Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Friends of Kalimat

Some of us are organizing to support Kalimat Press during this difficult time. For those unfamiliar with the situation, check out the story here.
The letters ordering all Baha'i agencies in the U.S. to stop buying books from Kalimat can be found here or on the administrative website. (You need a Baha'i i.d. number to get into the latter.)

We feel that this decision is unjust because:

1. Only three or four titles have content that can be documented as being seen as objectionable by the administration, yet all of Kalimat's publications are being stigmatized. All of these titles are books that are only being distributed by Kalimat, but have come from other publishers.

2. The controversial titles include high-quality academic work published by reputable university presses. For the NSA to cease doing business with Kalimat for distributing these books just makes the Faith look ridiculous.

2. This is not just a matter of the NSA deciding not to buy books from a publisher; they publicized this decision in *The American Baha'i* in a clear effort to stigmatize Kalimat Press. If the NSA disapproves of what Kalimat is doing, it could simply refrain from ordering the books it doesn't like, or write to them about it -- to go public means that this is something beyond a judgement about what is appropriate for the NSA and its agencies to sell. Already some Baha'is are publicly saying that they will avoid buying any Kalimat publication because of the NSA's judgement.

4. Enrolled Baha'i authors, whose work went through the Baha'i review process, are being put in danger of being suspected of wrongdoing by the community, since the NSA has not specified which books it considers "inimical". These are people that are perfectly innocent even by the most conservative of Baha'i standards.

5. All materials that Kalimat Press publishes itself (as opposed to just distributing it) has passed Baha'i review. Kalimat wasn't required to put books from other publishers through review; in other words, they followed the rules and are getting nailed anyway.

So we are encouraging a variety of respnses:

*Buy books direct from Kalimat, especially those that Kalimat distributes from other publishers. The titles that are known to be controversial are all in this category anyway.

*Buy Kalimat's books for donation to local and university libraries. Talk to the librarians about what you're doing. Libraries take a dim view of censorship; some even have a "banned book" week that promote the reading of books that have been banned during various times and places.

*Write a letter of protest to the NSA. The administration is always saying that criticism must take place within channels -- well, here's your opportunity. Writing to your National Spiritual Assembly is one of those approved channels. Ask the NSA to specify which titles it thinks are "inimical" to the Faith, and why.

*Bring the matter up, either orally, or in written form to your LSA.

*Write a letter of support to Kalimat Press.

*Write reviews of your favorite Kalimat books at Amazon.com

*If you have a blog or other website, put a link to Kalimat Press on it.

Finally, we'd like you to write to friendsofkalimat@yahoo.com to let us know what you're doing and how you feel about the NSA's decision. We'll keep all names confidential, but we may quote from emails, unless you specifically request us not to. So far, we have pledges to buy Kalimat books for libraries, and several people who just want to buy books for themselves.

It should be noted -- especially since my blog stats tell me that this site has had several visits from the US BNC -- that the owners of Kalimat Press have nothing to do with this effort, and have not been included in the discussions about it. Therefore, any reprisals against them would be completely unjust.


Karen said...

Dear Maryam,

"Doodle-heads" is the polite way of putting it. Good on ya for putting Kalimat on your blog. I'm glad you pointed out some of their publications that would be of interest to Muslims, who I know make up most of your readership. Kalimat Press is just too good to go under, and it can use all the help it can get.

Congrats on the Ph.d opportunity. I certainly feel for your dilemma, though. I did the stay-at-home mom thing until my youngest was in first grade (age 6) before I went back to school to get my teaching credential. But then, if somebody had dropped a chance like that into my lap, it might have been a different story. It's a tough choice, I know. The best of luck to you!

Love, Karen

mrs.strongarm said...

I propose that Kalimat sue the NSA for slander, libel, and defamation. They would likely win because it's evident that they've lost a lot of business because of this.

I'm surprized they haven't done this already.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog.

I would tell my local LSA about this, in Las Vegas, but they rejected me after they set up a seven member committee and refused to send in my membership card. It is a shame really, for they did not even properly quote Bahai scripture.

They have a million dollar facility with a half a million dollars in the bank, and can not find anyone with enough devotion to lead their Sunday devotion. They don't know what they are supposed to do, sitting in the middle of "sin" city. I had a few ideas for them.

I am glad that I have enough experience to know the kind of people they were, those in charge anyway. It's a shame, really. I was terribly excited when I came to the Bahai Faith. I still am.

They are becoming gate keepers, deciding who is "in" and who is "out", setting up their own thrones. They are working hard to keep the Hidden Words hidden.