[Vision2020] Responses to Atwood continues

nickgier at adelphia.net nickgier at adelphia.net
Wed Dec 5 10:29:20 PST 2007


The responses from Roy and Joe are appended below.

Dear Roy,

I fully agree with Joe’s last response to you.  If civility means that I cannot criticize your pastor or the administration of your college, then I don’t want to have any part of your sanitized one-way civility.

With regard to a history of animosity, I have already written, repeatedly, about my cordial relations with you, Wilson, and NSA before the slavery book explosion.  That is when the community rift started, not before.  Even after that, I’ve been civil and patient in trying to understand why you, Wilson, and others continue say and act the way you do.

You say that Joe and I have somehow deviated from academic protocol by engaging in a public debate about Christ Church and NSA, but I of course see these activities as no deviation at all.  Public debate about basic issues, assuming that if one’s points are back up with evidence and good reasoning, is what Academe is all about.  

What was wrong with the fact that I felt it my moral and academic duty to release the fact about plagiarism in the slavery booklet?  Wilson and Wilkins brought this on themselves.  What is uncivil about pointing out that your position on the Trinity, as formulated by Wilson and Jones, is sloppy, incoherent, and at odds orthodox doctrine?  As one trained in theology, I have a professional obligation to do this.

My own accreditation report on NSA was a sincere attempt to protect the Academy and challenge you to uphold basic academic standards and embrace academic collegiality.  By allowing the hiring of Wilson’s brother, son, and son-in-law and by engaging in unfounded attacks on UI faculty, you have broken fundamental principles of academic management and collegiality.  Please note that these charges have nothing to do with the fact that yours is a Christian institution.

Let me respond you to absurd accusation that I caused any vandalism at NSA.  First, of all, the editors at the Statesman ignored my own title for my column; and second, very few people in Moscow, read the Statesman, especially the miscreants that did the deed.

Those who have asked you to answer basic questions (Daily News On-Line) have a legitimate point, and your evasion is very frustrating.  They are not demanding “proof of innocence” nor are they (this is quite incredible) “violating basic principles of justice.” They are not asking you to change your basic positions, but simply to answer questions that you and Wilson have evaded for years.

Out of a sincere desire to know that assumes no preconditions for civility (primarily because my questions are civil!), I now want to ask you some very direct questions:

1.	When Greg Dickison claimed in public testimony that NSA was accredited, when in fact it was not, why did you, as NSA president, not correct the record?

2.	Why, as NSA president, didn’t you counsel your senior fellow about proper academic protocol in responding to two UI history professors’ response to his slavery booklet?  I would have thought that you knew that calling for their dismissal was definitely not collegial.

3.	Why have you gone along with inviting to Moscow, every year since 1994, the founding director of the League of the South (LOS), knowing full well that the revelation of this fact would cause deep concern in our community?  The proper response is not to demonize the Southern Poverty Law Center, which calls the LOS a “hate group.”

4.	Why, after receiving yearly invitations, have you not encouraged your faculty and students to submit papers to the Pacific Northwest American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature?  Every other evangelical college in the region, including TRACS schools, has participated except NSA.

5.	Why, considering the fact that the U.S. has had a long tradition of harmonious private-public school relations, have you, as a church leader and private college administrator, stood by as your pastor and congregants have, over many years, attacked public schools in the most venomous ways?  

6.	Why do you ignore the basic fact that the two people who urged passage of boarding house ordinance did not target Christ Church?  Rose Huskey did not testify at the hearings that I attended. This is not about religious persecution; rather, it is about zoning violations and tax evasion.

You and your colleagues have no moral grounds to request that others in the community to be civil.  Furthermore, you have only yourself to blame that you now complain about having to answer so many questions.  You are the one who refuse to communicate and answer my initial points about the slavery booklet.  You have a lot of catching up to do, and while you are at it, please give me a list of my false accusations.  I promise to respond promptly with the evidence that I’ve always provided.

Thanks for the dialogue,



Because you're both demanding roughly the same thing as a PRECONDITION for civility, let me respond to you together on this point. 

1. Your demands here (and many previous posts, and those that have followed your example) are fundamentally unjust because you demand proof of innocence. That demand violates the most basic principles of justice: people are innocent until proved guilty, and the burden of proof rests on the accuser, not the accused. 

2. Your expectations of how your charges and accusations will be answered is also fundamentally unjust. You apparently want to be the public accusers or prosecutors (repeatedly posting these kinds of charges and accusations), but YOU cannot then also be the ones to whom we answer, the ones who decide guilt or innocence. No reasonable principle of justice allows the accuser to also serve as the finder of fact, judge and jury, as both of you are expecting to be here (again, as a PRECONDITION to civility). And because we currently have no neutral court to hear your charges (and the last City Council was certainly no neutral court) or hear our defense, there is currently no venue in which you could prove your charges or in which we could defend our innocence against false and spurious charges. 

3. Sadly, your demands are, by your own admission, uncivil because you will allow civility only AFTER a (non-blind) judgment of our guilt or innocence on the accusations you have made. You say you don't need to be civil UNTIL we prove our innocence to your satisfaction. But the historic principle of presumption of innocence demands civility before judgment. Without that presumption, mob "justice" prevails (welcome to Moscow boycotts?). Whether you intend it or not, your position would basically institutionalize prejudice and condone uncivil actions based on mere prejudice (pre-judgment). And such actions taken against others on mere prejudice is a textbook definition of bigotry.

Contrary to your positions, I believe civility is a precondition to justice and fair judgment, not the other way around. Your expectations that we prove our innocence is unreasonable and unjust and at war with civility in principle. 

As a related side note, if you had come to me in good faith, out of concern for truth and justice, seeking clarification on something we had said or done, I would have respected that and responded as fully and truthfully as possible. But you have not done that. In fact, I don't believe either of you have ever done that. Instead, your very first actions have been to post public charges and accusations against us and then demand that we clarify and give an account, BEFORE you ever verified what we actually believed or confirmed that you understood us correctly. As university research scholars, that's an inexcusable failure to do due diligence. Professors fail undergraduate papers regularly for that kind of sloppy research methodology. 

Moreover, you commit the fallacy of many questions in your posts here (and elsewhere) by running off a veritable litany of complex (and often rhetorical or declarative) questions, but demanding simple answers (like "guilty!"). Complete responses would be virtually impossible to give in a reasonable length of time and space in this kind of venue on just one of your charges, let alone the dozens so glibly thrown about. And to answer only one or two appropriately would be (and already has been) judged by you and your friends above, again prejudicially, as confirmation of our guilt by silence. 

In sum, I think your demands are unreasonable, unjust, unfair, prejudicial--and ultimately dangerous, if applied consistently to anyone in our community.

GCrabtree said it well (and more concisely) above. I asked for civility; you both responded with an inquisition as a precondition to civility. In other words, to my request for civility, your answer is basically, "No." That's too bad for the sake of our whole community.

But I remain optimistic, as I said in my column, that people of conscience on all sides of our divided community will embrace civility without preconditions.

Your request for clarification about my statement re. the "history of animosity and prejudice" seems reasonable, but also very well supported independently by others such as the Daily News and Lewiston Trib's news columns and editorial pages. Fisher's most recent editorial in which HE (who has no dog in this fight and is not a CC member) calls the boycott (and he includes the previous host of CC attacks in recent years) "bigoted." My point is not to bring up the "B" word again. Rather, Fisher's editorial demonstrates two things: (1) we're not the only ones in town who think that CC/NSA is being unjustly targeted and (2) that those other non-CC/NSA folks believe that the history of animosity against us has, to quote Fisher, "grown into a cancer." Those are strong words, but ones coming from non-CC/NSA quarters. We're not making this up.

I don't find the phrase you mention in my column, but I did use it in reference to Nick Gier's track record above, and that history is also very well documented on his own blog posts, Vision 2020, Daily News and Lewiston Trib letters to the editors and guest columns, New West unfiltered posts, and most notoriously his ID Statesman letter, which the Statesman editor correctly read as a charge of Neo-Nazism against us (despite Nick's attempt to soften it later). That letter apparently inspired one of Nick's fans or readers to scrawl "Hitler youth" outside the door of the College that very week. So that's just one additional part to the recent history. The Huskey-Lund-Opyr-Nolan-Bauer tax-zoning-boarding house complaints aim only at CC/NSA even though all the charges they made could have applied to any number of other non-profits, UI operatons in the CBD, and hundreds of UI/WSU boarding house situations across the city. But these folks who filed the complaints singled us out, even though didn't live near the boarding houses, had no businesses even close to downtown, etc. Again, if that had been done to any other religious groups businesses or schools in town, the community would be outraged. You may deny that it's been happening because of a certain blindspot or wishful thinking, but it doesn't change the fact that others, notably our local newspapers, say it's been happening.

But the kinds of finger pointing that have been done to us, and that YOU're asking me to do in return (in a sense), are exactly what I'm suggesting we put an end to. Let's stop the he-said, she-said accusations--on both sides. There is obviously a history of it, and if you insist on getting to the bottom of every nasty detail, hell will freeze over before civility returns to Moscow and we'll be only more divided as a community. I dont' think that's what you want. It certainly isn't what I want. I could recount all the places where I believe Nick, you, the Huskeys et al. have falsely accused us and done dirt on us. But I'd rather not. The point is, the whole community--not just you and I personally--need to move on to better, more productive discussions about important issues that touch us all. That is why I hope we can move beyond the interminable blog banter to some face-to-face personal interactions, ala Tom Lamar's fine example. Again, I don't have illusions that we're all going to have a big group hug and our tensions will immediately go away. But can we please move on from here with some civility?

I know there's probably a million more things you and others want to discuss about my article, but I'm going to move on from this site to what I hope are more positive and productive things personally and professionally. If folks really want to discuss my column more with me, please feel free to email me directly at dratwood at nsa.edu. If you want to stop by for a cup of coffee (on me) and discuss issues of mutual concern, please call the NSA office at 882-1566 and set up an appointment. 

Let me just conclude with my final plea in the column: "I encourage all Moscow citizens, on all sides of our local disagreements, to follow Tom's example. If we do, I'm optimistic that Moscow can once again embrace civility, despite the differences in our deeply held beliefs."

Have a wonderful Advent season.

I have a hard time reading this and believing that your call for civility was 
genuine. You seem to want people to stop criticizing Christ Church while 
remaining able to play the ‘bigot’ card, suggesting that this criticism is 
entirely based on religious persecution. Your standard for civility seems to be: 
We can continue to insult you but you can say nothing about us in response. 
Previous to this recent reply you wrote: "Your responses here have been to 
repeat familiar charges, and even raise new accusations. But that's going to get 
us nowhere, I believe." Yet you do the same in this post -- repeat familiar 
charges against the critics of Christ Church and raise new allegations. How is 
this going to get us anywhere? Why should others stop if you don’t? 
One of the familiar charges is that Nick had something to do with the comment 
'Hitler Youth' which was written in CHALK on a public SIDEWALK near NSA. Above 
you claim that no one has the right to say that offensive anonymous comments 
directed toward me in this post are the work of Christ Church members. Yet you 
continue to blame Nick for the actions of an anonymous fool. There is a double 
standard here. 
Also, if you allow that some column from an editor in Lewiston is evidence that 
Christ Church is the victim of religious persecution, then I can use comments by 
the Southern Poverty Law Center, and their famous "Taliban on the Palouse" 
article in support of the claim that Wilson and others in Christ Church are 
bigots; I can use comments by Wilson’s own father made in the New York Times to 
the effect that Christ Church and NSA are taking over the town; I can use 
sanctions levied against Christ Church by governing church bodies to show that 
Pastor Wilson is acting in a way that is un-Christian. All of this would be 
reason for the kind of boycott that you consider baseless. 
The fact is there is a lot of anger directed toward Christ Church and plenty of 
reason behind the anger. This is why there is a wide-scale boycott of Christ 
Church owned businesses. Anyone who seeks for themselves the answers to the 
questions raised above that you did not answer will realize this. Until you, 
Wilson, Iverson, Courtney and others admit your own role in creating our current 
situation, the problem will not go away. 
I have no plan to talk to you in private. What I want is for you to stop making 
unsupported claims that harm my reputation and the reputations of my friends. 
What I want is for you and others to publicly admit that Christ Church is not an 
innocent victim. Unless you do so, your call for civility is a joke. 
Thanks for the ‘response,’ limited as it was, and I hope that you enjoy the 
Advent season, too! 
Best, Joe

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