May 30, 2003


Salam Pax has been hunted down by The Guardian’s Rory McCarthy:

Screens cover the windows to keep the midday sun away from his three computers, each of which has been opened up into a sprawling tangle of wires and circuit boards. A poster from the film The Matrix hangs on the wall, looking down on a jumble of computer books and CDs strewn over the floor. Pages of website addresses and computer commands are tacked to the wall above his screen.

Salam himself will be writing for The Guardian from next week. To practice, he’s already contributing to Indymedia’s new Iraqi franchise. (Speaking of which, aren’t those Indykids meant to oppose globalisation?)

UPDATE. Jeff Jarvis writes that The Guardian’s story (billed as “Exclusive: The Baghdad blogger reveals all”) actually “says surprisingly little, tells us nothing new, does not dig into Salam's stories or opinions, and does not identify him”. Close followers of Salamythology may feel the same way. Jeff also spots a grave Guardian edit. By contrast, Ken Layne describes the piece as “really interesting” and notes: “Dead guys post no blogs.” Possibly, but what about the undead who blog amongst us?

Posted by Tim Blair at May 30, 2003 07:30 PM

...practice, he?s already contributing to Indymedia?s new Iraqi franchise...

Not quite; that was a "lift" of his own posting on his own blog!

Posted by: MommaBear at May 30, 2003 at 11:20 PM

I remember reading a detailed analysis of Salam Pax, he was classified as a Baathist. Lots of money, education, etc.

Why does it not surprise me he is going to work for the Guardian?

Posted by: Ilona at May 30, 2003 at 11:32 PM

"Three computers," eh? What's the average income in Baghdad these days--$3,000 per year?

Will someone please tell us why we should NOT assume that this little yuppie is the son of a well-conected Ba'athist party hack?

Posted by: Tombo at May 31, 2003 at 05:13 AM

Apparently Salam is right of top of things vis-a-vis the controversy about his political leanings.

Read today's post:

Posted by: Wallace at May 31, 2003 at 06:31 AM

Three computers:

His brother is the "geek" in the family.
They each have their own computer to work on.

In many families, they keep a much older computer to use as a backup or spare computer in case their normal computer fritzes out for some reason.

Posted by: button at May 31, 2003 at 08:40 AM

Personally, I find him insightful and refreshingly open to read. As to the rather dumb statement from Tombo - "why we should NOT assume that this little yuppie is the son of a well-conected Ba'athist party hack?" I'd offer this. Why should we?

Posted by: Niall at May 31, 2003 at 11:00 AM

I just love the idea of some mysterious dude getting everybody (okay, bloggers & some journalists) all riled up with his blogspot site. The Guardian headline is shit, of course. I paid it no attention, probably due to wine. Please kill lots of fishes, Tim! The sea is seemingly full of these things, making it very unsafe for humans.

Posted by: Ken Layne at May 31, 2003 at 11:15 AM

If by "undead" you mean "having no life..."

Posted by: Jim Treacher at May 31, 2003 at 01:52 PM

Screens over the windows? Why not curtains like normal people? Besides, the midday sun shines overhead, so why any coverings at all?
Three computers? Hasn't he heard of multi-tasking? Why tangles of wires and circuit boards? Is this supposed to impress us with his superior technical knowledge?
A poster of The matrix??? Computer books?????????
Pages of website addresses? He can't use his favourites or bookmarks folder like everyone else?
Pages of computer commands!
Is there any cliche The Guardian has left out?

Posted by: Marcus at May 31, 2003 at 04:32 PM

Still no real evidence that Salam isn't a Baathist. The fact that he won't come out into the light of day even now, when he has a column in the Guardian, and tell us who he is, is very troubling to me.

Marcus summed up a number of my questions about the Guardian article. It just reads false, doesn't it?

I also thought that Salam's latest post lacked the ring of truth. HIs mother is unemployed and his father is a farmer, and they live among the upper crust in Baghdad? Lots of farming in Baghdad, is there? How convenient that both his parents turned down Baath party membership, now that being a Baathist is no longer conducive to a comfy lifestyle. How unlikely is it that a farmer would meet with the head of the US occupation forces, as Salam claims his father just did. Etc.

As Hank Hill would say, "That boy ain't right."

Posted by: T. Hartin at May 31, 2003 at 10:41 PM

This is because he wasn't 100% in favour of the war, isn't it? (rather than "yeah, bomb us NOW!", it was more along the lines of "I'd love for you to get rid of Saddam, but please don't kill us in the process")

Gee, he *must* be a torture-loving Ba'athist, just like far-left extremist morons like those at the Guardian and IndyMedia, and of course the leftist not-quite-so-extreme morons like, oh, every single media company on Earth that isn't actively baying for the blood of people slightly to the left of Ronald Reagan, would like to be.

Posted by: mark at June 1, 2003 at 02:20 PM

mark, I am just naturally suspicious of any spoiled upper class Iraqi twit (which is pretty much what Salam Pax seems to be, based on his blog) because I seriously doubt that he could enjoy the privileged position he obviously has in Iraq without some Baathist ties. I am annoyed that an apparent Islamo-nazi gets a free pass from otherwise skeptical bloggers just because he is (a) a blogger who (b) claims to be gay.

When the facts come out, my suspicions may well prove to be baseless. Until then, I will continue to be suspicious and annoyed.

Posted by: T. Hartin at June 1, 2003 at 11:05 PM

No, we think he's Baathist because he has a computer, in a nation where non-Baathists were not even given adequate food, and anything of value taken from them and redistributed to the Baathist party. Of course, that assumes he is actually blogging from Baghdad, rather than using a shell account.

My take on it is that it doesn't matter if he was a Baathist or not. The situation in Germany was a lot more complicated than "Nazis = Bad, Jews = Good," and it's entirely possible that Salam spouted the Baathist party line well enough to become a higher-placed bureaucrat, while secretly having huge reservations about their actions. This doesn't de-legitimize him in my eyes, though him turning out to actually be an Iraqi diplomat blogging from a free country through a shell account would.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at June 1, 2003 at 11:12 PM

Mr Hartin, fair enough. I'd disagree with the miscategorisation of Ba'athists as "Islamo-nazis" (the two categories are similar in that they're both generally considered Bad (duh), and they're both made up mostly of Arabs), but other than that, it's certainly a good point.

(Salam Pax is gay? When did he throw *that* tidbit in?)

Tatterdemalian, I think I actually agree with you here (though I'd quietly add that it's possible it's his *father* with the ties, not he himself). Whoa.

Posted by: mark at June 2, 2003 at 02:51 AM