Juan Cole replies…well, sort of

Steven Vincent Case

Juan Cole reposts his original article with footnotes. Which isn’t really a reply or a response or really much of anything, actually.

He points out what he said and basically plays the “I didn’t make up the rumors, I just asked about them” game.

To be honest, I’m not personally interested in running down the list of claims and counter-claims and counter-counter-claims. I believe that Steven Vincent was doing what he thought was the right thing, I believe that he was correct most of the time, and I believe that he was honestly trying to do what his wife says he was trying to do.

Cole doesn’t really remark on anything in Lisa Ramaci-Vincent’s letter, he simply dismisses it as “mischaracterization”. And he notes that he never said that Vincent was sleeping with Nour Weidi, and then a bit later writes:

We American men aren’t dishonored in particular if our sisters sleep around, though I suppose in high school it can’t be pleasant for a guy to have everyone taunt him that his sister is a slut. But in Arab culture, a brother can’t show his face in public if his sister is known to be a slut.

It’s beyond me how anyone could ever have gotten the idea that he was suggesting that there might be sexual relations between those two. I’m such a “Clueless American”.

Then there’s:

By the way, the US military in Iraq understands all this perfectly well, and has forbidden troops from fraternizing with Iraqi women, and has punished some who did. That is, if you asked a US officer in Iraq about this issue, he will tell you the same thing I have. So how can I be criticized for articulating it?

He continues to not get the fact that it’s what he’s articulating about it that’s the problem here. He’s playing the “I’m just asking” game. And he apparently thinks everyone will just play along.

I would like to repeat once again that Juan Cole did not start the rumors of an improper relationship between Steven Vincent and Nour Weidi. And, taken at face value, it’s not even what he wrote about it that’s the problem. It’s how he wrote about it, and especially how he wrote about it when you consider the rest of what he’s written.

So his reply is simply more windbaggage. Which is too bad.

What I’d like to see (not necessarily from Juan Cole, though…) would be a definitive summary and explanation of the current situation regarding conversion to Islam, marriage, and emigration as it applies to the situation Steven Vincent and Nour Weidi were in according to Lisa’s letter.

Comments are full of “he couldn’t marry her unless he divorced Lisa”, and “oh, yes, he could”. And then there’s the “but you don’t need to be married to leave Iraq” and the “oh, yes you do”. And the “but she couldn’t get a job in the UK anyway” along with the “sure she could”.

As I understand it, existing marriages between Muslim converts and Christian or Jewish women are not automatically nullified. I don’t know Lisa’s religion, though.

And the question of unmarried women leaving Iraq without family members should be easy enough to answer, though I haven’t had any luck.

The job issue is a fairly non-starter, as far as I can see. I have no doubt that things would be worked out one way or another.

Cole basically dismisses Vincent as a sort of “martyr” to the cause of Bush’s war. I’d expect a more informed comment from someone so learned, I guess.

Could it be that he just simply sees himself as existing several orders above the teeming masses of Clueless Americans, sitting on his throne dispensing his wisdom as he sees fit in an effort to enlighten us mere mortals?

I’m just asking.

And, being a Clueless American, I’m having trouble leaving a comment on his post. I’m not familiar with his blogging software and can’t figure out how to leave one. Help me out, folks.

UPDATE: This came in from Lisa Ramaci-Vincent in the comments section to my follow-up post to “It’s Called Courage” and addresses the questions I raised:

Nour’s job offer came from The Guardian newspaper, one of the biggest of the British dailies, and their ability to get her work papers is unquestioned.

As to Nour’s ability to travel alone, it is not permissible under current Iraqi law. A woman must travel with a male family member.

Finally, Steven was not going to divorce me – his conversion to Islam would have allowed him to take Nour as his second wife and bring her to England (not the United States), an arrangement allowed under British law. He would have divorced her in England, thereby negating any bigamy problems he would have had if he came back here, but remained Muslim for the rest of his life, to prevent any threat of apostasy.

She posted it in response to a commenter who pretty much spent the evening watching the comments sections on these posts and immediately contradicted anything any Vincent supporters wrote. It’s nice to hear a bit more about exactly what the plans were, and it pretty much seems to effectively shut down the arguments of the troll. You’ll notice no one is trolling Juan Cole’s comments sections.

UPDATE 2: Exactly.

UPDATE 3: Last night, after originally posting this, I went to bed. I told my wife that Cole, by posting what he posted in the way that he posted it, was playing right into the hands of his critics. I know that he probably doesn’t personally care about that sort of thing, but it’s what he’s doing when responding to Mrs. Ramaci-Vincent’s letter with a repost of his original article and comments showing us how he was right all along. There are going to a ton of bloggers noting his lame excuse of a response because, admit it, it’s just plain fun.

Like this one at Dean’s World:

When you read this, remember that this is a college professor. This is a spokesman for the Left. This was a grown man.

Give him credit. That’s funnier than snot.

UPDATE 4: Oooh…look who stopped by “It’s Called Courage”:

Click to enlarge. Maybe a friend of the Prof? Or a student? One can hope.


  1. I learned a long time ago…..they may be educated, but that doesn’t prevent them from being an a$$. If the guy has any FIRT HAND knowledge about what happened to Mr. Vincent, I suggest he contact the authorities who’re investigating Mr. Vincent’s death. If, in fact, Mr. Cole is guilty of claiming he didnt’ start the the smut he’s circulating about Mr. Vincent and his translator, he’s just restating it…….that defense is so sophomoric and lame it’s beyond criticism. Nuff said.

  2. If it’s not creepy that you’re collecting and publishing info on who looks at your site in order to make fun of them, then I don’t know what is.

  3. I guess: I’m not ‘collecting’ anything. It’s called a ‘Site Meter’ and most blogs have them and make them public. Mine stats are available to anyone who cares to look. Just happened to notice ‘umich’ while chekcing traffic as I’m wont to do.

  4. And I happily claim to be the first to suggest the emasculation of Dr. Cole by Mrs. Vincent. As an EMT, I recognize bloodshed when I see it.

  5. Oh admit it, Murdoc, you creepy facist right-wing hater. You like to watch, don’t you. DON’T YOU? I don’t know where to begin with Herr Doctor Professor Cole. To him this seems like one big intellectual game where the most cleverly worded retort wins. I wonder if it occurs to him that real, actual thinking people who pay for his tax-funded salary are, in fact, being killed in the pursuit of the truth, rather than mere objects and instances to be verbally manipulated. A tyrant waves aside the value of human life in the pursuit of power. Cole waves aside the value of human life in order to be cute.

  6. I don’t know why this particular issue, the tragic murder of Mr. Vincent and his attempt to assist his friend out of the country, is so intriguing. But, I wonder if it has to do with most people’s uneasiness with the facts. For me, personally, it has to do with people stating that women can’t leave Iraq without a male relative or husband. I’m looking for a link, but it is my understanding that this cannot be ‘the law.’ Presently, there is no legal Sharia type laws, if you will, in Iraq. There is considerable debate about inserting them into the NEW constitution, but it is my understanding that Iraqis are currently living under the statutes implemented by the Coalition Provisional Authority. The reason this disturbs me is that if it is indeed true that a female cannot legally leave Iraq without being accompanied by a husband or male relative, then that means that this was a US govt sponsored policy. In which case, all of us, no matter what side of the red/blue thing you are on, must say wtf? I suspect that, due to the fact that Nour comes from a very conservative family, she must have felt very strong social and familial pressure not to do this sort of thing. Which is her business, and the generous Vincent’s business, not mine. But, if indeed, the US govt initiated and approved this policy, again, wtf??

  7. I’d like to talk about Cole’s original point, which is that Vincent was allegedly such an idiot that he didn’t know that Arabs might resent what they believed to be a romantic relationship between him and a local woman. How could Vincent possibly not know that he and his translator were at risk, either because of their plans of marriage, or because of simple ‘collaboration?’ Isn’t it idiotic on its face for Cole to assume that Vincent didn’t know about the risks?

  8. I do know that Cole is an expert, because I have read him say so many times. Of course, for Cole, he is an expert on Iraqi cultural because (1) he has been to Lebannon, and (2) he is, according to himself, well read in various Arabic primary sources.[*] As such, he was much more expert than Vincent, who was actually in Iraq, and presumably much more expert than Vincent’s translator, who lived there. [*] Of course, since Cole informed us that the problem wasn’t Arab culture per se but ‘Mediterranean culture,’ we should find out whether Cole is also expert in Turkish, Greek, Spanish, and Southern French culture.

  9. Or rather, one who wishes to understand another culture should be the first to cast the stone of ‘insolent’. Please, be the first here to raise their hand and say, ‘Yes I can translate the Iraqi Constitution from the original text.’ See, that is difficult. It may very well be a bit more difficult to translate Arabic text than to transcribe Western cultural influences on Middle Easteran mores and specifically male/female relations, nonsexual or otherwise. Most here offer nothing of consequence less their perceived notions of gender roles permissible in Western society. That is understandalbe; this site is not devoted to understanding anything ‘unAmerican’, or at least non-western. When many have nothing to offer, it isn’t suprising that they are left to echo each other with pat-on-the-back copmliments. Remind yourselves: You know all you need to know about middle-eastern culture. Disregard all else.

  10. This is all very interesting but I have a request; next time we fight a war, can we go somewhere where it is possible for a GI to get laid? Sheesh! I don’t think I’m asking too much. Our Grandfathers sure had a good time in Europe and our fathers got some in Vietnam. Why not us? France and Spain come to mind. Just a request.