Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF

Dan Harkins <> Wed, 03 March 2021 03:33 UTC

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Date: Tue, 02 Mar 2021 19:32:55 -0800
From: Dan Harkins <>
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To: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
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On 3/2/21 1:53 PM, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 2, 2021 at 4:37 PM Christian Huitema < 
> <>> wrote:
>     On 3/2/2021 11:31 AM, Keith Moore wrote:
>>     On 3/2/21 6:33 AM, Dan Harkins wrote:
>>>     This is why it is important to set the record straight on this
>>>     bit of
>>>     folklore. There is really no racist baggage associated with the
>>>     OK gesture
>>>     but now people feel empowered to selectively condemn people who
>>>     use it. It
>>>     has become a weapon to attack opponents. 
>>     I think the lesson for IETF and TERM there is "be very cautious
>>     about creating new weapons that can be used to attack
>>     opponents".   Because people can and will use such weapons for
>>     purely political ends, e.g. to demonize the people who are
>>     promoting ideas that the attackers believe will harm their
>>     interests.   It's often easier to attack people personally than
>>     to attack their technical contributions, and we want to be very
>>     careful about legitimizing such attacks. 
>     It could be say that demonizing the OK gesture is an attack on
>     veterans. In the French air force, that gesture was part of the
>     standard ground check. So much noise that you can't speak, so the
>     mechanics used it to signal all clear. I suppose the same was true
>     in other NATO countries. As a consequence, it was widely used in
>     regular communication between service members to signal that
>     things were fine. I sometime find myself doing it out of habit,
>     and I suppose others do too.
>     -- Christian Huitema
> The issue is not the fact that it is a legitimate gesture with a 
> widespread legitimate use. What creates an issue is that a particular 
> group of people decided to subvert that meaning.

   I was in a far eastern airport (it might've been Macau or maybe 
Taipei, I'm not
100% sure) several years ago and this airport had prayer rooms for those 
so inclined.
They used an icon to indicate which religion the room catered to. The 
Christian prayer
room had a cross, the Muslim prayer room had a crescent, and the 
Buddhist prayer room
had a swastika.

   Being a western person, the swastika is repulsive to me due to the 
fact that,
how you put it, "a particular group of people decided to subvert its 
meaning." But
you know what? I didn't attempt to impose my view of religious 
iconography on the
people running this airport. I didn't try to tell them that there was an 
with their religious iconography. That would've been boorish and rude.

   So maybe some restraint is in order on the idea that there are issues 
some words or gestures that you think a particular group of people 
decided to subvert.
If you don't want to use "master key" in your I-D or feel that the OK 
gesture is
a symbol of white supremacy then bully for you, but don't try and impose 
that on
everyone else.

   Widespread legitimate use makes use of a thing legitimate, a group of 
trolls or
"swaggering bullies" notwithstanding. That's how it works.



"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to
escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius