Re: on AAB; race and homophobia (Bart)
Oct 13, 1996 01:36 PM
by Bart Lidofsky
Jim Meier wrote:
> On 11 October, in a reply to Ann, Bart wrote
> > I, for one, find that Alice Bailey puts somewhat too much of her own
> >filtering on her works. I particularly find her racism and homophobia to
> >be highly offputting, even though I know that she is just a product of
> >her times (Leadbeater's couching everything in Christian terms has a
> >similar effect on me).
> I. But the charge of racism is unfounded, imo, and the same indictment has
> been made against HPB and the founders of the TS. Racism is defined as 1)
> The notion that one's own ethnic stock is superior. 2) Discrimination or
> prejudice based on racism (from American Heritage dictionary). Neither of
> these meanings apply to the word "race" as used in either HPB's or AAB's
> writings. There are *differences* between nations and men which can be
> accounted for, in AAB's writings, as manifestations of distinct qualifying
> energies. But the idea of "better or worse" doesn't apply, and in fact the
> AAB teachings specifically address "racism" (as Bart used the word) as one
> of the major obstacles facing humanity; it is one of seven in the book,
> PROBLEMS OF HUMANITY.
I agree with the American Heritage dictionary's (especially using the
term "ethnic stock" rather than "race"). Notice that the word "hate" is
missing from that definition, that the qualifier "against" is not next
to the words, "discrimination" and "prejudice".
Especially prominent in the Victorian era through WWII was the concept
of the "white man's burden"; the idea that members of other ethnic
stocks were currently inferior to that of the light-skinned
Europeans/Americans, and it was the burden of those of the "superior"
ethnic stocks to bring those of the "inferior" ethnic stocks "up" to
their own "level". Bailey goes a little further, and blames the
"inferiority" on the actions of the Europeans/Americans, but that does
not change the fact that the concept is inherently racist.
In the Theosophical Society (Adyar-based), one prominent writer who
also had that problem was Clara Codd.
In any case, I certainly don't believe that Bailey had malicious
intent. If her writings were based on revelations from DK, I could
picture Master DK saying something on the order that the
Europeans/Americans, in order to remove the karma they created through
oppression of other ethnic groups with the least harm, had to work to
reverse the damage, and Bailey simply wrote that in her own terms,
carrying prejudice that was so much the thinking of the times that she
didn't even realize it existed.
> As DK himself said, "The era of one humanity is upon us. I ask you to drop
> your antagonisms and your antipathies, your hatreds and your racial
> differences, and attempt to think in terms of the one family, the one life
> and the one humanity" and "The only solution to this problem is the basic
> recognition that all men are brothers; that one blood pours through human
> veins; that we are all the children of the one Father and that our failure
> to recognize this fact is simply an indication of man's stupidity."
And with THAT, I fully agree.
> II. Homosexuality is a sensitive issue for many people. Homophobia is the
> word Bart used; again, I don't think it can be accurately applied to AAB.
> The word is literally "fear of homosexuals," and it is presently used to
> cover the range from distaste to aversion to avowed hostility.
It is true that "homophobia", like "racism", is a word that has
suffered much from misuse and abuse. Bailey, however, makes the
assumption that homosexuality is entirely a matter of choice, and it is
specifically the choice of those who also choose the path of evil. That,
in my opinion, goes beyond rationality, which makes "homophobia" a
> Arguments could be made about the changing "norms and standards of society,"
> and this may be to what Bart was referring when he said AAB was "a product
> of her times." But the *literal* meaning of the words used is correct, when
> divorced from emotional connotations or individual prejudice.
What I meant is that, in the reading of theosophical topics, one has to
understand the prejudices that are so ingrained into the author's
society that the author is not even aware that they have these
prejudices. And you have to filter these out in order to truly what the
author is saying. The problem is that the more repugnant these
prejudices are to you, the harder it is to filter them out.
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