Reihan: Question Time

Just a reminder: all posts that begin "Reihan: Yackety-schmackety, something incoherent" are written by Reihan Salam, not Ross Douthat. I stress this because I don't want you to think that Ross has gone mad. Love-mad, perhaps, but not mad in the, "I'm a character in Jane Eyre, and I have the sneaking suspicion that someone has locked me in a closet," not to be confused with Trapped in the Closet.

The following is a reflective post that can be safely skipped.

To the very limited extent I participate in the blogosphere, for I see myself first and foremost as an observer and fan, I do my best to avoid controversy, and I try to steer clear of making any hard-hearted remarks. In part, this is about the so-called golden rule. Few things trouble me more than being slimed by strangers, so I'm disinclined to slime first or even return fire. On the rare occasions when I feel my reputation has been besmirched ("I saw Salam's shiny head blind an elderly woman, and he cackled like Toucan Sam!"), I prefer to "kill with kindness."

To say I'm a lily-livered coward is not quite right: in truth, I thrive on confrontation. Coming from a fairly disputatious clan, and that's putting it generously (it is safe to say that the five of us in my nuclear family can't be in the same room without someone yelling or bawling, or bawling and then yelling, in fifteen minutes or less, which makes the holidays a joy), I've always enjoyed "mixing it up." Particularly during online chats: if you told me I could field hostile questions for a year, I'd be on Cloud 9, further indication that I am thoroughly deranged.

And yet I'm keenly aware of the fact that anything I say can and mostly likely will be baldly misinterpreted, and that being tarnished with the wrong brush could mean that I'd inconvenience and perhaps even embarrass people who've placed their confidence in me. Who the heck wants that? This is a particularly unpleasant thought for me because one of the great sources of happiness in my life is helping writers and thinkers and sometimes artists I like and admire find a place to flourish professionally. Because these people fall across the ideological spectrum, I know that being a "wingnut," of whichever wing, will undermine my ability to make connections.

So something has to give, and that's the ability to be the kind of unfiltered blogger I was back when I maintained an utterly, and mercifully, unread blog called, "Evil Forces in the World," which consisted almost entirely of nonsense raps.

In a spirit of openness, I pledge to be as honest and open as I can without compromising anyone other than yours truly. Given the way my brain works, this will mean a lot of "meta" posts, which will, I assure you, get old fast. And if you ask me a question, I will do my best to answer it. Those of you adventurous enough to have gotten this far can email me at myfirstname at gmail dot com.