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29289: Kondrat (reply) Chamberlain (29283) Wikipedia and propaganda (fwd)

From: Peter Kondrat <kondr8@gmail.com>

Greg Chamberlain is a terrific writer, but he cannot disguise the
partisanship and hatred bleeding through his latest post. According to him,
this Wikipedia struggle is all about good guys vs. bad guys, and surprise,
he's one of the good guys. The bad guys are the ones who have anything
positive to say about his bogeyman, JBA. They are 'propagandists.' They are
'Stalinists.' Worst of all, he tells us, they are 'white.' How he knows all
this about people who are anonymously contributing to an open-source
Wikipedia article he does not reveal to us.

A much more sensible explanation to me is that the Wikipedia article is a
shifting battleground for the different versions of Haitian political and
historical reality that are emerging. The winner of a war does get to write
its history, but it isn't clear yet who has won in Haiti. Or whether it's
just that everyone lost. The Wikipedia article on Aristide is fascinating in
that it is a document being written collectively (if not collaboratively) by
writers with strongly different takes on what has happened in Haiti in the
last few years. Before Wikipedia, was that even possible? We get to watch
history being written, quite literally. And we get to do some of the writing

But Mr Chamberlain wants it both ways. He decries the 'propagandists', in
their black hats and white skin, for sullying what was apparently (you can
check this out in the editor's notes, which are not subject to repeated
change the way the article is) an entry that was littered with biased and
unsubstantiated attacks on Aristide. But then when we go to look at the
article to check out the changes that the 'white Stalinists and
propagandists' have made, we find that they have been edited away. Sounds
like Wikipedia is working the way it is supposed to do: arriving at
something approaching non-partisan truth by successive approximation.

I was especially surprised to see Mr Chamberlain write:

<<And all the Wikipedia article's "references" and "external links" refer to
notorious apologists for Aristide.  A concerted propaganda attack all

When I look at the references, I see sources like the London Review of
Books, Yahoo News, Reuters, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the BBC . . . I had no
idea that the sinister pro-Aristide conspiracy was so vast. Or maybe all
these reference sources have been added in the few days since Mr
Chamberlain's critique?

Mr Chamberlain also protests the omission in the Aristide article about
death threats to Judge Gassant. That sounds like a fair critique. But all he
has to do is add that information himself! (And source it.) Mr Chamberlain
is a very smart man, so I presume he understands how Wikipedia works. He  is
every bit as entitled as the 'white Stalinist propagandists' to make changes
in the article, so long as the changes are backed up by reputable sources.
(Potemaksonje made this point on Corbett a few days ago.)

Wikipedia can be 'edited' by anyone. They do insist that facts and
assertions be substantiated, which may prove inconvenient for the more rabid
Aristide-haters, who hurl about some pretty far-fetched charges.

Go to it, Mr Chamberlain!