With all the mayhem in Israel today it is difficult to step back and take note of a terrible crime that happens elsewhere. But Tuesday evening a terrible crime was committed elsewhere and it is worthy of our attention because its perpetrators are our enemies and their victim was our friend.
On Tuesday evening freelance American journalist Steven Vincent was kidnapped and murdered in Basra. Vincent, who in pre-September 11 America earned his living as an art critic, set out to fight this war after he watched the Twin Towers explode from his rooftop in the East Village in Manhattan. And Tuesday he gave his life in the fight.
Vincent did not join the army. He took up his pen and he went to Iraq in the wake of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime by the US-led coalition in the spring of 2003. No one sent him there. He heard the call to battle from his rooftop that terrible morning and he answered it in the only way he knew. He became a chronicler of post-Saddam Iraq.
I never met Vincent, but I developed a deep respect for him by following his dispatches, which would show up in various US newspapers fairly often over the past two years. His writing was a rare mix of descriptive prose, reasoned analysis and passion that made you seek out his latest story and feel a tinge of regret when you finish the last sentence. You always wanted to read more when you read him.
What came through clearly in his writings is that Vincent grasped that the global jihad, as it manifested itself in New York and Washington on September 11 and as it manifests itself on a daily basis in Iraq and indeed throughout the world, is rooted not in terrorism but in culture and religion. And the only way for the US and the rest of the free world to emerge victorious in this war is to expose and destroy the cultural base that spurs millions of Muslims throughout the world to kill and destroy and to support killing and destruction in the name of Islam.
In an article in the National Review published in December 2004, Vincent railed against the media for referring to the terrorists in Iraq, whose handiwork he saw up close, as "guerrillas" and "resistance forces." In his words, "[T]oday we suffer for our lack of clarity in this war. Unwilling to call our enemies fascists, afraid to condemn the brutal aspects of Iraqi and Arab culture, we have allowed the narrative to slip out of our control. Truth is made, not found, in Iraq. Gradually, in the war of ideas, the US became the evil occupier, opposing the legitimate wishes of an indigenous 'resistance'."
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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