Saturday, February 14, 2009

Why Don't I Write About [insert website name here]?

While researching posts, I occasionally run into websites with names and URLs that imply the presence of a large and/or prestigious organization. The names might be something like "National Security Data Clearinghouse" or "Global Freedom Trust" (which, as far as I know, don't exist).

The sites themselves are often well-crafted, with decent navigation and authoritatively-written articles.

International Foundation, or Some Guy in Oxnard?

All too often, I've found that the registrant is some individual living in, say, Oxnard, who uses something like Tucows registration service. Or, that it's impossible to tell who or what the actual owner of the site is, because he, she, they, or it, used one of the 'anonymizer' services.

I realize that people in some countries need to remain anonymous, if they are going to both express an opinion and stay alive. Just the same, anonymity at best does not increase a website's credibility in my eyes.

And, in cases where it seems that an individual is trying to present the image of a national or international organization, I get downright dubious.

Some Guy in Oxnard With a Blog? Great!

There's nothing wrong with one person blogging on an issue, or setting up an informational website. I do it myself. But, except for some fictional work (which is labeled as make-believe), I try to be quite clear about who and what I am.

I'm one guy, living in central Minnesota, with a fairly well-defined point of view; Quite simply, all things being equal, I'd like to keep breathing, and I like having the freedom to worship (or not worship) as I see fit. I also like being allowed to wear trousers. Particularly this time of year. (There's about a foot of snow on the ground outside right now.)

Anyone reading this blog can, with minimal effort, discover that I'm one person, and in general terms where I am and what my attitude is.

One of the things I see as a strength of America is that this country allows people to give opinions and discuss issues. Provided that the discussion doesn't involve blowing up the Sears Tower, or some other destructive act.

How About a Lichi Nut in Winnetka?

Since I can opine on current events, I can't reasonably have a problem with a hypothetical guy in Winnetka doing the same. Even if he thinks that international borders should be declared null and void, a world republic headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa begin, and all trade be conducted through barter or the exchange of lichi nuts.

His ideas sound crazy, but who knows: he might have a point. Edible money does have a certain appeal.

Seriously, Now: Lichi Nuts?

As I said, I see no problem with someone like the lichi nut enthusiast in Winnetka presenting his views to the world. I might even cite him as a resource (not likely - but it could happen).

But, I would have reservations about the fellow if, instead of presenting himself as an individual, he pretended to be the "International Lichi Foundation of Enlightenment" - with headquarters in Sri Lanka, and a Post Office Box in Washington, D.C..

So, if I don't seem to be paying attention to a resource: there may be a reason.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.