A Man Of Clarity

Words matter. Words convey moral clarity. Without moral clarity, we will not succeed in Iraq. That is why the terms the press uses to cover this conflict are so vital. For example, take the word “guerillas.” As you noted, mainstream media sources like the New York Times often use the terms “insurgents” or “guerillas” to describe the Sunni Triangle gunmen, as if these murderous thugs represented a traditional national liberation movement. But when the Times reports on similar groups of masked reactionary killers operating in Latin American countries, they utilize the phrase “paramilitary death squads.” Same murderers, different designations. Yet of the two, “insurgents”—and especially “guerillas”—has a claim on our sympathies that “paramilitaries” lacks. This is not semantics: imagine if the media routinely called the Sunni Triangle gunmen “right wing paramilitary death squads.” Not only would the description be more accurate, but it would offer the American public a clear idea of the enemy in Iraq. And that, in turn, would bolster public attitudes toward the war.

Supporters of the conflict in Iraq bear much blame for allowing the terminology—and, by extension, the narrative—of events to slip from our grasp and into the hands of the anti-war camp. Words and ideas matter. Instead of saying that the Coalition “invaded” Iraq and “occupies” it today, we could more precisely claim that the allies liberated the country and are currently reconstructing it. More than cosmetic changes, these definitions reflect the nobility of our effort in Iraq, and steal rhetorical ammunition from the left.

The most despicable misuse of terminology, however, occurs when Leftists call the Saddamites and foreign jihadists “the resistance.” What an example of moral inversion! For the fact is, paramilitary death squads are attacking the Iraqi people. And those who oppose the killers–the Iraqi police and National Guardsmen, members of the Allawi government, people like Nour—they are the “resistance.” They are preventing Islamofascists from seizing Iraq, they are resisting evil men from turning the entire nation into a mass slaughterhouse like we saw in re-liberated Falluja. Anyone who cares about success in our struggle against Islamofascism—or upholds principles of moral clarity and lucid thought—should combat such Orwellian distortions of our language…

From an interview with American journalist Steven Vincent – a freelance writer who had spent months in the Iraqi city of Basra interviewing ordinary Iraqis and trying to understand firsthand the realities of life in Iraq. Unlike many Western journalists, Vincent didn’t content himself to stay in the Green Zone simply reporting what others had seen and heard. His book In The Red Zone is one of the single best books about postwar Iraq that has been written, and will likely remain so for some time.

Today, the body of Steven Vincent was found near Basra, having been shot in cold blood by Islamist terrorists.

Vincent personally witnessed the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He understood better than nearly anyone the nature of the war we fight, and he understood that Islamic terrorism is a force that has caused too much human misery in our country and in Iraq. He remained resolute in his desire to see that evil expunged from this earth. He was a tireless supporter of democracy for Iraq, and his brave expose in The New York Times on the rising influence of Islamists in Basra may have contributed to his assassination.

Mr. Vincent was a man of principle, bravery, and integrity, and both the people of Iraq and the United States have lost his valuable clarity in this war. RIP.

Tigerhawk has more on Mr. Vincent’s murder.

Steven Vincent’s was also a blogger.

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