“It’s called courage”

I received this as a comment on a post noting Juan Cole’s theories about the murder of Steven Vincent. It’s from Vincent’s wife, and she thinks, well, I’ll let you read for yourself. I’m posting it here in its entirety, and it’s worth every bit. All emphasis is mine:

I thought you might like to see the email I sent Juan Cole in response to his August 8th post about my husband. Sorry if it runs a little long –

“Was American journalist Steve Vincent killed in Basra as part of an honor killing? He was romantically involved with his Iraqi interpreter, who was shot 4 times. If her clan thought she was shaming them by appearing to be having an affair outside wedlock with an American male, they might well have decided to end it. In Mediterranean culture, a man’s honor tends to be wrought up with his ability to protect his womenfolk from seduction by strange men. Where a woman of the family sleeps around, it brings enormous shame on her father, brothers and cousins, and it is not unknown for them to kill her. These sentiments and this sort of behavior tend to be rural and to hold among the uneducated, but are not unknown in urban areas. Vincent did not know anything serious about Middle Eastern culture and was aggressive about criticizing what he could see of it on the surface, and if he was behaving in the way the Telegraph article describes, he was acting in an extremely dangerous manner.”

Mr. Cole –

(I refuse to call you professor, because that would ennoble you. And please change the name of your blog to “Uninformed Comment”, because that is precisely what the above paragraph is.)

I would like to refute this shameful post against a dead man who can no longer defend himself against your scurrilous accusations, a dead man who also happened to be my husband. Steven Vincent and I were together for 23 years, married for 13 of them, and I think I know him a wee bit better than you do.

For starters, Steven and Nour were not “romantically involved”. If you knew anything at all about the Middle East, as you seem to think you do, then you would know that there is no physical way that he and she could have ever been alone together. Nour (who always made sure to get home before dark, so they were never together at night) could not go to his room; he could not go to her house; there was no hot-sheet motel for them to go to for a couple of hours. They met in public, they went about together in public, they parted in public. They were never alone. She would not let him touch her arm, pay her a compliment, buy her a banana on the street, hyper-aware of how such gestures might be interpreted by the misogynistic cretins who surrounded her daily. So for you brazenly claim that she was “sleeping around,” when there is no earthly way you could possibly know that, suggests to me that you are quite the misogynist as well. Cheap shot, Mr. Cole, against a remarkable woman who does not in any wise deserve it.

This is not to say that Steven did not love Nour – he did. And he was quite upfront about it to me. But it was not sexual love – he loved her for her courage, her bravery, her indomitable spirit in the face of the Muslim thugs who have oppressed their women for years. To him she represented a free and democratic Iraq, and all of the hopes he had for that still-elusive creature. And he loved her for the help she gave him – endangering herself by affiliating with him because she wanted the truth to come out about what was happening in her native city of Basra and the surrounding area. Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that it is possible to love someone in a strictly platonic way, but I assure you, it can happen – even between men and women.

And yes, he was planning to to convert to Islam and marry Nour, but only to take her out of the country to England, where she had a standing job offer, set her up with the friends she had over there, divorce her, and come back to New York. He had gotten her family’s permission to do so (thereby debunking the “honor killing” theory), but more importantly, he had gotten mine. He called one night to say that it had been intimated to him that Nour’s life was essentially going to be worthless after he left; since he was an honorable man (a breed you might want to familiarize yourself with), he then asked what I thought he might do to help her. I told him to get her out of the country and bring her here to New York. However, the only way she could have left Iraq was with a family member or husband. Since her family had no intention of going anywhere, Steven was her only recourse, and it would have been perfectly legal for him to convert, marry her, then take her out of Iraq to give her a chance at a real life. (Now that that avenue is closed to her, I have made inquiries to the State Department about the possibility of my sponsoring her in America. Do you perhaps labor under the misapprehension I am such a spineless cuckold that I would put myself out thusly for the woman you believe my husband was traducing me with? If so, I’m guessing you don’t know much about the Sicilian female temperament.)

As to your claim that “In Mediterranean culture, a man’s honor tends to be wrought up with his ability to protect his womenfolk from seduction by strange men”, it may perhaps have escaped your notice that Iraq does not abut, in any way, shape or form, the Mediterranean Sea. Italy is a Mediterranean culture, as are Spain, Greece, Southern France. In none of them is “honor killing” an accepted form of “protecting womanhood”. As to the southerly lands like Morocco and Algeria, they are not, in the general scheme of things, considered Mediterranean cultures – they are considered Arabic, a whole different beast. For you to seemingly be unaware of this, and then to say that my husband “did not know anything serious about Middle Eastern culture” again begs the question, just where do you get off? If you cannot differentiate between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures, how is it you feel qualified to pontificate so pompously?

How often have you been to the Middle East, Mr. Cole? In 2000 Steven and I spent almost a month in Iran on vacation. In 2003 we spent 10 days over Christmas in Jordan. In the last 2 years he had made not one, not two, but three trips to Iraq, and at the time of his death had about 7 months of daily living there under his belt. Can you offer comparables?

How much Arabic do you speak, Mr. Cole? Steven had been learning Arabic for the last two years, and was able to converse simply but effectively with the people he came into contact with. He had many expatriate friends in the Muslim world from whom he was always learning. As I sit here writing this at what was his desk, I can look at the literally dozens of books he devoured about Islam and the Middle East – each one thick with Post-It notes and personal observations he made in the pages – as he sought to comprehend and absorb the complexities of the culture and the religion he felt, and cared, so deeply about. If you would like a list of them, please email me back and I will be happy to send you a comprehensive accounting.

Yes, Steven was aggressive in criticizing what he saw around him and did not like. It’s called courage, and it happens to be a tradition in the history of this country. Without this tradition there would have been no Revolutionary War, no Civil War, no civil rights movement, no a lot of things that America can be proud of. He had made many friends in Iraq, and was afraid for them if the religious fundamentalists were given the country to run under shari’a. You may dismiss that as naive, simplistic, foolish, but I say to you, as you sit safely in your ivory tower in Michigan with nothing threatening your comfy, tenured existence, that you should be ashamed at the depths to which you have sunk by libeling Steven and Nour. They were on the front lines, risking all, in an attempt to call attention to the growing storm threatening to overwhelm a fragile and fledgling experiment in democracy, trying to get the world to see that all was not right in Iraq. And for their efforts, Steven is dead and Nour is recuperating with three bullet wound in her back. Yes, that’s right – the “honorable” men who abducted them, after binding them, holding them captive and beating them, set them free, told them to run – and then shot them both in the back. I’ve seen the autopsy report.

You did not know him – you did not have that honor, and you will never have the chance, thanks to the murderous goons for whom you have appointed yourself an apologist. He was a brilliant, erudite, witty, charming, kind, generous, silly, funny, decent, honorable and complex man, who loved a good cigar, Bombay Sapphire gin martinis, Marvel Silver Age comic books, Frank Sinatra, opera and grossing me out with bathroom humor. And if he was acting in a dangerous manner, he had a very good excuse – he was utterly exhausted. He had been in Basra for 3 months under incredibly stressful conditions, working every day, and towards the end enduring heat of 135 degrees, often without air conditioning, which could not have helped his mental condition or judgment. He was yearning to come home, as his emails to me made crystal clear. But on August 2nd, two days before my birthday, he made the fatal mistake of walking one block – one – from his hotel to the money exchange, rather than take a cab, and now will never come back to me. I got a bouquet of flowers from him on August 4th, which he had ordered before he died, and the card said he was sorry to miss my birthday, but the flowers would stand in his stead until he made it home. They are drying now in the kitchen, the final gift from my soulmate.

I did not see your blog until tonight. I was busy doing other things – fighting the government to get Steven’s body returned from Basra days after I was told he would be sent home, planning the funeral, buying a cemetery plot, choosing the clothes to bury him in, writing the prayer card, fending off the media, dealing with his aging parents, waking and then burying him – but I could not let the calumnies you posted so freely against two total strangers go unchallenged.

You strike me as a typical professor – self-opinionated, arrogant, so sure of the rightness of your position that you won’t even begin to consider someone else’s. I would suggest that you ought to be ashamed of yourself for your breathtaking presumption in eviscerating Steven in death and disparaging Nour in life, but, like any typical professor, I have no doubt that you are utterly shameless.

Sincerely,

Lisa Ramaci-Vincent

Donations can be made to Spirit of America in honor of Steven Vincent by following the link on this page.

UPDATE: I posted a few thoughts on this here.

UPDATE 2: Juan Cole replied. Well, he really only reposted his original article and then told us about how he was right all along, but that’s probably as close to a reply as Mrs. Ramaci-Vincent is going to get. Links and more here.

UPDATE 3: If you haven’t read Steven Vincent’s book IN THE RED ZONE: A Journey into the Soul of Iraq, you probably should.

Comments

  1. Just a question? What a rube or just a jackass. Only a series of LOADED QUESTIONS, the Loaded Question being a fairly classic fallacy. Hey losers, have you stopped beating your wives yet? Sheesh

  2. It is sick how you warmonger chickenhawks keep sending our children to die.’ Nice try, Infoshop. But we’re not children. Could one say that it is sick how you infantilize grown adults?

  3. From Ms. Ramaci-Vincent’s letter: ‘And yes, he was planning to to convert to Islam and marry Nour, but only to take her out of the country to England, where she had a standing job offer, set her up with the friends she had over there, divorce her, and come back to New York. He had gotten her family’s permission to do so (thereby debunking the ‘honor killing’ theory), but more importantly, he had gotten mine.’ None of which, it should be noted, would mean a thing to any other Islamofascists in Basra (not necessarily related to Nour) who may have gotten wind of Mr. Vincent’s plans and decided to take shari’a into their own hands. So this may not have been an honor killing in the traditional sense, but it still smells a lot like one. Another thought: Did Mr. Vincent intend to remain a Muslim after divorcing Nour? If his plan was to convert back out of Islam once Nour was safely in London, that is what is known as apostasy, which in itself is grounds for execution under strict shari’a. In other words, he could have been marked for death, not because of his plan to marry Nour per se, but rather because the specifics of his plan would have made him an apostate himself, and also made a mockery of shari’a. Of course, all of this says much more about the savagery of the Islamofascist outlook on Islam and shari’a than it does about the circumstances of Mr. Vincent’s death. If cultural sensitivity means bowing to the practice of killing people who convert OR marry out of a religion, then cultural sensitivity itself is just as evil as that practice is.

  4. Infoshop: Let’s see if we got it all: Karl Rove & PNAC–check. Oil War & crusade–check. Norman Mailer–check. Police state–check. Sharon–check. McCarthy–check. Neo-fascists–check. Neoconservativ cabal–check. Zionist paymasters–check. That has to be some kind of record: 11 left wing talking points in 7 sentences. If you’re not a talking head for MoveOn, you should be. Your contempt for those who disagree with you is sad; unfortunately for you, this number includes the millions of living Iraqis who want a free and prosperous Iraq. This number WOULD include those burned in acid, those sent through a woodchipper, and the estimated million young men sent to their deaths in Saddam’s wars over the years. But like Steve Vincent, their voice will never be heard again. Consistent with your concise ‘praise’ of the First Amendment in your last sentence, you would shut down their voices as well because their opinions differ from your own.

  5. Uh, guys, I think infoshop is a parody. He hit every point in an over-the-top way. What’s sad is that I’m not 100% sure.

  6. After reading Infoshop’s comment twice, I still wasn’t sure whether it was satire. I couldn’t decide whether to be amused or disgusted. So, unfortunately, I clicked on the Infoshop link. I felt like one those people in the movie ‘Time Bandits’ who makes the mistake of touching the smoldering chunk of concentrated evil. I have yet to understand how things that call themselves human can live permanently submerged in toxic sludge.

  7. I’m just some random who stumbled upon this page by mistake. People like Juan Cole have no right speaking in public. By this one page I can tell he sits around fantasizing more than researching. He’s been nipped in the bud as far as my friends family and all are concerned.

  8. oil war; crusade; warmonger chickenhawks; pro-Sharon neoconservative cabal; McCarthyism; neo-fascists; Zionist paymasters; neocon lies Wow, I don’t think I have ever read so many empty catch phrases in one post. I am waiting for the follow-up post on Ms. Vincent’s inability to appreciate the class struggle inherent in the Marxist dialectic because her neo-bourgeois, capitalist, materialism has blinded her to the truth.

  9. Infoshop’: You sniveling little twit. I just love the way you liberal moonbats bitch about ‘censorship’ and ‘shutting down debate’ whenever someone counters your agitprop with facts and opinions of their own. Hate to burst your bubble sweetpea, but the 1st Amendment is not exclusive to the leftist fringe. And as for your views of the war on terrorism: We all know how difficult it is for you socialist ‘activists’ with your post-election trauma and the weekly trips to your therapist, but the rest of America is getting sick and tired of your pissing, moaning, and imbecilic regurgitations ie: ‘Bush Lied’. If you removed your head from your ass and stopped fawning over bin Laden and repulsive simps like Michael Moore, you might get that clue you so desperately need. Hell, if all we wanted was ‘oil’ we could have bombed the Middle East back to the Stone Age, which would only set them back about 2 weeks, and simply TAKEN every single oil well in the region. Meanwhile, we’re paying about 3 bucks a pop at the pump. You’ve conveniently forgotten about the 3000 Americans who were slaughtered on September 11th 2001. That was a Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century, and all you can do is spew Norman Mailer quotes. Included in the war on terror equation is Afghanistan, the success of which is virtually ignored by the leftist media. We kicked the crap out of the Taliban. That success is reflected in the fact that bin Laden and whatever little band of thugs he still has, are scurrying like cockroaches back and forth across the mountainous region between Pakistan and Afghanistan hiding in caves to avoid detection. As for Iraq: Saddam Hussein filled hundreds of mass graves with men, women and children, and slaughtered 5000 Kurds with ‘non-existent’ chemical weapons. He thumbed his nose at the pusillanimous UN for 12 years, while he continued to research, develop, and hide the evidence of his WMD program. In addition, Iraqi intelligence met with al Qadea operatives and he provided them with training camps in Northern Iraq. ‘About the oil’, my ass. Let me give you first hand experience as to how the war is going: We are kicking the shit out of the terrorists to the extent that they are getting desperate, and it shows. The Iraqis are starting to wake up and realize that the future of their country depends on how much they assist in their own reconstruction and protection. We are getting an increasing number of people who walk up to American troops and literally take them to weapons caches and terrorist hiding places. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll note the numerous press reports of captures/kills of high ranking Zarqawi Lieutenants. The Afghan and Iraqi people are constructing fledgling democracies, can vote, run for office, and speak freely for the first time in their existence. Nothing threatens Islamofascists more than a democracy. Oh, and this little gem of yours is a real side-splitter: ‘It is sick how you warmonger chickenhawks keep sending our children to die. As Norman Mailer pointed out, Americanism as an ideology can be seen in the light of the apparent fabrications which lead to the police state which has come to pass.’ I’m no ‘chickenhawk’, toots. I’ve served in 2 wars and a so-called ‘peace keeping mission’; Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a stint in Clinton’s wag-the-dog tactic in Bosnia. We’re fighting Islamofascist thugs who would gladly subject the entire planet (including you) to their oppressive theocracy. Before you hit the sack tonight you should get down on your knees and give thanks to whatever God you pray that we are out front making sure that doesn’t happen. You can thank Bubba Clinton for giving al Qaida the green light. His total indifference to the terrorist attacks on his watch; the first attack on the World Trade center, Khobar Towers, and the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania went without retribution. He and algore (one word) were too busy using the Oval Office as their personal conduit for unethical, immoral and illegal activities. His Chinese/Indonesian friends Charlie Trie, John Huang, and James Riady bought the 1996 ‘election’ in exchange for information on, among other items, classified satellite technology, He illegally obtained FBI files on political adversaries, and fired the Travel Office and threatened them with surveillance if they talked. Oh, wait, he did have a response–he bombed Kosovo and an aspirin factory in Iraq. Abetted by lap-dog Janet Reno’s obstruction of justice, Clinton flushed the integrity of the Office as well as national security down the toilet, and not a peep out of you liberal shitbags. Dedicated, brave Soldiers of the United States Army are fighting and sacrificing their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan so that ingrates like you won’t have to worry about another 3000 deaths on this soil. You lefties are comprised of pseudo-anarchists, nihilists, and spineless MoveOn.org sycophants who would never let the facts get in the way of a good Bush bashing. The adults, thank God, are still in charge of the country. You ought to follow the lead, remove the nose rings and grow up. Sergeant First Class Cheryl McElroy US ARMY

  10. Ya know, this ‘Professor’ Cole disgusts me to no end. How dare he ruminate about, demeaning this man who died trying to make Iraq, and by extension, the entire Islamic world, a better place! I sincerely hope he’s not black *chuckle*, because I’d be even more embarrased than I am having to acknowledge that he’s a ‘fellow’ American if he were also a ‘Brotha’.

  11. I’m wondering if ‘infoshop’ is a bot of some kind, posting that inane drivel automatically. Hoping it’s a parody. BTW – I, too, am waiting for my check from Grand Poobah Karl.

  12. Infoshop is not a parody. You can check out their site if you don’t believe me (and if you have a strong stomach). Or maybe I’m wrong, and the whole site is a parody, and my sense of humor just isn’t sharp enough to pick up on it. On the other hand, maybe it’s all part of Karl Rove’s master plan, a site designed to nudge the left along in the wrong direction, like lemmings over a cliff.

  13. I’m having a little trouble seeing why so many commentators think Cole was out of line. Is asking questions considered rude over here in Murdoc country?’ I am so sick of this retort – ‘What?? I’m just askin a question!!’ Ok, here’s a question for you – ‘Does William Slattery REALLY molest small boys, or is the sex consensual?’ I know this won’t offend you, since it is after all, ‘just a question’.

  14. I’m just some random who stumbled upon this page by mistake. People like Juan Cole have no right speaking in public. By this one page I can tell he sits around fantasizing more than researching.’ Actually he has every right to do so – which is why this country is so great. Of course, what would make it even better is if he was only speaking to an empty room becuase everyone recognized what a complete moron he is. Remember, we all defend out fundemental freedons on the frontier of scum. As such, we must defend the scum as be love and praise those freedoms. Fortunately those freedoms also permit us to label the scum as ‘scum’.

  15. It’s pretty clear that Cole is not part of mainstream American thought. Most of us don’t reflexively blame our country for all that is wrong in the world. On the other hand, maybe I’m just too old-fashioned. I’m pretty sure that converting to Islam to take a second wife and flying her away to another country is outside the mainstream, too. One guy commented on this last night, posing it as a question, and got slammed by some subsequent posters. I wonder when those clever fellows are planning to convert, and save an islamic damsel in distress? Mr. Vincent did not deserve to die. And he did not deserve to be sullied after passing by the likes of Juan Cole.

  16. Ms. Ramaci-Vincent, I’m sorry for your loss. It’s everyone’s loss, but you bear the worst. Mr. Slattery: Juan Cole did far more than raise questions, he suggested that Vincent deserved what happened to him. No decent human being would even raise the questions because any decent human being would recognize that the answers are irrelevant.

  17. I’ve briefly read some of the comments here on this thread. My sympathies go out to Mrs. Vincent r/t her loss. I’m also aware of Juan Cole and his apologist attitude. Mr. Cole has definately taken his comments and his reputation to a new low. He lacks credibility regarding Iraq and he conveniently avoids any mentions of Saddam’s torture to his own citizens. I will not go into this further as SFC McElroy US ARMY has done this for me. Juan Cole: Shame on yourself. Infoshop: You and your followers are a joke.

  18. As Norman Mailer pointed out, Americanism as an ideology can be seen in the light of the apparent fabrications which lead to the police state which has come to pass. As many have pointed put, Norman Mailer is a raging a**hole.

  19. If Juan Cole responds to Ms. Ramaci-Vincent’s letter with anything other than an abject apology, then she let him off far too gently. Likewise, if he fails to respond at all.

  20. No point attacking infoshop, there, as I’m sure it’s too late. The implacable agents of the police state have doubtless already tossed him into the Norman Mailer Memorial Plastic Shredder.

  21. ‘The implacable agents of the police state have doubtless already tossed him into the Norman Mailer Memorial Plastic Shredder.’ We should be so lucky.

  22. Juan Cole is a coward – not only afraid of the truth, but afraid of being exposed as a moral and intellectual midget. Thankfully, we have Ms. Ramaci-Vincent to provide more evidence to the case. He will respond and he will not address her, he will not answer for his falsehoods and mistakes, but certainly he will put her down, just like he did her husband. In the end, Juan is much like those who killed Stephen in the first place.

  23. SFC McElroy, M A G N I F I C E N T ! ! Perhaps the best thing I’ve read all day after Lisa Ramaci-Vincent’s letter. Thank you, for saying what needed to be said, and so much better than I could have said it. And an even bigger Thank You, Sergeant, for your service.

  24. Hm. She says they were not ‘romantically involved’ but that he was in love with her and was converting to Islam and planning to marry her. This sounds very much like ‘romantically involved’, and moreover, would not have to be conducted in private at all. She argues that Iraq is not part of Mediterranean culture. To a large degree, it does belong to that culture – that it does not currently border the sea itself is a quirk of history. It has been governed by the Romans, the Egyptians, the Turks… and at various times in history, has governed those regions. More to the point, the statement ‘a man’s honor tends to be wrought up with his ability to protect his womenfolk from seduction by strange men’ is true in Iraq. Which was Cole’s main point, and completely ignored. I will leave Cole to defend his own qualifications, but I rather suspect they exceed beginner’s Arabic and less than a year in the region.

  25. >>Hm. She says they were not ‘romantically involved’ but that he was in love with her and was converting to Islam and planning to marry her. This sounds very much like ‘romantically involved’<< Well, she DIDN'T say 'he was in love with her', though did she? She said he loved her. There's a difference. I happen to love my two brothers. Does that sound to you like 'romantically involved'? And, though you don't mention it, she also explained the reason behind the Islamic conversion and the marriage. Seemed pretty clear to me. I'll agree that Cole's qualifications are nothing to sneeze at. That's not the same as saying that Steven Vincent didn't know anything about the culture he dove into. If you've read his writing you'll realize that he understood quite a bit.

  26. Hmm, Your husband tells you he ‘loves’ a woman he’s working closely with in a very dangerous situation, where emotions are heightened. The plan is concocted that he will marry her to get her out of the country. Strictly platonic! Means nothing! He will of course divorce her right away. Aw, come on. I’d tell him to quit fooling himself and just go marry her. It’s the pretense that it’s somehow a different kind of love, something pure that he could walk away from — oh, come on. Human nature is pretty predictable.

  27. >Hm. She says they were not ‘romantically involved’ but that he was in love with her and was converting to Islam and planning to marry her. This sounds very much like ‘romantically involved’, and moreover, would not have to be conducted in private at all.She argues that Iraq is not part of Mediterranean culture. To a large degree, it does belong to that culture – that it does not currently border the sea itself is a quirk of history. It has been governed by the Romans, the Egyptians, the Turks… and at various times in history, has governed those regions.More to the point, the statement ‘a man’s honor tends to be wrought up with his ability to protect his womenfolk from seduction by strange men’ is true in Iraq. Which was Cole’s main point, and completely ignored.I will leave Cole to defend his own qualifications, but I rather suspect they exceed beginner’s Arabic and less than a year in the region.< Perhaps, but that does not afford him the right to belittle someone else for not knowing as much as he claims to. If he really wants to make pronouncements about what’s happening in Iraq today, let him descend into the same muck and mire that Steven was slogging through, rather than pass his august judgment from the bland safety of the Great Lakes region. As for defending himself to me, to date the pusillimous professor has not had the guts to take keyboard in hand and respond to my email, which I sent to him personally. Had he 1/100th the courage my husband had, perhaps he would, but I have no plans to hold my breath. Blue is not my color. And whatever Cole’s qualifications, they do not seem to include really important virtues, such as decency, humanity, kindness, compassion and charity. But I suppose, given your seemingly limited comprehension level, that you failed to note that as well.

  28. Everything else has been stated above already but I just would like to re-emphasis, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent and SFC McElroy, you are two very awesome women!!!

  29. Juno goes all cynical on us, saying Hmmmm….Vincent told his wife he wanted to get this Iraqi woman out of the country….. wanted to fake-marry her to do that….and hmmmm. who’s kidding who here…human nature and all. Can Juno explain why a man would tell his wife IN ADVANCE the details of a scheme to marry a local woman in order to get her out of a country? Why not just present the cuckolded wifey back in the US with a fait accompli and tell her to start divorce proceedings? Like, you know, Jennifer and Brad? After all, this isn’t like a college girl sending last year’s boyfriend a letter saying she had met someone new, and fatuously opining ‘I know you would like him’. This is serious stuff here, life and death stuff. The translator would likely have been KILLED, Juno, after Vincent left Iraq, just as she was ALMOST killed, having been SHOT numerous times, for working with Vincent while he was there. And EVEN IF the execrable Cole’s innuendos are based on fact, he seems to imply that ‘religious’ Iraqis understandably killed an infidel for consorting with a Muslim woman. Can you imagine Cole saying it was understandable that Emmett Till was killed for allegedly ogling a white woman? NOT IN A MILLION YEARS! Here’s a clue, Juno: deep down, just like Cole, you’re shallow. You utterly ignore all the counter-evidence Vincent’s widow produced, and offer off-the-cuff cynicism of the cheapest kind — the kind that offers NO SUPPORTING EVIDENCE. I would say you have the reasoning power of a cherrystone clam — but that would be giving tasty bivalves a bad name. p.s. the USS Cole was NOT named after Juan Cole. Just in case you wondered.

  30. Actually Juan Cole is an expert on Middle Eastern culture, and so am I. I didn’t take the same courses that he did, but I did sleep in the same Holiday Inn.

  31. As someone who was there so to speak. It was an ‘open-secret’ of the relationship for some time. I do believe that they may well have been in love but regardless there was a long-term relationship that was well known amongst those of us there. I make no judgement on if this was right or wrong but please consider how one lives out there, it is very different from life back home. I think many who are placed in this environment would find that their actions are prehaps not what they would do ‘back home’. Steve though was one of the ‘good ones’ and I for one miss him.

  32. It seems that Cole forgot about that lesser known classic blunder: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian, when *death* is on the line.’

  33. 🙂 Funny, because, of course, the most famous classic blunder is ‘Never get involved in a land war in Asia.’

  34. >As someone who was there so to speak.< I'm a friend of Steve and Lisa's. I'd like to ask you, John, were you there or not, 'so to speak'? Are you a journalist? Did you hang out with Steve? Did he confide in you? I'd like to know more about this. >It was an ‘open-secret’ of the relationship for some time. I do believe that they may well have been in love but regardless there was a long-term relationship that was well known amongst those of us there.< Again, be more specific. When were you there and why? Also, we all knew that Steve and Noor had a 'relationship,' but we called it for what Steve and Lisa told us what it was - a deep, deep friendship, that began in early 2004 when he first met Noor in Basra. Steve told me a few weeks before he was killed about a female reporter from a newspaper that was in Basra. They had tea a couple of times in her room at night - with the door open, both of them fully clothed and seated on opposite ends of the room - but the hotel staff was scandalized and believed they were having an affair. That's how these things are seen in that part of the world. Those of us who know Steve and Lisa know how committed they were to each other, and how incredibly strong their marriage was. We would kid them about how no one would ever just say Steve or Lisa, it was always StevenLisa - one word. The last thing Steve said to me before he left was, 'Take care of Lisa.' So I really think you should be more careful in what you're saying, because those of us who knew Steve know the truth. You're dealing in rumor and speculation, which is another story altogether.

  35. The beginning of my post above should have started: >As someone who was there so to speak.< I am a friend of Steve and Lisa's, and I'd like you to be a bit more specific. Were you there or not? Did you hang out with Steve? Did he confide in you? Please provide us with more information - Steve never mentioned your name in any of the emails he sent around, and he usually talked about other Westerners in Basra, because there were so few of them. Not sure why that didn't take, maybe the post was too long. Sorry.

  36. The last thing I want to do is get into an argument with you or anyone else. As for why I was there, I’d rather not get into that in a public forum due to the nature of my work. I rather think my employer would frown on that. Suffice it to say I was there and will be returning in the future. I don’t believe my underlying message was received correctly and if that was due to my clumsiness I apologize. I was trying to communicate that regardless of what happened over there it is not fair to judge Steve’s or others actions through a US or European perspective, it requires an Iraqi perspective which is a world away from what we know here.

  37. there are many in this country who have become so educated that they have forgotten some key American qualities. one is that most of us believe that there are more important things in life than self-preservation. juan is obviously one of those ‘many.’

  38. I hope this doesn’t sound snide, because I absolutely don’t intend it to. Put it down to me being a dumb blonde, if you like, but… If Steve was married to Lisa, how could he marry Noor to get her out of the country. Was Lisa amendable to giving him a short divorce in order for him to do that? And don’t the immigration people keep tabs on ‘marriages of convenience’ done to bring people or keep people in the country? I was under the impression that happens here in the US. Don’t they do that in England as well?

  39. {{{ ‘It was an ‘open-secret’ of the relationship for some time. I do believe that they may well have been in love but regardless there was a long-term relationship that was well known amongst those of us there.’ }}} My friend, if what you were trying to say is that Vincent was a good man, then maybe preambling it with this wasn’t the *best* way, n’est pas? I understand the point you’re trying to make, but let me put it another way: Deskmerc (see deskmerc.com), a man, is my best friend and has been for 10 years, and it is and always has been strictly platonic (I’m a woman). I love him. A lot. And yes, if his life was in danger and he needed me to marry him to get him out of a country where he was being threatened, I’d expect my husband to understand that I’m not about to let him die due to a soap-opera quibble over what ‘love’ means. I wouldn’t really give a good goddamn what anyone else thought about the ‘propriety’ of that choice, because so long as it isn’t YOUR butt on the line, it really isn’t your bidniz. Whatever personal agreement Lisa and Steven came to over this is between them and has NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on the tragedy of his assassination, and should not have been invoked by Cole in an attempt to somehow suggest justification for murder. I’ve known plenty of lesser men who’ve carried on ‘open-secrets’ of the kind a few people here have implied was going on between Steven and Nour, and I can only shake my head. The kinds of guys who screw around on their wives in an ‘open marriage’ are not made of the same mettle that Steve was, and it is cruel to insinuate that Lisa is pathetically self-deluded when, if anything, her words indicate a remarkable clarity of thought and levelheaded righteous indignation. Speaking of the differences between this culture and that; it’s sad that we’re so cynical about love and commitment that, even in the face of Lisa’s explanation – with full knowledge of her grief – we still feel entitled to make these kinds of callous innuendos. Lisa, my dear, I apologize on behalf of them all. How awful for you that your private relationship with your husband has become a public spectacle in the wake of his assassination.

  40. I’m really sorry for Vincent’s wife but wow! Vincent was going to divorce her, change religion, marry another woman and she thinks this was all platonic? They say the wife is the last to know, sadly.

  41. You and I A moment of happiness, you and I sitting on the verandah, apparently two, but one in soul, you and I. We feel the flowing water of life here, you and I, with the garden’s beauty and the birds singing. The stars will be watching us, and we will show them what it means to be a thin crescent moon. You and I unselfed, will be together, indifferent to idle speculation, you and I. The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar as we laugh together, you and I. And what is even more amazing is that while here together, you and I are at this very moment in Iraq and Khorasan, In one form upon this earth, and in another form in a timeless sweet land. Rumi, 12th century poet

  42. Err, don’t people here know that Muslims living in Islamic countries are allowed more than one wife? Al Saud was rather famous for it. No divorcing of Lisa needed. Yours, Wince

  43. Indeed, Wince. Marrying a close friend to get them out of such a jam is not uncommon, nor is marrying people just to get the immigration status. At least eight percent of all US K1 fiance Visas are not real marriages, and that’s a lot of people. As far as I can tell, under article 8.2, Section 2, of the English Immigration Act of 1988, Nooriya would be allowed into England as Vincent’s second wife as long as Lisa hadn’t been previously allowed in, which is a restriction to prevent the formation of polygamous households in the UK. But then nobody cared whether England officially recognized the marriage once it got her out of Iraq. As for the strange claim that he wouldn’t be able to renounce his conversion to Islam without committing apostacy, I’m sure the situation would nag at him about as much as the inflation pressure of his spare tire. As for Iraq being a Mediterranean culture, you’d think some remote association with the Mediterranean Sea would be required, unless you think the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Arabs from Arabia got to skip that step, somewhere, somehow… To put it in perspective, Birmingham and London are closer to the Med than Basra, so why don’t we just call them Meditarranean too?