A Statement on Pax Templi
February 14, 2018 e.v.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
I have long believed that Political Liberty is a spiritual value. As I look back on my first civil rights march in Cincinnati when I was 18, I remember the excitement of participating in a revolutionary act designed to create a more just world. Cars and trucks drove by, some beeping horns with smiling, waving drivers supporting our cause, other screaming obscenities. I was fighting the good fight. Later that year, I saw the dark underbelly of that movement, while working for a radical SNCC lawyer in Washington, DC, realizing that there was a danger in the vanguard of the civil rights movement of which I had been unaware. Power was the goal. And as Mao said, power comes from the barrel of a rifle. A year or so later, I found myself in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, raising my arm in a clenched fist salute, mimicking my fellows at a Black Panther rally. I was so revolted by that, it would be over 45 years until I was at another such rally, a Tea Party group of laughing, smiling people advocating for smaller, less-intrusive government. The cars and trucks along the road were the same, most happy, some not.
I was at NOTOCON 2017 in mid-August. We had prepared ourselves for a potential attack by Nazi thugs in league with an expelled member who had made threats about the gathering. We had notified police and FBI in a coordinated strategy with USGL and many of us were legally armed. Fortunately, he had more important concerns, having been invited to speak in Charlottesville that weekend. Someone in Charlottesville was killed and there was a lot of chaos—as violent groups on the Right and Left battled each other in scenes reminiscent of the Munich, Germany street battles of the 1930s.
I had been dislocated from the news for those few days of NOTOCON and heard what I thought was a good response from President Trump when I returned home, condemning the violence of both sides. I posted a video of his speech on Facebook. And was hit by what I can only describe as a digital shit storm, which grew worse as I made a post the next day comparing those who tore down Confederate statues with the Taliban dynamiting the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan. (Who appointed anyone Keepers of Culture, Righteousness, and American History?) I openly worried about the Pyramids, equally hateful symbols of Polytheism to fundamentalist Jihadists. I expressed my concern in a second post on August 16.
The long knives of the Left came out in force —accusing me of racism, Islamophobia, and enabling Nazis because I had condemned Antifa. I defended myself angrily and was especially grateful for the massive outpouring of support from those who agreed with my viewpoints. There was a lot of controversy and polarization that summer. Many hundreds of comments came in. The divisiveness and passion were palpable. America was a nation in crisis after the election of November 2016, and that discord played out in August 2017. The membership of the American OTO was, not surprisingly, also politically fractured. People on both sides of the political spectrum were getting angrier and angrier at each other. Accusations and name calling were flying like cat’s fur in a social media frenzy.
All this can be viewed on my Facebook page beginning with my posts of August 15 and August 16. Later, after the Pyramid post, I mentioned that two of our four presidents on Mount Rushmore had owned slaves. I lamented the fact that Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was viewed with disdain by people largely untutored in history and unaware of the context of his day, and the enormous strides he made in the cause of human Liberty. I regard his work as a prelude to Liber Oz. Was Crowley without the faults of his culture? Does that mean he was not the vehicle of the Logos of the Aeon?
Speaking of Crowley, having abandoned politics in my later teens, I began to study and practice mysticism, spirituality, and later Magick. I struggled with The Book of the Law for some years and then came to accept it. In 1975 I signed the Oath of a Probationer and in 1976 took my Minerval. Both my Superiors were powerful men who were capable of great anger, command, and, yes, ridicule. I was raised in a Thelemic battleground of magical wars, lawsuits, and tribulation. I had no one to turn to for years, alone and isolated against the onslaught. I was apparently well trained for what was to follow. In those early years, I sometimes questioned the relevance and truth of the Thelemic movement as I had questioned the socialist movement of the 1960s. But in A.’.A.’. and OTO, I had found Truth. Our shortcomings as individuals did not diminish the importance of our cause. Ignorance was to be rooted out and fought against—not tolerated and glossed over as I had seen with my own eyes in 1966 in Washington, DC.
So there I was in late August 2017 with a massive amount of Facebook activity and a growing body of voices asking me to make a statement condemning racism, extremism, and political violence. I couldn’t believe it. To me, violence—unless in defense of life, liberty, or property—is wrong. It is not a part of my “political speech.” Like Crowley, I own and train with firearms. Unlike Crowley, I have never had to kill anyone. I posted a dopey picture of me holding a very fine lever-action rifle, among my most-prized possessions, wearing aviator sunglasses and a garishly painted leather jacket with Crowley’s face on the back. I wrote, “Does one really need to ‘condemn’ violent trailer trash, criminal street thugs, and mommy-daddy supported rioters? Sigh . . .”—in other words, violent Nazis, BLM, and Antifa protestors. That meme gathered some 300 likes and another rash of comments and shares. What I meant to say was, “How can anyone possibly need me to condemn something as repugnant as rioters, looters, people smashing windows, lighting fires, driving cars into crowds, swinging baseball bats at human heads—I mean, really: you need me to condemn that?”
In the meantime, on the other side of the Pond, a high-ranking, politically opinionated OTO member did not share my attitude! Although at that time, I rarely followed the postings of others on Facebook, I engaged in a conversation with him on his timeline, which ultimately resulted in him blocking me despite over 20 years of friendship. On August 15, he posted a letter from Karl Germer to Grady McMurtry from 1945. Germer was commenting on Nazi stubbornness and their resistance to rational discussion. Germer wrote about Nazi thinking: “Oh he is not one of us and can’t understand the height of our attitudes.” Germer’s criticism reminded me of the recent efforts of Berkeley rioting radicals trying to shut down free speech by conservative speakers on campus. I commented:
James Wasserman: "Nazis" come in many forms, [Person’s Name]. Some wear swastikas. They are the easy ones to identify, the useful idiots as it were. Others wear black masks and carry clubs and pretend to be honorable when they are no better than their opponents
I was told: No Bro, you don't get to do that.
No more of this weasel-words false equivalence shit. Nazis are evil racist motherfuckers, and the people protesting them are doing the right thing. You should be too.
James Wasserman: I protest both
I loathe violence and ignorance and self-righteousness from any source.
I was told: No, you clearly don't protest both.
There are people who believe that it's ok to hold other people as slaves, and who are literally marching down the street to protect monuments to that system of slavery.
And there are people who are trying to stop them. To agitate for a just and equitable society instead.
So don't try to pretend that they are both "equally bad" or some shit like that. They aren't. They absolutely are not. And if you can't see that, then my Brother, you need to sit down and have a good long talk with yourself about who you are now.
Another gentle soul wrote: It's insane the naivety of certain Americans.
James Wasserman: Antifa and BLM and many other iterations of the Alt-Left want to wipe out history and destroy anything with which they disagree–like all totalitarians before them–going back to Ahkenaten and his repulsive cult. [Rude Individual] can thumb his nose as much as he likes against Americans who support free and open expression of all points of view, including those which we find repulsive. We don't care. We have a First Amendment enshrined within our founding ideology which allows for free and open expression. Violence is not part of that freedom. Masked people with clubs are Fascists, not Liberators. Those who ignore history will be condemned to repeat it
Back here in the US, some others launched a public online petition naming me as a bigot and a member of the Order. Yes, my Order membership appears on numerous books I have written. But that was my and my publishers’ choice. Facebook is also my choice. I think there is a line between sniping on social media and mounting a public assault by unjustly condemning a person as a bigot, neo-Nazi, and White Supremacist apologist in a campaign designed to damage his reputation, audience, and livelihood. It was also a petition signed with a Frater name while mentioning my legal name. Here is what was stated:
An Open Letter to All Thelemites Regarding Recent Bigotry
We unequivocally denounce all Thelemites who are defending the Charlottesville neo-Nazi and white nationalist rally. In particular, we denounce James Wasserman, a prominent author who has repeatedly and unashamedly engaged in apologetics in defense of neo-Nazis and other white nationalist and white supremacist groups. He does not represent us, or Ordo Templi Orientis' values, or Thelema and we should cease promoting his works.
Free speech means that these bigots have the right to speak as they will, including immature and vile forms of hatred. They are free to act like edgelords if they so please — sometimes it is unclear if someone is bigoted, and so their free speech helps us shed any doubt. That being said, it is also within our rights to absolutely denounce them, to marginalize them, to not promote their works and public personas, and to generally show that their hateful ideology is not welcome.
If you see or hear any Thelemites supporting these vile forms of bigotry, denounce them. If you [sic] any Thelemites fighting against this oppressive hatred, amplify their voices and show your support. This is the New Aeon — we do not wait for Gods or Kings to swoop down and save us. We must each act in our own individual spheres to bring about the change we Will. [emphasis added]
* * *
So where does this leave me? The question for an initiate is how best to conquer Evil, dispel Darkness, and walk in the Light. Did I make mistakes in my own mission? I believe I did. To begin with, I got very angry, some would say “triggered.” Even though my feelings may have been justified, I might have been less confrontational. What is the goal? The goal was and is to preserve, defend, and cleanse the Order.
Today’s Order is very different than when I joined. “Aleister Crowley’s O.T.O.” was led by a chaotic, dynamic, hard-charging, heavy-partying Caliph, and an ethos and culture filled with drugs and sex and rock ‘n roll. But success has been our proof, and to a greater extent than I realized, it has also brought new responsibilities to us as members.
While I will never accept restrictions on the expression or promulgation of my political views (which I fervently believe are in consort with Liber Oz), I could have been smarter. Less willing to engage in endless personal attacks, despite the fact that I was being endlessly personally attacked. There had to have been more skillful means available to me and I failed to achieve them.
To begin with, I might have recognized sooner that good people can disagree, and do so passionately. And sometimes good people can engage in bad behavior. And that while in normal life, we can be less than charming to each other when we disagree, in the OTO we are bound by our Masonic and Fraternal codes of behavior. These include mutual support, tolerance, kindness, honesty, respect, and defense—whether we agree with each other or not. When social media becomes a platform for the expression of hatred, anger, antagonism, and loathing, it weakens the Order and hurts our mission. I have my own opinions about what that mission is, and whom we should be working to attract, but my participation in a 6-month hate-fest was unacceptable.
If I had fulfilled my role properly, I might have reached out and worked to enter into discussions with my antagonists, rather than react to behavior designed to get me to react. I also developed a bit of a messianic complex—as numerous members wrote to me publicly and privately stating they had been bullied for their conservative political beliefs. While this might be normal in a political action committee, it is unacceptable in a magical/religious Order. (O.T.O. must stand outside partisan politics. Our Sacred Task is to spread Liberty, not political ideology.) The cries for help of these younger members stimulated my “high visions” of redeeming and protecting them—and may have actually prevented me from best carrying out my responsibilities. I could have addressed their concerns through proper channels with more precision and efficiency.
I have always been a combative type. Learned it by being the only Jew in my school till my brother enrolled two years later. It has been a great strength for me, but I have also seen its weakness during this ordeal.
The last subject I want to address is my infamous LBGT, remarks of October 26. (since removed). I grew up in a vastly different culture, when people’s sexual choices were more private. There were simple words for male and female heterosexuals, homosexuals and cross-dressers. Today, in the “gender-fluid” world of New York City, for example, 31 different sexual expressions are recognized. Facebook offered 71 gender choice options in the UK. This new linguistic approach is as much political as cultural. In any case, I apologize to those who were hurt by my rather tasteless joke in a thread in October. My comment was inelegant. It was made after someone added a fifth and sixth letter to the “now standard” LBGT list. I was impatient and burned out, and regret that my hasty expression seems to have caused real pain to some people, including some who are real friends. That was not my intention at all.
I proclaim without hesitation that racism and sexism are totally antithetical to the doctrines of The Book of the Law and our other Holy Books. This is one reason I was so distraught by the hundreds of times I was accused of holding and preaching such views by people who should have known better.
If we are to rebuild comity, fraternity, and trust within the American O.T.O., we need to lay down our weapons and extend our hands to each other once again. I am going to take the lessons I have learned and modify my social media activities. You will still find me expressing political ideas with which you disagree. In return for your tolerance—and in the interest of dialog and Pax Templi—I will promise you the same public respect for you and your right to express your political ideas that I request for me and my own.
Love is the law, love under will.