Friday, February 06, 2009

Tough Stuff

Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil

When will our luminaries stop making excuses for terror?


This week marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of our son, former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. My wife Ruth and I wonder: Would Danny have believed that today's world emerged after his tragedy?

The answer does not come easily. Danny was an optimist, a true believer in the goodness of mankind. Yet he was also a realist, and would not let idealism bend the harshness of facts.

Neither he, nor the millions who were shocked by his murder, could have possibly predicted that seven years later his abductor, Omar Saeed Sheikh, according to several South Asian reports, would be planning terror acts from the safety of a Pakistani jail. Or that his murderer, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now in Guantanamo, would proudly boast of his murder in a military tribunal in March 2007 to the cheers of sympathetic jihadi supporters. Or that this ideology of barbarism would be celebrated in European and American universities, fueling rally after rally for Hamas, Hezbollah and other heroes of "the resistance." Or that another kidnapped young man, Israeli Gilad Shalit, would spend his 950th day of captivity with no Red Cross visitation while world leaders seriously debate whether his kidnappers deserve international recognition.

No. Those around the world who mourned for Danny in 2002 genuinely hoped that Danny's murder would be a turning point in the history of man's inhumanity to man, and that the targeting of innocents to transmit political messages would quickly become, like slavery and human sacrifice, an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.

But somehow, barbarism, often cloaked in the language of "resistance," has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society. The words "war on terror" cannot be uttered today without fear of offense. Civilized society, so it seems, is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.

I believe it all started with well-meaning analysts, who in their zeal to find creative solutions to terror decided that terror is not a real enemy, but a tactic. Thus the basic engine that propels acts of terrorism -- the ideological license to elevate one's grievances above the norms of civilized society -- was wished away in favor of seemingly more manageable "tactical" considerations.

This mentality of surrender then worked its way through politicians like the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. In July 2005 he told Sky News that suicide bombing is almost man's second nature. "In an unfair balance, that's what people use," explained Mr. Livingstone.

But the clearest endorsement of terror as a legitimate instrument of political bargaining came from former President Jimmy Carter. In his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," Mr. Carter appeals to the sponsors of suicide bombing. "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Road-map for Peace are accepted by Israel." Acts of terror, according to Mr. Carter, are no longer taboo, but effective tools for terrorists to address perceived injustices.

Mr. Carter's logic has become the dominant paradigm in rationalizing terror. When asked what Israel should do to stop Hamas's rockets aimed at innocent civilians, the Syrian first lady, Asma Al-Assad, did not hesitate for a moment in her response: "They should end the occupation." In other words, terror must earn a dividend before it is stopped.

The media have played a major role in handing terrorism this victory of acceptability. Qatari-based Al Jazeera television, for example, is still providing Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi hours of free air time each week to spew his hateful interpretation of the Koran, authorize suicide bombing, and call for jihad against Jews and Americans.

Then came the August 2008 birthday of Samir Kuntar, the unrepentant killer who, in 1979, smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl with his rifle after killing her father before her eyes. Al Jazeera elevated Kuntar to heroic heights with orchestras, fireworks and sword dances, presenting him to 50 million viewers as Arab society's role model. No mainstream Western media outlet dared to expose Al Jazeera efforts to warp its young viewers into the likes of Kuntar. Al Jazeera's management continues to receive royal treatment in all major press clubs.

Some American pundits and TV anchors didn't seem much different from Al Jazeera in their analysis of the recent war in Gaza. Bill Moyers was quick to lend Hamas legitimacy as a "resistance" movement, together with honorary membership in PBS's imaginary "cycle of violence." In his Jan. 9 TV show, Mr. Moyers explained to his viewers that "each [side] greases the cycle of violence, as one man's terrorism becomes another's resistance to oppression." He then stated -- without blushing -- that for readers of the Hebrew Bible "God-soaked violence became genetically coded." The "cycle of violence" platitude allows analysts to empower terror with the guise of reciprocity, and, amazingly, indict terror's victims for violence as immutable as DNA.

When we ask ourselves what it is about the American psyche that enables genocidal organizations like Hamas -- the charter of which would offend every neuron in our brains -- to become tolerated in public discourse, we should take a hard look at our universities and the way they are currently being manipulated by terrorist sympathizers.

At my own university, UCLA, a symposium last week on human rights turned into a Hamas recruitment rally by a clever academic gimmick. The director of the Center for Near East Studies carefully selected only Israel bashers for the panel, each of whom concluded that the Jewish state is the greatest criminal in human history.

The primary purpose of the event was evident the morning after, when unsuspecting, uninvolved students read an article in the campus newspaper titled, "Scholars say: Israel is in violation of human rights in Gaza," to which the good name of the University of California was attached. This is where Hamas scored its main triumph -- another inch of academic respectability, another inroad into Western minds.

Danny's picture is hanging just in front of me, his warm smile as reassuring as ever. But I find it hard to look him straight in the eyes and say: You did not die in vain.

Mr. Pearl, a professor of computer science at UCLA, is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, founded in memory of his son to promote cross-cultural understanding.


Anonymous said...

Parents who send their children to colleges, such as the prestigious UCLA, should be outraged by the academic gimmickry received in return for their 25K per year tuition.

Anonymous said...

Well written and right on. I feel for this man.

Anonymous said...

I read a letter on Russ Gibb that was written about being outraged. About what was happening in America. I am also outraged. I am outraged that I cannot pray openly to the one and only true god of the world, the son of man, jesus christ, pray to him openly at my city's town hall meetings and at the christmas concerts at my neighborhood schools. I am outraged that I cannot stand up and say, I am a white woman, dammit, and I am DAMN PROUD OF IT! If I do, I will be identified as the racist. I am outraged that poor people get to eat and drink and get medical care from MY TAX MONEY!! it's MY TAX MONEY, not their's! I OWN IT! I am outraged that Dearborn used to be mostly Polish and Italian, and now it is becoming overwhelmed by people from who knows where! I am outraged that certain minorities manipulate the media and the majority of this country, the true americans, cannot be free to express their historical heritage of pioneer identity. I am outraged that we have allowed others to do what they want in OUR society! WE GAVE LIFE TO THIS CONTINENT and now they are taking it away from us! I am outraged that my fellow americans, the true AMERICANS, Bob and ALICE and THEODORE and BARBARA and HAL, are not outraged like me! Should I go on about how outraged I am?

I would love to say more. I would love to be able to express my anger freely. I appreciate this forum which allows me to do that. Should I go on about how outraged I truly am?

T.R. Clancy said...


PLEASE do. I'm exhausted.

Anonymous said...

I feel a certain amount of anguish as bit by bit my liberty and freedom are being plotted away from me. I suppose Carla, that we can be thankful for this "awareness" that prompts our souls to outrage and make eternal good out of it.

We must stand firm in truth and with urgency set about the mission of being faithful servants. Our hope does not exist in this world and it never has. Our country and our city seem doomed to collapse but, our future is secure.

Anonymous said...

What's up T.R.? Is your package feeling over stimulated?

Anonymous said...

You are outraged that you "cannot pray openly to the one and only true god of the world, the son of man, jesus christ, pray to him openly at my city's town hall meetings and at the christmas concerts at my neighborhood schools." But please tell me, why should your religious views be given preference?

"True Americans"? You must really mean the native Americans slaughtered for hundred of years. Yes, that must be the "heritage of pioneer identity" that you seem to be so keen about.

Carla, go ahead, be proud of your heritage, whatever that means to you- this is america and no one is stopping you despite what you think.

However,there really are better ways to express your views than crying about it. You sound like a five year old... mine mine mine.

Anonymous said...

I am an outraged right wing Christian who enjoys political satire and freedom of speech. I sincerely appreciate your post. It highlights the progressive bias toward my demographic. You scored one for my team by highlighting the flaws in progressive ideology that cause them to hate America, democracy, liberty, and individual freedom.
I only want to say, I think, "I OWN IT!" was a bit of an overshot. You might have snagged a few, had you left that out.

I suggest CARLA and NICK save their good-cop bad-cop role play games, whether they involve handcuffs or not, for the bedroom.
Of course, that's just my opinion and as of right now, you're both FREE to choose.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, including you? BUT thank you T.R. Clancy, for encouraging me to outrage some more. I am outraged that my neighbors in Dearborn do not respect who I am, and do not try to understand it, and they do not care that on the day that they came to this country, I had been living here as a right wing christian for many generations before them, and they don't care. they flaunt their third world dress at us when they see us hanging around on our porch, and they look at us without addressing us and then they start to talk about us in their foreign tongue so that we would not understand them.

I am also outraged that President Obama is planning on taking more of my money. This is MY money, why should he have the right to decide what is to be done my with my money? He is not even a true American, because to this day, he refuses to prove that he was born in America. How can we not be outraged at this? So what he has really brought to the white house is his baggage of third world family, in name and in background as well. You all know what i am talking about. Is this how the U.N. has finally taken over the U.S.? is this their scheme? I am not only outraged, but also LIVID!

I am outraged that they want to silence us. soon right wing christians will not have the free forums like talk radio where we can freely express our freedom of speech. This will not pass. We will not let them take it away from us. It is my right to speak my opinion!

And I am outraged that I drive down my nighborhood in Dearborn and see Palestinian and Lebanese flags flying. WHAT IS THIS? A TERRORIST HAVEN? This simply cannot be in this America!

SHOULD I GO ON? i am outraged!

Anonymous said...

look at this website! someone has a nice website about general lee!

Anonymous said...


I can see that you are outrages, and your opinions are clear. Do you have any ideas or opinions as to how to deal with the problems that form the basis of your frustrations? Probably not.

IF you are not some young idiot, then you are a fraud trying to negatively stereotype the kind of person(s) you claim to be. How pathetic. How sad.


Anonymous said...

Is it the "many generations" you have lived that make you so obtuse?

Your outrage does not reflect the values and beliefs of Christians (capital "C"). It does closely match the lies and bias of many progressives.

I am a right wing Christian. We do not spew hateful intolerance, bigotry and greed. If you are still confused, let me offer this fictitious and biased representation of a right wing Christian who finds a Muslim blog highlighting civil rights abuses. The hateful Christian can't take it any more and decides to pretend to be a Muslim and expresses himself as follows:

"Mo said...
I am muslim and i suffer at work and school because the Jews and Christians are plotting against me. They do not worship Allah and therefore as the quran says, they are apes and pigs. They tell lies about me to the government and now I get no disability checks.
My brothers and me work hard and send money to help our cousins in Lebanon buy more weapons. They call me terrorist. I make signs and write letters to the government and tell them how anyone who disrespects Islam must be put in jail. If not then my freedom of religion is violated. I have to wash my feet to pray and they refuse to build a footwash for me.
I am not a terrorist. I want peace for all. But we can't have peace until they submit to allah and until then i will fight them.
They steal our land and we will steal it back for allah."

The above fictitious, hateful, and prejudiced post is every bit as absurd to me, a right wing Christian, as your post Ms. generational pioneer Carla.

Anonymous said...


Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.

Love your neighbor as yourself

Go shawty, it's your birthday.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him.

Smile God loves you

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.

Let go let God

What would Jesus Do?

Who let the dogs out?

Are any of these statements found in the bible?

Which ones?

Seize them and slay them wherever you find them: and in any case take no friends or helpers from their ranks.

Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.

Got Jesus!

Which verses are from the Bible?

Anonymous said...

No but seriously, check out this great website I found:

Anonymous said...

What's the big deal with the blog?

I suppose if it was a Mohammed statue denigrated in a similar way, then it would be a big deal. I would guess riots, embassy bombings, nun killing, and the usual.

Tell us what you think would happen if the statue was of Mohammed?