After a story on MSNBC news yesterday there have been lots more discussions about Salam Pax‘s authenticity. One of the chapters in my thesis is about hoaxes, fictions and realities on the net so this list of links is largely so I can gather more background for that chapter.

Paul Boutin has a list of reasons that make the authenticity of Bagdad blogger Salam Pax likely, though it can’t be proven. He’s looked at IP-numbers, traceroutes, site hosting and so forth (via Liz). There’s a busy discussion in the comments of a post at kottke, too – though some of the comments are plain wrong (for instance one says that his yahoo profile states he lives in Jordan, but the profile is not for Salam but for Raed, whom Salam claims to be looking for). Diane reports her more personal though not f2f relationship with Salam. Noah’s given his electronic writing students writing exercises that could result in more blogs like Salam, only overtly fictional. Meredith comments it all and links to more links to more discussions at Boing Boing. Wampum writes about attempts to discredit Salam as a propaganda machine. One has to admit both the discrediting and the creation of a blogger would be clever propaganda strategies. If he starts reporting US soldiers are raping civilians and noone else reports it his authenticity becomes an issue, but so far, he’s only given plain reports of what it’s like being in Bagdad during bombing. If that’s propaganda, I think I’ll take it.

There are other personal accounts from the region. Bettejo Passalaqua is a volunteer with the Iraq Peace Team, and her last post, dated yesterday morning, describes waiting out bombs in the shelters. The beds in the hospital she’s working in were still empty, waiting victims. Kevin Sites is a CNN reporter in Iraq. His blog hasn’t been updated in three days. Allison Kaplan Sommer is in Israel, and writes about sending her kids to school with gasmasks. The BBC has gathered reports from all their correspondents in the region in the form of a collective weblog, Reporters’ log

Whoever he is, Salam hasn’t yet posted today, after many posts yesterday. I hope he’s OK. [21:44 He’s posted this evening]

17 thoughts on “the Bagdad blogger revisited

  1. PER

    His views are obviously not on the side of Saddam. His observations are the ones of an observant person who cannot do much against an attacker but who does not like to be attacked.
    If he is a hoax, what for?
    If he is one who only enjoys making up stories he is a master at sounding genuine.

  2. JiIl

    I’m with you, PER. His latest posts are simply observations, there seems to be no agenda.

  3. Geoff

    His posts are all the more striking for their obvious lack of a political agenda–this lends authenticity, I think, especially given the toxic and polarized political environment of the blogosphere.

    I’ve been in support of the war (unpopular position amongst your readers, I’m sure), but reading Salam makes me pause. This pause is only possible, I think, because I am so convinced of Salam’s authenticity. If he’s real, he makes the war more real to those of us sitting comfortably in front of monitors just like his, but without the sounds of explosions and air raid sirens in the background. This makes it the war all the more terrifying.

    I think this is a case where it matters tremendously whether or not the representation (Salam Pax, Iraqi) is real.

  4. i1277

    In theory, this could very well have been a hoax (I say in theory because I don’t have any reason to accuse this particular blog for being one).

    An important property of hidden agenda is just that- they are hidden.

    Some days ago Jill wrote about how she didn’t have a clear image of the Iraqi, and that probably goes for most people in the west.Providing us with a “face” (even though there are no pictures) makes them more real to us. It is a bit harder to bomb someone you know. Hearing of someone who died in a battle doesn’t necessarily upset me like it should but the more detailed the information is, the more I’m likely to be upset. Like when I saw the images of that girl who was being run down and killed when trying to stop an Israel army bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinians’ house.

    Do you remember the girl who held a speech at some congress meeting in the US just before the last Gulf war, the story was on television yesterday. She was supposedly a nurse in a Kuwait hospital. She cried convincingly as she told a horrible story of how the Iraqi soldiers unplugged incubators and thrown the children on the concrete floor. Later it was revealed that she was actually the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador in the US (I think). She had never even been to the hospital. Her lies helped gain sympathy for the invaded Kuwait people. Unfortunately someone appearing genuine doesn’t guarantee they are speaking the truth.

    These are general comments though. I’m not saying Salam’s blog is a hoax. I think it’s an interesting read and when I read it feels real to me. But there’s a constant battle on ownnership of the truth and there’s always someone who will deceive for some benefit. So, questioning someone’s authenticity and motives might make you feel a bit ashamed, but it is not as impoliteness, it’s unfortunately a necessary tool.

  5. meredith

    I can’t stop thinking about this Salem Pax issue! I must admit that I rather suspect that it’s a hoax- in that, I don’t necessarily think he is in Iraq. Or maybe it’s that I don’t believe he’s Iraqi, but is in Iraq. There’s something about the language he uses which seems distincly Western to me. But then, i also don’t know his background story, so maybe he was someone who lived in the West for a while and then moved back. But what I’m finding the most interesting is how much we clearly seem to need someone to fill this role- it’s a direct connection with “the other side” and somehow makes it seem closer and more personal.

  6. Linx

    My friend visited Bagdad several months back. For his work, we had to send him some files. The files maximum size was only over 1 MB. After so many trials, we finally gave-up since the maximum size could be transfered was 200k or so.
    When we tried to contact him via fax machine, it took about 30 minuts just to get the line connected.
    So if Salam indeed lives in Bagdad, then he probably is quite important socially.

  7. oscar

    Amazing U S A’S such care to check authenticity of Bagdad blogger…I guess we can look foreward to same standard of scepticism when next C I A report is issued

  8. Jill

    I hope so 🙂

  9. Bee

    I think he is real. Even if he is not, WHAT A GREAT STORY. Great sense of humor too.

  10. Zariway

    I have no idea whether Salam is Real or not but I just can’t find a reason why a person would write sucha a diary for such a long time if it wasn’t real. Also, I think his possition is neutras to the conflict. I mean he isn’t clearly supporting any of the parts. He claims to be an Iraqi looking forward to democracy but against the war that is supposed to bring it.

    Anyway, if he is real, I hope he survives and reveals his identity whenever all this stuff is over. I find his point of view very interesting and feel curious about him.

  11. osnat allon

    keep writing

  12. osnat allon

    keep writing

  13. Jill

    The Wired article included a pointer to people who are worrying that Salam Pax, if real, will be in danger from the Iraqi government. I have no idea whether this is realistic or not and hadn’t thought of it myself.

  14. ::ningBLOG::

    VÂr mann i Bagdad autentisk?
    Ein etterkvart typisk diskusjon i internett-alderen: Er person X som skriv p webstad Y ein verkeleg person eller ikkje. Jill

  15. Det perfekta tomrummet

    Blogg i Bagdad
    “The most disturbing news today has come from Al-Jazeera, they said that nine B52 bombers have left the airfield in

  16. Hypertext Teaching

    Reflexive blogging
    Jason’s blog: The elusive Iraqi blogger is a good post that picks up a recent very hot thread in blogdom about whether Raed’s blog is authentic. Jill had something on this too with quite a few links into the discussion….

  17. Anna

    Right now I am looking at the person calling himself Salam Pax on the internet, the Baghdad Blogger, showing us around in Iraq – right now he has an item on tattoo’s and there are many more. He was in the Netherlands at the Film Fest of Rotterdam to show his video diaries. I think you will find that his writings and video’s are not only chilling, but tragicly funny as well.

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