No matter how believable a lie may sound, it cannot withstand the facts. In part 3 of their Medium article “Takedown Culture & Marc Gafni: Nancy Levine’s Egregious Con-Job, A Modern Day Gaston From Beauty and The Beast“, the three co-authors Lisa Engles, Kristina Kincaid, William Gazecki familiarize us with the facts about Marc Gafni that refute Nancy Levine’s obvious lies.
In order to understand how Nancy Levine’s maligned use of victim advocacy has contributed to the widespread degradation of truth in Internet discourse, we will clearly present the facts to give an accurate representation of background and context.
Who Is Marc Gafni?
Dr. Marc Gafni is the president of the Center for Integral Wisdom, an activist think tank committed “to evolving the source code of culture and consciousness”. Gafni is the author of ten books, and is known primarily as a public intellectual and cultural theorist. His primary work is around the evolution of culture and consciousness through a new Universe Story rooted in a new vision of identity which he calls Unique Self.
Some of Gafni’s important work is on Eros as a social, political and ethical force, and on a new vision of relationships and sexuality. According to many his work is seminal. His colleagues, students and close friends agree that he is a big person, kind and loving, provocative and out of the box — extraordinary according to all accounts. His integrity and goodness is affirmed by dozens of his close associates today. (To get a sense of him it is worth reading the sixty or so blog posts at the end of the Center’s public statement of a year ago. He is implacably opposed to the old “sage on the stage model” and instead advocates for what he calls a “Unique Self Symphony” in which everyone is empowered to give their unique gifts.
As might be expected from a theorist of Eros, he has led a somewhat unconventional life. Like all leaders, he has made mistakes in the normal arc of human relationship, which he has owned and apologized for in both public and private forums. Like many leaders of his ilk, Gafni attracts committed associates, but also criticism, and since 2006 has repeatedly been attacked by a few highly vocal former associates who have gone out of their way to enlist others in their campaign to destroy his reputation, the most recent campaign in 2016.
The claims made in the original smear in 2006 were based on intentionally distorted accounts of several of Gafni’s past relationships with mature adult women — relationships that substantive email and other documentation shows were fully mutual and consensual at the time. The motive for the smear campaign seems to have been largely professional rivalry disguised as victim advocacy. In a move that has become all too familiar to followers of internet takedowns, the original instigators, directly and indirectly, of the attack on Gafni in 2006, used Gafni’s history of post-conventional relationships as their justification for attacking him. Given the current climate around issues of sexuality, their obvious tactic was to accuse Gafni — falsely, as it happens — of sexual harassment. The same people involved in 2006 teamed up with a ‘New Age’ entrepreneur to instigate the highly orchestrated 2016 smear campaign in which they created an anti-Gafni Internet meme.
Responsible parties have investigated these claims carefully, and concluded that the anti-Gafni meme is based on false information, larded with distorted ‘facts’ and assumptions. Among those who defend Gafni’s character are several leading sexual trauma therapists, abuse advocates, and psychologists, many of whom who have worked on behalf of genuine victims for decades. All, including Gafni, stand fully against all forms of sexual harassment.
Gafni has repeatedly called for facilitated mediation with the people behind the attacks, in a setting that would include substantive fact checking as well as inquiry into the motives and collusions behind the attacks.
Nancy Levine’s Questionable Motives
Nancy Levine, who describes herself as a ‘sexual abuse activist,’ appeared out of nowhere, two weeks after the 2016 anti-Gafni smear campaign began. She lives in Marin county close to one of the organizers of the smear campaign and is directly affiliated with a former associate of Gafni’s who is a major actor in the false complaints of sexual harassment over ten years ago.
Whether she is primarily interested in attacking Gafni is unclear, because the core of her campaign has been aimed at a former Chair of Gafni’s think tank, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. For the last year she has sent out press releases under the letterhead of her own one-woman organization, addressed to Mackey’s Board of Directors, as well as to institutions where Mackey speaks, and professional associates of Mackey’s.
Her letters and posts attack Mackey for not publically denouncing a so-called ‘sexual abuser.’ To advance her campaign, she has attempted to disrupt Mackey’s relationship with his publisher, and even brought a small group to picket outside Whole Foods stores in New York and Los Angeles.
Levine bases her claims about Gafni on a story told by Sara Kabakov, about a teenage relationship Sara had with Gafni when he was 19 and she was 14 years old. This relationship took place nearly 40 years ago, when Gafni was just out of high school and the young woman was a high-school freshman. The relationship was limited to teenage necking, and by Gafni’s account, was consensual and mutually loving at the time. Kabakov, in hindsight, claims that she felt manipulated in the relationship, a feeling that she never reported to Gafni himself. She has has also changed her story about what actually happened in the relationship several times.
Levine always reports the story without mentioning the fact that Gafni was a teenager at the time he knew Sara. Instead, she gives the false and apparently deliberate impression that the relationship was an actual sexual assault by a thirty or forty or fifty year old “former rabbi” or spiritual teacher on a 13 or 14 year old girl. The reader is left with the impression of a 50 year old teacher having sex with a 13 or 14 year old girl- something that never happened. This has been confirmed by extensive expert polygraph administered at Gafni’s request by one of the leading polygraph experts in the world. She also fails to mention the verified collusion between the various parties involved in the campaign against Gafni, and their possible motivations which has been described in well researched articles here. She never mentions that Gafni and others have responded in detail to these false attacks, in numerous public posts over many years.
Based on this misrepresentation of the facts, rooted in both omission and distortion, Levine makes use of public forums to tar those who associate with Gafni and to intimidate them with threats of economic reprisals such as boycotts and the cancellation of their events and publications.