I serve on the committee of a small NGO which is fairly active in our local area, after being nominated and elected to membership about a year ago. My nomination was due to work that I was doing personally and for documenting this work along with my opinions of things that I was experiencing on my own website. After being elected, I worked for this NGO but also continued doing my own work and updating my own website, which continued gaining in popularity to the point where it eclipsed the NGO's own website, and I was referring more visitors to them than they to me.

The website remained very much my own personal website, with posts mostly written in the first person, occasionally referring to the NGO and its work.

I was recently contacted by a senior member of the committee who ominously stated that there were 'problems' with some of the recent posts on my own website. We had a very long phone call in which endless numbers of criticisms were made of two of my recent posts. Essentially all of the problems, in some way, were of a political nature. All in all, there were probably at least thirty different points of criticism.

Up until that point, I had heard no criticism whatsoever from the NGO.

I had posted something on the VE Day anniversary exploring fascism and its impact on the local area during the interwar period, then going on to argue that society had 'progressed' because the extremism of today (and I made reference to Extinction Rebellion, AfD, and British far-right parties) is far more tame than the extremism of the interwar period. In the article, I go back and forth comparing examples of extremism and extremists between the two eras - all to demonstrate that what we consider extremism today is really nothing compared to the extremism of the 1930s, and I round up by saying that we should be glad that after all, even if we get annoyed by being called racist names occasionally, at least we don't get assaulted and even killed for our race. (Again, making the comparison between the two eras).

In the article, I take a few quotes from a first-hand account written in the 1930s, where a Jew is frequently referred to as a 'Jewboy'. However the passage is actually about organising locals together to protect the Jew from violent attack from a gang of fascists. I use this passage to again demonstrate the difference between the 1930s and today - I say that today we would consider calling a Jew a 'Jewboy' extremist, but in the 1930s those who actually took a stand against violent extremism thought nothing of calling a Jew a 'Jewboy'.

Apparently (although I heard nothing directly) other members of the NGO were shocked that I had used the word 'Jewboy' (even in quotation) at all and shocked that I had even written about fascism. In response, they took down a link to my website which they had on theirs, and although it was never said, it was strongly implied they thought that I was racist and that I should probably resign from the committee, and certainly delete the post. The member made out that the NGO had been receiving endless numbers of complaints, although I had heard nothing myself from anyone. He also made out that I had deliberately written the post to be provocative and incite a reaction.

The member then went on the make endless criticisms about many other things on the website, repeatedly stating that it was bad for the NGO and that it made people think the NGO were 'out of touch' and 'racist'. Just giving one example, I was criticised for questioning the Mayor of London's campaign called 'London is Open' asking what exactly it meant, and jokingly referred to a local incident where a councillor had insisted that a council estate bin storage shed should be 'open' to the public (we are based in London). The member stated that the campaign was obviously taking a stand against racism, and that questioning it was in some way racist, and certainly made the NGO look racist.

The phone call ended with more or less: 'delete the post, apologise, and write things that we want to be written, or go to hell'.

I'm not really sure what to do here. I haven't heard a word from other committee members, and I have heard nothing but praise from people who read my posts and stay in contact. I don't really think that simply writing about fascism is racist, and I'm not sure that simply quoting the word 'Jewboy' is racist either. Most importantly of all, the website is very much my own website, and has always been simply a documentation of my own work and opinions, rather than a proxy for the NGO. Given that I don't see any need to delete these posts and apologise simply for continuing to do what I did to be elected in the first place, should I simply resign in protest?

  • 3
    If they want you to resign, how is resigning considered "resigning in protest"? May 14, 2020 at 14:29
  • The opinion does not seem to be that I should resign, but that I should delete the posts and continue serving.
    – Owen
    May 14, 2020 at 14:31
  • Well, isn't resigning the "go to hell" part of the ultimatum? May 14, 2020 at 14:33
  • Yes, it is. But the member did not want me to take that option, and I'm not even sure that other members of the committee are as concerned as he is. In fact I know that some of them aren't even aware of the 'controversy'.
    – Owen
    May 14, 2020 at 14:35
  • 8
    To me it sounds like one member of the committee has a bee in their bonnet. Do not resign unless the full committee, in an official meeting, asks something similar of you. If contacted again privately by the individual, just tell them to bring it up at the next meeting and hang up.
    – Jon Custer
    May 14, 2020 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


I'm with @Jon Custer :

To me it sounds like one member of the committee has a bee in their bonnet. Do not resign unless the full committee, in an official meeting, asks something similar of you. If contacted again privately by the individual, just tell them to bring it up at the next meeting and hang up.

Some people are so used to everyone agreeing with them that they're unable to be logical when they disagree with something. They decide that something is bad and will perform all sorts of mental gymnastics to find additional flaws or make ad hominem attacks.

My experience of volunteer organisation is that some rather unusual individuals are often tolerated because they do a lot for the organisation and no one else wants their job, or is willing to take them on. It's usually fine for years, then sometimes they retire naturally, sometimes they leave in a huff when people start to oppose them, sometimes they annoy enough people to be removed and sometimes they drag the organisation down until it's irrelevant.

So my advice is to be a bit of a politician yourself (in the good way). Have a private chat with other influential people and see how they feel and what they feel would be best for the organisation. You may discover that it's safe to ignore this guy, or you may decide that it's best for the organisation if you do resign, or (if you're really unlucky) you might end up with his job.


First of all, my understanding of "politically motivated" is around behaviour designed to give someone power. It's quite disjoint from what your apparent meaning is, which is criticisms of political statements. But there may be a locale specific meaning at play.

Like it or not, what you do on your personal site reflects on the NGO. Especially if you are one of the more visible members.

You may say you have a right to freedom of expression, and you do, but the NGO doesn't need to give you a platform either directly, by linking to your site, or having you as part of the committee.

If you are going to alienate members of the community based upon what you're saying, that goes against the interests of the NGO.

You may make an argument that your points were reasoned, and that certain understandings of the content (made by the senior member for instance) are incorrect. But that hardly matters. Perception is key here.

Unless you think the senior member, who apparently has not critisied your behaviour at all up until this point, has some hidden motivation, isn't the very fact that they find your words inciteful enough proof that some members of the community may think the same?

In terms of what you should do, if you really have the NGO's interests at heart, you should consider what course of action would be best for the NGO, weight up against your own interests. It is impossible for us to perform that assessment for you.

If you legitimately cannot determine if what you are doing is in the NGO's interest, you should raise it with the committee and get a vote on the issue. Otherwise, if you don't mind the friction, you can just simply wait to see what happens.

  • Thank you, I tried to upvote the answer but don't have enough reputation! Upon reflection, the particular member has always been unusually critical of my work, I meant that the committee itself has never criticised the website.
    – Owen
    May 14, 2020 at 15:04
  • You should wait a while before accepting, there may be even better answers! May 14, 2020 at 15:13

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