In a recent post at The Corner, neocon and Iran super-hawk Michael Rubin trained his sights at two colleagues of ours–Paul Kerr and Dr. Farideh Farhi–for their criticism of his April 13th Wall Street Journal op-ed. Apparently acting purely out of malice, Rubin attacked not just the substance of their critique, but he went after Paul’s very freedom to voice his opinions on his personal blog, TotalWonkerr.
[T]his should set the record straight. I am surprised that Congressional Research Service analysts not only blog, but also engage in hackery which appears motivated by either partisanship or a desire to advocate policy rather than analyze. From now on, I certainly would take with a grain of salt CRS reports on non-proliferation if they are authored by Kerr and would question why CRS hires bloggers.
Apparently, Rubin believes that anyone who is an employee of CRS must refrain from any form of advocacy work even in their personal lives. He acknowledges that the blog was in no way affiliated with CRS, but still felt it necessary to question whether CRS should even employ people who manage blogs on their own.
As a result of Rubin’s attack, Paul’s blog has been taken down for the foreseeable future. As an avid reader of both men’s blogs, I am outraged that it has come to this. While I am a strong defender of scholarly debate about important issues–even when that debate becomes heated–I don’t believe for a second that anyone should be deprived of their right to participate in that debate because of their opinions.
The blogosphere has become an incredibly valuable resource for the free exchange of ideas. Blogs have broken major news stories, provided keen insight and analysis, caught the important stories that have slipped through the cracks of mainstream media, and altered the journalistic landscape forever. The real virtue of blogs is that anyone can have one–everyone can have a voice to speak out about issues that are important to them. The ones who do it well–and these are a very select few, including Paul, Farideh, and yes, even Michael–are a trusted and important source of information. When one is forced to shut down, we are all denied an important piece of the discourse.
For as much as Rubin derides the ruling clerics in Tehran, it is ironic that he mimics their behavior by silencing the voices of those who hold different opinions from his own.