Chance, the blogger

Chance, the blogger
: I’m struck by all the quoting and dissection and analysis and argument over one young man who suddenly has the ear of media big and small just because he was at the wrong place, Baghdad, at the wrong time, in a war, and he had the connections that let him start a weblog and speak to the world.

But reading more of Mark S. Meadows’ interview with Salam Pax at Tekka (someone put a link to this part in the comments), I’m struck by the rhetorical meandering in unsuccessful search for a point:

I asked him, “What are the Americans pushing for?”

“Bigger markets. Politics. Soft Drinks. Making sure they will be successful — financially successful. How could one nation have such influence on the whole world? These days you have to please the USA to make sure your country succeeds. I don’t know

  • Kathy

    I’m tired of him and I want new voices. The MSNBC article confirmed to me why there were no other bloggers from Iraq before the war, during, etc. It just seems odd when you have all the Iranian bloggers getting around all the controls in that country and Salam was the only one in Iraq that could do it. It just didn’t seem plausible to me.

  • button

    Kathy, you’re forgetting about his Austrian connection. Stefan dropped into his comments section which is how we knew who he was. Salam was not completely isolated there. I would just love to know who put him up to it and how, just out of curiosity, and would have loved to be a ‘fly on the wall’ to hear that conversation :-)

  • Miranda

    One of these “culture” things? There are hardly any Arab bloggers around, even from far more liberal countries, let alone expats in the West. Persians seem in general more willing to communicate via the web. To be precise, they are more willing to communicate in individual mode, at their own risk, as opposed to tons of uniform anglophone Arab propaganda sites.

  • Caitlin Crusko

    “button”, Who are you? What is your connection to “Salam Pax” (who no longer refers to himself as “Salam Pax”, by the way)?

  • Two quick comments: First, Jeff, I think what S.P. is talking about in the first paragraph you quote is U.S. “cultural imperialism,” and Islamic fundamentalism or Saddam’s militarism as a reaction to it.
    Second, it’s ironic that you say his “time has passed” when S.P. himself said the best way Western readers could support democracy in Iraq was by “keeping an eye on what will happen after the war.”

  • button

    I am a woman of a certain age (55+) and a private citizen, running the world from my kitchen table ;-)
    I do not have any ‘connection’ to salam pax. One day as I was surfing by, I noticed that he was having a problem, so I “called 911” for him to help him out. That’s the way America is.
    There have been numerous cases on record in which someone who was depressed while on a message board threatened to commit suicide, and the other people on the board tracked down his location and called 911 to go over his house and check on him or save his life.
    You’re making too much of a big deal over something that we are used to in the United States.

  • tolduso

    Salem Pax is a fake. You people who believe should watch daytime soaps. Their is more truth there. Salem pax is blogging out of a flat in London. He’ll be endorsing Pepsi before its all over. Mark my word or my name isnt…..Morgan Fairchild…yeah thats it.

  • Scott Harris

    From the first moments as babes we open our mouths to yelp it is to manipulate. Language is only a tool of manipulation — and by extension the media. So what of it?
    Everybody seems still to be trying to make something ‘known’ out of ‘Salam Pax’ – and failing. He represents something new in a new medium with which we all will soon be familar.
    Before, if a tree fell in the forest and NYT and Wapo didn’t report it, no one heard it.
    ‘Salam Pax’ is a more or less regular joe with a regular voice — except we hear him, as you hear me now from the corner of my couch in my own somewhere in the world. I guess I am manipulating the media, too – but that doesn’t make anything especially dexterous or sinister of me.
    But for the war, no one would reckon him any differently from me. (I’m glad I live in a peaceful, uneventful place. Chance misadventure can be ruinous to one’s reputation.)

  • Kathy

    Swopa: It amazes me that you know so much about him. My goodness, you even know what he’s thinking and what he meant to say “I think what S.P. is talking about in the first paragraph you quote is U.S. “cultural imperialism,” and Islamic fundamentalism or Saddam’s militarism as a reaction to it.” How do you know what he’s thinking? Just give it a rest and see how it all plays out.

  • Kathy, I said, “I think what S.P is talking about…”
    Jeff was perplexed as to what the guy meant. Seeing as Pax is not likely to show up in the thread, I ventured a guess.
    Do you really have a problem with that?

  • Kathy

    I’ll repeat “How do you know what anybody thinks or means?” You strike me as someone who would not like anyone putting words into your mouth or telling you what you are thinking just because they think. I don’t see Salam as anyone who needs any help in expressing his thoughts. He does quite well on his own.

  • The answer to Kathy’s first post is that Saddam’s Iraq is not Iran.
    It amazes me how so many people project onto Salam what they want him to be, to suit their political agendas, and then act disappointed and betrayed when he continues to be himself: a privileged young man who has just lived through a war and is now living through a (mostly benevolent) occupation. He has an ego, he’s opinionated, he’s getting lots of attention, so he’s enjoying it. Wouldn’t you?
    I’ve been reading news reports of Internet cafes being set up in Baghdad, so expect more Iraqi bloggers soon. However, Salam does have a unique voice and I predict he will continue to stand out.
    I also think Iraq in 2003-04 is going to be like Prague in 1990, and there is going to be a Gold Rush of smart energetic young Western entrepreneurs, and good for them.

  • Kathy

    That’s the exact answer “Iraq is not Iran” that I was waiting for Swopa to give and he didn’t. That because of the dearth of bloggers from Iraq versus Iran, it just should have been obvious that Salam either had “special” privileges or that some things were not quite right. I agree, though, Salam can write/print whatever he wants and amazingly enough it doesn’t even have to be true. Just ask the New York Times! Remember, he comes from the part of the world that reveres Al Jazeera.
    I just found it pretty amazing that some believed every word Salam printed lock, stock and barrel and how dare anyone question anything he said. There’s not a problem when an American blogger is questioned or made to defend a statement he makes in his blog. I just wonder where Swopa is when this happens to a Western blogger.
    We can continue to read blogs that we disagree with on some points and still really enjoy the writer’s perspective on the world. I am a big 2nd Amendment supporter and Jeff just can’t see the point in why anyone would own a gun and I still read him. Gee, I don’t hate him, call him names or even think he’s stupid. But, we agree on one main ideal — we are all Americans and we love this country, and we want America to win this War on Terror — for our children and theirs.

  • FWIW, Swopa’s unofficial beat isn’t defending bloggers; it’s debunking crap he reads in print.
    I only got into this because I read David Warren’s article, saw right away that he was lying (go here for the proof, if you haven’t seen it already), and figured I’d do what I could to set the record straight.
    It’s gotten me called a lot of names, but that’s what people do when they can’t challenge you on the facts, but they also can’t give up a point of view they’re married to. So, c’est la vie.