Thursday, October 30, 2003

A Riddle Wrapped Inside an Enigma
Yesterday on the Healing Iraq blog Zeyad wrote the following:

"some people in the comments section pointed out a blog, which seems to have been around for a while. I only heard about it yesterday. I am not affiliated with it at all. It looks like an Iraqi or someone from the CPA writing his own perspective on current events. Interesting to read I would say if the author didn't post under Riverbend's name."

Now some of you may know I said some time ago that anywhere on the web I saw discussion of the riverSbend fake blog I wanted to ensure that close by there was a comment pointing out what a load of rubbish it was. I have made some attempts to do that though most of the comments have been lukewarm when discussing it. Most people have been slightly confused, few have been fooled. No one that I've come across of any standing has been taken in after taking time, even claiming to take time, to examine the riverSbend hoax.

So if anyone anywhere on the web had made this (albeit tepidly) approving comment and I had read it, I would have been in contact with them to set him or her straight. But let us put this into further confusing context here.

On Monday and Tuesday on Healing Truth Zeyad's comment page this is basically a summary of all the comments written about riverSbend:

(1)"it looks like a fake site created to look like riverbend's site. It looks like they did a copy-paste of Zeyad's story for today's entry."

(2)"It is sad when people use deception to try to make a point. It just invalidated any good ideas they may have had."

(3)"I've seen the fake riverSbend site and I wrote to river about it around a week ago. She directed me to a site a reader/friend made proving the riverSbend site is a fake. Lousy fake too. You'd think the Bushies could be more creative... sheesh."

(4)"This explains the two sites:"

(5)"a bad imitation of the celebrated Riverbend (no 's') blog?"

(6)"I think everyone knows the other RiversBend site is fake"

(7)I myself wrote a post starting "I was a little concerned to find that I may have inadvertantly added to the confusion about the fake riverSbend site. It is fake. Riverbend on the other hand is real. "

(8)Yet another commentor supplied the link to John Gorenfeld's linking of the Diego online persona to the fake riverSbend blog
"Funny story about Riversbend:

It seems some right-wing whackjob picked the posts from healingiraq and put them on riversbend. Stupidly, he left up his sig, and has been revealed."

There is is. Basically Zeyad's comment page on the topic comprised a long list of people, one after the other pointing out the known fact that the riverSbend blog is fake, written by an embittered American. These comments were posted to Zeyad’s comment section on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Not one person posted an opinion that it was a genuine Iraqi, or any evidence to support this conclusion.

Then on Wednesday, and I'm still shaking my head, Zeyad, apparently in summary of these very comments says of riverSbend's blog, "It looks like an Iraqi or someone from the CPA"

Come again? To quote the classics here, (Will Farrell from Zoolander in fact), "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills."

Now I did write an immediate response trying to encapsulate in words my bewilderment at such a bizarre conclusion. Considering this response was on Zeyad"s own comment section and the low number of negative responses I got, I can only assume that I was not the only one who thought he might have spoken in error.

Let's put it like this. If a guy sat down a few days back with a stack of newspapers from all over the US full of the story that the Marlins had beaten the Yankees in the World Series, and then uttered the following, "I just went through the papers. It looks like the Yankees are the new world champs", then what do I learn from that?

Well I don't really very learn much about the newspapers or their content, I learn absolute zero about reality. All I possibly learn is something about the guy who spoke. What do I learn? At this point it beats me. I'm still baffled. Any and all theories are welcomed.

As well as posting my comment yesterday, I did email Zeyad but have as yet had no response.

Now one might say it is not the job of Zeyad to verify one way or the other the identity of the riverSbend faker. Perfectly true. But nor was Zeyad obliged to make a comment on the matter at all. And I believe that once he took the choice to pass a comment, he accepted responsibility for whatever that comment was. He took responsibility in the context to sum up what he'd learned from his comment page.

At the moment if one does a google search on "riverSbend + iraq" one does not go straight to a quote from a popular new Iraqi blogger declaring that outed plagiarising US-based smearblogger riverSbend "looks like an Iraqi or someone from the CPA". Will it soon? Maybe. And who's going to look worse for that?

Well you know what, I'm slightly less agrieved about this whole thing now than I was yesterday. I'm slightly less concerned than a lot of good work could have been needlessly undermined, by one thoroughly off the wall comment. Because that search throws up a litter of links demonstrating it is basically accepted knowledge on the web that the riverSbend blogger is a faker in the US, which was not the case before the anti-riverSbend campaign got rolling a couple of weeks ago, and as can be plainly see the riverSbend faker is beating a hasty retreat. So Zeyad's comment, I think, is more likely to reflect badly in the future on him than on Riverbend, or on those of us who have sought to defend her.

Anyone who utters plainly false or misleading statements in public is liable ultimately to look the worse for it. The truth, as they say, will out. So come on Zeyad, do the decent thing, not for those concerned about truth, and about untainted free speech, and of course about Riverbend herself, but for yourself and your own reputation. The web community, I think, is crying out for a wide variety of reliable and credible voices from Iraq. I stress those words - reliable and credible. So come on withdraw, retract or amend the comment. At the very least explain it.

Because if you really can demonstrate the likelihood, having examined all the evidence that is right there under your nose, that the riverSbend blog is the work of an individual in Iraq, even in the light of the seemingly incontrovertible proof to the contrary, then I know a guy called Scott Peterson. And he's looking for a lawyer.