Saturday, September 29, 2007

Swift Reactions 2

This is the second edition of a weekly series I began last week to highlight what my readers are saying (and as Kelly pointed out last week as a way to post something that involves as little writing from me as possible).

I spent this week hosting the blog round-up at Crooks & Liars. MW predicted that letting a conservative like myself post at such a liberal blog would result in fireworks. And while I did upset some people ("Do you not see the irony?" wrote my most persistent critic, Anonymous. "You are invited to guest post at a liberal blog and proceed to just reinforce everything they think of you."), it did not go exactly as predicted.

Perhaps that is because, instead of going in with guns blazing and calling liberals names, I began right off the bat by pointing out where we had areas in common: "One thing I have in common with many liberals is I just don't know what to say about this whole complicated Jena 6 situation so I would prefer to say nothing at all," I wrote in my first post. As the week went on I found more common ground with liberals on the issue of Burma: "I agree with the vast majority of liberal blogs (present company excepted), who have given this story a collective yawn and not bothered to cover it at all even though the rest of the world thinks it's pretty important. Burma Schmurma, I say."

I first mentioned Burma on Monday ("Something seems to be happening in Burma or Myanmar or whatever but it must not be very important because hardly anyone is blogging about it.") and posted my own piece here a couple days later, in which a applauded the liberal blogosphere for largely avoiding this boring story. Perhaps hobnobbing with liberals at Crooks & Liars was rubbing off on me.

I was delighted to see that liberals, who fancy themselves as caring so much about human rights and social justice, had finally realized that people who are so different from them aren't really worth worrying about, but I was also baffled that people I respect like Captain Ed, Michelle Malkin and Gateway Pundit seemed to have grown bleeding hearts. The world had gone topsy-turvy.

As a few of the smaller liberal blogs began to weigh in on the protests in Burma, the "A-List" liberal bloggers, as they like to call themselves, remained steadfast in their refusal to mention it. On Thursday I sent an email to some of them congratulating them on their resolve, titled, "Thank You for Not Mentioning Burma" with a link to my piece. But I was startled to discover that email seemed to have the opposite effect from the one I intended. Some of these liberal bloggers seemed almost embarrassed to have me as an ally. I can't tell you how hurtful that was.

Shortly after I sent my email, Atrios (who I am sure didn't actually read it since he doesn't believe my blog exists) wrote one of his typically brief passive-aggressive defensive posts that didn't actually mention Burma but seemed to allude to it: "Right this very moment there's bad stuff happening all over the world. I don't always get around to mentioning it all. Weird." The next day the word Burma appeared on his site for the first time. Already the resolve to be silent seemed to be breaking.

Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake wrote me back with what sounded like an excuse that completely misconstrued the intent of my reaching out to her: "Considering my child is home with a huge fever and barfing, and I'm happy to have been able to post at all today, I'll take that as an aborted attempt at snark and leave it at that..." I patiently explained to her that as a conservative I'm opposed to abortion and wished her child a speedy recovery. If, indeed, the entire staff of Firedoglake, or even the entire liberal blogosphere, was too busy taking care of her child to write about Burma, she didn't need to explain that to me. The next day she also capitulated, appending a brief P.S. to a post that mentioned Burma in passing. Augusten at Pandagon wrote me an email that seemed just a little snide, "Eventually all blog posts will be about what other bloggers aren't blogging about," and later that evening Amanda Marcotte broke radio silence and posted a piece on Pandagon about Burma. I took it as a personal slight.

But while the really important liberal bloggers didn't seem to want to belong to a club that had me as a member, the readers of Crooks & Liars, for the most part, were quite hospitable. There were a few naysayers, however, who resented my being allowed in. "You're a complete idiot and a liar," said James M. Martin. "Whoever let you guest blog must have been drugged," proclaimed EJH. "His claim to be 'right wing blogger', seems on the face of things to be validated by his use of language, and by his divisive, self important attitude," commented Voice from the Wilderness. But I also had plenty of defenders, like 2X, who said "I don't remember which was the first article of his I read. I do remember having my jaw on the floor thinking 'this guy can't be for real!'. He is for real -- and he's fantastic." Thank you, 2X, and everyone who stuck by me, people like skippy, Kevin Hayden, MW and the overworked site monitors at Crooks & Liars. And thanks to Mike Finnigan, Nicole Belle and Blue Gal for all their help and to John Amato for being such a gracious host.

It's hard being a blogger sometimes. Sure, you don't get shot like the monks in Burma, but verbal stings can hurt almost as much.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes they can hurt even more, Swift. I remember one time, I was discussing my love of Christ and how I wished homosexuals could be healed of their disease, and someone told me to stuff it! It felt like a bullet going through my chest. I think people need to realize that sometimes saying the right thing is harder than fighting in Iraq.

Unknown said...

it is i who should thank you, mr. swift, for standing by (and by "standing by," i mean, "linking to") my humble site in your misguided attempts to enlighten liberals with your unique approach to conservative thought.

i found it hi-larious that 50% of the commenters at c&l's blog round up did not understand what you were doing, and that the other 50% bothered to try to edify the first 50% that left 45%, including me, to enjoy your work.

keep it up! and thanks for bringing my attention to the burmese crisis, which i wouldn't have noticed, had i just read liberal blogs (tho i must point out that d-day posted about it as early as last wednesday, which, for a liberla blog, is almost timely).

Anonymous said...

Jon was a welcomed guest at C&L, by most. I understood his sarcasm easily, and enjoyed reading his blog round-up. I'm not anti-conservative, just lunatic fringe stuff (that goes for liberals too). These days, there seems to be a lot of "lunatic fringe" going around. (So glad I'm NOT American!!! In spades!)

Jim, I don't have a disease. Maybe that's why someone told you to "stuff it". Religion is best left private, don't we think. Or shall I start with...

Miss Cellania said...

You just have a gift for baffling people. It's a great way to sort out the third-tier thinkers from those who aspire to be third-tier thinkers. I think it's delightful!

Stan said...

Jon, I'm hooked. While I disagree with you much of the time, or at least disagree with what I feel is disingenuous satire, I check your blog daily now. And I am impressed by the fact that you take on both sides.

Anonymous said...

"These signs, we gladly dedicate, to men who've had, no date late - Burma Shave!" It's a good thing that Chad and Saudi Arabia don't have a shaving cream named after them.

Lotus said...

Even though snark and satire are the usual fare here, this is serious:

As another of those liberal bloggers who hasn't posted on Burma - which name I use because the pro-democracy activists there refuse to recognize the one the dictators put on the nation - I acknowledge my fault and my shame at my silence in the face of an nonviolent uprising strong enough to threaten the existence of a years-long military dictatorship.

I have various excuses and reasons - one being that I actually started to write something but events ran ahead of me and it didn't get finished, another being that my lifelong companion, the black cloud, has been hovering over me lately and it's been a struggle to post anything at all - but the silence remains and I regret it.

It may be true, as some others who have been silent say in their own defense, that there is little we bloggers can do and our words will matter very little. But that's irrelevant and an evasion. Because, dammit, some things should be said even if they fall on deaf ears.

Some things should be said, even if it makes no difference, just so the events they describe are recorded, remembered.

Some things should be said, even if only in the hope that maybe someday someone affected by those events will learn that their efforts did not pass unnoticed.

Some things should be said, even if the individual voice is so small that few can even hear it, to celebrate and embrace a common humanity, a common dream of justice.

Ultimately, some things should be said just because they should be said. And recognizing the struggle in Burma is among them.

So while I can excuse my silence, I can't justify it. But I can express gratitude for those, small and if not "large" at least less small, who did say something.

Anonymous said...

Uh, in case anybody doesn't get it, what do you think Burma is all about? Why do you think Baby Caligula would be expostulating out of the White House about it? Why do you think Dick Cheney is up to his ears in this mess and has been for years? Why do you think all the fascist blogs are so "concerned"? To put it country simple, it's called oil and natural gas which several parties are competing fiercely over. If you're going to be a naive simpleton, do it on your own time.

The Sailor said...

What Larry said.
I had a sick kid.
I've got a day job.

So there.

p.s. I've always liked your stuff, including a comment at TalkLeft that some folks didn't get, I commented that you'd just made a modest proposal ... and the folks who'd agreed with your post still didn't get it.

After Fafblog stopped being updated I felt lucky to find you.

So there.

Anonymous said...

Purvis Ames, get out of my head. I was about to say that my goatee is all that's necessary to demonstrate my opposition to Burma shaving, so why put it on my blog?

So now I have to be original, huh?


Past experience has told me that anytime monks are involved in non-violent protests against military thugs, the outcome's predictable. Intervention is stupid if the guy who's got your back is Gandhi or Thoreau threateningly waving a discourse at the guys with shoulder mounted kaboomers.

It's smarter to call your bookie and bet on the military taking out the holy men. Haven't you ever seen what happens when Hairless Krishnas meet armed Blackwater airport guards hired by Homeland Security?

And, Mr.Swift, you did fine work at C&L and for your points about Burma, thank you, as it's been awhile since I've known the pleasure of white liberal guilt.

But at least I was responsible enough to write about baseball.

Stan said...

"'s called oil and natural gas which several parties are competing fiercely over. If you're going to be a naive simpleton, do it on your own time."

Yeah, and I suppose the junta is but a tool of some evil MNC, with ties to the Bush Administration.

You are truly disheartening Purvis, it's hard to find real liberals that aren't blinded by hatred and partisanship, often a precondition for membership in conspiracy cults.

Funny how America is not invading for oil, but guilty for not protecting human rights.

PoliShifter said...

There's enough Burma to go around

Seriously, there's enough

Needless to say, there is bad stuff everywhere.

In the great country of Afghanistan that we liberated and brought tremendous freedom and democracy to, a boy was hung by the Taliban for possessing dollar bills. The dollars were shoved in his mouth.

Some UN peace keepers were killed in Sudan

A volcano exploded on an Island off Yemen

Over a million Iraqis have died since the Iraq invasion.

bad stuff.

But 1000's of monks being killed is pretty bad.

Maybe Bush should invade Myanmar and liberate the monks the way we liberated the Iraqis and Afghanis...just as we're about to liberate the Iranians.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Swift,
I am beyond honored to have been mentioned in your latest posting (and frankly, a little turned on...).
In true conservative style, I tap my foot in honor of you, your blog and your contributions to C&L.

- 2x

Stan said...

Polishifter, I agree the government has a tendency to screw up things.

That's why I want government healthcare.

Substantively, you got nothin, other than encouraging nonintervention. All the benevolent NGOs in the world wouldn't stop the junta, and we both know that. Sadly, the Burmese people will get little help from anyone. And you're perfectly content with that.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, and I suppose the junta is but a tool of some evil MNC, with ties to the Bush Administration."

In fact, the junta is tied directly to the Bush administration. Dick Cheney negotiated for and built the Yadona pipeline when he was CEO of Halliburton.

James Higham said...

Eagerly having written about you last week, Jon,I eagerly came over to look at the second edition and zilch - nicho, nix, not a sausage. Sigh. And it was a labour of love too.

James Higham said...

Anyone there, Jon?

Anonymous said...

Jon Swift: I am coming late to the party as per usual, but I also wanted to thank you..I also wanted to note that your experience with some of the A- and B+-listers might suggest that a revolt is in order.

What if ALL the smaller/midsized/newer/non-original blogs removed the aristoblogs from their blogrolls, hmmm? And stopped linking to/quoting their articles? Their technorati and google rankings would drop; and the portion of their traffic that consists of these same bloggers would disappear. Over time, they might learn humility by attrition.

After all, you merely congratulated these people for not doing what they were not doing...The peevish reception which you received from some of them speaks volumes about the value in which they hold the individual members of their public, not to say a fellow blogger who has achieved some standing without their help.

I've heard similar stories from other larger and more powerful bloggers. When the revolution comes, we small blogs are so there...

Anonymous said...

"Maybe Bush should invade Myanmar and liberate the monks the way we liberated the Iraqis and Afghanis...just as we're about to liberate the Iranians."

Surely you mean he should invade New Zealand.

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Dr. B Sitaram Reddy said...

That was a VERY interesting one! Seriously interesting.

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