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Jason Holliston
 
Sunday, February 22, 2004  
Steven Vincent in Iraq

Steven Vincent, a commentator/reporter who writes for various magazines, has a piece in the latest issue of Reason that I read today called "Faith, Shame, and Insurgency: Life in Occupied Iraq". It's great stuff. He traveled to Iraq and stayed there last fall for a month and a half, talking to all manner of people. He felt that since he was such a vocal supporter of the Iraq War, he should go there and "test his beliefs".

It's not a completely upbeat piece, noting many problems that are ongoing and likely upcoming, but for the most part, he comes across vindicated, if worrisome. My favorite part:

""I hate Saddam! I hate Americans! I hate Iraqis -- and I hate myself! I need a Valium!" cried on woman at a Baghdad art gallery. It was, I thought, an apt summation of the mentality shared by many Iraqis today."

The point is that Arab -- and especially Iraqi -- shame colors how this country proceeds dramatically. The entire culture is coursing with it, and they deal with it in radically different ways that European-centric cultures. Here's the most biting part:

"A lot of French journalists are shit," Wady, the sculptor, observed one afternoon as we shared a narghile filled with apple-flavored tobacco. "They come here and talk against the U.S. in a stupid way. They don't care about the crimes of Saddam Hussein."

Indeed. The whole thing is a great read. Reason publishes their print articles on their Web site a month after they've been available to purchase. Make a mental note and go read it when you have a chance. Or even better, pick up a copy of Reason yourself and read it right now.

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