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This comment is not intended to detract from the work that WANBAM has done (it's partly premised on the assumption that their mentoring work has likely been valuable to the individual people receiving mentorship): what would your views be about funding an EA mentoring program that was open to male EAs?

The case for such an initiative being extremely valuable seems very strong on the face of it. This is based on the assumption that mentoring is very valuable to individuals (this may have collective benefits if it makes them more impactful) and that there are many people who would benefit from mentoring and can't access it who are men. Both of those assumptions seem uncontroversially true. I would not be surprised if extending mentoring to more EAs paid for itself several times over and the Meta Fund does not seem particularly funding constrained. Adjudicating how this compares to other initiatives would depend on more controversial questions, especially if mentoring time is a scarce resource which can only be allocated to a somewhat fixed number of individuals, but it seems worth reflecting about.

One reason why this seems worth discussing explicitly is that I think that many people would be afraid to pitch a mentoring scheme that was open to men given that WANBAM exists (as I am somewhat afraid to make this comment) in case anyone infers any nefarious motivation behind it.

I think it's important to consider the general principles in question even if the particular instrumental claim 'defending accused witches doesn't do as much good, as you would in expectation be prevented from doing via your work on slavery if you defended accused witches.'

This seems to imply some general principles which don't seem that attractive, i.e. "Don't speak out against/defend against/protest one injustice if you think it will get in the way of working on injustices you care about more.'

This seems like the kind of violation of commonsense morality in the name of utilitarian instrumental goals that the EA community generally warns against. (I also worry that this specific violation of normal moral obligations like 'defend the innocent' 'speak the truth', makes it more likely that people will generally violate such norms in pursuit of their utilitarian goals).

This stance also seems quite shaky, since it seems like we would not generally support such reasoning if the cases were changed just a little bit e.g.:

"We should not speak out against slavery, because it would get in the way of our important anti-poverty work."

"We should not defend or associate with controversial _racial justice activists_, because it will reduce our other EA work."

This also seems bad from a reciprocity standpoint i.e. if slavery activists don't defend or associate with witch defenders, then witch defenders, by the same token may not defend or associate with slavery activists (and so on for other controversial groups). These reciprocity considerations might apply either directly and instrumentally or indirectly via defending the general norm.

Your position also seems even more extreme than how I described it above at points, i.e. "it seems much better for most people in the community to watch what they say in public somewhat, _be careful with their public associations_, and _minimize public contact with any associations that could be seen as potentially problematic_." This goes beyond merely not publicly defending groups. Add "minimiz[ing] public contact" with the groups I gave as examples above and this position seems even more problematic.

That said I think one part of your somewhat concessive, but somewhat ambiguous final paragraph is potentially true:

Individuals can do so... but doing so as a group is a dangerous correlated risk to the movement.

I think it's good to grant that individuals can stand up for accused individuals. I still think that a statement warning off EAs "as a group" is potentially problematic, because this could mean "It's OK for a small number of EAs to do this but not too many", which seems as objectionable as "It's OK for a small number of EAs to publicly oppose slavery, but not too many." But if "as a group" meant "The EA community shouldn't make official public statements as a whole on the political debates of the day or on other controversial issues, and nor should official EA orgs' (which I don't think was your intended meaning), then I would agree with this principle.