Thursday, January 08, 2009

So Much for LibLogs

As much as I grouse about DailyKos, one of the things I like there is that there is a diversity of views on issues of policy, particularly foreign policy. And since I still believe that the Canadian Liberals need something like that, considering the incredibly dubious way that Ignatieff achieved near-dictatorial control over the party and the lack of grassroots support the party suffers, I've been very interested in whether LibLogs could serve that role. Right now it's a glorified RSS aggregator, but perhaps it could grow into something more.

Apparently not.

Jason Cherniak, the Liblogs administrator who ran away from his own blog, is apparently quite content to twist LibLogs to his own ends, appending apologias to the top of the page and deleting posts when and if they make Liblogs unpopular with, um, conservatives. Far from serving as some kind of Canadian Kos, it appears that Cherniak is trying to make the Liberals are turning into the kind of spineless, "centrist", enabling Democratic boobs that people like Kos were working to counter.

But never mind that. What really bothers me is that this seems to suggest that no diversity of opinion is allowed now within the Liberal party. Whatzisname, newly-minted de facto iggy spokesman, was quite supportive of this, babbling about how ethical criticism of Israel's tactical and strategic choices is racist and how it's wonderful that Cherniak pulled the post down.

And what was it that was pulled down? Well, let's see. From "LeDaro":
In the interests of free speech and open dialogue, I am re-posting the entry which Cherniak found so "offensive." I wonder how the other Liblog board members feel about Cherniak acting unilaterally in censoring bloggers?

Do Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon have any humanity left in them? They keep on firing their verbal cannon that it is all about Israel's self-defence. Every passing day it is becoming harder to believe. The tacit (and not so tacit) approval by the Harper government is giving a black eye to Canada's past reputation as a peacekeeper.

Harper and Cannon are reading from Bush's playbook or talking points, but what is with our leader Ignatieff? When will red hot Liberal blood boil in him so that he sees the reality and call a spade a spade. European nations have caught on and French President Sarkozy is visiting the area. Even Obama, who has been keeping mostly silent on the issue (which raises criticisms of its own, though at least he is not yet sworn into office), has expressed regret at the loss of lives in Gaza.

Come on Canada.

Recently, 40 people (including children) were killed when a UN school in Gaza, which was being used as a shelter, was hit. Sorry folks, I must admit, I feel too upset to write anymore. The pictures above speak volumes.

This was accompanied by a series of pictures of Gaza casualties. Upsetting, but were it written about (say) Russians in Chechnya, nobody would dream of censoring it. And I've certainly read worse out of respected, widely linked American bloggers. So if it isn't offensive in-and-of-itself, then it could only have been removed because it didn't fit The Party Line; and, I suspect, LibLogs now exists solely to disseminate The Party Line.

But here's the thing- that doesn't work. It's terrible. The Party Line was what made American conservative blogs so ineffective and dull; because if you'd read one, you'd read them all. It's also why the Republicans became so empty of policy ideas: because the party line was ensuring that only those ideas that came from the top would actually get repeated. Meanwhile, the Democratic netroots' vigorous (and often frustrating) rolling debate would at least allow ideas to come to the fore. Yes, a lot of Dem activists are critical of Israel. A lot are critical of Hamas, too. MORE are just interested in getting past stupid apologias and figuring out what's needed for a long-term solution, and that includes the use of force.

In Canada? Whatzisname and his (again) friend li'l Jason dictate terms on the only "group blog" out there, Liberal progressives get further alienated—like the party needed that—Liberal blogging becomes even sadder, and the Conservatives will be able to use this victory to dictate to the Liberals what is, and isn't, "acceptable" for discussion. The Overton Window gets yanked to the right, and everybody who actually cares about liberalism gets screwed.

(Then again, it remains to be seen how many Liberals actually do care, instead of just seeing the party as a vehicle for getting fat those fat stacks lobbyist and consulting dollars. After all, real parties elect their leaders.)

Edit:I should, of course, add that I'm not necessarily endorsing all that was said on LibLogs. It's ridiculous to blame Liberals for the school bombing, as one (non-)Liblogger seemed to put it.

I do, however, think that there is a very, very questionable game being played here, and I'm concerned that it's ideology and fear,not taste or judgement, that are governing these choices.

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