I’m in Chicago for about 36 hours at the invitation of Daniel Drezner and Henry Farrell. They’re a pair of smart academics who wrote one of the more useful articles on blogs to appear thus far, which was featured in Foreign Policy magazine. They’ve convened a small meeting of academics who are studying blogs from the perspective of political science, and they’ve invited a few of us who aren’t explicitly political scientists to join the fun.
I’m so new to the world of academia that I didn’t realize that a talk at an academic conference meant that I was expected to come with a formal paper in hand. (You know, the kind with footnotes, rather than the way I generally write on this blog.) So I’ve been spending the last several days writing up small bits of research I’ve done here and there into a coherent document about bridgeblogs. After a round of criticism at the conference, I’ll post a draft here and ask for your feedback. And I’ll try to post a couple of pieces about experiments I’ve been working through to answer questions about the size and nature of blog communities outside the US.
In the course of writing this paper, I found myself thinking a great deal about blogging communities that explicitly try to reach audiences in other countries. It’s pretty clear to me that many of the middle eastern bloggers I read regularly are self-consciously writing for audiences in North America and Europe, hoping to challenge stereotypes about their nations, the Arab world, and Muslims as a whole. Ahmad Humeid of 60east says as much in an interview we did for Global Voices. My friend Haitham Sabbah builds projects like NoToTerrorism.com to demonstrate that the majority of Arabs are as horrified by terrorism as most Americans are. And Mahmood Al-Yousif, on the “about” page of his blog, Mahmood’s Den, says the following:
Now I try to dispel the image that Muslims and Arabs suffer from – mostly by our own doing I have to say – in the rest of the world. I am no missionary and don’t want to be. I run several internet websites that are geared to do just that, create a better understanding that we’re not all nuts hell-bent on world destruction.
In the spirit of dispelling understandable, but incorrect, images people across the world have of us, I felt compelled to react to a statement recently made by the Governor of my home state, Massachusetts. Governor Mitt Romney, in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, suggested that US authorities consider putting wiretaps in mosques.
As my friend David Weinberger points out, some Americans made need to replace the word “mosque” with “church” to see how absurd and offensive a suggestion this is.
In the spirit of some of the bridgebloggers mentioned above, allow me to state the following very clearly:
– I didn’t vote for this jackass. I voted against him, and I’m sorry I didn’t work harder to prevent him from being elected.
– Many people in our state were surprised that Romney turned out to be as conservative as he’s proven to be. Many more are disappointed that he’s chosen to use our state as a platform to campaign for the presidency, taking stances strongly contrary to stances held by most state residents.
– I do not believe that terrrorists speak for Islam. I do not believe that Islam is a violent faith. I believe that the vast majority of Muslims want to live peacefully with members of all other faiths, much as the vast majority of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and others do.
– I do not believe that indiscriminate wiretapping of sacred places makes anyone safer. I believe that any erosion of constitutional freedoms in attempting to prevent terrorist attack is a mistake.
– I’m sorry that this statement will be used to justify further suspicion of American motives, values and goals. Mitt Romney’s not speaking for me.