I regret recently wading into a raging blog and comments war that is supposedly about Israel's incursion into Gaza, but is actually about...well, I'm not ready to judge what it's about.
All I know is that I believe in nonviolent resistance whenever possible, and to me that means I should stay out of blog threads that are mainly designed to be provocative and/or to bait or call out another poster -- and/or to say that one side, and one side ONLY, is clearly responsible for this bloody mess. Speaking for me, personally, only -- but if what I say resonates, read on.
For what it's worth, I support Israel's right to exist, but I oppose its latest moves, which are as likely to provide a lasting peace as the 2006 Lebanon War did. But that isn't my point here; this is a "meta-post." I don't want to see this heart-rending and near-impossible issue tear up Open Salon, and I've read and heard several posters saying it's driving them away. It's one thing to talk constructively about a solution to the bloodshed, it's another thing to blog and comment mainly in order to (in my opinion) sharpen and not heal these deep divisions, and to declare one side the permanent villain. (This is happening on issues besides Israel, of course, and my advice probably works for deliberately provocative, divisive blogs on any flashpoint topic -- but "provocative" and "divisive" are subjective terms, I'm aware, and I'm not trying to urge better behavior, right now, on anything but this historic world flashpoint.)
Maybe my alarm comes from currently reading Taylor Branch's "At Canaan's Edge" and seeing how the Six Day War divided the civil rights and antiwar movements at a crucial moment. I'm not urging censorship, or even self-censorship; or flagging such posts for removal (certainly); I'm not saying people shouldn't blog or take a stand on these issues; I'm just urging restraint before leaping into futile flame wars (as I worry I did tonight.) Especially if you're in the Middle East and have a first hand view of the tragedy (and the humanitarian nightmare that's unfolding); if you're someplace where there's a march pro or con the Israeli invasion; if you've got something original and/or well-thought-out and/or heartfelt to say: Blog (and comment) away. But if you're interested in being part of the solution and not the problem, I'd advise that you don't get involved in blog wars that are mainly intended to scapegoat, or provoke -- or which mainly just provoke you.
I write as a fellow blogger and remorseful commenter, not as the editor of Salon, although since this issue is largely about power, I will be the first to acknowledge it's hard to separate my identities. But I've been awed by the self-healing properties of Open Salon, in which all sorts of obnoxious, abusive, gratuitously hostile and otherwise substandard posts usually just float through the feed without finding an audience or ratings (some great ones do too, now that we're larger!) That same self-healing capacity isn't as evident on this issue, and as I type that, let me immediately add: Duh!