Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Iraqi Bloggers Visit the States

Apologies in advance for the lack of coherency contained in this post, but it's part of an overarching theme that I've wanted to write about more definitively and just haven't been able to. What follows is some commentary mixed in with some stuff I've read, it may not fit together perfectly but it is all part of the same whole.

Sometimes I really really wonder if I am living in the twilight zone. How is it that a marine killing a wounded insurgent in the heat of battle gets more international attention than the same insurgency slicing up and disembowling a female aid worker? How does one explain the rather little attention paid to French troops shooting and killing unarmed civilians in the Ivory Coast? Does anyone have even the smallest amount of doubt that if it were American troops shooting unarmed African civilians that it wouldn't receive world wide attention? Then again, I have been continually surprised over the last two years at the lefts refusal to even acknowledge some humanitarian benefit to deposing Saddam Hussein. So I guess it should come as no surprise that, despite all the cries of supporting the Iraqi people and supporting the troops, much of the left still appears bankrupt.

Take Spirit of America for example. It is a wonderful grass roots organization, driven almost entirely by the blogosphere. Their goal is to extend the goodwill of the American people for the cause of advancing democracy and free speech in the Middle East. They've empowered Iraqi women by constructing and equipping sewing centers, they've set-up a tool donation program so Iraqi men/tradesmen can learn a skill and be productive. They repair universities, and supply libraries with books among many other projects. The latest drive of Spirit of America is the blogger challenge. The running totals are here. In looking at the list there is a noticeable lack of lefty bloggers. Why is that? Are they only good at spending other people's money for charitable purposes?

Sarah at Trying to Grok makes the relevant observation:

My old roommate writes poetry to speak out against the war. Atrios’ readers use their filthy mouths to denigrate right-leaning bloggers. But what have they done of substance? If you oppose the war, shouldn’t you support helping Iraqis put their country back together? Regardless of whether Bush looks like a chimp or not, shouldn’t the idea that someone is raising money to help the common people of Iraq be a good thing? If you believe the war was wrong, shouldn’t you believe the people of Iraq were right and thus want to help them?

It’s warmongers and chickenhawks who have raised $62865.72 so far for the people of Iraq. As far as I understand, there’s not a lefty blog among the participants. I find that very sad.

My old roommate writes anti-war poems. I donated to Spirit of America. Which one of us has done more to help the people of Iraq?

So the warmongering right raises and donates money for civic projects and the left mocks the givers and recipients.

Jeff Jarvis, a Kerry supporter, is the notable exception. Jeff has done much to encourage blogging in the Middle East, especailly Iraq and Iran. This week, Spirit of America helped bring two of the three brothers who blog at Iraq the Model to the states. (Initially they were going to make a stop in Chicago, I was in line to help host/put together their visit, but alas, they were unable to make it.) Jeff describes his amazing meeting:

While I was in Washington yesterday, I got to meet Omar and Mohamed, the blogging brothers behind, and I can't tell you what a wonderful moment it was. It was magical, even miraculous. For this could never have happened in a world without the internet and citizens' media.

How in the world, before this, could I ever have become friends with two men on the other side of the world in a war zone where our soldiers are fighting? How could I have learned about their lives in the midst of that battlefield? How could we have made mutual friends -- Zeyad, Kerry Dupont, Jim Hake? How could such a group have ended up working together, though thousands of miles apart, on a project to bring this new medium to the rest of the world? (Omar translated the Arabic blogging tool, by the way.)

I stand in awe of all that. But I also stand in awe of these two men. They have tremendous courage doing what they are doing: They grab onto free speech like men dying of thirst who finally come upon the oasis. They use their free speech with a gusto we should all admire and aspire to. They use it improve their nation and their future.

But some are unimpressed. Professor Juan Cole, a supposed Middle East expert, can only find time for scorn and insults. So Jeff Jarvis takes him apart with a good fisking:

Prof. Juan Cole libels my freedom-loving friends from Iraq.
The man is pond scum. I know no other way to say it. This guy Cole (supported by your tax dollars in Michigan) decides that if he disagrees with someone, he should imply that that someone must be backed by the CIA or other nefarious forces. Prof. Cole is too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the liberal irony in that; back in the day, when people disagreed with those on his side of the political spectrum, people on the other side implied that they must be backed by the Soviet Union, by Commies. It's an old trick, Prof. I'm ashamed of you for using it.

Ever since America engaged in Iraq, Cole has spent every day on his blog doing nothing but collecting bad news -- never good news. And people looking for bad news -- chicken liberals -- celebrate him for that. I'm a liberal but I don't celebrate Cole. I haven't bothered reading him for months, because he never had anything new to say.

But I had to read him today as he libeled my friends Omar and Mohammed from IraqTheModel. Cole says, quoting another blog:
The MR posting brings up questions about the Iraqi brothers who run the IraqTheModel site. It points out that the views of the brothers are celebrated in the right-leaning weblogging world of the US, even though opinion polling shows that their views are far out of the mainstream of Iraqi opinion. It notes that their choice of internet service provider, in Abilene, Texas, is rather suspicious, and wonders whether they are getting some extra support from certain quarters.

Look at the domain for the brothers' site: That's Blogspot, owned by Google, you fool. Yes, Google, a well-known front for the capitalist conspiracy that is America.

Read the rest.

As outspoken supporters of Democracy in Iraq they live under a constant threat of death, even if Juan Cole can't appreciate it. Fortunately the Iraqi brothers seem to be taking it all in stride, witness Omar:
Arthur Chrenkoff has another round up of good news from Afghanistan. I can't stop feeling amazed whenever I see the enormous effort Arthur puts in his blog trying to show some of the untold news about Iraq and Afghanistan, and I keep wondering, "On who's payroll is he?! Poor "anti-war" bloggers, who toil just for the sake of truth living only on wine and french bread.

Which prompts Greyhawk to observe:
First: appreciate the subtlety of Omar's wry humor, that's satire worthy of Swift from a man from a culture most likely far from yours for whom English is a second language. Your reading of such a thing from such a source would have been impossible a few short months ago when neither the technology nor the freedom were available to him.

Then ponder this: An American GI in Iraq just linked to and commented about an Iraqi citizen, who was linking and commenting on a post from an ex-pat from Poland now living in Australia and providing information to the world on the situation in Afghanistan.

Yet cynics continue to denigrate it all.


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