Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Pajamahadeen

Pajamahadeen! I love it! I first read the term in a blog by Marty Kaplan over on The Huffington Post in his essay Pajamahadeen = Chattering Class + Broadband. I recommend you follow that link and read his essay, it's excellent and insightful.

It seems that Chris Matthews may have actually coined the term Pajamahadeen. Matthews is quoted by Kaplan as defining the pajamahadeen as

"The bloggers. They roll out of bed in the morning, they read something in the paper, they blog about it, they talk to each other about it, people blog back, and pretty soon it becomes the buzz."

The pajamahadeen are given credit they well deserve for orchestrating Ned Lamont's victory in the Connecticut primary. Bloggers are an increasingly informed, articulate and influential.

In many ways the pajamahadeen have improved and increased the dialog in this country (and the world). But, in some ways, we may have actually increased the polarization in the world.

Are we talking a lot more, but listening a lot less?

We are all familiar with the hate speech of the right. Ann Coulter is famous for her turn of a phrase.

But especially revealing this past week was an essay written by Lanny J. Davis, advisor and Special Counsel to President Clinton, in the Wall Street Journal titled "Liberal McCarthyism." Davis writes,

"My brief and unhappy experience with the hate and vitriol of bloggers on the liberal side of the aisle comes from the last several months I spent campaigning for a longtime friend, Joe Lieberman."

"This kind of scary hatred, my dad used to tell me, comes only from the right wing--in his day from people such as the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, with his tirades against "communists and their fellow travelers." "

"I came to believe that we liberals couldn't possibly be so intolerant and hateful, because our ideology was famous for ACLU-type commitments to free speech, dissent and, especially, tolerance for those who differed with us."

"Now, in the closing days of the Lieberman primary campaign, I have reluctantly concluded that I was wrong. The far right does not have a monopoly on bigotry and hatred and sanctimony."

Lanny goes on to reprint a number of hate filled comments laced with ethnic slurs and bigoted remarks, mostly aimed at Jews. He gathered these from liberal blogs like The Daily Kos and The Huffington Post. Most were from "commentators" and not the actual blog writers. I won't bother to reprint them here, but you can read Mr. Davis' article or you can find them yourself. There are hundreds (thousands?) of them scattered all over the Blogosphere every day.

Lanny goes on to relate a more personal experience,

"One Sunday morning on C-Span I debated Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel on the Lieberman versus Lamont race. Afterwards I received a series of emails--many of them in ALL CAPS (which often suggests the hyper-frenetic state of these extremist haters)--that were of the same stripe as the blog posts, and filled with the same level of personal hate."
How short is the step from writing this kind of hate mail or posting this type of hate blog to actually causing physical violence?

Here are more personal observations from Mr. Davis,

"But the issue is not just emotional outbursts by these usually anonymous bloggers. A friend of mine just returned from Connecticut, where he had spoken on several occasions on behalf of Joe Lieberman. He happens to be a liberal antiwar Democrat, just as I am. He is also a lawyer. He told me that within a day of a Lamont event--where he asked the candidate some critical questions--some of his clients were blitzed with emails attacking him and threatening boycotts of their products if they did not drop him as their attorney. He has actually decided not to return to Connecticut for the primary today; he is fearful for his physical safety."

All too often we don't listen. It's easy to dismiss an opponent as "brainwashed."

It's equally easy to label an opponent rather than to attempt to understand him (or her). "He's part of the Hate America crowd" or "She's a moonbat."

We don't try to engage in dialog. We don't even try to understand the 'other side's opinion.'

Are we simply here to blog ourselves to victory by bludgeoning our opponents (to death, if necessary)?

Pajamahadeen indeed.





Vigilante said...

Cry babbies. GOP-ers can dish it out better than they can take it.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

Lanny Davis?

Bill Clinton's advisor and Special Counsel?

A GOPer?

Am I missing something here?