The AAI EGM, The N-Word, And Worse

The recent Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) that was arranged by Atheist Alliance International (AAI) referred to me by name on several occasions. One such comment was offered by Onur Romano, who is a colleague of Lawrence Krauss on the AAI Advisory Council. Lawrence Krauss acted as Facilitator of this meeting, and it included the following comment from Onur Romano:

“I refuse to spare my time to deal with Michael Nugent, John Hamill, and their proxies’ egocentrism and broken feelings. They made it clear that they have no intention to build a democratic alliance, correct the wrongdoings, or fix anything to move forward. They just want their old toy back. AAI has wasted enormous time and energy to answer these criticisms. Perhaps we should discuss a motion to officially ignore these trolls rather than responding further.”

Comment from Onur Romano during the AAI EGM

A Performative Contradiction occurs when the act of making an argument rebuts the content of the argument. One popular example involves people who write articles in national newspapers about how they are being silenced and excluded from the public square. Another example of a Performative Contradiction is someone who talks incessantly about myself and Michael Nugent, in order to repeatedly argue that they are not going to spend any time thinking about myself and Michael Nugent. During the EGM, Onur Romano went on to state as follows:

“I have personally been subject to de-platforming and cancel culture efforts led by Michael Nugent and FFRF in 2017 while I was sharing AAI Board, so please excuse me if I disagree with Kareem’s statements in terms of respect.”

Quote from Onur Romano during the AAI EGM

The reference to “Kareem” in this quote relates to a previous contribution to the meeting, which suggested that myself and Michael Nugent were deserving of respect. Of course Onur Romano is perfectly free to disagree with that, and he is also perfectly entitled to instead to call myself and Michael “trolls”. What he is not entitled to do is misrepresent the facts of what Atheist Ireland and the Freedom From Religion Foundation did with respect to his position at AAI in 2017. It is absolutely false to suggest that Onur Romano was “subject to de-platforming”. In fact, where a motion of no confidence in him was suggested, that motion offered Onur Romano the opportunity to attend an AAI general meeting and argue his case. That is the precise polar opposite of being de-platformed. That is being offered the biggest platform that exists within AAI to make an argument in full.

The reasons why Atheist Ireland and the Freedom From Religion Foundation had lost confidence in Onur Romano, are described in the memo that is available in full at the bottom of this page. I do not wish to type out all of the details contained within the social media posts of Onur Romano, which are reproduced in that memo. Suffice to say that under the AAI logo, he posted messages that contained the N-Word and worse. It is also worth noting that in the years since Onur Romano published these comments, nobody has sought to publicise the content or draw attention to these social media posts in any way. I have decided to make the memo available now, only because Onur Romano decided to raise this subject at the recent AAI EGM, where he made dishonest statements about what happened towards dozens of atheist groups from across the world.

One of the issues that AAI addressed while Onur Romano was previously on their Board, was the gender imbalance within organised atheism. Perhaps Stella Thomas and Kristina Hallmeier from the current so-called AAI Board could read Onur Romano’s posts, and see if they can detect anything there that might discourage women from getting involved with AAI? The Chair of the AAI Advisory Council is Alice Carr, who during the EGM commented “Exactly Onur”, in support of the position that Onur Romano had described. Perhaps Alice Carr would like to peruse the messages that Onur Romano posted under the AAI logo previously, and decide whether she would also like to add an “Exactly Onur” comment there too?

The current so-called Board of AAI have sought out the advice of Onur Romano, and also sought to award a prestigious position to Onur Romano, in a context where they had full access to the reasons for his previous resignation. These reasons are outlined in the memo that is provided at the bottom of this page, which was signed by Dan Barker (FFRF), Annie Laurie Gaylor (FFRF), Jane Donnelly (Atheist Ireland) and Michael Nugent (Atheist Ireland). In fact, that memo was addressed directly to Christine Shellska, who also attended the recent AAI EGM as the delegate from Atheists for Liberty. Her colleague at Atheists for Liberty, David Silverman, has previously promised that he is doing something behind the scenes about the corruption at AAI. However, nobody from Atheists for Liberty expressed any opposition whatsoever to anything at all during the recent AAI EGM.

Moreover, the same so-called Board who invited Onur Romano onto their Advisory Council, also suspended Michael Sherlock without pay for 30 days, in part for tweeting that “religion is a retarded relic”. In comparison to how seriously they took Michael Sherlock’s social media posts, it seems that the AAI Board now takes a much more benign view of the N-Word and of other misogynist content about “grabbin”, and worse.

Were I to be offered the choice of working as a colleague of Onur Romano on the AAI Advisory Council (as Lawrence Krauss and Alice Carr still do today) or else being called names by Onur Romano in a meeting Facilitated by Lawrence Krauss, then I’d certainly be more content with my current position. It seems that the so-called AAI Board and their Advisory Council prefer to align themselves with Onur Romano instead. They can continue indulging his delusional whining about “de-platforming”, or whatever other racial epithets he next feels like sharing under the rubric of AAI, but this allegation of “de-platforming” is demonstrably false.

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