Thursday 18 March 2004

Pandora's Box

I recently found out that some of my words are being immortalised in the US Library of Congress Minerva Web Archive. Both the Iraq page and the Global War on Terror page at The Command Post have been deemed by God-knows-who as being of sufficient cultural and historical significance to be worth keeping. I contribute in a small way to both, so my words have perforce been included.

That led me to thinking about Australia's equivalent: the Pandora archive run by the National Library of Australia. I wondered what the heck they kept, and how was it decided what was worth keeping.

So I did a search on "Iraq & Saddam". The results, frankly, astonished me. A result worthy of the Misistry of Truth.

Of the 4638 hits, I reviewed the first 1000. Of these, approximately 300+ were political anyalysis and commentary. Of that 300+, I found 2 that were neutral, neither pro- nor anti- war, but dispassionate analysis of alternatives. The rest were all anti-Bush, anti-War, anti-American.

I'm willing to admit that there are plausible arguments against the Iraq War. But if future Historians primary sources are so selectively filtered, leaving the inescapable impression that there was absolutely no pro-War support whatsoever... then that's re-writing history by omission. Whether the war was right or wrong is arguable. Or arguably arguable. That editorial articles exist in support of it is not a matter of opinion, but of fact.

But all the National Library has kept in the way of Op-Eds on the subject are issue after issue of the World Socialist Web Site ( Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International ), and carefully selected Anti-Bush articles from the notoriously anti-War Sydney Morning Herald and its companion paper, The Age. Margot Kingston and Mike Carlton, yes. Miranda Devine, Mark Steyn or Tim Blair, no.

Not quite true : there's the occasional article from other sources, but they all have the same, relentless theme. (Interestingly, that last article has an Ad saying "Are you the next Phillip Adams?", advertising for columnists. As revealing as if a paper in the 30's asked "Are you the next Josef Goebbels?" - though that's highly unfair to him). (And yes, that last sentence was deliberately ambiguous, I never let fairness interfere with a pithy witicism.)

I have no complaints about the selection of news stories. When it comes to selections of straight reports, there appears to be no trace of significant bias. They even include an article from the Review, a publication of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC). Much of the rest is from the ABC, which on straight news reporting is pretty good.

But warbloggers and anti-Saddam editors are unpeople. Vapourised. There's DoubleplusGoodThink only.

Now I've got to figure out what to do about it. How to convince the hardworking and dedicated professionals at the National Library that there's a problem, without sounding like some sort of Crank with a political Axe to grind. It would be a lot easier if I disagreed with the tenor of the missing bits. And no, I'm not being sarcastic, the people at the National Library do an excellent job given their financial constraints, and try their hardest to be objective. I've met some of them in the course of my profession. Destroyers, Submarines, Satellites, Helicopters, Laser Eye Surgery, Health Care Systems, Libraries ... all grist to the Software Engtineer's mill. As Robert Heinlein said, "Specilaisation is for Insects".

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