June 05, 2002


Those guys at Warblogger Watch have got a good game going. If you choose to be anonymous online, like "Godless Capitalist" or "Asparagirl", they hammer you for hiding your identity from your readers. (Never mind that their founder, "Eric Blair," does exactly the same thing, reportedly because he's afraid of police harassment... as if.) IBut i you are forthright about who you are and abandon any shred of privacy to the Gods of the Web, they make fun of how you look. The number and volume of ad hominem attacks -- Chris Hitchens is a "simian," Joanne Jacobs needs a "tit f*ck," Lileks is a "ghoul" etc. -- bespeaks at best a lack of focus by its many and growing number of contributors (how many people does it take to put out a blog, anyway?)... at best a lack of coherent counterarguments.

Not to mention that at least one of the contributors ("Dr. Menlo") seems out-and-out deranged, as witnessed by a contextless posting, oblivious to the connotations that would have seemed obvious to the historically aware, of a famous Capa photo that Daddy Warblogs and Lileks both rightly called them on... to which the aforementioned Menlo responded in a post so wildly yawpish it might best be regarded as the web equivalent of castrati singing.

I support criticism of other websites, of course... that's what half Flit's posts are... but those posts come out of what I hope is a reasonably coherent worldview, the hidden aspects only being such because they haven't been teased out yet. Criticism purely for the sake of criticism (ie, we hate you whether you tell us your name, or if you do) is an empty and pointless exercise to me. What's even more remarkable is that Warbloggerwatch almost never takes on those people it hates on factual inaccuracies... only on the manner and style of their opinions, their skin colour etc. I agree with Daddy Warblogs that facts aren't everything... two people can look at the same reality far differently... but surely one camp which at least tries to have a factual underpinning to their rhetoric has to be given SOME advantage in the judging.

A brief survey: only two of the last 20 posts on Warbloggerwatch actually challenge a factual claim of a blogger they dislike... the rest are all just ad hominems and other vituperations. And remarkably, in both cases they try, the facts are still not on their side. In the first, an attack on Hitchens and Sullivan, Grady Olivier claims an "undetermined number of civilians" have died in Afghanistan... then links to the L.A. Times piece which determined it pretty comprehensively to be 1200 or less... it's fair to say we have a greater degree of accuracy on civilian deaths in Afghanistan to this point than we do for any recent disaster in any country lacking things like good census data and municipal birth registries. Olivier also claims nearly all the "bigger names" among the terrorists are still "unaccounted for"... for the record, as of 15 January, one third of Pentagon's 36-odd Taliban most wanted, and 8 of its 20 Al Qaeda most wanted, had been reported dead or captured, according to Carl Conetta. (That's before the recent capture of Zubaydah in Pakistan... a success for police work, it should be added, that was only possible once the war had rendered him a fugitive.)

In an earlier attack on blogger Bill Herbert, Olivier could only find one actual error he thought he could pick on, amid a sleetstorm of ad hominems... the claim that the Taba offer amounted to 97% of the West Bank ("So ridiculous and thoroughly discredited... Shlomo Ben-Ami laughed at it.") His evidence: a Times quote by Ben-Ami, dug up from the linked article and reproduced below:

The pressure of Israeli public opinion against the [Taba] talks could not be resisted.

That's not only not "laughing" at anything... that's not even on the same subject.

So Grady's 0 for 3 on his factual challenges... but at least he tries, which is more than any of the other Warbloggerwatchers have attempted to do in recent weeks, satisfied to stick to their playground insults instead. I suppose if the facts are never on your side, maybe insulting the way people look is the only thing left for you to do...

NB: Mr. Blair and friends recently invited in one Philip Shropshire, who is on record calling in all seriousness for the forcible expulsion of all Jews from Israel and return of the land to the Palestinians, and resettlement of the survivors in an uninhabited area of Alaska, New Zealand, or (more fancifully) Mars. If such advocation of genocide lies at the center of the rest of its participants' worldview as well, then their surrender to the Dark Side seems more or less complete, I'd say. As a result, anyone who gets a Warbloggerwatch-driveby should feel almost... sanctified by the experience. (Me? I haven't had the pleasure.)

Posted by BruceR at 06:30 PM