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May 19, 2005
The Rest of the StoryBy Greyhawk
Once again the New York Times reports on the Association of Muslim Scholars without noting certain crucial facts about that group.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 18 - In a troubling sign of rising tensions between Iraq's two main religious groups, a leading Sunni cleric on Wednesday publicly accused a Shiite militia of killing Sunni clerics.What's missing from the story could best be demonstrated by the coverage the Times of London gave a claim from the group a few months back.
The Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni group suspected of links to rebels, condemned the mosque raids as an example of alleged American hostility toward Islam.Here's Omar at Iraq the Model, from October 2004:
Last Monday, while I was in Basra watching TV in the afternoon, Al-Fayhaa channel broadcasted a film they said it was sent to the station via e-mail. I have to say that the credibility of the film is questionable but since I found that no one in the media, whether inside or outside Iraq commented on it, I decided to tell you about it and perhaps we could together find some answers.See also previous Mudville coverage of the group here. This organization was behind the effort to suppress Sunni voting in the recent elections, and also took credit for securing the release of Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena. That they are also now encouraging their followers to "join" the Iraqi police and armed forces may not be as welcome a development as the New York Times indicated in a recent report here.
The current NY Times story also notes an interesting coincidence (that might even be too convenient):
The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who leads a group called Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, also weighed in on Wednesday in an audiotape posted on an Islamic Internet site. A voice said to be Mr. Zarqawi's denounced Iraq's Shiites as collaborators and traitors, The Associated Press reported.The two statements almost seem coordinated - an idea not entirely far-fetched given reports of a meeting of anti-Iraqi terrorist groups in Syria this week.
The NY Times seems to routinely quote the Association of Muslim Scholars as an authoritative and reliable source of information from Iraq. Perhaps they are, but wouldn't a simple inclusion of the line "a Sunni group suspected of links to rebels" meet the standards of journalistic integrity the paper maintains?
Posted by Greyhawk / May 19, 2005 8:07 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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