To state the obvious
While I stand by every criticism of this wiki and some of the editors and moderators here that I posted immediately below, clearly I did not permanently leave. The break was good for me, and I do not expect to participate at the levels I did the first time around. For the most part, I accomplished my objective of freeing the majority POV for the articles on, or touching upon, Israel-Palestine. Articles that were here when I arrived.
To understate, that was stressful, and I don't seek a repeat of such embattled times. The U.S. primaries are of great interest to me and I will continue to edit on topics related to that, but I also wish to complete and polish the article I founded. As the talk pages there reflect, the Internet has long needed a piece such as that -- it is, indeed, the reason I joined in the first instance. To write that.
The polices and attitudes here that bemuse and even disgust me are not going to change any time soon. Aside from occasionally mocking the absurdities that prevail here, I won't be trying to change the status quo.
LANCB post that didn't turn out to be a LANCB
“”You will be defined by that which you ought not tolerate, but do.
For a time, I felt at RW I could realize my strong interest in researching and writing collaboratively with others. I finally joined in August of 2015 because I couldn't find anything like this article I founded here, and was hellbent on therefore writing it myself. So I did, with others, especially the Rev. Regrettably, I won't be able to complete all the plans I had for that article.
My leave-taking is catalyzed by two things: 1. The egregious tolerance here for abusive, harassing and bad faith editors. In the 5.5 months I've been here, I've seen excellent people leave due to the extreme misbehavior of others. One of these good people you lost was a tech workhorse, and a pretty good editor as well. No matter, he was treated very, very poorly, and no one made it stop; the moderators seemed to be in hiding. I've also seen a good moderator have something of a breakdown, become sort of wild in his heavy handedness out of sheerly being worn down by Avenger (finally perma-binned; took far too long), Arisboch (finally banned; took far too long) and some others. For his own well-being, he left. (And no one cares that the socks of those two assholes are clearly active all over this site. And I've been told I can't do a thing about it.)
And 2. is: This site does not protect it's editors who have been harmed, off-site and on. One of our moderators stupidly invited a certain group of people to come on over, people who were predictably insufferably nasty. Then, from elsewhere they targeted many here for doxing and other deep harassment -- in my case, publishing contact information for my son and his neighbors and encouragement to call them and tell them foul things about me. Indeed, yet another moderator mocked me for the turmoil I suffered during that and subsequent events.
My political interests include the Israel-Palestine matter, a subject about which I am very knowledgeable and able to document a great deal. Before I arrived at this wiki, I had already known that a significant percentage of hardcore Zionist are abusive: they lie, they disrupt, they will do whatever they deem necessary to make the price of violating their preferred narrative too painfully high. I expected some of that. I did not, however, expect their most grossly abusive behavior to be tolerated by this wiki. But it generally is tolerated.
Even when a few of these rabid Zionists got binned/banned, it is clear that new accounts are signing up to take their place and to target me where I'm editing. I am not permitted to in any way protect myself with, say, page protection -- even tho many of these likely are from the same cesspool that pulled the crap with my son's contact information, urging people to be called and told vile things about me.
For me to do anything about this unusually high number of new accounts targeting me where I edit, would put me in violation of this wiki's rules.
That. Is. Preposterous. So, I leave.
Finally, I part with a post I placed in the Saloon in a final attempt to bring these issues to the community and secure some resolution. (This posting led to a short-term fix to a specific problem user, but the long-term issue remains, and I am done trying to live with it.)
Why are editors required to interact with those who abuse them?
Given that I've been asked what I "want the mods to do," and since I've been advised that I shouldn't be "nebulous" about what the problem is, I'll explain it some. This wiki has been losing good editors and good mods. Most of the new users are trolls and vandals. I hear by email from editors who won't engage certain topics, or run for mod, because they don't want to be targets. And I emphatically do not mean just targets of those off-site. I mean here.
There are constant coop cases at this site. Very often nothing gets resolved and a user is permitted to continue egregiously unreasonable and abusive behavior. Because it isn't against any RW rules. In short: assholes are permitted to continue to be assholes. They can and do taunt you with "if you think I'm so bad coop me." Knowing it won't result in anything.
Why should this matter?
It matters because at this wiki anyone may edit any page. I'll focus on one particular dynamic that this implicates. Good Faith Editor A cannot simply ignore Abusive Bad Faith Editor B; it's not possible, if B targets the articles at which A is active. B can revert A, or make unreasonable edits B knows will bait A at articles where A is active -- A is required to engage B. B can put A through this over and over, with no end.
B might constantly say: A is mentally ill, evil, intellectually impaired, a rancid writer, suffering from various personality disorders, hated by all (but sometimes A is also a Svengali who is leading the majority astray) and etc. Doesn't matter; A must engage B. B's "reasons" for reverts and edits might be manifest bullshit, but A must address these "reasons" or A is at fault.
This state of affairs gives most of the power to B, the abusive and unreasonable editor. As long as B stops short of actual, full-blown edit-warring, B can do this endlessly to A. Just keep picking different sections of the article, or a different article where A edits -- that's all B needs to do to stay within the current rules and to drain all of A's energy, including energy to deal with B on the talk pages of the articles -- which A must do if A wants to
include orpreclude B's bad faith edits.
A might be knowledgeable, capable, and have many sources at hand, and also decent at copy-editing. But B can make the experience here so miserable A will finally give it up. And A probably should. It's unhealthy to remain where one is required to deal with abusive individuals.
That's all one dynamic that is wrongly tolerated at this wiki. There are others, but I'll stop for now.
My basic political views: opposition to "inverted totalitarianism"
Sheldon Wolin, who died in October of 2015, is a primary guru for me. His influence and importance are captured well in this article-cum-eulogy:
In his books “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism” and “Politics and Vision,” a massive survey of Western political thought that his former student Cornel West calls “magisterial,” Wolin lays bare the realities of our bankrupt democracy, the causes behind the decline of American empire and the rise of a new and terrifying configuration of corporate power he calls “inverted totalitarianism.”
Wendy Brown, a political science professor at UC Berkeley and another former student of Wolin’s, said in an email to me: “Resisting the monopolies on left theory by Marxism and on democratic theory by liberalism, Wolin developed a distinctive—even distinctively American—analysis of the political present and of radical democratic possibilities. He was especially prescient in theorizing the heavy statism forging what we now call neoliberalism, and in revealing the novel fusions of economic with political power that he took to be poisoning democracy at its root.”
This is the prism through which I pass most sociological, legal and political questions. I agree with most of this:
He continues: “The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed.”
The corporate state, Wolin told me, is “legitimated by elections it controls.” To extinguish democracy, it rewrites and distorts laws and legislation that once protected democracy. Basic rights are, in essence, revoked by judicial and legislative fiat. Courts and legislative bodies, in the service of corporate power, reinterpret laws to strip them of their original meaning in order to strengthen corporate control and abolish corporate oversight.
He writes: “Why negate a constitution, as the Nazis did, if it is possible simultaneously to exploit porosity and legitimate power by means of judicial interpretations that declare huge campaign contributions to be protected speech under the First Amendment [Mona inserts: that decision, Citizens United, was correctly decided if corporation are to be persons at law behind which collections of real people express their views. It wouldn't be so problematic if the state-created entity called a corporation was capped to a democratic size], or that treat heavily financed and organized lobbying by large corporations as a simple application of the people’s right to petition their government?”
That's the reality of America -- and much of the West -- today.
Why focus on Zionism and Israel?
Avenger has repeatedly asked why I am so aggressive in my attention to matters pertaining to Israel and Zionism. Altho I've answered that before here, I shall do so again. What follows is my personal journey away from vehement Zionism to outraged opposition to it. (A general explanation on why Westerners, especially Americans, are justified in focusing hard on Israel is found here. Tl;dr: We are complicit in Israel's crimes.)
I was raised in a virulently antisemitic home by Catholic wingnuts who thought Franco had a great government going in Spain. Very early, in my teens years, I came to find these views repugnant. I read everything I could get my hands on about the crimes of Nazis and the Holocaust, including, of course, The Diary of Ann Frank. In addition to rejecting my parents' politics and religion, before the age of 21 I particularly denounced their racism, including antisemitism.
My reading included Leon Uris and the novel Exodus. I also saw the film which swept the country and was met with approval and enthusiasm. In my young adult years I viewed the great miniseries Holocaust, and the TV movie A Woman Called Golda. Preceding and during the Oscars in (I think) '78, Vanessa Redgrave was demonized for her support of the Palestinians, and I bought that propaganda campaign wholesale -- she was "clearly" an antisemitic nutcase on the far fringe left. The Palestinians were a non-entity to me: I "knew" who the real victims were, it was the Jews because HOLOCAUST. Israel was their deserved compensation, I ardently believed.
In sum: I bought the Zionist narrative in its entirety, including the lie that there had really been no people in Palestine when the Zionists established Israel there. The motto "A land without a people for a people without a land" was utter propaganda, but I believed it.
The first serious second thoughts I had were when I befriended an Iraqi-American woman in the 80s. She insisted the Palestinians existed, and asked me whether it would be acceptable to take a Scandinavian country because there were a few left the citizens of the appropriated one could flee to? For the first time I began to actually consider the Palestinians.
Fast forward to about 2006 or so, and on the Internet I'm running across intelligent people and sites advocating for the Palestinians and also setting forth some horrifying facts about Zionism and Zionist history of which I had been wholly unaware. Learning, e.g., that Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt condemned Menachem Begin as a terrorist and fascist for his pre-state crimes against Palestinians stunned me. The supporting facts were unassailable. Ditto for the terrorist Yitzhkak Shamir -- who innovated the letter bomb. So, the same Israel that relies so heavily on cries of "terrorism" to justify its crimes against the Palestinians, I learned that it elected two terrorists as Prime Minster. Indeed, the State of Israel probably would not have come to exist absent Zionist terrorism.
Additionally, I began to encounter intelligent and reasonable Jews and Muslims -- online and off -- who made compelling criticisms of Israel and who supported the Palestinians. This was not, then, some lunatic position; it had facts and evidence supporting it. My commitment to facts and reason in turn compelled a deep reconsideration of my Zionism. I began reading a great deal, including books like this and this. The result has been pretty well demonstrated here: I am no longer a Zionist. Quite the contrary, I am now a pro-Palestinian activist -- one who traffics in facts and documentation.
Several users have raised protests when I employ the Electronic Intifada as a reference. The arguments are that: 1. it is biased and, 2. it's unreliable. The first argument is true, but not a sufficient -- or even good -- reason not to use it. Indeed, activist journalism has a long and reputable history in the United States, having been the norm before the rise of the corporate media (which has, to understate, not been an improvement). Partisan journalists have included: William Lloyd Garrison, Helen Hunt Jackson (exposing the treatment of American Indians), the "muckrakers" who went after Standard Oil and quack medicine, or Izzy Stone -- the list is endless.
As for the second charge, no serious attacks have been launched on EI's reliability. Its record is very good and the publication has been cited in elite outlets such as The New York Times, and reputable political journals such as the Nation. Indeed, the NYT has cited EI for exposing a hoax video promoted by the State of Israel and various of its supporters.
In the five or six years I've regularly read EI I have gleaned a wealth of useful, factual information. The co-founder, journalist Ali Abunimah, has a fantastic network of contacts in the Middle East, including in Gaza and the West Bank. Therefore, EI is able to report on matters from the occupied territories as they unfold -- including when Gaza is suffering another of the semi-regular, devastating bombardments from Israel.
In sum, because EI is a reliable source, and used as such by reputable others, I intend to continue using it as a reference.
In light of ongoing unhappiness from a few users here that I employ as a source the journalistic outlet Electronic Intifada, in this space I shall be listing examples of absurdly biased reporting by mainstream journalists who purportedly adopt what NYU journalism professor, Jay Rosen, snarkily calls The View From Nowhere:
- The New York Times' Jodi Rudoren's Zionist bias is longstanding. One egregious example is analyzed here.
- The New York Times again. New York Times Published Piece about Netanyahu’s Racism, Then Rewrote All of It
- CNN suspended a reporter for tweeting denunciation of Republican legislation to freeze our Syrian and Iraqi refugee program (she had an opinion!), but journos everywhere, with no repercussions, are denouncing Trump for his proposal to prohibit Muslim immigration. The View From Nowhere is selectively enforced!
(As with all NYT's Jerusalem Bureau Chiefs, Jodi Rudoren lives in "the former residence of Hassan Karmi, a famed BBC Arabic broadcaster and writer. Karmi was forced to flee from his property in 1948 when Israeli forces expelled him and his neighbors from Qatamon in the campaign of organized ethnic cleansing that turned more than 750,000 Palestinians into refugees. The Karmi home was among some ten thousand taken over by Jewish Israelis the following year.")
I'll be adding to this nascent list. And I'll take my biases stated and upfront, as long as the journalist demonstrates a dedication to factual accuracy.
User:-Mona-/Zionism & CAIR, Targeted Individuals, Israel, Palestine, Steven Salaita, Hamas, Glenn Greenwald, Whataboutery, Black Lives Matter, Maajid Nawaz