Roger L. Simon: UN-Balanced Blogging, Part II

Not surprisingly, our previous post about Roger L. Simon’s hyper-focus on the Oil-for-Food controversy elicited a strong response from the UN’s blog critics.

And not unexpectedly, the responses were largely dismissive, derisive, and betrayed a shallow reading of the original post.

Michelle Malkin, Captain Ed, Redstate, Glenn Reynolds, Hugh Hewitt, Pejman Yousefzadeh, and a number of others have weighed in. Here are the main lines of argument, with comments:

1. UN Dispatch is the UN’s blog, and the post in question represents the UN’s displeasure with Roger Simon.

False. Here’s a brief quote from the ‘About’ section of this blog: “UN Dispatch is sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, though the views expressed herein do not represent the official views of the United Nations Foundation, or the UN.”

2. UN Dispatch does nothing to refute Simon’s contentions about Oil-for-Food and simply takes issue with his topic selection.

A non-argument. The post is clearly about an examination of why Simon is fixated on the subject, not what he says about it. A March 3rd entry on UN Dispatch quotes Mark Malloch Brown, chief of staff to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on Oil-for-Food: “There was wrongdoing at the UN, an organization which must live by the highest ethical standards, and we’ve got to correct it and root it out.”

3. Simon has the right to blog about anything he pleases, whether or not the UN likes it.

Again, this isn’t in contention. The point is not to deny Simon the right to post, but to examine his rationale for focusing on a single issue, however significant, to the exclusion of other issues of equal – if not greater – impact. The question seems reasonable considering that most issue-oriented bloggers such as Brad DeLong, Volokh, Juan Cole, etc. have an area of specialization that dovetails naturally with their blogging. In Simon’s case, it seemed like a fair question to ask why this particular topic is of signal importance to him.

Finally, an unfortunate reaction from some bloggers is their willingness to simply shrug off the examples of UN-related issues listed in the original post. It’s clear that many of these bloggers have become accustomed to knee-jerk attacks and are unwilling (or unable) to engage in a reasoned debate.

For the record, we’ll re-post the issues we think warrant attention and let readers decide:

Tackling the threat of transnational organized crime

Shipping supplies to millions of Iraqi schoolchildren

Controlling the Marburg virus

Building thousands of homes for tsunami victims

Partnering with the private sector to meet humanitarian needs

Reducing child mortality rates

Rehabilitating Iraq’s marshlands

Eradicating polio

Rebuilding lives in Afghanistan

Fighting the global malaria epidemic

Curbing the world’s most hazardous pollutants

Improving global disaster and emergency response

Building a sustainable future