One year of Ibishblogging

On May 28, 2009, one year ago today, I launched the Ibishblog. Like any good one-year-old, the Ibishblog is starting to find its own voice and even walks around the net a little bit, somewhat unsteadily, although it mostly still crawls. A year ago I promised my main subjects would be ?political extremism of the left and the right, bigotry including both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, opposition to peace in the Middle East, and religious fanaticism of all stripes.? I think I’ve stuck to that agenda pretty solidly, and attempted to tack always to a centrist position that tries to avoid clichés and judges everything, in so far as possible, not ideologically but fairly and on its own merits. A recent example of that was my take on Paul Berman’s new book, largely agreeing with him on Tariq Ramadan, Hassan al-Banna, Amin al-Husseini, and, to some extent, Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash, and disagreeing with him on the history of 20th century Islamist political thought and, of course, on Ayaan Hirsi Ali (whose new book, sadly, proves my point all too powerfully). So, something for everyone to hate!

I’m very grateful for all the questions and feedback, including a lot of helpful and constructive criticism, from my various readers. I’d like to invite anybody out there with any suggestions, comments or questions to feel free to engage me. Tell me what I’m doing wrong, and I will carefully consider it. Obviously I already know that the Ibishblog breaks all the rules of the blogosphere, and that’s likely to only get increasingly worse over time, unless I’m restrained by well-meaning readers. Also please tell me what’s missing, what you’d like more of and, of course, what you could do without (but if you hate Shakespeare, don’t even bother trying).

It’s my view that, in general, postings on the Ibishblog have gradually become more sophisticated over the past 12 months, and, unfortunately, somewhat longer as well. It’s my intention not to take the length much further than it has gotten at this stage, but I think the quality of the analysis can continue to develop almost without limit, depending on the amount of work I’m willing to put into it. I’d like to do more to bring in art and culture, that was slow to be included on the Ibishblog but I think has added an interesting dimension to the site. It can’t, or at least it shouldn’t, be all Palestine, Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism, anti-Semitism and so forth all the time. There are some very well-known monomaniacs among the Arab American commentators (you know, the kind of people who looked at a mountain of dead Haitians and immediately thought about the evils of the Israeli settlements), and they show exactly how mentally and emotionally unhealthy it is to fixate on one issue to the exclusion of everything else. I’d also like to start to introduce occasional interviews with people I find extremely interesting, especially those that usually don’t get a public hearing, and I’m pretty sure I know who the first victim is likely to be. Look forward to that shortly.

My main aims for the coming year are to do whatever it takes to increase the distinctiveness of what is already, I am sure, an unusual if not a unique voice on the Internet and to be more responsive to what my readership is interested in and responds to. I know some of my postings are demanding in terms of subject matter, style and, to be sure, length. But surely the Arab-Americans, and those interested in their issues, deserved something better than what has been traditionally on offer. I strongly believed when launching the Ibishblog that there was an audience for a more serious, sober and substantive conversation than one dominated by idiots who have become even more angry and more idiotic, extremists even more extreme, and overgrown delinquents even more juvenile than they were at the time. At bottom, one year ago it was my hope that I’d be able to provide something that was not only better, but infinitely better. On that score, although admittedly it’s an extremely low bar, I feel the Ibishblog has already succeeded. With your help, in the next 12 months we can take the Ibishblog to the next level. I look forward to hearing from you all.