Monday, January 25, 2010

Why I unsubscribed from the Huffington Post

I found the Huffington Post through one of my favourite teachers from high school. He posts there occasionally and I enjoy what he has to say. He is thoughtful, articulate (of course—he was my English teacher), and a true progressive. For some strange reason, I assumed that the HuffPost was truly progressive too.

I enjoyed reading other writers as well, including celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Scarlett Johansson. I was okay with navigating around Deepak Chopra's woo-woo crap, as long as the political posts were good. I decided to subscribe to the politics section there.

My first warning sign was when I was surfing the site and came across a post where you could—I kid you not—rate which celebrities had the best boobies. This struck me as the same form of cynicism that led PETA (People for the Exploitation of Tits and Ass) to put naked women in their ad campaigns. I'm sure it increased HuffPost's male misogynist readership exponentially.

TwiHards for nudity
This was in a Huffington Post article

This BS continued. More celebrity gossip (Fergie: I'm Bisexual, Husband Josh Is "Well Endowed") and grossly anti-feminist eye candy (Eva Mendes Is Unbuttoned, Braless!) continued to spew forth from the website's pages. And I continued to my version of ignoring it (quietly stewing and gagging). But then, on the politics page, came this article:

A Marred Holiday for One Arab American Vet

Sounds like the harrowing story of yet another Arab-American getting shit for his ethnicity due to the Fort Hood shootings, right? Well, not quite. This man felt so guilty for what Al Qaeda did on 9/11 that he started helping assist in interrogations. I had trouble feeling sorry for him:
One day Rajai's team went into a house and was greeted by an old man and his two sons. "The man was so nice. He served us tea and no topic was off limits. We discussed politics and shared family pictures," Rajai [Hakki] recalls. As they left the house, a commander came and ordered them to go back and arrest the two sons because this was a "target house". Rajai had no option but to obey orders. He returned and placed bags over the sons' heads and led them away, as their father looked on in silence.

"That kind of thing was always tough," Hakki told the Huffington Post.

Really? Tough? Bagging human beings for torture is tough?! So I assume he can handle working at Guantanamo Bay then?
Hakki recently returned from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he'd spent five months working for a contractor as an Arabic translator.

Oh, nice. He's got quite a resume there. Anyway, that wasn't the worst part. I scrolled down to look at some of the comments:
Rajai...You have NOTHING to be ashamed of. You are a true, brave American. Just because you come from the Middle East and your family practices Islam, doesn't make you responsible for any of the deeds carried out by those who have hijacked your religion. You make us all proud.


Maybe we need to take a lesson from the Chinese American Buddhist monks in the Los Angeles area who subscribe to the philosophy that we are ALL ONE people when they describe themselves as Americans.


Stand proud brave American. You are judged for your actions not the actions of others.
Peace and prosperity to you.

Actually, that comment was quite fitting for how I feel. He is judged by his own actions. So I wrote a comment. It was censored and deleted. I assumed it was probably because I put the f-word in there (their policy is against "excessive swearing"), so I tried again:
Wow...that's some serious moderation there.

What I was saying before was that I'm frankly shocked that this article is not about one of the many regular Arab-American soldiers out there. It's about a man who participates in "interrogation," a euphemism for torture.

This man is not responsible for what happened on 9/11—nor should he feel that he is–but he is responsible for his own actions in response to 9/11. I have never seen another article at the Huffington Post that paints an interrogator as a patriot, and never seen so many comments that commend an interrogator for being a "brave American." If such an article had been posted in the past, the people here would be pissed.

My next comment was in response to another comment, and went like this:
And by the way, I can't think of any other industrialised country in the world where people actually put that much pride in where they happened to be born. Americans are "all one people?" How about humans? Wow, moving to New Zealand has really opened my eyes to the culture of self-congratulation in the United States.

That one passed moderation. The previous comment didn't. Why? Because I was offering a dissenting opinion of the actual topic of the article? It appears that arguing with another commenter is fine, as long as I don't argue with the point of the article.

I have seen the Huffington Post move more and more towards the mainstream, and it's making me feel ill. I have lost all respect for the site, and I invite others to comment or send them messages regarding their recent move toward the right...and their apparent transformation into a tabloid. And now they're censoring dissenting views?! Needless to say, I have unsubscribed, and I hope others will too.

Note: I later learned that my second comment was in fact posted; for some reason there was a 20 second delay, which usually does not happen. So no, HuffPost does not censor as much as I thought they did.

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