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Monday, March 16, 2009

This Blog is NOT dead!

A recent comment on the previous story laments the stagnation of this blog and the fact that it is now commenting on things other than foreign policy (which it was not limited to before either, as several earlier postings can attest).

The HAWblog is not dead, but we are deliberating rules and procedures for its continuance because

- there were some sharp disagreements between the Steering Committee of HAW and those who were making the most frequent contributions

- there was a desire to slow down traffic to allow the new Steering Committee statement to remain at the top of the page.

We plan to return shortly with clear procedures for dealing with authors and ironing out disagreements, and perhaps somewhat narrower parameters for content. The slate of authors will likely change as well, although exactly how will depend on the decisions made by those members of the Steering Committee who will be elected to be in charge of the blog under the new rules.


Blogger David T. Beito said...

In the interest of an accurate historical record, our readers deserve the full story.

The reason that the blog appears to be dead is that blogmaster, acting on his own authority, revoked the right of the two libertarians on the blog, Thad Russell and David Beito, to post new threads. At this writing, he has still not restored that right.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Mark H. said...

The HAW webmaster, a member of the SC, revoked access to the blog which had been granted on the authority of the SC. Nobody on the SC has moved to reverse that decision. Since we have no formal rules in place yet, that is as legitimate as it gets.

He revoked the access of the two members who were dominating the blog and posting material contrary to the interests of HAW as the elected leadership understood those interests. If "libertarianism" were the central issue, access would never have been granted in the first place or would have been revoked long ago.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Thaddeus Russell said...

Actually, I do not identify myself as a libertarian though I do admire the consistent anti-imperialism of many libertarians. I have been banned from posting on the HAW blog because of my criticisms of the HAW for its failure to address the Obama administration's foreign policy. The blog masters who banned me, without consulting the Steering Committee, are Mark Hatlie (mark@hatlie.de) and Marc Becker (marc@yachana.org).

-Thad Russell

3:09 PM  
Blogger Thaddeus Russell said...

An anonymous member of the HAW Steering Committee just forwarded to me this email from another member of the SC: "If we let Thad and David have the blog, their rants against Obama and the cartoonist dominate our public face. If we do pull the plug, we get accused of censorship."

So if we disappear from the blog, you'll know why.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Mark H. said...

The webmaster denied the access you had been granted. You (Thaddeus Russell) joined HAW - among the newest members - and were almost immediately granted the privilege to post on the blog.

This talk of revoking "rights" or "banning" is odd in that context. The entire Steering Committee was not consulted first, but they were informed and there has been general consensus that it was the right decision. The draft rules now being discussed will operate similarly if passed: the SC controls the blog, but a small committee will be able to act on its own initiative without consulting the entire body first.

The use of a HAW platform to constantly harp on the SC to act as you want it to when you want it to was indeed a factor - not the only factor - which led to the suspension of your privilege to post.

I am staying in communication, trying to moderate and call for patience. It remains my sincere hope that under the coming rules a variety of views will find space on the blog.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Thaddeus Russell said...

I answered the public "Call for Authors." It declared that "We call on members of HAW to join the blog as authors," "It is not the expectation of the authors that the contents of the blog will always reflect official HAW policies or positions," "It is expected that the authors of the blog will not always agree with each other," and that contributors to the blog should "put some edge on your history writing."

Of course, the Call for Authors was written before the blog had any disagreements or edges. It is a shame the HAW is not living up to its promises.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Mark H. said...

The quote about rants against Obama being the sole cause of being sent from the blog is misleading. To the best of my knowledge, nobody on the SC is for letting Obama off the hook.

So we have established that it wasn't libertarianism and it wasn't because we love Obama.

But generally, I think the quote about the "rants" can stand. It shows the SC's legitimate concern for the organization: We let two people dominate the webpage and define us, or we don't. We decided that we, the elected leadership, should take back control. Hopefully, we will be opening that back up soon under transparent guidelines.

In that light, suspending access to the blog is a re-establishment of legitimate control of our public image.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Thaddeus Russell said...

You may say that "suspending access to the blog is a re-establishment of legitimate control of our public image," but it is clearly a complete contradiction with the Call for Authors and a cowardly and anti-intellectual response to principled political disagreement.

HAW is choosing censorship over engagement. Rather than write their own blog posts the Steering Committee has chosen to stop others from writing. HAW calls itself an organization of scholars but when confronted with real internal debate it behaves like a petty dictatorship. Shameful.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Mark H. said...

"It is not the expectation of the authors that the contents of the blog will always reflect official HAW policies or positions," that much is true. I trust that will continue to be our policy in the future when and if we have a larger team of bloggers writing regularly.

I repeat: the _context_ of the suspension explains much. If we didn't tolerate opposition, it would have happened earlier.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Thaddeus Russell said...

The context -- and the pretext -- for banning us from the blog was our criticism of the proposed new HAW statement of purpose. No matter how you slice it, Mark, the Steering Committee has chosen censorship over engagement.

It is another sad day for the historical profession, the antiwar movement, and our political culture generally.

4:33 PM  
Blogger David T. Beito said...

I'll back Thad up on that. We were both banned by Marc Becker after we tried to post new threads stating our objections to the proposed HAW statement of purpose. We have the emails which can illustrate this story in great detail.

Our blogs were clearly germane to HAW's mission, certainly more germane than threads promoting faculty labor unions!

4:50 PM  
Blogger Mark H. said...

The censorship is presumably the part where David's criticism of the statement gets extra, privileged attention. Or was it when I supported your criticism as "weighty" and deserving of deliberation? Or perhaps it is the fact that your remarks can't be posted here and all anyone sees are my responses.

Editorial control is not censorship. We didn't want the statement buried and events up until then gave reason to suspect it would be. Why doesn't _anyone else_ find that unreasonable?

During my communication with you I have the sense that my words are not being read for understanding, but are being selected for their potency as weapons against me.

Again I call for patience as we establish clear guidelines for the blog.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Mark H. said...

"We were both banned by Marc Becker after we tried to post new threads stating our objections to the proposed HAW statement of purpose."

Correct - except you weren't banned. Your privileges were suspended pending further action by the SC. The person the SC had asked to run the webpage made a decision concerning the webpage. The entire SC is informed, but has not reversed that decision.

I know you feel like you've been burned, treated unfairly. And feelings aside, I know we disagree on whether it was a wise course of action. We've each explained our views several times now and we do not agree. We even choose very different vocabulary to describe what happened. But Marc's course comes as close to procedural legitimacy as is possible under the circumstances.

Again I call for patience as we work on clear guidelines to avoid this happening again.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Thaddeus Russell said...

Mark, if the SC refuses to reinstate our "privilege" of writing for the blog will you then be willing to call it a ban?

6:32 PM  
Blogger Mark H. said...

I don't know. I suppose it would depend on how the rules are formulated and how they end up working in practice. If it turned out that in practice everyone was permitted to post but you, yes. That is essentially a ban. If there is a set limit on the number of authors, and the list is full, no, since that excludes many people. The reality would probably not be one of those extremes.

All that aside, there might be cases where a "ban" is a "ban," but still justified (for posting profanity, for undermining HAW, for racism, etc.). This thinking out loud has helped me determine why I don't like the word ban: It sounds illegitimate. I can see how what happened so far might be perceived as such from your end.

I find it difficult to consider more concrete - more useful - examples without revealing my proposed rules. Since I don't want to publish SC deliberations and don't want to abuse the blog to garner support for my side in an SC discussion, I don't feel I can publish them yet.

We are also (again) considering a listserv and/or a forum, however, so we are considering means of making direct communication between members without SC-controlled media possible. My hope is that we get a vigorous, diverse blog and a listserv or forum.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Thaddeus Russell said...

Well, right now all members of HAW except for David Beito and me are not only allowed but also invited to blog by the Call for Authors.

And all I wanted was for HAW to oppose Obama's foreign policies as strenuously as it opposed Bush's. Wow.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

posting privileges (NOT rights) restricted because of refusal to respond to requests to respect the organization and using the blog to advance their own egotistical agenda rather than advance the work of HAW or anti-war organizing work.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [haw-info] Draft of HAW statement
Date: Thu, 05 Mar 2009 22:29:11 -0600
From: Marc Becker
To: Thaddeus Russell
CC: Beito, David

Oh come on Thad. I did NOT censor your comment, just moved it to where
it belonged. Just explain why David posted that as a post rather than a
comment--which would have been the logical, rational, and kind thing to
do. If you can explain that, we can move on to other issues.


Subject: Re: [haw-info] Draft of HAW statement
Date: Thu, 05 Mar 2009 22:06:18 -0600
From: Marc Becker
To: Beito, David
CC: Beito, David

Hi David & Thad. Yes, I think it is inappropriate for you to hijack the
HAW blog to advance your libertarian agenda. Yes, I think it was
inappropriate of you to post your message at the top of the blog at the
top rather than as a response (what makes you think your post is more
important than anyone else's comments?). So, I've moved your post to the
comment section where it belongs.

Whether you agree or not w the proposed statement, I would appreciate it
if you respected the organization and left that at the top of the blog
for a bit rather than posting unrelated items there.

Thanks in advance for your respect for the organization and its process.


Beito, David wrote:
> Marc:
> And you disagree with of our post because.....?
> We'd like to find out. These are serious issues which are of vital concern to the future of HAW. .Let's have some dialogue.
> Best,
> David
> ________________________________
> From: Marc Becker
> Sent: Thu 3/5/2009 9:18 PM
> To: Beito, David
> Cc: Thaddeus Russell
> Subject: Re: [haw-info] Draft of HAW statement
> Hi David & Thaddeus. I fail to understand why you posted this as a
> separate post rather than as a reply to our original post. Please delete
> it from the top of the blog & post it as a reply where it belongs.
> Thanks--marc.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Mark H. said...

"Well, right now all members of HAW except for David Beito and me are not only allowed but also invited to blog by the Call for Authors."

Not really the case. We have two more volunteers lined up to blog. They have not been given access. Somehow they aren't complaining. Also: There is disagreement about whether the story about unions was appropriate. I repeat: It is messy right now. I call for patience.

2:59 AM  

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