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A Reply to Stephen Gowans


Below is a reply to Stephen Gowans who, in his blog from March 24, paraphrases me inaccurately based on my reply to an email he sent me. I was surprised to see the blog as I would have thought Stephen would have let me know he was going to use words, that he attributed to me, from our correspondence. When replying, I was not notified that he would be using the email as part of a blog, which would seem appropriate considering he is citing my email to him, without me knowing, to make a larger point in his piece. As I don’t agree with how he used my email, I tried, and failed, to post the below response in the comments section of the blog. Perhaps I’m supposed to be a member of the blog system, not sure why my attempt to comment failed, so I am posting here instead. I stand by my reply to his email and so it is reproduced below at the bottom of this blog. I have also emailed the response to him.

 

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Hi Steve, this blog entry was brought to my attention and I would like to clarify here in this comment section, or for you to clarify yourself in your blog, your email interaction with me and the miss-paraphrasing you use of my reply to you, which is selective of only a small portion, and copied below, in our full exchange, so your readers can judge where any "sophistical defense" may have been used, in either my reply or your blog.

 

You write in your blog above "Z-Net changed Kwinjeh’s bio after I wrote to Chris Spannos about it, complaining the omission was deceptive." Indeed you did write and my response was "I agree that Grace’s political affiliations should be attached to the commentary, so I’ve changed her byline to read: Grace Kwinjeh is a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist, political activist and founding member of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC)."

 

You say above that I explained to you: "If Z-Net refused to accept submissions from people who are connected, in some way, to parties or institutions dominated and funded by corporations and imperialist governments, Z-Net would have to dissociate itself from most of the submissions it gets on a daily basis." But these are your words and not an exact quote of mine, nor even a complete paraphrase, which is misleading. My exact words, again, pasted in context of our full exchange at the bottom of this reply, were:

 

"…we regularly publish material by whistle blowers and people on the Left, who are allies, and comrades, who unfortunately are, in one way or another, affiliated with institutions and parties we despise, and in fact this also applies to any university professor too, since they work mostly in institutions who have ties to imperialism and capitalism."…" The article itself seems fine to me. Bond has written for us for many years, and Grace, although I’ve never met her, never had any communications or contact, there is nothing about the article, or that I see on her blog, that would cause us to disassociate ourselves. If we did that, and were consistent, we’d have to dissociate ourselves from most of the submissions we get on a daily basis. That hardly seems like an effective strategy for us in movement building…"

 

Any reader can see the difference between my full quote and what you miss-paraphrase.

When you wrote, I assumed it was in good faith, and I replied as such. Perhaps I am wrong in my reading of your blog above and your reference to your interaction with me. If so, no worries, and I hope this note clarifies our exchange for your readers. If my reading is right however, I’m content enough with this comment appearing beneath this blog, and no further exchange is necessary, as I’m sure you’re just as busy as I am, and there is much more important work at hand.

 

Just below is our full exchange, beginning with my reply to you, and your first email just beneath that.

 

Best,

Chris Spannos

 

 

From: Chris Spannos
Sent: Wed 3/26/2008 12:22 PM
To: stephen gowans
Subject: FW: Patrick Bond’s and Grace Kwinjeh’s, "Zimbabwe’s political roller-coaster hits another deep dip"

Hi Stephen,

I agree that Grace’s political affiliations should be attached to the commentary, so I’ve changed her byline to read: Grace Kwinjeh is a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist, political activist and founding member of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC).

On the other hand, we regularly publish material by whistle blowers and people on the Left, who are allies, and comrades, who unfortunately are, in one way or another, affiliated with institutions and parties we despise, and in fact this also applies to any university professor too, since they work mostly institutions who have ties to imperialism and capitalism.

The article itself seems fine to me. Bond has written for us for many years, and Grace, although I’ve never met her, never had any communications or contact, there is nothing about the article, or that I see on her blog, that would cause us to disassociate ourselves. If we did that, and were consistent, we’d have to dissociate ourselves from most of the submissions we get on a daily basis. That hardly seems like an effective strategy for us in movement building…

 


From: stephen gowans
Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2008 1:11 PM
To: Chris Spannos
Subject: Patrick Bond’s and Grace Kwinjeh’s, "Zimbabwe’s political roller-coaster hits another deep dip"

Concerning the article by Patrick Bond and Grace Kwinjeh, "Zimbabwe’s political roller-coaster hits another deep dip," posted on March 11, 2008, as content available to Z sustainers, http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2008-03/11bond-kwinjeh.cfm :

The article lists Kwinjeh as a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist. A google search of "Grace Kwinjeh" turns up Kwinjehviews, http://gracekwinjeh.blogspot.com/ , a blog by Grace Kwinjeh.  Therein Kwinjeh describes herself as "a founder member of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC)" and also as a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist, the latter description matching the brief bio provided at the end of the article. Presumably, this is the same Grace Kwinjeh who co-wrote the Bond article.

 

Inasmuch as the Bond-Kwinjeh article is highly critical of the current Zimbabwean government, and concerns the upcoming March 29 elections, it, is no insignificant point that:

(1) Kwinjeh fails to disclose her connection to the MDC.  This is tantamount to an IBM employee writing a scathing review of Mac computers and then presenting herself as a technology issues journalist without acknowledging her connection to IBM;

(2) Patrick Bond has a history of promoting "independent" left voices that are hardly independent.         

Since the views of the MDC’s are not views one would expect Z-NET to directly promote, and since one would think Z-Net would dissociate itself from a deception, Grace Kwinjeh’s connection to the MDC should be fully disclosed in the article.  

On the other hand, if you don’t want to be seen as promoting the viewpoint of a political party that has manifold connections to the US and British states and favors neo-liberalism, you might consider disassociating yourself from the article. At the very least, you ought to make plain to readers that the views of Kwinjeh and Bond are not the views of an "independent" left.

 

Stephen Gowans

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