In the late 1980′s, Noam Chomsky co-authored a book entitled Manufacturing Consent. In it, he spoke of how the mainstream media in the United States–in the form of print media, radio, and television–is carefully controlled propaganda for the ruling elite. They have absolute control over what narratives are heard, and which ones are ignored. In the words of Chomsky, they set the agenda “by selection of topics, by distribution of concerns, by emphasis and framing of issues, by filtering of information, by bounding of debate within certain limits. They determine, they select, they shape, they control, they restrict — in order to serve the interests of dominant, elite groups in the society.” The most dissenters can do is send in a letter and hope that it is published. In this model, the establishment has all the power.
Fortunately, this has begun to change due to the internet. The blog has emerged as a powerful tool for dissenting voices. Thanks to the internet, and blogging in particular, the monopoly on media has been broken. People are no longer restricted to one source (the MSM), but instead can surf the net to choose alternate sources of information. Ideas that are shunned in the MSM as Un-Serious can be discussed. As for myself, I have weaned myself off of the MSM, getting my world news from blogs and alternate news sources: every day, I read the Salon blog, listen to Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks, and watch AlJazeera English on my smart phone. And only then do I go to the MSM (even though I feel like throwing things at the television).
In the words of Glenn Greenwald, “the blogosphere is and will continue to be the venue for the most vibrant and important political writing.” It is certainly my favorite means of communication. Blogging is superior to writing books because the cost of buying a book may prevent a person from reading your ideas. It is superior to writing in journals, which reach an even smaller readership than books. It is superior to television because it permits in-depth discussion of a topic (thereby preventing what Noam Chomsky calls “concision”). Most importantly, blogging is dynamic and two-way: the comments section makes blogging a group sport. The best blogs are those that use the readership to change, update, and improve articles, which is what we do here at LoonWatch.
With regard to the Islamo-blogosphere, this is, quite understandably, in its infancy. Sadly, however, the bigoted anti-Muslim blogosphere is way more advanced–maybe not in sophistication but certainly in influence. They have successfully harnessed the new technology (the internet and blogs) to their benefit: although they too are not establishment, they have certainly influenced the establishment including the mainstream media. Many of their bogus narratives have infiltrated the Republican party and Fox “News.” Their influence has been felt even in the FBI and government. In this aspect, what they have accomplished is enviable and, to a limited extent, something that we should emulate.
Meanwhile, the response to these right-wing Islamophobes has been lackluster. The reason I joined LoonWatch was that it was the one site that was taking the fight to the Islamophobes. I thought I could contribute something unique to LW: I began to write in-depth rebuttals of their main theological beliefs. Islamophobia is an ideology, and has its own theology to it. I decided to use the methodology of Dr. Norman Finkelstein: just as the framework of his book was a critique of Alan Dershowitz’s book, so too am I using Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) as the general framework for my article series (which will eventually be published in book form).
As Alan Dershowitz is “Israel’s single most visible defender” so does Robert Spencer represent Islamophobia’s greatest proponent. In the very important arena of the internet, Robert Spencer is the cyber kingpin of Islamophobia.
Here’s where I need your help. I was recently nominated for “Best Writer” for The Eighth Annual Brass Crescent Awards. In the still fledgling Islamo-blogosphere (you don’t have to be Muslim to be nominated), the Brass Crescent Awards are the highest award (only?) one can get. Last year, Loonwatch came in first place in the category of Best non-Muslim blogger, I came in second place as best writer. Let’s try for first place this year, eh?
To be honest, it usually leaves a bad taste in my mouth whenever people self-promote themselves. This has been one of the benefits of writing anonymously that I have been able to avoid much of that. But in this situation, I feel this is different since the intention is to send Robert Spencer a message: a very loud and clear message.
Only a week remains so please vote for me (Danios) by going to BrassCrescent.Org and scrolling down to Best Writer section where they stuck me with the ugly face of Geert Wilders:
Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell Randy Gonzales! But please make sure to vote only once as they do have some measures in place to counteract “ballot stuffing” (invalidating the votes of whoever is caught doing that).
Thank you for your support. A blogger is nothing without his readership, and for all of your support, even through all the many mistakes I have made, I thank you.
-Danios of LoonWatch.