Salam Pax interview
: There’s an interview with Salam Pax, the Baghdad blogger, coming out in Austria tomorrow and I’ll give you an excerpt below.
I haven’t had anything to say on David Warren’s efforts to paint Salam Pax as a Baathist fellow traveler because it’s just so damned speculative and, thus, so potentially defamatory. Because we don’t know his name we don’t know (a) whether he really exists, but we all seem to accept that now, (b) whether he is really in Baghdad, though that seems to be accepted wisdom as well now, and (c) where he stood and stands in the pantheon of Iraqi politics — and no matter what the answer to (c) is, we also don’t know (d) the circumstances, extenuating or not, that put him there. If, as Warren speculates, he’s the son of someone powerful, that doesn’t negate what he has been reporting; it’s a circumstance. His actions, however, could have an impact on how we see him — but we don’t know a thing about what he has or has not done. We just don’t know enough.
It’s so utterly predictable these days: First, you become famous. Then they tear you down.
This is the Jarvis corallary to the Warhol rule:
The day will come when everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.
And 15 minutes later, you will be infamous.
I’ve been rereading this and I want to be clear: I’m not saying whether Warren was right or whether Warren was wrong, I’m only saying that we don’t know enough of the facts or the circumstances yet to judge.
Now, to the interview. In his blog, Salam Pax mentioned a former roommate in Austria who’s now a journalist and who interviewed him. That interview, written by Stefan Kaltenbrunner and Klaus Stimeder, is appearing in the Austrian newsmagazine Format. This comes to me via bloggers IT&W and Scott Hanson; blogger Jacqueline Godany put up an excerpt of the printed interview in German on her blog. My German is bad (though every time I do this and mess something up, my friend Thomas Nephew is nice enough to correct me) but here are a few points from Godony’s excerpt:
: Format: When your website suddenly became inaccessible, many feared for the life of “Salam Pax.” Now that the war is over, how’s it going for you?
: Salam Pax: It goes well. Recently, I’ve been working for an NGO called the Campaign for Innocent Civilian Victims (CICV). Sometimes my friend Raed and I translate for journalists. But mostly I don’t do much. I often simply wander through town, open my eyes, and watch the unbelievable things that happen in Baghdad today…
: Format: Are you in danger?
: Salam Pax: I believe at the moment that I’m not in direct danger for my life. But I can’t be a hundred percent certain. Therefore, I do not want my last name written or my photo printed.
: Format: How many people knew the identity of Salam Pax during the war?
: Salam Pax: In Iraq, only my brother and my friend Raed, who returned to Baghdad shortly before the war. Out of the country, only a couple of friends in Austria, where I’d studied, and in the USA…
: Format: In the West, you’re considered a star. There are already Salam Pax t-shirts and coffee mugs with your logo. Have you already gotten invitations for American talk shows?
: Salam Pax: T-shirts? What? How? Coffee mugs? Are you kidding? I have no idea what they’re talking about. Honestly, I know nothing about all that. I know second and third hand that my diary attracted a certain hype. But I haven’t received invitations to talk shows; up to now, fortunately, almost no one knows who I really am and where I live
: Format: Are you going abroad?
: Salam Pax: No. I want to stay here in any case. After everything we went through, we find ourselves at a turning point in Iraq and I want to be part of in that. It’s a cliffhanger time; there are no laws; everyone does what they want. Everyone expected a civil war, but now that’s not happening. Actually, the situation is much better than we imagined before the war… People who before the war sold tomatoes now suddenly offer satellite phones on the open street… One thing is sure: No one is relying on the Americans. No one expects
that they will do anything for us.
: Format: Will you continue your diary?
: Salam Pax: No matter what, I’ll continue with the diary. Perhaps I’ll change the tone. Since I started working for CIVIS, I’ve seen many terrible things… The worst is always the situation in the hospitals [check me: in den Spit