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Monday, April 30, 2007

No one to blame but myself

The overwhelming majority of the posts I write are simply stuff that I had on my mind when I woke up in the morning.  There is really no rhyme or reason to the topic selection... or even genre. 

Sometimes I don't feel like writing... or I hate what comes out on the page... and you end up staring at day-old crap when you click over.  [shrugs]  Other times I feel strongly about something and just throw it out there to see if it resonates with anyone else. 

But there are times (like yesterday) when I wanted desperately to hear what others felt about something that was/is a source of inner conflict for me.  On those occasions I dearly wish that I hadn't allowed my frequent ranting to alienate so many people from elsewhere along the political and religious spectrum.

However, as in real life, if you share your honest ideas and feelings long enough... you are bound to self-select your friends/audience to the exclusion of a lot of potentially informative teachers from outside your immediate circle.  That's pretty much what has happened here, and yesterday's post brought that home to me... hard. 

Back in the golden days of the Jblogosphere (IMHO late 2003 to early 2004), there were few enough of us writing that it was sort of inevitable that we would read and interact with bloggers that lived substantially different lives... and believed substantially different things.  And because I made myself part of their world on a daily basis, many of these fine writers frequently came to see what was going on over here.

But with the exponential explosion of Jblogs, many readers (and writers) began to gravitate towards cliques of like-minded folks and adopted the habit of checking in on 'the others' only infrequently (if at all).  While I recognize the folly of ignoring other points of view along the political compass, I am certainly as guilty of this tendency as anyone.

Without naming names, there were a handful of lefty (or at least left-of-center) bloggers I used to read religiously.  At turns they used to infuriate me and make me shake my head with sympathy (how's that for arrogance?)... but the body of knowledge I brought back from my daily visits 'over there' was an essential part of unconsciously balancing/modifying my own views and adjusting my own political 'rudder'.

Yesterday's post here on treppenwitz was nothing more than a bleat in the dark... a bit of self pity at my own stupidity for having  chased away so many of the 'other voices' and then having compounded the mistake by not making the effort to invite them back.

So instead of a balanced discussion on a topic that is literally tearing me apart, I got what I deserved... a discussion dominated by an extreme view from an extreme blogger whose long suit is expressing controversial opinions without much substance to back them up.  This is indeed a shame because with his fairly unique world-view and just little research / internal documentation to his arguments, this blogger could be a deadly debater.  He probably still wouldn't change many minds, but he would force a lot of people to perform that all-important reality check... something that few of us do anymore. 

As it is he simply ties me up in knots and presents easily refuted slogans... easy to refute, that is, if one has the time and patience to revisit the most basic points of the background material.  I don't.

Oh sure... I made a half-hearted attempt to guide the discussion back towards the central points of the post in hopes that more reasonable voices would chime in (some eventually did).  But in the end the discussion was hijacked by circular logic and unsubstantiated claims that were left to a well-informed lurker to refute.

Sure, I love writing about my life and my family as well as the pitfalls (or more correctly, pratfalls) of being a clueless immigrant in a new culture.  But as ill-equipped as I may be to discuss politics, the infrequent political discussions here have always been an important, perhaps even essential, part of my education and self-check. 

I miss that... and I really have nobody to blame for its absence here on treppenwitz but myself.

Just as an afterthought, I just found out that there was a whole different portion of the JIBs Awards voting that was postponed by a week due to technical difficulties. This is the segment dealing with 'Best Posts'.  It turns out treppenwitz has been nominated for:

Best Overall Post

Best Right Wing Post

I was actually a bit disappointed that Ibrahim's Mirror wasn't nominated for Best Left Wing Post so that I could maintain at least the illusion of balance here.  :-) 

Oh well.  As always, go vote for the stuff you liked... not just mine.

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Posted by David Bogner on April 30, 2007 | Permalink

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Now now David, just because the Arutz Sheva Readership TM branded you a Raving Loony Leftist Moonbat for writing "Ibrahim's Mirror" doesn't qualify you for that label, alas...:)

I too felt you were setting yourself up for tremendous disappointment when I read your post yesterday, and even more so on reading your initial reactions to Mobius' first round of return fire. But in this climate, it is increasingly difficult to find appropriate conditions for a reasonable discussion, especially when all are so dismissive/suspicious/blind (scratch as appropriate) to the view of the other before we've even began. And that's not your fault at all. Add to that the fact that proclaimed political leanings don't often correlate with sense, coherent notions of policy, emotional etc in any one person, and you can see why it was never going to be a "balanced discussion".
Sometimes you can break as many eggs as you like, but you still can't make a decent omelette if you haven't got any milk and margarine and a pinch of seasoning... or, for that matter, a frying pan- and hey, a large enough stove to mix it all together on! So maybe we need to find us a big stove...

Posted by: PP | Apr 30, 2007 1:01:26 PM

I love you Trep, but it seems like you got just what you were asking for in the previous post, and it wasn't as bad as you're saying. You fired off an ultimatum at the Left. And one of their more colorful characters came back with an argument. It was rough, but it seemed to me that there was a fair amount of real give-and-take going on, along with people on both sides being willing to re-evaluate the sources of their information and opinions.

Posted by: Alan | Apr 30, 2007 5:34:42 PM

Yesterday's post here on treppenwitz was nothing more than a bleat in the dark... a bit of self pity at my own stupidity for having chased away so many of the 'other voices' and then having compounded the mistake by not making the effort to invite them back.

I am not sure that it is entirely accurate to blame yourself for having chased them away.

I have been hanging out here for more than a couple of years now and seen a thing or too.

Most disagreements have been relatively tame.

IMHO, the real issue is that most people prefer to hang out with like minded individuals, especially when dealing with such emotionally charged discussions.

More than one blogger has emailed me to say that they were dropping me from the blogroll because they hate a position I have taken.

It is far easier to do that than to do try and determine if the opposition has a valid point of view.

Posted by: Jack | Apr 30, 2007 5:43:59 PM

As for 'other voices', one more is silent. Sandmonkey says he is "DONE", because the threat from Egyptian security forces has become too much.

Posted by: antares | Apr 30, 2007 7:57:33 PM

Sandmonkey's demise is saddening...

It's definitely true that most of us gravitate toward blogs we generally agree with, and that *is* sad. OTOH, I enjoy debating with a few of the reasonable voices on the "other side" far more than the often nodding I'll give and receive. It's just a matter of putting in that effort to go to those blogs.

FWIW, I think A Difficult Lesson will easily sweep into the finals, and have a great shot to win. It's incredible and was picked up by so many blogs for that reason. I didn't even have to reread it to remember the details - as soon as I saw the title the whole post came back to me. Good luck...!

Posted by: Ezzie | Apr 30, 2007 9:51:30 PM

Just wanted to let you know that I consider myself a liberal on many issues, and come here dafka for your perspective on things because you present it in a way that makes sense to me. (FWIW - I am *not* a left-leaning person when it comes to Israel issues, which in general leaves me usually very confused).

Posted by: Anne | May 1, 2007 4:28:37 AM

Short version: no worries :)

Posted by: Seattle | May 1, 2007 7:00:18 AM

FWIW, this kind of introspection and the attitude that gives rise to it is one of the primary reasons I keep reading.

Posted by: ilan | May 3, 2007 10:58:20 PM

PP... Would you rather I have not responded to someone trying to derail the discussion? Is it impossible to have such a discussion here in the Jblogosphere? Just curious.

Alan... 'Ultimatum' is kinda strong. I like to think I was trying to challenge some of the silent lefties who tend to sit out the political discussions here.

Jack... True, but to be fair... I'm a little closer to the eye of the storm. You almost have to choose sides here and make a stand.

antares... At least he is silent by choice and not because of a jail sentence (or worse). A shame though... I agree.

Ezzie... It's funny, but when I wrote 'A difficult lesson I almost deleted it (Zahava urged me to). 'Ibrahim's Mirror' OTOH, is one of my all time favorite things I've written... and it didn't even get a mention. Go figure.

Anne... You have just become my 'target audience'. Congratulations. :-)

Seattle... I wish it were that simple. :-)

ilan... OK, you and Anne can both be my target audience. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | May 6, 2007 1:09:11 PM

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