an excellent history of the gadfly / gadfly-adjacent movements within Unitarian Universalism and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Dennis McCarty does an excellent job reporting factually about the 2017 Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) Fall Conference. Dennis describes how Todd Eklof inaccurately reported on the response of LREDA members and LREDA leadership to a very problematic presentation at the 2017 LREDA Fall Conference in his now discredited gadfly book. This book is a useful resource for anyone interested in this area… Read more »

larry lunt
larry lunt
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Caldwell

Does he defend the 8th principle and the churches support for BLM in the book?

Steve
Steve
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Caldwell

Todd Eklof’s prescient book, though imperfect as any, is anything but discredited. It resonates with about four books that followed it. It explains the downward spiral of the UUA.

By contrast, Dennis McCarty has discredited himself by fabricating Pulitzerian acclaim.

The UUA is poised to install and discredit a president via a ballot of one candidate — in defiance of the majority will of the 2021 General Assembly.

MUUAGA defies the democratic process yet again.

Tim Bartik
Tim Bartik
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Caldwell

Steve: Others in the comments have responded to the debate over what really happened at the 2017 LREDA Conference, and what Rev. Eklof said about it versus what Rev. McCarty said about it. However, I believe the broader issue is whether Rev. McCarty’s book, and its embrace by some UU ministers, is a useful contributor to UU reconciliation among various factions. At the end of Rev. McCarty’s introduction, the very last sentence, he asks that “we Unitarian Universalists…listen to one another’s stories, rather than defensively wrapping ourselves in our own.” I would have to say that by that standard, Rev.… Read more »

Tim Bartik
Tim Bartik
8 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

And I would add that contrary to some other comments made at this post — although I do not know whether these comments are serious — I do not think that Rev. McCarty, due to this book, should be subject to any sanction by the UUMA or the UUA. I think that free speech for ministers should be the way we all lean, even if we do not like that speech for any one of a number of reasons. Turnabout is not fair play. I do, however, think that publication of Rev. McCarty’s book in this form was ill-advised. The… Read more »

Steve Caldwell
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Caldwell

If Eklof wanted to talk with an eyewitness participant who attended the 2017 LREDA Fall Conference and get another perspective on what happened, he could have asked his own congregation’s professional religious educator about her experiences at the 2017 LREDA Fall Conference. She attended the 2017 LREDA Fall Conference and wrote a detailed blog article about it about 1 month after the conference. The Spokane religious educator’s report is pretty close to what the LREDA board leadership and others said about the problematic NVC guest speakers and the impact on the conference. Dennis used this first-hand report when writing about… Read more »

Ken Ing
Ken Ing
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Caldwell

Eklof did report talking to an eyewitness participant. It is puzzling how McCarty overlooked this. Even the LREDA acknowledged this additional source of Eklof’s. Here is what McCarty says in his book (page 24): Eklof spends several pages describing the episode. Significantly, though, he relied exclusively on interviews with the two presenters! Then on page 31 McCarty says: Nor did Eklof look beyond them [the 2 presenters] for more comprehensive information. McCarty repeatedly implies that Eklof is only using the testimony of the two presenters, so these are not just a casual comments of his. He never mentions the 3rd… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago
Reply to  Ken Ing

This would suggest that McCarty is doing precisely what he constantly accuses Eklof and all the so-called gadflies of, ignoring the counter-factuals in the material he uses. The answer to why he does this is provided by the one blanket accusation repeated again and again in every chapter but the one on Thandeka, that all the gadflies are MAGA types. Kudo’s to David Cycleback for establishing how absurd this charge is on its face. But it explains why McCarty is doing what he accuses everyone else of.

Miles R Fidelman
Miles R Fidelman
8 months ago

It occurs to me to note that the book is a gross violation of the UUMA code of conduct! Bet we won’t see McCarty get the treatment Eklof did.

Burton Brunson
Burton Brunson
8 months ago

A minor but significant point not already covered. The title “Rev.” indicates that a person who wears it, is to be revered. To use it in self-reference is clearly pompous. To use it in reference to another is to extend an endorsing compliment to that other. I wouldn’t award the title of Rev. to Mr. McCarty, simply on his having completed certain institutional requisites. Make him earn it. He is no more to be revered than anyone else. This attitude doesn’t affect the right of myself or anyone else to regard another person as revered. Regardless of their credential.

Steve
Steve
8 months ago

UUMA CODE OF CONDUCT Expectations of Conduct 3. When speaking to or about a colleague in any venue or media, public or private, I will do so respectfully. There are times when it is necessary in the service of the greater good to name a colleague’s problematic behavior, whether related to misconduct, malpractice or incompetence. In naming such behavior, I will speak honestly but not unkindly, and I will use descriptive rather than judgmental language. This means I will describe the behavior and its impact, and not engage in name-calling. I accept a proactive obligation to address behavior in violation… Read more »

Sasha Kwapinski
Sasha Kwapinski
8 months ago

I was attracted to the UUA, some decades ago, with the understanding that (1) it was a “creedless religion,” (2) believing in “salvation by character;” (3) that we are all born in a state of innocence — not subject to any inherrent “Original Sin,” and (4) affirming the responsible search for truth. I later left the UUA when I came to realize that this (supposedly “creedless”) religion does in reality have a de facto political creed superimposed on it; that the concept of “character” has been replaced with “salvation by identity,”and that, instead of being born in innocence, people are… Read more »

Jay Kiskel
Jay Kiskel
8 months ago

Wow! What a great summary of what has happened to UUism.

Ken Ing
Ken Ing
8 months ago

Dennis McCarty’s book is exhausting to read. If there were just a few misstatements of fact or distortions, it would be simple to zero in on those. But McCarty is flooding the zone. When paragraph after paragraph has distortions, misstatements of fact, or misleading interpretations, where do you start? I decided to tackle Chapter 3, which is about the account of the 2017 LREDA Fall Conference found in Todd Eklof’s book “The Gadfly Papers”. This is the first in-depth critique McCarty undertakes, and my thinking is that by refuting what McCarty says about this episode, I could demonstrate that what… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago
Reply to  Ken Ing

That’s all fine, Ken. And yes, it’s exhausting to read. But you’re not obligated to critique everything the man said. I do, however, think it is important for you to provide a few of the most prominent examples, and let those stand in for your basic views of his book. You can add others if appropriate when responding to comments. Please consider doing just that, particularly on the whole LREDA debacle.

Ken Ing
Ken Ing
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

I am taking up Frank Casper’s suggestion that I flesh out a couple of examples I alluded to in my original comment. I can’t do this justice in a bullet point or even a paragraph. These only make sense when told with the details included. Two major themes of the section about the LREDA conference in Todd Eklof’s book The Gadfly Papers are 1) the undeserved poor treatment of the presenters by some members of the audience, and 2) the likelihood that some attendees were predisposed to find fault with the presentation by two white men, about Non-Violent Communication (NVC)… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago
Reply to  Ken Ing

Thanks, Ken, for so thoroughly “unpacking” this oft-litigated event. The many broadsides against Eklof frequently include this as a central focus In that regard it was not a surprise to find McCarty start his book with yet another litigation, impotently determined to establish a factual basis for his monumentally prejudicial perspective. Please retain the rest of what you have written in this regard, as I’m confident it will come around again, and this is an area, as you have shown, where it is easy for folks to get lost in the weeds

Jim
Jim
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

It seems reporting the activities at and around the LREDA conference in 2017, as told in the Gadfly Papers, really pissed people off. Eyewitness accounts from the two NVC presenters seem to have embarrassed the LREDA folks to the point where they felt the need to concoct a smear campaign against Rev. Dr. Eklof and managed to get him disfellowshipped by their buddies on the MFC. And people like McCarty are still pushing the smear. Must have been really embarrassing to have an accurate report of what went on at that LREDA conference go public. And, really, why should they… Read more »

Miles Fidelman
Miles Fidelman
8 months ago
Reply to  Ken Ing

Apparently, you are.

allan foster
allan foster
8 months ago

As “ad hominen” goes I am out of my depth here! Yet would the phrase ‘paranoid schizophrenia’ be toally out of line to describe Rev. McCarty’s word and deed? That, or perhaps a major attack of ‘stupid’? My wish would have been to contribute something substantive to the conversation… instead I am boggled by McCarty’s writings. My head hurts!

A Unitarian Universalist
A Unitarian Universalist
8 months ago

Eklof he feels he can dismiss on account of a melanin deficiency, but with Thandeka he decides to really get personal with her. They’re both ad hominems, but they’re also deeply grotesque and racist in different ways.

Anna
Anna
8 months ago

He centers Black women’s voices when they agree with him.

Rev Dr Don
Rev Dr Don
8 months ago

The whole book is a work of pain and projection. But out of all of its distortions, the attack on Rev. Thandeka, surely one of the most significant black theologians our movement has ever seen, seems particularly racist and pathological. The clear mental illness present in these comments was painful to read. While my counselor’s heart wants to respond with compassion, I also think the UUMA and the MFC need to hold him accountable for this disgusting attack.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago
Reply to  Rev Dr Don

Thanks Rev. Don, for a sound grasp on that chapter which, more than any of the others, reveals the dark heart at the center of the book. It is why we dwelt on it. This may be a bit hyperbolic, but while reading that particular chapter, I was often rendered speechless at what to me read like the psychological and emotional rape of Rev. Thandeka. We think it is critical for UU’s to grasp just how toxic this book is, and how some UU’s, including ministers, are cheering this kind of behavior on, as can be seen from many of… Read more »

John Eichtodt
John Eichtodt
8 months ago

My reaction to the discussion on tolerance is to wonder about the future of our UU faith. I am personally indebted to the careful, critical, thinking on this site not only of the Gadfly Report but also of a mass or general UU movement that stubbornly seeks to justify, through personal attacks, its own systematic assault on our liberal faith. The merits of the deliberation shift regrettably from what is said to who says it. This is especially unfortunate since part of the current UU leadership is also spearheading the campaign of rupture with the core principles of our UU… Read more »

Miles R Fidelman
Miles R Fidelman
8 months ago

Somehow, this seems particularly relevant to the discussion, and UUism in general:

Go Forth and Argue”https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/02/opinion/free-speech-campus.html
class day speech at U. Chicago

John Eichtodt
John Eichtodt
8 months ago

Thanks greatly for the reference to the
above Graduation Speech at the Univ. of Chicago. It indeed puts argument in context of how we live our faith with the courage to speak up .
I especially appreciated the rich store of vocabulary, basic
expressions and concepts, and ofcourse the penetrating analysis of the difficulties, courage, and imperative to go forth and argue . I strongly recommend the reading of the Chicago commencement address.

John Eichrodt

Isherwood
Isherwood
8 months ago

McCarty shifts field in his chapter criticizing Thandeka. In his melanin-is- magic cosmology he must first establish himself as a victim in order to validate his disagreement with a black woman who was his professor. He does not use this style of argumentation when criticizing those he deems white and thus mired in “White Supremacy Culture.” Having joined those who are fleeing logic and reason, he has cast aside any attempt to debate his opponents in a reasonable fashion. A useful source for understanding the rise of wokesterism is “Race Experts” by Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn (2004). It is not currently in… Read more »

Susie Gorski
Susie Gorski
8 months ago

On another note, we just had an advisory vote for our GA representatives on whether UUA should continue the article 2 process or should it be stopped. The advisory vote came in at 74% to recommend that UUA continue the Article 2 process. My take away is that folks still do not understand what is happening. Or conversely, am I just too cynical now not trusting “the process”. What is happening on this in other congregations?

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago

Dear members,

We are working to prevent the trolls from posting and we may have a solution. We will let you know if it works. But we’re tired of these cowardly adolescents posting their swill on this page.