the heck is a "blog," anyway? How uncool
of you not to know! The scoop is that, nowadays, it's not
necessary to know all that arcane computer stuff to set up
your own website: all you need to do is sign up for a free
account at Blogger.com
(or any number of other sites, such as Pitas,
or Userland). They've
made it so easy to do that even a technophobe like myself
can make it work. Once you've entered all the server info,
fiddled with the FTP and set up all your folders, you're set:
formatting new entries is automated. All you have to do is
start updating and you're in business. You're blogging…..
bloviating, as the case may be.
a blog is a hi-tech version of those little diaries they used
to sell in the five-&-dime, the kind that had little locks
on them, and that girls, in particular, used to confide in.
Except now, with the coming of the Internet, the lock is gone,
and the writer is confiding to the few dozen or a few
thousand readers who, for some reason, find his daily
log of meandering expostulations, mini-essays, and Internet
links infinitely fascinating. Now, in spite of the conceits
of these bloggers some of whom seem to think that they're
pulling off nothing less than a "technological
Reformation" the weblog as a form has been
around a lot longer than the current crop. But we aren't just
talking about a form of writing, or a given technology and
is a distinctly ideological "line" that virtually
all of these blogger types seem to embrace: the War is good,
bracing, and invariably righteous, and all its opponents are
wimps, traitors and, worse, Ted
Rall. Or, rather, Rall-like
in their knee-jerk holier-than-thou America-hating leftie-pacifism.
These bloggers were inspired by the onset of the war, as Glenn
Reynolds, the proprietor of Instapundit
kind of the New York Times of the bloggers'
subuniverse points out. The "Big Media" are
being "challenged" by these little one-man sites,
kept honest, as it were:
process was well under way before September 11, but it has
accelerated since. The phenomenon of 'warblogs' weblogs,
or personal webpages, dedicated to discussing the war
has played a major role in disciplining press coverage and
punditry. Some blogs are run by journalists including
big names like Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, and Virginia
Postrel and some by amateurs with no credentials beyond
a penetrating mind and biting prose. But all tend to have
certain characteristics: snappy prose style, irreverence toward
established sources, and rapid response."
also tend to have certain ideological characteristics: to
a man (and woman) they are as scathingly intolerant of any
and all dissent on the War question as they are vehement in
their contempt for Arabs all Arabs, as such
and blind support for the state of Israel. It's frightening,
really, with so many sites there must be hundreds of
these little war-bots spawned in cyberspace, springing out
of the psychic ether like Myrmidons
and lunging at anyone who doesn't toe the Party Line.
United Front Against "Islamo-Fascism"
takes on some pretty ugly connotations in the testosterone-drenched
prose of one of the biggies at least in his own mind
Ken Layne, a
jack-of-all-trades media type who boasts that not only
is he a college dropout, but he has also "lived and worked
in many strange places." His critique of a Salon
piece detailing the achievements of Arabic civilization consists
of a systematic debunking of the idea that Arabs did (or could)
conceive anything worthwhile and original: according to Layne,
not even minarets were their idea. In the trademark macho-bitchy
style of these "penetrating" blogmeisters,
don't mean to rob the Ancient Arabs of their notable influence
on Western Civilization. Indeed, I hoped this Salon
piece would mention some really interesting stuff, like the
use of 'El' in Spanish, (it's an evolution of the Arabic 'Al'),
or the Muslim creation of hashish-crazed Assassins, or the
Cuban national dish (Moros y Cristianos). But this Salon
piece was obviously intended as a feel-good buy-some-North-African-art-for-your-condo
article for American liberals uncomfortable with the War Against
Islamic Terrorism. And that's sad."
really sad is that Layne thinks he's being oh-so-politically-incorrect
and daring gee, think of it, piling on Arabs when a
bunch of them just launched the biggest terrorist attack on
America in modern times. Who woulda ever thought of
it? According to Layne, Arabic civilization has value only
as a kind of conveyor belt importing Asian values Westward
and classic Greek and Roman civilization Eastward. The Arabs,
says Layne, "should be applauded for rescuing and translating
Greco-Roman texts, spreading Chinese math and maintaining
Roman and Grecian and Asian ideals, philosophy, science and
customs." As for having any value in and of itself, clearly
Layne believes that this is pretty much limited to having
"made Sicilian food tasty." Never mind that the
Arabs had already mapped the heavens while Europe was still
living in the Dark Ages.
the end, however, Layne's swagger is somewhat deflated when
he fails to follow through and instead opines
this mean one or another culture is better? Of course not.
For all I know, I'm a French-Irish-Arab-Jew-Native American-Roman-Negro.
I might even have some German in my blood. Who the hell cares?
I look at my big-ass Roman nose and trace my shady lineage
to the Empire."
presenting several paragraphs of what he no doubt considers
evidence in favor of the thesis that Arabs have always been
culturally deprived, he wimps out in the end. Having "made
Sicilian food tasty, and Granada's baths relaxing," those
Muslim ragheads "did good work. It belongs to all of
us now. Only a racist would say otherwise." From the
foregoing, it would seem that it takes one to know one. But
of course Layne isn't a racist, since that would involve having
the courage of his convictions, however morally wrong and
laughably facile they may be. Layne, for all his macho posturing,
turns tail and runs from his own argument.
there is nowhere on his site a photo of its progenitor, I
have no doubt that Mr. Layne can indeed at least trace his
intellectual lineage to the Empire. The spirit of Imperial
Rome its arrogance, its cruelty, the megalomania of
its often-demented rulers suffuses his overly muscular
prose. The American Empire, circa 2002 Anno Domini,
is populated by the Ken Layne type in disconcertingly large
numbers: the young lords (and ladies) of the known universe
who make hubris a virtue, and are eager too eager
to inherit the power and suck up to the glory. With their
hectoring, their jibes at the Ted Ralls of this world
oh, what would they do without him? they are the would-be
enforcers of a new conventional wisdom. The warbloggers long
to "discipline" the media coverage not only of this
war, but of everything.
spirit and style of this aspiring media elite is pretty much
summed up by the ruminations of one Bjorn Staerk, whose "warblog,"
World After WTC," sports a Norwegian cross superimposed
over the stars-&-stripes. Discussing an
essay by Naomi Klein on the impact and meaning of 9/11,
a bore she is. She absolutely refuses to take any pleasure
at all from being on the side of Good against Evil. She can't
find anything good to say about religious fanatics, so she
makes fighting a good cause itself a suspicious act. One of
the advantages of growing up a nerd is that our subculture,
with the apocalyptic battles of Fantasy and the galactic perspective
of SciFi, has a moral compass branded so firmly into it the
relativism of people like Klein stand out like a suit at a
hacker convention. Of course it is dangerous to live your
own myth, (Klein should watch the Babylon 5 episode Comes
the Inquisitor for a discussion of the subject), but so is
being blown up by terrorists."
OF THE MILITANT NERDS
we have the apotheosis of "modernity": some punk
kid who thinks the world is a friggin' computer game and cannot
distinguish fantasy from reality. Peace is "boring,"
and only war is enough to excite the passion of our militant
young nerd. Armed with the "galactic perspective"
that only someone who has read the complete works of Isaac
Asimov can possess, young Staerk and his American and
British confreres are marching off to war, ready to lay low
the entire Middle East.
in the front ranks is "Sergeant
Stryker's Daily Briefing," another "warblog"
of affected bellicosity, this one done up in shades of military
khaki and a photo of a helmeted John Wayne barking into the
camera. John Stryker is supposedly "the pseudonym for
an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Air Force." But the
Sergeant must keep his identity secret, you see, "to
prevent his jealous and wrathful employer from smiting him
from on high for contrary opinions." One of these opinions
is the absolute evil of Saudi Arabia, which is seen by the
warbloggers as the real power behind Osama Bin Laden. As Stryker
Arabia is looking into reconciling with Iraq. On the surface,
this appears to be a ploy on Saddam's part to strengthen ties
with neighboring states in an effort to prevent any US military
action against him. It's also a ploy that our friends the
Saudis seem all too eager to engage in. Of course, this information
is nothing new to people who realize that all terrorist roads
lead to Riyadh."
Layne chimes in, hissing in the same tone that we hear from
Bin Laden when he talks about the "Crusaders" and
Johnson has another gem from our friends the Saudis. This
charming column from the Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh
is a long and boastful rant about the beauty of hatred. Did
you know Arab babies get their seething hatred of Jews from
breast milk? Neither did I. It can be dull work, going through
the Saudi trash every day. But it's important work, and we
are lucky to have anti-idiotarians such as Charles Johnson
and Bjørn Stærk exposing these swine day after
you posted a damning link about the House of Saud lately?
I know I've been slacking off. So, let's all put the Full-Bore-Fact-Check
on the Saudis. As long as the evil and corrupt House of Saud
exists, there will never be peace in the Middle East. As long
as Saudi terrorists are tolerated and funded by the House
of Saud, we will have more days like Sept. 11. And as long
as Saudi royalty runs loose in Florida, we are tolerating
slavery in the United States."
is at least as hateful as any article in Al Riyadh,
but the radical severity of his post-9/11 psychosis prevents
him from seeing the irony of his position: or, indeed, any
irony anywhere (it's
supposed to be dead, didn't you know?). As the radical
caucus of the War Party, the warbloggers see themselves as
an intellectual fighting force, the media vanguard of an emerging
American empire. They echo the most radical notions of the
so-called neoconservatives, such as the columnist Jeff Jacoby,
for the outright military conquest of the Saudi peninsula
and the seizure of the oil fields.
yes, we must be sure to keep up our relentless Full-Bore-Fact-Check
on the Saudis but never the Israelis. That is
one of the cardinal rules of warblogging: never the Israelis.
As His Majesty,
King Andrew, recently announced: Israel must be supported
"unequivocally" i.e. no matter what horrors
are carried out by Ariel Sharon and his nutball rightwing
weird group-think of the warbloggers is apparent in how they
echo each other so faithfully, shouting "amen, brother!"
into the endless reaches of cyberspace, backslapping and mimicking,
all to create a "buzz," a din of voices raised in
unison. With material fed to them by the pro-Israel group
Memri, the warbloggers
selectively cite (and reinterpret) the Arab media, with the
point always being the irredeemable evil and anti-Semitism
of those filthy ragheads.
Sullivan is particularly fond of this cheap and meaningless
exercise, I suppose because it fills up empty blog-space:
he and his fellow bloggers trade little tidbits like kids
exchanging trading cards, linking and re-linking to the same
circular arguments. One imagines their Arab equivalent, carefully
culling the clippings from American and Israeli sources for
evidence of anti-Arab hatred and disdain for the Muslim religion:
with the advent of the warbloggers, they certainly have a
rich source of material to mine.
fanatically pro-Israel stance of the warbloggers is due, at
least in a few cases, to the influence of the Ayn Rand cult,
who believe as Rand did that Arabs are subhuman
creatures devoid of rights, and that Israel, as a Western
democracy, is a superior civilization, and therefore deserves
our unstinting support. Yet
another Norwegian Randian, one Fredrik Norman, implores
his American friends to "Give Israel the moral support
it so desperately needs." Citing the Jerusalem Post,
young Fredrik avers that:
US is giving Israel an extra $28 million to purchase counterterrorism
equipment, primarily robots that perform controlled explosions
on suspected bombs."
of our tax dollars since Israel's founding is not enough:
needed in Israel much more than robots is our full moral support
in the effort to destroy the terrorist factions within the
PLO, Hamas, Hizbollah and whatever other but similar groups
there might be. As the New York Post explains today,
'It's time for Washington finally to get tough with Arafat.
Nearly a decade of offering him carrots simply hasn't worked.
It's time to apply the stick and to make certain he
BEAT US TO IT
complete isolation of the US from its Arab friends and allies,
and a US-Israeli alliance against more than a billion Muslims
this is what the warbloggers are gunning for. This
is the real source of dissent in wartime America: not a peace
movement, but a War Party that wants to take the President
and his Secretary of State much
farther than they want to go. In every case, their policy
recommendations have one and only one beneficiary and
it isn't the United States of America. What's funny is that
in his next entry Norman complains that "the US is inching
toward socialism," and links to a Linda Bowles column,
somehow missing that Israel has been a socialist state from
its very inception. We may, indeed, be inching toward socialism,
but Israel is already there.
PERSONAL & THE POLITICAL
warbloggers have taken the old leftie slogan, "the personal
is the political," and used it as a weapon to bludgeon
all opposition to their world-conquering spirit. In an entry
on her web-log portentously entitled "America or death,"
warblogger and former
San Jose Mercury News columnist Joanne Jacobs comments
on a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece about the author's
visit to his Jewish grandfather's home town in Moldova. The
WSJ writer speculates that in all likelihood his family
would've been murdered by either Hitler or Stalin if they
hadn't gotten the heck out of there in time. "That's
my family history too," Jacobs avers:
America, we were free and prosperous citizens. There, we'd
be dead (poison gas, firing squad, starvation, cold, disease,
etc.) or, at best, enslaved to the state.
why I get so sick of kneejerk anti-patriots, America-bashers
and whiners. If you can find a better country where
did Alec Baldwin move to? bon voyage. Adios. Don't
let the door hit you on the way out."
SICK OF THE THOUGHT POLICE
aim of this sort of superheated ultra-emotional it's-all-about-me
kind of rhetoric is to rule any and all criticism of US foreign
policy out of order. What does Ms. Jacobs' family history
have to do with this war? Absolutely nothing. Furthermore,
I'll tell you what I'm sick of, Ms. Jacobs: I'm sick
of "journalists" who salivate
over Donald Rumsfeld, the Pentagon stud, and who think
their role is to conduct the war rather than cover it. I'm
sick of self-appointed Thought Police, like you and Andrew
Sullivan, who think that any criticism of American hubris
is "bashing" the country instead of its corrupt
political elite. I'm sick of people posing as rebels
and, yikes, even "libertarians"! who are
ready, willing, and even eager to surrender the last of our
liberties to the likes of John Ashcroft, and who see themselves
as the enforcers of a new political correctness, always ready
to enforce "discipline" on a media that may, at
any moment, get out of hand. In short, Ms. Jacobs, I'm sick
unto death of the likes of you.
you know what? I'm not telling you to get the hell out of
the country. I'm not saying "adios" and, believe
you me, I won't let the door hit me 'cause I ain't going out.
I'm staying right here in the public square, getting a lot
more hits (visits, visitors, readers, whatever) than you and
all your dinky little warblogger friends put together. Because,
you see, you're dead wrong: wrong not only about the war,
but sadly misinformed as to what America is all about. In
the few times we've met over the years, I never really did
get a clear picture of your political views, but perhaps you're
at least acquainted with the idea that bashing official government
policy is not the same as bashing the country. This may come
as quite a shock to you, Joanne, but the government is not
you'll pardon me if I continue to bash our government's relentlessly
stupid and suicidal foreign policy, while defending the authentic
interests of the American people. And while you're at it,
madam, please tell me how those interests are served by systematically
of thousands of Iraqi children to death on account of
US-imposed sanctions? How does it serve American interests
to subsidize and protect a settler
colony of religious
fanatics against the whole Arab world?
real America-bashers, Ms. Jacobs, are those who have no sense
of the natural reluctance of a free people to impose its will,
and its rule, on others. Those who insist we do so are bashing
down the very foundations of our Republic, and won't be satisfied
until they have built an empire out of the rubble. To that,
I and millions of others will never consent,
and if you don't like it… well, you can try to shut us up,
but I wouldn't advise it. At least, not yet. For the time
being, you're going to have to get used to it. Otherwise you
could always emigrate. As you put it: Bon voyage! Adios! And
don't let the door hit you on your way out.
pretensions of the warbloggers aside for the moment, I must
admit to having been taken a little aback by the discovery
of a weird self-referential cyber-culture of warmongers inhabiting
cyberspace alongside Antiwar.com. In reading their little
debates over who was the first to blog, I got a horselaugh
out of the various claimants to the title of First Blogger.
Naturally, Ken Layne insists he did it, while Joanne Jacobs
has another opinion. What this arcane debate leaves out of
the equation entirely is that Antiwar.com preceded them all.
This column began on March 3, 1999, as a daily commentary
on the Kosovo war. Before the warblog there was the anti-warblog.
So get over yourselves, warbloggers, and don't be so sure
you can control the debate: there are some of us who just
won't be "disciplined" all that easily.
of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald Radosh's out-of-print
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Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism.
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