I am not the Sandmonkey or أحمد or Wael Abbas. I respect their diligent and consistent blogging and the fact that they have loyal audiences. They (and many others including writers on this blog) are serious bloggers, writers and journalists. I, on the other hand, write mostly for my own amusement and do not usually care much if anyone bothers to read what I write. I have realized, however, how much more of an interesting experience blogging can be once there is interaction with readers, feedback, and an exchange of ideas between blogger and blog devotee or critic. It is especially interesting when your readers come from a diversity of cultural and political backgrounds, which is why this blogging project is so interesting for me.
One of the opportunities we were fortunate to get to interact with a wider public has been the link to our blog generously posted on WRAL's (North Carolina's biggest news channel) GoLo site, which is an interactive, blog-oriented site maintained by the channel. It has been no less than fascinating to read the comments North Carolina readers have left about our blog. The great majority of the comments have been respectful, interesting and interested.
There have also been some comments which I have found, mmm, shall I say, revealing? Egydiva earlier posted one of these comments and her response to it. I don't think that these commenters are representative of anything. I do, however, think it is important to know that this frame of mind exists. I'm also not sure that everyone would have the same reaction to these comments that I did, so I thought I'd post the comments and my responses here and get a wider variety of opinions.
From a commenter named Rationality: " When I went to Cairo a few years ago I was bombarded with accusations that Bush and Isreal were behind 9/11. It really got old after a while. It's interesting to get the other point of view, but it's going to be skewed with the fact that they don't have the freedoms of speech and religion over there that we have here."
My Response: "Please don't assume that me or any of my fellow bloggers are incapable of free, rational or critical thought because of your perceptions about what kind of atmosphere I live in. Please don't be patronizing about the quality of my thought production.Most Americans cannot locate foreign countries on maps and do not even own a passport. Yet, not only does America have an opinion about just about every place under the sun, but voting tax payers money is used to support unpopular governments, fund wars and determine the fates of millions. That, to me, is "skewed."
From a commenter named GetRight: "I would very much like to know, on an individual basis, each one's opinion of the violent tactics employed by Muslims all over the world to accomplish their political goals. Their responses to this subject will define where they stand and tell us a great deal about how they may portray "us" when they return home.While all Muslims are not terrorists there ARE many, who would not participate in terrorism, yet they are very sympathetic to the cause and methods of terrorists. When these sympathizers are journalists they may sound a whole lot like a terrorist to us."
My Response: " I am curious as to which of our posts sounded to you like it promoted terrorism?I have already stated my opinion on violence. Should I now ask every individual American jounralist what they think of violent tactics used by America and its allies in every corner of the world for political purposes? Surely someone of such a global outlook as you must know that this exists abundantly?I believe terror is terror whether you have the largest army in the world or an illegal milita. More people have been killed in the last two decades by American funded wars and weapons as well as American soldiers than by all the terrorist attacks (Islamic and otherwise) combined. Believe it or not, not all of those people deserved to die. But I believe that this comparison is petty and misses the point.It shouldn't matter who killed more people. All that should matter is that it stops. I will do my best to promote a true and non violent Islam, will you do the same for America?"
From a commenter named GWALLY: "Carnegie Endowment, USAID, journalism schools, Arabs.....well.... I'm quite sure THIS will be a POSITIVE discussion about America and it's support and how without America NONE of the ABOVE would even exist!!!!"
My Response: " I can assure you, and I repeat, assure you, that Arabs would have existed without the United States."