In the past two and half days MO has had over 33,500 visits. This is compared to a typical 1,500 per day during the week. I initially tried to keep track of everyone who linked to “It’s called courage”, but there’s simply no way for me to keep up with everyone. So, for now at least, a blanket “thank-you” is going to have to suffice, though Winds of Change, Little Green Footballs, Jonah Goldberg at NRO, and Instapundit deserve special mention as the ones who sent the most traffic.
As any blogger knows, it’s incredibly gratifying to be linked by big sites and the fact that thousands of people are reading your words is a pretty big ego boost. And, whether they admit it or not, most bloggers watch their traffic counters like hawks.
But the words in “It’s Called Courage” were not mine.
They were the words of Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, the widow of freelance writer Steven Vincent. And I believed that they needed to be heard. Steven is no longer with us to speak for himself, so it fell to his bereaved wife to respond to the rumors and innuendo about the relationship between her husband and his Iraqi translator Nour Weidi.
The letter was written in response to Juan Cole, the professor at the University of Michigan who took the rumors and ran with them. (He did not start the rumors, as some seem (or want) to believe. But he certainly helped them gain attention.) While Mr. Cole is no doubt very knowledgeable about the Middle East, he certainly seems to have overstepped his bounds when writing about Steven and Nour. And Vincent himself wondered how it was that Cole could reach the conclusions he did regarding Iraq knowing what he does.
I do not know when the letter was sent to Cole, but it was published on my site Saturday afternoon by Mrs. Ramaci-Vincent. According to her, Cole has not responded either publicly or in private.
While it’s all fun and good to see Juan Cole knocked around a bit for his pompous and heartless article, I truly believe that the real value of this letter is the look it gives us into the reality of the murder of Steven Vincent.
If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so.
The rumors Cole wrote about were, in part, true. But the conclusions he reached were not all that accurate. And when you read what was really going on, I don’t see how anyone can help but admire the Vincents and Ms. Weidi even more.
So while words like “emasculated”, “eviscerated”, and simply “ouch” are plastered all over posts and comments about this letter, I hope that we don’t lose sight of the larger picture and realize that it’s not just about slapping around an opponent on the other side of the aisle.
Revenge and defense of honor are Mrs. Ramaci-Vincent’s territory. The rest of us can watch if we want but this isn’t a sporting event.
Steven Vincent did many incredibly brave things to try to get at the heart of matters in Iraq, and we all owe him. The least we can do is read his book and try to keep it in mind when forming opinions or making policies about Iraq and larger conflict that it’s a part of.
I want to help make sure that his legacy is not tarnished by those uncomfortable with the things he had to say. I want to help make sure that the truth gets out there. I want to help make sure we can all do the best we can in these trying times and carry on in a way worthy of admiration.
Two final points. First, a number of commenters here and elsewhere have pointed out “his wife said that he was in love with the translator but that they weren’t ‘romantically involved’…yeah RIGHT”. This is obviously the first conclusion that many will reach, but keep in mind that Mrs. Ramaci-Vincent did not say that her husband was “in love” with Nour. She said that he “loved” her, which can be very different. As I responded in the comments, I happen to love both of my brothers very much. That doesn’t mean that we’re ‘romantically involved’. You don’t have to be siblings to share this sort of bond, and you know it.
Secondly, when I originally posted the letter I was pretty sure that it was genuine. I would not have posted it otherwise. After posting it I contacted the given email address pointing out that I had published it and asked if anything needed to be changed. A few emails convinced me even further that the sender was, indeed, Steven Vincent’s wife.
Later, a manner of obtaining independent confirmation of the writer’s identity occurred to me, and it turns out that she’s the real deal. I felt that I had known it already, but final proof is nice to have in a pinch. I’ve got it, though publishing it here wouldn’t really help, as non-believers would simply assert that I forged it. So I guess you’ll have to take my word for it.
In her emails to me Mrs. Ramaci-Vincent has said several times that she’s “honored” that I’ve published this and drawn attention to it. She wrote that one of her greatest fears is that Steven’s work will be ignored or forgotten, especially if smear tactics harm its credibility. I, too, fear for that and it is exactly why I published the letter.
But it is I who am honored, Mrs. Ramaci-Vincent.
My five minutes are just about up, so I’d just like to take this opportunity to say “thank-you for reading Murdoc Online” and encourage you to keep fighting the good fight.
UPDATE: 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.