Listen now | Episode 168: Just the Tip of the Circumcision Debate talked about me. Here is my response.
Excellent response, Brendon. Well explained.
Thanks for your thorough response. I'm Trace—we chatted via email. My position on something like this is always complicated: my role is to provide background research and context so that when Katie and Jesse cover the topic, they have a thorough picture of it. As part of that role, when I need a fuller picture of things, I will at times reach out to involved parties, but that happens on an episode-by-episode basis. But while I have my own opinions, nobody listens to BARpod to hear what I have to say about things. I will neither agree with my bosses on every particular nor expect them to parrot my views. I work for this podcast because I trust them to be reasonable and accurate on sensitive issues whether or not I'd present those issues with precisely the same gloss, but their words are not mine, nor mine theirs. All this to say: I feel responsible to respond here because we chatted at length and I take my responsibility to be an honest broker seriously, but my opinions are mine and mine alone.
I'm going to divide my response into two parts: First, a preamble to cover specific factual/contextualization discrepancies or objections. Second, a more substantive response to the core of your project that represents the heart of the disagreement.
**1: Your specific factual/contextualization disputes**
First off, one point where I wholly agree with you: you mention that the episode praised Ungar-Sargon's film while downplaying yours. I agree that it could have done more to emphasize that your film was significantly more prominent and impactful.
Segments are, by their nature, summaries. Much more background goes in than can be presented within any given segment. This adds frustration for people with deep involvement or investment in stories—they know so many more layers of the conflict, so many more rabbit holes to dive into—but there is an unavoidable trade-off between conciseness and depth. Generally speaking, when I research segments, I spend a while diving into all publicly available information on the topic, then, if I have specific questions left unanswered by what is public or needing further clarification, reach out to the involved parties. You and I talked at some length over email, which I appreciated.
You mention frustration that we didn't end up looking at the recordings you have or have further Zoom conversations with you. The conversations you mention do a lot to shed light on the specifics of Ungar-Sargon's campaign against you—that he smeared you as a white nationalist in private, based on the disputed conversation. I believe your account of that campaign more-or-less in full, but it's not inconsistent with what's in the episode, and while those recordings would have been relevant if Katie & Jesse had elected to spend more of the segment on the specifics of that campaign, they elected to focus instead on the initial dispute itself. I appreciate your openness and willingness to go on the record in detail. It meant that we got more from you, and heard more of your story, than any other person mentioned in this episode. But while I'd have no problem talking further in any format, I'm confident in my understanding of your views based on taking a deep dive into your Substack, watching your documentary, and our conversation over email. While hashing out more specifics could be interesting, it was not necessary for the episode.
For what it's worth, I'm personally less sympathetic to Ungar-Sargon than Jesse was in the episode, mostly tied into my general wariness towards leftist activists. You mention a lot of spurious allegations that I have no reason to think apply to you: sympathy to QAnon, Christian Nationalism, brainwashing, white nationalism and racial separatism, so forth. I aim for precision in my own words and am generally put off by sweeping or spurious accusations tying people in with All Forms Of Badness. I do not believe you are personally a white nationalist, QAnon, Christian Nationalist, or anything of the sort. As with Katie and Jesse in the episode, I don't believe talking with Stefan Molyneux makes you a white nationalist. Generally speaking, I think it's worth engaging with whoever is willing to hear you out and find common ground where it can be found; I trust your account of areas of agreement and disagreement, don't think talking with him is a sign of sinister intent or beliefs, and personally and emphatically stand in favor of talking to a wide range of people.
One point of order: you say our framing that you were responding to Ungar-Sargon's accusations is inaccurate; I mostly disagree. The relevant articles and timing:
April 2022 - Beyond the Bris publishes "Standing Against Antisemitism"(https://www.beyondthebris.com/standing-against-antisemitism/), specifically referencing your use of the term "Jewish fragility" and other elements of your work as a cause in accompanying articles: here (https://www.beyondthebris.com/refuting-jewish-fragility-why-antisemitism-harms-the-genital-autonomy-ga-movement/) and here (https://www.beyondthebris.com/a-case-study-in-undermining-the-cause-of-genital-autonomy-through-jewish-scapegoating-antisemitic-tropes/), initially published in March
7 May 2022 - You publish "A Response to Slander" (https://www.hegemonmedia.com/p/response-to-slander)
17 May 2022 - Ungar-Sargon publishes "How to Deradicalize a Movement" (https://www.eliungar.com/circumcision/2022/5/17/how-to-deradicalize-a-movement)
While it's true that "How to Deradicalize a Movement" (in which Ungar-Sargon personally and publicly makes his claims about you) was published after your own article, your response came after people in the intactivist movement made specific, personal accusations of antisemitism towards you in public, and after Ungar-Sargon signed his name to an open letter against antisemitism on an outlet that made it unambiguous that you were one of the people accused of antisemitism. I stand by BARpod's coverage of the timing.
That, I think, takes care of the technical specifics. On, then, to the heart of your disagreement with both me and BARpod.