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SALAM PAX – A GUARDIAN READING LIBERAL?

Everyone is raving about Salam Pax, the Baghdad blogger. He’s been given a fortnightly column in the UK Guardian; he’s been called ‘brave’ and ‘courageous’ for blogging his thoughts in a repressive state; and his blog has been described as ‘far better than the stuff pumped out by the army of foreign correspondents’ in Iraq.

Salam Pax is hailed as the genuine article, a real Iraqi voice among the millions of words written about Iraq over the past three months. In reality, Salam’s rise to fame reveals more about liberals and their prejudices here in the West, than it does about postwar Iraq. Salam has effectively been adopted as ‘one of us’, a rational Western-sounding voice in irrational unWestern Iraq. Liberals love him because, more than anything, he reminds them of themselves.

So writes Brendan O’Neill in an article which might ruffle a few feathers and which in the Spiked tradition is designed to do just that.

I must admit I had similar thoughts to O’Neill when Salam Pax joined the Guardian, it did seem to be the perfect home for him. We still don’t know much about Salam Pax but reading his material I had always assumed that he was an English or American-Iraqi who had returned home relatively recently – he has always sounded like a western liberal.

But where I am in total agreement with O’Neill is when he looks at why US conservative bloggers have adopted the Baghdad Blogger so enthusiastically despite his clear misgivings about the invasion of his country?

Even right-wing warbloggers, who normally attack anybody who disses Bush’s warmongering, took Salam to their hearts. But again, this was driven less by any insight on Salam’s part than by right-wing bloggers’ own prejudices. They talk up Salam because they perceive him as giving a boost to the reputation of their beloved blogosphere. For such blogging-obsessed bloggers, what could be better than one-man-and-a-computer in the bombed-out city of Baghdad making an impact on the world?

I think he’s got it spot on.

But it would be great if there were other Baghdad bloggers wouldn’t it? It would be fascinating to read the views of a diversity of Iraqi opinion.

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