From the front page of the New York Times, Sept. 22:
At State Deptartment, Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate
WASHINGTON — Walid Jawad was tired of all the chatter on Middle Eastern blogs and Internet forums in praise of gory attacks carried out by the “noble resistance” in Iraq.
So Mr. Jawad, one of two Arabic-speaking members of what the State Department called its Digital Outreach Team, posted his own question: Why was it that many in the Arab world quickly condemned civilian Palestinian deaths but were mute about the endless killing of women and children by suicide bombers in Iraq?
It’s a valid question. Hey, don’t blame us. The double standard loans easy propaganda ammo to US imperialism and its paid agents. Face it.
Among those who responded was a man named Radad, evidently a Sunni Muslim, who wrote that many of the dead in Iraq were just Shiites and describing them in derogatory terms. But others who answered Mr. Jawad said that they, too, wondered why only Palestinian dead were “martyrs.”
The discussion tacked back and forth for four days, one of many such conversations prompted by scores of postings the State Department has made on about 70 Web sites since it put its two Arab-American Web monitors to work last November.
The postings, are an effort to take a more casual, varied approach to improving America’s image in the Muslim world.
Brent E. Blaschke, the project director, said the idea was to reach “swing voters,” whom he described as the silent majority of Muslims who might sympathize with Al Qaeda yet be open to information about United States government policy and American values.
Some analysts question whether the blog team will survive beyond the tenure of Karen P. Hughes, the confidante of President Bush who runs public diplomacy. The department expects to add seven more team members within the next month — four more in Arabic, two in Farsi and one in Urdu, the official language of Pakistan.
The team concentrates on about a dozen mainstream Web sites such as chat rooms set up by the BBC and Al Jazeera or charismatic Muslim figures like Amr Khaled, as well as Arab news sites like Elaph.com. They choose them based on high traffic and a focus on United States policy, and they always identify themselves as being from the State Department.
OK, then perhaps a more rational response would be to question Mr. Jawad’s moral creds to assail Muslim double standards when he is shilling for Bush’s imperial adventure (which, perhpas Mr. Jawad has noticed, has ratcheted up a very impressive civilian casualty count…).
Karen Hughes also has a habit of playing fast and loose with the facts, as we have noted…