Soloist needs choir: Salam Pax has a new post up and I have one thing to say about it: We need more weblogs — that is, more voices, more viewpoints — coming from Iraq.
Thanks for the heads-up — it’s another fascinating post!
Don’t let yourself be intimidated into neutrality by the anti-Salam Pax campaign, by the way. Of course additional voices from Iraq would be welcome, but even if they existed I think Salam would stand out nonetheless.
He really seems to have recognized a responsibility to bear witness to what’s going on over there, and IMO has grown into that role — not by tamping down his opinions and feigning objectivity, but by giving them free rein and fully acknowledging all of the contradictions and doubts that go along with them.
He has reiterated his classic line:
Where are those ?Democracy for dummies? books I asked you to bring along?
He REALLY means it!
Well said, Jeff.
We particularly need to hear women’s voices.
Just blogged an article about the return soon of the internet to Baghdad from The Washington Times or on my blog:
I agree with Swopa. He does seem to be trying to be ‘fair’, even if as he recognizes that he’s not objective.
I found it fascinating that he seems to be in favor of not having Iraqi rule for a while (see MB’s comment above).
I think he’s right on that, too. They do need a ‘Democracy for Dummies’. Not because they are actually dumb (they aren’t) but because they’ve been so misinformed for so long that it will take some education to counter the tendency to just shrug and say ‘whatever you want’ to someone they perceive to be in charge.
Salam has grown a lot since all of this happened. It could be much worse– we could be seeing gay porno on his weblog by now, but we got lucky with him. It could have gone either way.
I was struck by his ‘smartypants’ crack about the CIA. But in a way, he really owes them. When his blog got blocked off and I went scurrying around to find experts to solve the problems he was having, if the pickle factory didn’t want that line open, they could have brought it down or hacked it to death or something. Meanwhile, why should they schlep around after him and Raed when they can sit in an air-conditioned office and keep up with his adventures just by reading his blog?! :-) This is kinda funny– he’s providing them with a trail of bread crumbs, so they don’t have to follow him around.
I cannot believe this.
Salam’s blog was always fun to read and informative, if you knew how to read between the lines. The latest stuff is narcissistic crap mixed in with unsupported gossip (the CIA-Mukhabarat anecdote) and thinly-veiled Yank-taunting.
Regarding “neutrality” on Salam–what’s wrong with neutrality? I don’t think he’s a Mukhabarat agent, but I don’t think he is a disinterested observer, either. He’s a spoiled, rich kid whose family clearly did quite well under the regime.
And why is he the ONLY blogger in Iraq? That is weird. Jeff says there are 20,000 bloggers in Iran. Iran has 3 times as many people as Iraq, shouldn’t Iraq have at least a 10th the number of bloggers as Iran? Was it more of a police state? I don’t think so.
Caitlin, Uday was a monster– to a degree none of us even guessed. I knew he was a psychopath, but the information coming out about him now is horrendous. Read up on it and you’ll see.
Uday controlled their internet system. The guy is like something out of Silence of the Lambs.
I’ll betcha a nickel they’re going to bring The Glass Booth out of storage to put him in if they hold a trial for him.
Then how did Salam Pax of all people find his way around this Uday controlled system?
Venture a guess, for I cannot. I don’t know as much about the situation as you do, and I am computer illiterate.
I’d appreciate any sources, URLs you could supply on how Uday controlled the internet.
The more I think of it the more totally strange it becomes.
He publishes photos of himself. He tells you he’s gay. He describes himself. He speaks German. His uncle does this, his grandfather is that. He’s a member of this club and that club. How many guys like that were in Saddam’s Baghdad? And how did this one very identifiable person get around the strict Internet controls of a police state, unless he had elite connections?
Button, Swopa, please explain, because I am suddenly very interested in this issue. I always took Salam for what he was before but now I am a doubter. And the people who are making me doubt are the people who are defending him at all costs.
First I asked Pyra (Blogger) to help, but they said it looked like it would be too tough for them, so they asked around for some high-geek experts to help. Then I went to the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School where there are specialists in this type of situation. You would have to do your research at the Berkman Center. A lot of these people who helped stay anonymous to do that. I expect that eventully someone there will write a paper on the situation. It was analyzed four ways from Sunday.
No, his situation is not strange. There is an oligarchy of wealthy businessmen in many banana republics. They are not necessarily ideologues. The NY Times recently did a feature story on the Iraqi group. And also it is very common when regime changes take place for there to be: an emmigration of refugees and people who send their kids away to boarding schools. These kids often become “trans-nationals.” When I went to college, we had the refugees from the ouster of Mossedegh in Iran. You can accept him at face value unless or until you find out otherwise. But just don’t take his blog too seriously– he’s like someone interesting and entertaining that you meet on a long airplane ride, that’s all. As long as he is not asking you to send him money, what difference does it make? It shouldn’t make much difference.
I think I left something out above. Uday tried to block Salam off from his blog and shut him down. When I saw what was happening I decided that I wouldn’t let Uday succeed, so I went to get help to prevent Uday from blocking off Salam’s blog and shutting him down as I described above.
You walked in to the middle of the movie. Don’t worry about it.
Whoa, you did that, button? Am I reading that right?
If so, pardon me while I take my hat off to you. Wish I’d stumbled into this movie earlier.
Yes, Swopa. We used to have professionals at the CIA to do these things, but the guy who directed much of that died and they did not replace him because they decided it was too much aggrevation. They helped a litery magazine, but were escoriated by snobby intellectuals, so they threw in the towel. When I first engaged Salam to help him, he asked me if I’m from the CIA. And I told him no. Because Salam does not know too much about open society, he was quite mystified as to why a complete stranger would step in to help him, and I couldn’t really explain this to him. We have many volunteers in the U.S. doing all sorts of things from vol firemen to vol suicide hotlines, etc. They don’t understand this yet in Iraq.
i got into baghdad and my friend Ghaith started showing me around. Ghaith is hot shit. the guy’s as fast as a whip, tough as leather, and has been raised in the middle east, so he speaks enough languages to tongue-tie a database. he’s part of a small network of intense young iraqis that live in baghdad, among whom is salam pax, an online writer that has been kind enough to keep us posted on local news from a local perspective. [see http://dear_raed.blogspot.com/ fore more..]. actually, its not just that he’s kind; as his father told me, salam has been doing this at risk of his entire family. his dad didn’t find out about what salam was up to and if, prior to the regime’s fall, the wrong someone had found out, heads would have rolled. Baghdad, Iraq: ides of may, 2003 ( IRAQ )
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