~~Our world is impoverished by the death of Anthony Shadid, who, it seems, died yesterday of an asthma attack while covering the events in Syria. There is so much bad journalism in our media about the Middle East, so much glibness and folksy commentary one is even embarrassed to read, so much deception. Shadid, by contrast, was among the very best, penning intelligent, very informed and eloquent reports from across the Middle East and North Africa–Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, and Syria. His writing was often unrelenting, skeptical, resistant to the allure and rhetoric of officialdom but also stardom and celebrity.
Shadid was, above all, neither lazy nor timid. He was fluent in Arabic, knew the region well. He listened to the people of the Middle East with a keen ear and an informed mind. Often, they, and not the leaders and public relations hacks, were his real sources. He wrote with a light touch, big heart, and a mind tuned to the turbulent history of the region.
Shadid’s death is a huge loss for readers across the English-reading world. It is also a huge loss for the people of the region whose voice is for sure muffled tonight– and will be so for some time to come. ~~