A few of my loyal readers have asked me why I haven’t been more vocal as of late. It’s a darn good question. The events in the Arab world in the last few weeks are a culmination of all the things that I have written about most on this blog.
Below, I offer a few rather pitiful explanations for my silence, which I hope you will indulge.
- This is a particularly bad time for half-baked long-distance punditry. The information we have — and I am, of course, expecially thinking of Libya here — is mean and unreliable. With real lives in the balance, I have been reticent to contribute to the din without having firsthand information to contribute.
- Events are unfolding too fast for me to offer the kind of thoughtful commentary for which I try to reserve this blog. My last post was practically irrelevant, news-wise, in about a day. Should I write a blog post about how calling the Libyan government’s apparent massacres of unarmed protesters does not qualify as genocide? (Which is how a number of interviewees, including defecting Libyan officials, are describing it on TV.) Such points are important (HT @texasinafrica), but it doesn’t feel right devoting a whole post to them from afar.
- Most of all, there’s just too much to keep track of. I admit this reluctantly. As much as the wave of revolt washing across the MENA region emanates from some common urge for freedom, the local grievances of people are dizzyingly different from place to place. Bahrain’s Shiite majority is not Egypt’s multitudinous shebaab are not Yemen’s impoverished throngs are not Libya’s dying young people are not Syria’s somewhat more restrained malcontents, etc. The uprisings are all drawing from the same font of dignity, but they are nurturing different species of trees. Analytically, this makes it very difficult to comment on them en masse. And I would need to spend all day, e’eday blogging to comment on them all individually. Regrettably (for this purpose), I have a day job.
By way of consolation for these unsatisfying explanations, let me offer a list of what I am following in a vain attempt to keep up with everything.
- Al Jazeera English live stream. I think if you haven’t been watching AJ in one language or another, you cannot have a full appreciation for the energy behind what’s going on.
- Al Jazeera English live blog. Discovered this gem today.
- CNN.com live blog. Lord knows I’ve had my bone to pick with CNN’s coverage, but they have the resources to produce some interesting reports — and send the first Western television journalist into Libya, apparently — even if their coverage is not as consistently in touch as AJE’s.
- The Arabist.
- Marc Lynch’s Abu Aardvark blog on FP.
- Thanassis Cambanis’s blog.
- Anything by Anthony Shadid.
- Twitter. What do you mean you’re still not using this? Don’t you realize this is like not having an email address around 2001? I’ve already done some of the work for you, assembling fairly good lists of Middle East twitterers and African twitterers and people in the media. Or just refer to the things I tweet — presumably the most interesting posts from the people I am following (though I don’t pretend to be on this 24-7). Make Twitter an information filter for the deluge. You don’t even have to sign up for Twitter.
Got recommendations for other good resources that I should be on? Please let me know.
Finally, a ditty I was thinking about for some reason today:
My thoughts with the people of Libya tonight.