American Journalist shot dead in Basra, Iraq

An American journalist and author was found dead after being shot three times in the chest in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a U.S. embassy official said on Wednesday.

Steven Vincent’s death came four days after an opinion piece he wrote criticizing the rise of Shi’ite Islamist fundamentalism in Basra was published in The New York Times. —American Journalist shot dead in Basra, Iraq (Wired|Reuters)

Vincent was an art critic and freelance writer who kept a blog, In the Red Zone (which also promoted a book of the same name).

A sample of his recent blogged writing:

And there it was, the familiar Cultural-Values-Are-Relative argument, surprising though it was to hear it from a military man. But that, too, I realized, was part of American Naiveté: the belief, evidently filtering down from ivy-league academia to Main Street, U.S.A., that our values are no better (and usually worse) than those of foreign nations; that we have no right to judge “the Other;” and that imposing our way of life on the world is the sure path to the bleak morality of Empire (cue the Darth Vader theme).

But Layla would have none of it. “No, believe me!” she exclaimed, sitting forward on her stool. “These religious parties are wrong! Look at them, their corruption, their incompetence, their stupidity! Look at the way they treat women! How can you say you cannot judge them? Why shouldn’t your apply your own cultural values?”

It was a moment I wish every muddle-headed college kid and Western-civilization-hating leftist could have witnessed: an Air Force Captain quoting chapter and verse from the new American Gospel of Multiculturalism, only to have a flesh and blood representative of “the Other” declare that he was incorrect, that discriminations and judgment between cultures are possible–necessary–especially when it comes to the absolutely unacceptable way Middle Eastern Arabs treat women. And though Layla would not have pushed the point this far, I couldn’t resist. “You know, Captain,” I said, “sometimes American values are just–better.” —The Naive American