Objects in blogs smaller than they appear

Bjørn Stærk was one of the classic, anti-idiotarian warbloggers, like me a cheerleader for the invasion (we used to say “liberation”) of Iraq. He’s done some re-thinking and abandoned the main principles of war-bloggerdom, and I endorse his message:

Who were these people? They were us. “Us”? This seemed a lot clearer at the time. Us were the people who acknowledged the threat of Islamist terrorism, who had the common sense to see through the multicultural fog of words, and the moral courage to want to change the world by force. It included politicians like George W. Bush and Tony Blair, it included the new European right, it included brave and honest pundits, straight-talking intellectuals in the enlightenment tradition.

And then there were people like me, who labelled ourselves “warbloggers”, and called our friends “anti-idiotarians”. Phew, all those labels! Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been drifting away from where I started for years. They’re going to laugh if I pretend that I’ve ever been an Islamophobe, or that I was among the most eager of the Bush supporters, and use that to claim special insights into these people. Some of the ideas I criticize I believed for a long time, some for a short time, and some I never liked at all.

And by “us” I don’t mean that everyone thought alike, I mean that there was an identity based on an unspoken agreement about who were “ok” and who weren’t. And – God help me – I was ok. I haven’t been for a while now, but it’s only recently I’ve realized just how little there’s left of what I believed five years ago. Our worldview had three major focus points – Iraq, terrorism and Islam – and we were wrong about all of them.

When you’ve been attacked, it’s easy to get swept up in emotion, and that’s what happened back in 2001. I believe the lust for war would have subsided sooner in many of us if the blogs weren’t simply an echo chamber for un-critical reinforcement of existing biases, but that’s essentially all they are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *