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Re: Racism, Crowley, Blavatsky

Jul 17, 1997 08:32 PM
by Tim Maroney

>While there may be shortcomings with everyone, I still feel his very clear
>racist attitudes especially to Indians was shown when he used to refer to
>Jiddu Krishnamurti as a  *nigger*. He as an Englishman should have known
>better. If this has to be ignored, it is ok but not with anyone who truly in
>their hearts believe in the human brotherhood/sisterhood. I also think his
>shortcomings are more far reaching and fundamental and cannot be compared to
>those of HPB. Just looking at her sacrifice and what she has left behind
>says it all.

Hi Doss,

I would hate to presume to tell anyone else what an appropriate level of 
disgust towards a flawed character like Crowley would be. Your concerns 
about Crowley's racism are generally well-founded and if that puts you 
off him for good, that's your right and your privilege.

I do have some problem if you insist that because someone had a serious 
flaw like this, then they could have had no positive qualities at all, 
which seems to be the meaning of "he was a racist pure and simple." It's 
not an accurate biography. How about something like this: "I would never 
want to give any support to such a racist, so I am not concerned with 
whatever value others may find in him"?

A nit in your presentation: I don't understand why you think an 
Englishman would "know better." Unfortunately, "nigger" was a very common 
slang term among Englishmen of Crowley's period for anyone on the swarthy 
side, Indian, African or otherwise. Most of these Englishmen didn't write 
in vernacular and so they didn't put it into print very often, whereas 
there are a few cases where the often-casual Crowley did (e.g., his 
account of the origin of "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-Dee-Ay", the letter entitled 
"Monsters, Niggers, Jews" in MTP -- which paradoxically argues that 
everyone should be admitted to Thelema regardless of their race!) I don't 
recall his use of this epithet toward Krishnamurti but it is quite 
believable. I'm sure many other Englishman were saying the same thing 
over their snifters.

Finally, how do you feel about Blavatsky's statements about Australians 
and Africans in "The Secret Doctrine"? One problem that progressives face 
is that almost everyone from prior eras incorporates prejudices from 
their milieu, and if we start throwing them overboard every time we find 
an element of bigotry, we're left with a human history that appears 
unpopulated until a few decades ago.

>This was what I had in my mind when I made the comment. Hope this clarifies.
>Nothing personal, BTW.

Nothing personal here either. I'm glad that racism is such a serious 
concern to you.

Tim Maroney

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