March 14, 2012

Abuse and Intolerance practiced by a "Progressive" Blogger

I usually refrain from things like this, but today I decided it was better to address what I see as a matter of intolerance and hypocrisy.

Sometimes I like to comment at a site called "The Progressive Zionist." (TPZ) One would imagine, with that moniker, it is a place where tolerance and respect for different opinions would prevail. After all, that is part of what "progressive" means to me.

Often, when I comment there, I am treated with great disrespect, told that I hate ALL Muslims, or that I am a Republican and should just admit it. My comments have been censored. Ironically, the last time I was called the a Republican I had just made a comment that was to the ideological left of the position being proffered. No matter. Although I NEVER use profanity or initiate gratuitous and personal insults or attacks on integrity, I cannot report the same in return.

Many at TPZ, in my experience, love to invoke name calling as a means of discourse, even as they pretend to occupy the high, honest, intelligent road. Although the site says it is "A haven for those seeking intelligent conversation on Zionism, Culture, Politics and Life" it is often just the opposite. Demonization is frequent. Censorship  Others are called deranged, dishonest. Take, for example, this comment directed at me and a blog where I contribute, "Israel Thrives," from about 10 days ago, by a fellow named livosh1:
Wow, volley. Just came to this now. I, for one, am very glad to have seen you give a dishonest right-wing troll all the respect he deserves. And count me in as one who favors taking whatever action is necessary to prevent hateful, lying, Republican bigots from vomiting all over your blog. As you said, they have their own hate site where they spew their vitriol; you should feel no obligation to tolerate such dishonesty and hatred here.
I can only speak for myself, but this seems like a hate filled comment, much more so than anything I write. It illustrates what I have noted above.

Today, a diary was written at TPZ about Gilad Atzmon, infamous to many for his antisemitic, anti-Zionist beliefs and writings. Yet to some anti-Israel Palestinians, like Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad, Omar Barghouti, and a host of prominent professors and activists, Atzmon is now considered to agree with the ideology of Zionism and Israel.

The diary I refer to is here. It was penned by a contributor named fizziks. He used this post by Elder of Ziyon as his source.

Elder of Ziyon's site is one of the best. The Elder exposes the anti-Israel mentality that predominates among far too many. He looks at Arab news media, much like MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch. He is also critical of many on the Left that comprise or enable the anti-Israel movement. He actually admires Robert Spencer and others that speak out against Jihad and Jew hatred. Comments at his site can be vicious, especially toward Progressives, and I have objected to some on occasion, as a Liberal. Fizziks, however, can source The Elder and receive glowing comments.

Of course, I know that fizziks is not a Muslim hater or Republican, even as he relies on The Elder. In jest, I "warned" fizziks in a comment that doing might risk him being called a hatemonger and Republican, while also addressing the content concerning Atzmon. I wanted to point out a clear example of a practice where TPZ treats some people differently than others, for basically offering the same kind of content. Such disparate conduct in other venues would be classified as discrimination.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, in steps the person of Volleyboy1, the main administrator of TPZ. What follows is his response to me, and my replies. I am sorry that my first comment has gone to the hereafter, censored by him, but I suggest that one can read what follows and come to his/her own conclusion as to what transpired.
volleyboy1 Mar 14, 2012 11:59 AM
Note to oldschool: You're post was delected because you are not welcome to come in here and simply start talking crap about what I may or may not think about this.
Unless you have something to say about the issue - please refrain from posting here. This is not high school and if your previous post is going to be how you want to do things then you are not welcome to post here.
Oh and if you come back with another "BUT I'M BIENG CENSORSED... " comment - that too will be deleted. There are other sites on the web in which to trash me or other Center / Center Left Zionists - but you sure as shit are not going to do it here.
oldschooltwentysix Mar 14, 2012 01:02 PM
I trashed no one, but merely pointed out the disparate treatment, that a contributor here can approvingly use a source that many here would be deem a hate site based on the content, while others who offer the same content are labeled haters.
I did speak to the issue as well, by offering more of what The Elder wrote and a remark about Atzmon.
If you want to practice discrimination, by treating like circumstances differently, you have that power, but I think you abuse it.
Perhaps if you did not take EVERYTHING so personal so as to make every grain of sand into a mountain, there would be more diversity and ability to discuss things. But it seems you only approve that which pleases or adores you.
You may not see yourself as a censor, but that is exactly what you are doing here, and I fail to see a good reason why. What is the problem with letting me make a point and adding to the conversation, which I did with a good-natured comment that seems to have struck a nerve by showing the disparity one encounters at your site. Or is it now above any reproach?
Why are you so oversensitive that you cannot see that my mild poking at people here that rush to label me and others was amply illustrated through the diary? After all, I am not the one that labels. Or must I now contribute anonymously to avoid the discriminatory treatment?
oldschooltwentysix Mar 14, 2012 01:14 PM
One more thing. Your first sentence really takes the cake. You were not the diarist and my now censored comment in no way at all simply started talking crap about what YOU may or may not think about this.
Are you REALLY of the view that YOU, as compared to issues presented, are so important to me? I suggest you look at what you wrote and how it sounds.
The irony that the diary created has played out to a tee.
If you had not made such a big deal about it, my comment would have come and passed. It is just my view, after all. But the fact that you censored what was a completely appropriate comment and opinion not only deprives others the chance to consider the opinion, but gives it a greater prominence because you seem to fear the message itself. And that says something important about tolerance and the respect for real discourse.
In an abusive act of censorship, these comments were scrubbed from the site, but before that happened, a note appeared that the last one above was removed by the moderator. In response, I wrote: 
oldschooltwentysix Mar 14, 2012 01:30 PM
It's too bad that I did not save the original comment. You leave the impression that it was improper and deserved to be censored, and tarnish me as a consequence. That is wrong, but no one will ever know. That is why you abuse your power. Yet you call this progressive? I will henceforth make copies of my comments.
The most surreal part is that you not only make it seem as if I wrote something directly to you, which is not at all the case, but that you make yourself so important. Honestly, I think you are the one with the obsession, so much so that you cannot tolerate disagreement from me, it seems, in any fashion, which says a lot about the values you instill at your site.
Carry on!!
Predictably, this was then scrubbed.

Interestingly, shortly after my remarks, I noticed the sourcing to Elder of Ziyon also vanished! It was replaced by one to the Electronic Intifada (probably obtained from The Elder). The title of the diary was also changed, from "Pal. Arab" to "Anti-Israel" activists, even though the letter was sent by, according the the new source, "Palestinian writers and activists," and described by The Elder as rabid Israel-haters whose "single-minded aim is to take away the Jewish right of self-determination."

I wonder if fizziks make these changes? Or is this just another example of a person who takes liberty to change the editorial content of a writer?

Yes, I suppose to some this is boring stuff. However, it shows that some who profess to stand for progressive values and open discussion will not hesitate to quash the slightest criticism. It serves as an example of the intolerance and abuse that can be found inside the "Progressive" world, especially from those that accuse the same negative conduct by others. It seems overly dogmatic and authoritarian to me, and I therefore felt it was worthwhile to show this episode in the light of day.


  1. Everybody in the pro-Israel blog community respects the Elder.

    I would place him to my right, politically, but his blog is practically a clearing house of material on a daily basis. That guy works his ass off on that blog.

    One question for us to chew on, as I mentioned to you the other day, is just how it is that the great majority of pro-Israel blogs tend toward the right?

    Is it because we have been taught to perceive pro-Israel sentiment as inherently right-wing or is it because right-wingers tend to be pro-Israel?

    Or, perhaps most likely, some measure of both.

    1. I think that many left leaning blogs are filled with people who believe it is politically incorrect to be pro-Israel. Thus, even if some sympathize in private, there is a fear that others will react negatively.

      On the other hand, the pro-Israel blogs on the right simply do not care, and can be candid about what they believe. That does not mean that they don't also demonize too much, but to me there seems more willingness to address substantive issues about anti-Israel activities on these blogs and less desire to censor and chill free exchange of ideas.

      As for The Elder, he's a great advocate for Israel. Though he and many commenters are to my right also, I would never call him a hater or Republican as some "Progressives" are apt to do whenever they come across similar pro-Israel advocacy.