November 28, 2008

Why Henry Louis Gomez doesn't get invited.

I don't read Babalu, as a rule. Every now and then, I follow some snippet, and end reading some bit of nonsense or other that the nutcases that write the blog treat as divine providence. Like the time they reported Fidel was dead. Or was that the other time they reported Fidel was dead? I can't keep track.

South Florida Daily Blog does read Babalu; other than this quirk, he's a nice guy, a decent man, and pretty open-minded. But he keeps reading it, and of course, because he's a nice, decent, and fair-minded guy, he can't help but notice that the folks at Babalu make Fox New look, well, actually fair and balanced by comparison. You'd have to be blind (or Babalu's target demographic) not to see that these guys are just a wee bit judgemental, and prone to attacking first, and eventually beating up anyone who asks questions later.

This morning, for instance, SFDB couldn't help noticing that Babalu has done something of an about face, but have never actually admitted that they were wrong in the first place; wrong in their assumptions, and wrong in the way they reacted based on those wrong assumptions.

Like the way the reacted to Yoani Sanchez, for instance.

Yoani is a Cuban blogger - one who is still living in Cuba. She was one of the finalists for the Deutsche Welle International Weblog Awards.
In addition to a slew of other obstacles in her way, Sanchez can't even post her own entries to the blog. Instead she is forced to e-mail them to friends outside of Cuba in order for her words to go online. Despite the challenges she has to overcome, she's managed to keep in contact with her readers and create a huge international community around her work.
That's a pretty impressive accomplishment for someone under the thumb of one of the world's greatest oppressive dictatorships. And you'd think that such a brave individual would immediately be lauded for her work. Certainly, the Deutsche Welle people do, and so does SFDB.

But SFDB did remember that Babalu - who now features her posts regularly - had quite a negative reaction to her, initially; this is Babalu's reaction to a post Yoanie wrote about her son's school experiences:
I'm sorry, but I have to question the character of a women who would purposely return her child to be indoctrinated, to learn to be "like che." Because it was too hard on her husband, and she couldn't bear family separation? Well they are all together, in Cuba. The price? Her son, because now he belongs to castro, inc.
SFDB does point out that Babalu has changed their position. But despite a tendency to go off half-cocked and put stories of dubious integrity, the right-wing nutcases fine conservative bloggers at Babalu never seem to question their own often-flawed first reaction to anything.

And that's when Henry Louis Gomez started spewing.
When we first became aware of Yoani, through articles in the Wall Street Journal and the Miami Herald, many of us had a lot of questions. It was natural for us to have a lot of questions, after all this was something new, a Cuban in Cuba who was somehow being permitted to voice her opinion in ways others have generally not been permitted to.
Oh. I see. You were asking questions to gain insight and understanding, you say.
...but I have to question the character of a women who...
So much for that. But maybe he's referring to some of the other insightful commentary made by Babalu's readers, who were following Ziva's lead:
This woman is so full of it... It's obvious this woman is a tool of the inteligence aparatus.

I find it interesting though, that she and her family had no problem with the "revolution," in fact they believed in it, until it began hurting them during the "special period."
And I suppose Henry wants us to believe that it is in the spirit of a free exchange of ideas in our American democracy when he writes things like this:
In this world there are people that are so small-minded, so hate filled and so stupid that they are beyond description.
I figure that this is the part where Henry is talking to himself. Remember, all SFDB did was go back, and find what Babalu originally posted. And Babalu's reaction is anything but the sheepish, "gosh, you caught us - we were so wrong" that any intellectually honest debater would respond with. No, Henry has no interest in elevated debate:
today a genuine pig of a person has decided to go back in the Babalu archives and retrieve comments from Babalu contributors and commenters from the period during which we were trying to assess who Yoani is and what she is about.
Why, you'd think that SFDB wrote the material and planted it, from the way Henry's reacting. All SFDB did was point out that Babalu once had a very different opinion; and he even pointed out that their opinion had changed:
To be fair, babalu has since embraced Sanchez and features her posts regularly.
To which Henry spasmadically retorts:
That's fine, the comments are there and they are public record. But just as we are responsible for the questioning statements we made at that point in time, we are also responsible for all the other statements we've made in support ever since. For the record, this blog is 100% behind Yoani Sanchez and the incredible job she's done reporting the reality of Cuba today...
Good for you, Henry. But the point SFDB makes is a valid one: YOU, and your fellow contributors, do not ever give the benefit of the doubt. You start out by questioning the integrity of those you do not know or agree with, and if they don't come around to your narrow-minded views quickly, you resort to the extremely childish practice of name-calling. To whit:
The pig of which I speak lives and works among Cuban-Americans yet he shows such little understanding of those around him. He hides behind internet anonymity to try to destroy people and things rather than build them up.
Henry, the reality is that the one who is behaving like a "pig" and demonstrating "little understanding" and trying to "destroy people and things rather than building them up" would be, well, YOU.

It's great that Babalu has come around on the matter of Yoani Sanchez. But Henry, you treated her the same way, initially, that you treat everyone; with suspicion and malice. And it's not malicious to point that out; being held accountable for your actions is part and parcel of living in a democracy.

And I also have to refute your description of SFDB as a "lonesome loser." The South Florida Blogosphere throws frequent parties, and SFDB is at the top of the invite list, and is a popular guest at the parties.

We don't invite you because, frankly, we're afraid you'll spit in the punch. And can you honestly say you wouldn't, if you knew SFDB was going to drink it?


  1. What parties?

  2. The ones you never see Henry at.

  3. Congratulations. You've achieved a rare feat. You have established the #1 listing on google for a search term. Unfortunately it's my name. I normally wouldn't care and have struggled with whether or not to acknowledge it. Except for one small detail. The negative quotes about Yoani (that's the way it's correctly spelled) aren't from me.

    The quotes were mainly from commenters, and one other Babalu writer, at a time I was not the editor. Now, for an extended period of time I WAS the editor at Babalu (notably at the time Rick from SFDB posted this) and my position on her at that time was clear support.

    I wish only to have this comment posted as a rebuttal in the fairly probable event that a current or future employer is looking for information about me. There are two sides to every story and this story you have published is one-sided and inaccurate because you conflate the opinions of others with mine.

  4. Henry, the quotes I attributed to you are in fact your own words, posted by you. I know from the few times that I have slogged through your blog that you're big on revising history, but as you're learning, the internet's memory is long.

    Thanks for the spelling note.