Friday, October 31, 2003

Clarification from Zeyad "Deploring" the riverSbend Blog

This morning I received a very polite and measured email from Zeyad clarifying his position on the riverSbend site. To me it demonstrated if there was any doubt that he's on the right side on this issue. We clearly are not going to see 100% eye to eye on the connotations of his controversial words of Wednesday but on the larger issues I think we are in pretty much total concord.

I absolutely accept that Zeyad never intended to explicitly endorse the smear site. I stand by my position that his comments made on Wednesday were ambivalent at best, but I commend him for clarifying now his position, in terms for which I'd have applauded him, had they been included in his blog on Wednesday:

"I thought it was deplorable that [the riverSbend blogger] would post under Riverbends name in an obvious attempt to undermine her message."

Even trying to maintain this blog which I imagine must get only a fraction of the attention and traffic that Zeyad's does makes me appreciate how time-pressed blogging can make one feel. While I feel the impression given was that Zeyad had read and absorbed the comments section of his blog, which clearly denounced the riverSbend faker, I can understand how he might have done so more hurriedly than might have been advisable, and that he was speaking from a position less informed on the matter than many of us reading him were. And even might have expected him to be.

Zeyad's blog has understandably become very popular, and as a result, what he says has gained some import. His story of the baby-bomb earlier in the week has to a large degree entered the internet consciousness as an paragon of what - for some - the war in Iraq is about. This indictes the power that he has. And with power of course comes responsibility.

In the same way that a man in a pub can utter unnoticed sentiments that had they slipped from a politician's mouth on a mic, could spell ruin for his career, so also Zeyad may find that things he writes without giving great thought to could rebound in unexpected ways.

Bending Truth is a one-issue site, like a focus group or a lobby, it will tend to jump on any public statement which might seem to dilute its message. And the message if Bending Truth is the plain truth - that the riverSbend blog is the work of an angry and dishonet politically motivated activist in the US, and does not originate from a blogger, in the accepted sense of the word, anywhere. And certainly does not emanate from Iraq. The way the campaign was progressing earlier in the week we were steamrolling. I can't apologise for my perception that the comments made by Zeyad on Wednesday might have detracted from our momentum.

But I'd like to thank Zeyad for getting back to me and making quite clear his position on the riverSbend smear merchant, which here bear some repeating, "I thought it was deplorable that he would post under Riverbends name in an obvious attempt to undermine her message."

I'd like to see this on his blog, I must say, but there's time yet for that. :)

[As a final note Zeyad also mentioned to me that someone he believes to be French is attacking his site, and trying to disrupt it. Bending Truth condemns this individual for his offences against free speech. If you have anything to take issue with Zeyad about, set up your own blog and say it. If I could do it, you can. Let's allow all genuine Iraqi voices to hit the web untrammelled by these opponents of the values that we are, in the end, all struggling for.]