Debate summarized by Konfused Kid
In a first-of-its-kind event, a sizable number of Iraqi bloggers sat down together and discussed the recent Lancet study, which states that more than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion and its ensuing chaos.
However, the event was not a direct discussion of the study itself, what caused the commotion was an especially volatile post of prominent Iraqi blogger IRAQ THE MODEL in response to the Lancet study. ITM called the Lancet: [a bunch of] lies, I'm talking here about those researchers who used the transparency and open doors of the new Iraq to come and count the drops of blood we shed. when they did not find the death they wanted to see on the ground, they faked it on paper! This is an insult to every man, woman and child who lost their lives.Let those fools know that nothing will stop us from walking this road and nothing will stop our friends and allies from helping us reach safe shores."
The discussion started when furious blogger Konfused Kid sent a mass e-mail to a sizable group of Iraqi bloggers, demanding that they give their opinions about the general viewpoint and direction of Iraq The Model in general, outlined in this post. Kid said that: "they [ITM] are just an inbred propaganda machine, if this is not crossing the line, then I don't know what is....", Kid accused Iraq The Model for being "an example of the mentality that currently prevails the Green Zone, nervous Iraqis who just want to make a few bucks by catering to an audience and telling them what they want to hear"
He also posted a more expanded reponse on his blog.
His letter was met by a series of emails, carrying mixed responses. Most of which however, seemed to agree, with various degrees of enthusiasm:
Miraj said that: "he wants to follow other Iraqi bloggers to US and what is better than sucking up to the Americans."
Baghdad Treasue: "I wish I could fly from America back to Iraq just to show him what being a tool to the white house means. He is just a shame."
El Delilah : "He could have made things simple just by posting a picture of himself licking a pair of bloody-muddy timberlands shiny."
El Delilah also posted a vicious criticism of ITM on her own blog
TRUTH ABOUT IRAQIS: "Traitors like ITM get a voice because people like us lose ours in the squabbling. this is not about democracy and it is not about freedom of speech. Look up social responsibility theory in mass communications. When someone publishes something that does the mass public harm then that person has forfeited the right to freedom of speech."
He also have written a short post about the Lancet study
IRAQI SCREEN: "I am sure they are dying for an asylum in USA to be close to their dear Bush. Did they ever read about Haditha masscre, Ishaqi and Falluja?"
KHALID JARRAR: "Being a traitor is not an allowed option, and should not be legitimized by ranting about freedom of speech, I swear reading them is just like reading a white house statements."
NAJMA: "ITM makes most of us angry, yet most of the people who read' em almost worship their opinions"
SALAM ADIL: My main point was that they are in danger of growing up to be like the Baathist apologist that they so despise. Spinning wild stories just to make their supporters feel good.
Salam Adil also wrote a feature about all the Iraqi blog posts about the Lancet survery on his regular GlobalVoices feature, including some posts by fellow bloggers who did not contribute to this discussion.
24 STEPS TO LIBERTY: "You [ITM] said it is a shame to have such a study? A shame to count the sacrifices Iraqis have to make along the way to a better future? Why have you counted Saddam's victims then? Why you, and your kind of anti-rational dialogue people, have endless statistics numbering Saddam's horrible crimes? Isn't a shame?"
ANARKI13: "ITM should pick their fights a bit better, and one should never argue with mathematics.this was not their most inflammatory post, but it does hit on some really strained nerves"
MAJED: "this [post] is sick! I disagree with the idea that this nonsense could be marked as freedom of speech"
LORD: "we must not let people like ITM and other opologists have thier way. we must realize the truth, we must uncover thier lies, we must uncover the crimes thier masters had done to our people. everybody seemd to forget about what this study was really about, which is humane beings."
IRAQI SIGNOR: "I didn't quite understand what was so bad about it. However, afte reading between the lines, which I should have done from the beginning, I saw the underlying message of blunt support for the occupation of Iraq. How shameful."
Iraqi Signor also published a long post about the study on his own blog
RAED JARRAR: "I wonder what readers will think of the fact that ITM sounds like a holocaust denier. After all, counting the holocaust casualties was based on a similar methodology to that used by this latest Iraq casualties report."
WHITE ROSE: "I think [they] seem to be living on a different planet not to notice the killings, disappearances, kidnappings, bodies burnt & disposed of in rivers or thrown collectively in other areas and garbage dumps, this is not what a supposed "liberated country" should be going through. We the "liberated" must not be dying this way anymore, since Saddam, the cause of all our misery & violent deaths, is not an issue anymore. "
IRAQI THOUGHTS "One has to just look at the comments section of ITM and see why they write the way they do.... its a blog written to be read for non-Iraqis, I am proud to say my blog was removed from their links section, a lot of us USED to read ITM, but its bull***t now, lets stop hating on them, Just stop reading it if you want"
however, some people did not voice their objection quite as soundly:
IHATH : "I think there are enough people beating up on each other in Iraq without the need of us adding to it. I myself stopped reading ITM long time ago, I can predict what theywill say on any issue before going to their blog. Enough said."
She also wrote a characterisitcally strange post on her personal blog
HALA_S: "I did not like ITM post at all, I have to agree with you all that it was too much to take.However ITM has a lot of virtues as well. They worked hard and constantly reported on daily issues in Iraq for a long time. Probably they are the onlyones who never took a break, also they never expressed any secterian remark which is something most of us do."
NEUROTIC WIFE: I too was very pained when I read ITM's post regarding their dispute of Iraqi killings. It did boil my blood , but I cant say that I dislike ITM, cuz I dont. They have interesting point of views, and sometimes they are very informative."
She also wrote a post on her personal blog .
and ZAPPY: "a blog belongs to its owner, he can say whatever he likes, if hes got a comment link then comment, else leave the matter alone. don't take this thing too personal, you disagreed with the ITM's, so do I and a number of other bloggers, so what?"
NABIL: "What is this all about? Why don't u leave the guy alone, he's nuts anyway..."
Several high-profile bloggers also participated in the discussion, godfather of Iraqi blogs SALAM PAX expressed interest in writing something in response to the ITM, but did not add further to the point, while ZEYAD, who had earlier written about the study, also provided comments but they were not related to the debate directly, while RIVERBEND watched the debate silently, but perhaps as an indirect response she decided to break her 2 and a half months hiatus to post about the study.
Fellow bloggers MIXMAX and FAYROUZ, did not participate directly in the debate, but have posted about the study on their own respective blogs.
There were, however, a few who had an entirely different opinion:
SOONI: "ITM is one of the most respectable Iraqi blogs, although I disagree with them in what they say sometimes. The problem is never been with the American presence in Iraq the real problem is with Iraqis themselves they keep looking for new ways and reasons to kill each other"
IRAQ PUNDIT : "I was taken aback by ITM's posting. I believe they are nice guys who have somehow allowed themselves to write something bizarre."
Iraq Pundit also wrote an issue about the study and the debate on his own blog.
NIBRAAS KAZIMI: "ITM is a true patriotic blog"
NO PAIN NO GAIN: " I believe they mean that [the deaths] are incomparable to the death that Saddam killed, the [current] fear and these deaths that are occurring everyday has [a chance of a positive] outcome. I believe the ITM are trying to look at the bright side of matters in Iraq. They want to see that they are still fighting for a good hope...a hope that is fading among Iraqis and they dont want to let that go."
While knowning that this debate was taking place, IRAQ THE MODEL moderators have not responded in any direct way, they simply removed Konfused Kid's name from their blog-index and they posted something that may be an implicit reply that supplemented their Lancet post. They followed that by removing names of some other bloggers who participated in the debate.
FOOTNOTE BY KID: I am really proud of all that has happened, this is the first time something of this magnitude has happened, I hope this would be the start of a more active Iraqi blogger community, something which a lot of people has been voicing need for since a long time.