Readers may recall that we have implemented comment moderation back in October and what we’ve been chiefly excluding are comments from Gordon Watson, one the founders of the raw milk movement in B.C. Gordon has periodically written to the Bovine to complain about being not able to answer his critics, and so, in the interests of fairness, we are going to re-open that debate on The Bovine, even though, frankly, it’s outside our comfort zone.
And just as an example of how you can talk about race without being racist, in his book “Civilization”, historian Niall Ferguson looks at what he calls “the west, and the rest” over the past 500 years, and tries to tease out what were the “killer apps” that allowed the west to maintain its ascendancy over “the rest”. And he considers the question of what is the outlook for the future. In his view the west has lost its nerve on a number of fronts and is starting to fall behind. Niall is married to a black woman, Ayann Hirsi Ali.
So does Gordon sees raw milk as some sort of catalyst for white people to regain their nerve vis a vis these qualities that once made the west dominant in the world?
Here’s an excerpt from an email I sent to Gordon yesterday, somewhat altered due to subsequent deliberations:
Gordon, I gather from your emails and comments intended for the Bovine blog, that you feel you’ve been unfairly treated on the Bovine blog because we’ve not published many of your comments. And you’re specifically troubled that you haven’t been able to reply appropriately to those who’ve criticized you (or as you see it, “slandered” you) in comments on the blog. You’ve suggested that I apologize. Well Gordon, I am sorry and I do apologize if I have been unfair to you in allowing comments to be posted that you feel are slanderous of you as a person, without allowing you to reply publicly to those accusations. So as you requested, I’m giving you that chance to reply to those comments now.
But I hope you can appreciate that my concern that you lead people to think that the raw milk and food rights movement is in some way racially discriminatory and “not for everyone”. And I gather that you think that people’s comments on your comments on some previous Bovine posts are incorrectly saying that they think you ARE practicing unfair racial discrimination because you make distinctions between how peoples of different races relate to milk as a food. It would probably help people to appreciate your position if you could moderate the tone of your commentary.
Now let me make it abundantly clear that *I* don’t necessarily think that recognizing racial differences, be they cultural, genetic or other, is tantamount to “racism”. But given the state of the popular mind these days, it can be a subtle distinction. My concern is that many people in the reading public may not be willing or able to entertain that distinction. As you’ve suggested, it may be 10 years before most people are ready to discuss these issues in an objective and dispassionate way.
But because I have been “moderating” the raw milk discussion to exclude those issues of race, you’ve accused me in emails of “political correctness”, giving examples from recent history of people who have been unjustly accused, and subsequently “convicted”, at least in the court of public opinion, of being racist, and have thus been removed from their positions etc. All unfairly, because they were not really being racist. I’ve read those articles and agree that they show there’s a problem with our society, with it being too ready to brand people as racist when they’re really just recognizing that perhaps people of different races have different needs, or different things to contribute to society.
So rather than undertake to educate people about the problems our society has regarding racial understanding and political correctness, in addition to my efforts to educate them about raw milk, health and food rights, I’m just been making an editorial decision that it’s simpler, more “on message” if we just don’t “go there” on the blog.
I may also entertain certain views on gay marriage or abortion or gun control or America’s foreign wars that would be similarly divisive if I would talk about them on the blog. I’m also not talking about those things because that’s not what the blog is about. I don’t want to alienate readers unnecessarily by discussing divisive issues that don’t directly bear on the our core topic.
So on the Bovine, we’re working at political change, working to educate the public that raw milk and food rights are good things. The problem I had with many of your comments is that I felt they unnecessarily conflated the raw milk issue with matters of racial distinction. You see, I feel that if we’re trying to get a message out, we need to keep it simple. Now you can call me a one-issue radical, but I’m publishing a blog, not a doctoral dissertation.
However, to be fair to you, Gordon, to give you a chance to clear your reputation of misunderstandings from past comments, I’m willing to listen. To entertain your views in the context of an interview. Hey, hopefully I can learn something new in the process. So far all I’ve heard is some vague reference to DNA differences. So tell me more. Expound on it. Let’s have it out. How exactly is raw milk special for certain peoples. And what about other peoples? Don’t they drink milk too?
Gordon, however, does not seem to be willing to engage in the sort of email dialog that I imagined would constitute such an interview. So as an alternative, we can have that exchange of views in the form of comments. That should work. Other readers are certainly welcome to join the process as well, but I ask that we avoid ad hominem attacks in the interests of civility.