A month ago I wrote a blog entitled “Is Syria Suffering from a Family Business Conflict?” Because it was a different take on what the mainstream media was reporting, I submitted it to the Huffington Post as well as posting it on my blog sites. I have been a Huff Post blogger for several years and have always found the editorial staff to be professional and reasonably fast in posting my blogs. Not this time. Without a word, my blog disappeared into the maw of the Huffington Post, never to be approved for posting. I wrote several times, wondering what the problem was. Maybe they lost it? Finally, having received no response, I decided that the content was not to the liking of the editorial staff, and they just decided not to publish it. No big deal, but it made me wonder about AOL’s editorial control of what was once a free-spirited blog site.I talked about my analysis of the Assad family and the internal conflicts I thought it might be suffering to friends and family. My mother-in-law was so intrigued that she suggested I submit the piece to the New York Times Op-Ed section. I declined. It wasn’t that good or brilliant. Then I ran across another interesting tidbit. A Vogue Magazine feature of Asma al-Assad, wife of Bashar, was removed from the Vogue website. Max Fisher, an associates editor at The Atlantic reported in the online Atlantic magazine on January 3, 2012 that: “In February, Vogue magazine published, for the benefit of its 11.7 million readers, an article titled “A Rose in the Desert” about the first lady of Syria. Asma al-Assad has British roots, wears designer fashion, worked for years in banking, and is married to the dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has killed over 5,000 civilians and hundreds of children this year. The glowing article praised the Assads as a “wildly democratic” family-focused couple who vacation in Europe, foster Christianity, are at ease with American celebrities, made theirs the “safest country in the Middle East,” and want to give Syria a “brand essence.” Vogue’s editors defended the controversial article as “a way of opening a window into this world a little bit,” conceding only that Assad’s Syria is “not as secular as we might like.” A senior editor responsible for the story told me the magazine stood by it. A few weeks later, the article and all references to it were removed from Vogue’s website without explanation. In August, The Hill reported that U.S. lobbying firm Brown Lloyd James had been paid $5,000 per month by the Syrian government to arrange for and manage the Vogue article.” Fishder provided a link to the article that is still up at a site called presidentalassad.net. You can read the original Vogue article here. Go read the Vogue article and then read my blog. Then think about what is happening in Syria. There is no question that the government is brutally suppressing resistance. But is this because of Bashar al-Assad, despite him, or is he just a figure head for his brother and brother-in-law? I don’t know. However, It is curious that my post, which provided space for compassion for Bashar al-Assad, was not published by the Huffington Post and the Vogue piece, which was flattering to Asma al-Asssad, Bashar’s wife, was removed. Coincidence is the probable explanation. But curious nonetheless.
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