Sunday, June 18, 2017

Our statement on the “Conservative Quilters” Facebook group

The BBC World News recently reported about a rift in the quilting community over a secret Facebook group called the “Conservative Quilters” (“How quilting got ripped apart by American politics,” June 16, 2017). Within this secret group, members discussed many well-known quilters, including artists in The Artist Circle Alliance, because they disagreed with the Threads of Resistance exhibition.

These quilters sought to harm the businesses of liberal quilters, including LGBTQ quilters and those who support them. Some called for cutting off revenue to us by boycotting our products, classes, and television shows. Some contacted quilt shows and longarm companies with whom these quilters were associated, seeking to blacklist them. One member advocated calling the IRS to recommend that members of The Artist Circle be audited.   

Because the group was secret, we didn’t find out about these posts until some members of the group, who were uncomfortable with what was being said, took screen shots and sent them to others for distribution, in mid-May. By then, we had already seen these names whenever we posted about Threads of Resistance, in the form of some fairly unpleasant comments that went well beyond disagreeing with our political views; they were personal attacks.

At this time, we were in the thick of organizing the exhibit, jurying the show, talking with lawyers, setting up an LLC, and getting a catalog ready to publish. We considered what to do. By speaking out, would we be doing our duty to shine a light on prejudice and bigotry, and to stand up for those being attacked? Would our comments escalate the tensions, or would they contribute to a sincere conversation?

Now, and during the past election cycle, many members of our group have tried our best to promote conversations among those of differing opinions that are frank and insightful – as long as they are respectful. Ultimately, we decided that our words – the things we post on the Threads of Resistance blog and website – spoke for themselves. Our actions – organizing an exhibition to protest the actions and policies of the Trump administration – spoke for themselves.

In the end, our works of art also speak for themselves. The art in the Threads of Resistance exhibition addresses sexism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia. We know what we believe, and what we stand for. We know that there are others who vehemently disagree with us. We also believe that there is a difference between disagreement and anger over policies, and personal attacks and hatred. Without civility, even when we are angry, there can be no meaningful debate, and no productive way forward. 

The Artist Circle Alliance

You can read and listen to the BBC World News story here: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-40278684

4 comments:

  1. As a casual quilter, I only heard about this exhibit - and the controversy - through Jane Dunnewold's newsletter today. Sadly, I'm not surprised. Our country is disintegrating into visible hatred, and just two days ago I learned of a heated disagreement within my own circle of friends. Our country was founded on resistance and liberty! Kudos to you for providing a focused outlet for resistance and hatred. My great respect to the artists who have spoken up, who've dedicated their talent and time. And shame to the people who have lost their tolerance for differing views. FREE SPEACH. TOLERANCE. LOVE THY NEIGHBOR. TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD CHOOSE TO BE TREATED.

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  2. Thank you for your firm polite response to the BBC news story. I had read it yesterday, and was dismayed by the malice toward individual artists. (I am thankful that they were outed.) I truly appreciate your courage and efforts to bring about the Threads of Resistance exhibition. It is important!
    Laura R

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  3. I've seen some of this stuff and read discussions about this group. My reaction is that these folks would be the first to howl to the moon if they discovered there was a secret "Liberal Quilters" group that advocated the same tactics against "Conservatives". Interesting how they wanted to remain secret so their client base would not be affected. Hypocritical of them that they advocate malevolent behavior towards people who stand up publicly for their (liberal, progressive) beliefs when they haven't the courage to do so for what they themselves believe. So much more I could say, but that's enough for now.
    "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" Proverbs 23:7
    Neame

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  4. Thanks for your calm, direct and polite response. My dream is to live in a world of civility and respect...

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