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Ad featured on English Language and Usage

A random excerpt from Ezra Pound's war speeches

AXIOM. Against an organized force of four or more, probably EIGHT million, a hundred individuals can NOT prevail until ORGANIZED. The sporadic efforts of a few excited young men are no use. The dilettante velleities of a few theorists are NO use. And the rest of the inhabitants of the United States can organize on ONE basis only, namely, that on which Europe has finally been constrained to organize its rebellion against the pervasive the ubiquitous Yidd. Pacts may be signed between the Pennsylvania Deitsch and the scrawny New Englander of British or Anglo-Scotch origin, but on no basis save that of race, and of allied more or less consanguineous races can you cohere.

You have, as opposed to any such projected order not merely the 4 or 8 million kikes in New York and points penetrated already. [From] New York to San Diego or wherever the pan hebe, the world Jewry, has set up a radio. Which is bloody well more than the rebellious British reformers were able to do in England during the four years before the betrayal of the British race by Churchill and Eden.

Maybe stick that onto the front of other SE's with the tagline 'Ezra Pound' underneath it. For sure, discuss Pound here, if you'd like, or anywhere else on the SE network. But to use his name to promote this site is dumb. Let's not.

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Thank you for indirectly informing me that the quote I chose was from a Nazi sympathiser. I had no idea - I was just looking for nice and apt quotes to advertise Literature, without checking the political views of those who made them (I'd never heard of Ezra Pound before). Mea culpa.


Here's the new ad on ELU:

new ad

I hope there's nothing offensive about W.H. Auden or his political views.


I've got to say, though, that you could have approached this issue in a nicer manner. Simply dropping a comment on my ELU meta answer, informing me of some of the less salubrious words and views of Ezra Pound, would have sufficed to make me change it. As it was, someone else left that constructive comment while you were busy writing an angry meta post and saying things like "Maybe stick [anti-Semitic material] onto the front of other SE's." Was that really necessary?

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  • Hmm. Have left comments for you to get back to me on. Let me know that you've got the love – user1889 Jul 19 '17 at 0:26
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    @Araucaria Nope, I'm not a mod here and can't see deleted comments. I caught some of what you wrote here before it disappeared, but not all. – Rand al'Thor Jul 19 '17 at 0:49
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat, @Araucaria. – Mithical Jul 19 '17 at 4:37
  • @Randal'Thor Could you inform us of who we need to thank for the removal of this unfortunate ad then, please? I'd like to express my appreciation to them. Thanks in advance. – user1894 Jul 20 '17 at 23:40
  • @Araucaria Well, me. As soon as Shokhet notified me of the issue you raised here, I found a more appropriate quote and edited the ad. – Rand al'Thor Jul 21 '17 at 8:31
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I originally left a comment on this question, but upon reflection I realize that my thoughts about this are too complicated to sum up in a comment. I deleted my comment; there was no foul play. (Nor was there reason to suspect foul play in my mind, but that is a point for another day).

There are a lot of authors who are racist, or sexist, or bigoted, or prejudiced, or anti-Semitic. In this respect, authors aren't that different from normal people; the difference is that authors write their thoughts down and publish them, where they are discussed in places like this website.

For example, JKR is probably the last author people would accuse of racism, but "Cho Chang" is literally a made up name. Pretty much the only thing Isaac Asimov did at science fiction conventions was harass woman, but for some reason he has a reputation for being "progressive" or "feminist". (This shows in Asimov's writing: his female characters are either nonexistent or stereotypes). Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is racist as well, to the point where he's using the exact same language used to justify slavery and genocide. I bring up these particular authors because they are popular and because their prejudices are often justified or swept under the rug.

In a site about Literature, it's important to understand the difference between the following two things:

  1. Reading and studying an author's words.
  2. Endorsing an author's words.

It's also important to assume good faith. This is the internet, the people who participate on this site come from a wide range of backgrounds and have a wide range of experiences.

Finally, it's important to understand that there is no tension between enjoying an author's work while criticizing aspects of said author's work or personal beliefs. I personally do not agree Ezra Pound's anti-Semitism, but that does not contradict the fact that Ezra Pound has written some beautiful works of literature (here's a sample: "The apparition of these faces in the crowd; / Petals on a wet, black bough."). It's possible for people to enjoy reading Pound while also acknowledging and disagreeing with his political views. It's also possible, and in fact desirable, to read Pound with the understanding that Pound's anti-Semitism is not isolated to his private life, but influences his writings as well.

My perspective on the advertisement is that a quote from an author other than Ezra Pound should have been used. My reasoning for this is twofold. First of all, the advertisement consists of a quote, not a discussion of a quote, which could be seen as endorsement. Second, since this is a community promotion advertisement, authors should be chosen that represent the entire community. And I think this question perhaps makes clear that this particular advertisement might not represent the community. (Also, there are probably more insightful and interesting quotes we could have used!)

I think my perspective on this would be much different if this had been, for example, a member of this community expressing admiration of Pound's poem "In a Station of the Metro". But given the specifics of this situation, I agree, this wasn't a good choice for a community promotion advertisement. There should be more thought about the message our promotional materials sends. I think this is a good learning opportunity for our community. So I'm glad this discussion was started on meta. And I think deleting this discussion would deprive this community of a valuable learning opportunity.

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    It's wasn't only a quote though. It was a citation. Pound's name was used to promote the site. – user1894 Jul 19 '17 at 7:19
  • Seems like the situation with Hitler's paintings, which I (though no one's expert) like very much. On the other hand, I would like to disagree with the bit about Asimov: Susan Calvin is certainly a very well-written and balanced character. – Gallifreyan Jul 19 '17 at 18:16
  • @Araucaria I discuss this in the last two paragraphs of this answer and I end up agreeing with you that the advertisement should be replaced. – user111 Jul 19 '17 at 23:17
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    Non-interesting non-answer. The ad had already been replaced. It happened before you wrote the post. What I desperately wanted not to happen was for someone to start the hackneyed uninformative, uninteresting "someone can write good stuff even if they're a racist bigot" non-post, non-answer spurred on by someone having cited Pound. It was bound to happen. What a pity. Btw, what Pound said in public broadcasts is of course part of the canon of his published work. That is COMPLETELY unrelated to what individuals may or may not have done outside of their published work ... – user1894 Jul 19 '17 at 23:28
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    @Araucaria if you're interpreting my answer as disagreeing with the statement "what Pound said in public broadcasts is of course part of the canon of his published work", then something's gone wrong, either in how I wrote my answer or how you are reading it. – user111 Jul 19 '17 at 23:33
  • @Gallifreyan I would like to disagree with your disagreeal. This reddit thread has some good links that could be a starting point for further research. reddit.com/r/AskLiteraryStudies/comments/6aggb2/… (BTW if you know where to look, reddit is 1000% better than Stack Exchange for serious questions about the humanities). – user111 Jul 20 '17 at 1:02

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