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.
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
President Barack Obama said in an interview aired on Monday he worried that detainees freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, might resume attacks on the United States.
But he told NBC News that closure of the prison was a matter of upholding U.S. values and law, and that a failure to do so would ultimately make Americans less secure.
“Can we guarantee that they’re not going to try to participate in another attack? No,” Obama said. “But what I can guarantee is that if we don’t uphold our Constitution and our values, that over time that will make us less safe. And that will be a recruitment tool for organizations like al-Qaeda.”
During almost two years on the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to slay the demons of Washington, bar lobbyists from his administration and usher in what he would later call in his Inaugural Address a “new era of responsibility.” What he did not talk much about were the asterisks.
The exceptions that went unmentioned now include a pair of cabinet nominees who did not pay all of their taxes. Then there is the lobbyist for a military contractor who is now slated to become the No. 2 official in the Pentagon. And there are the others brought into government from the influence industry even if not formally registered as lobbyists.
President Obama said Monday that he was “absolutely” standing behind former Senator Tom Daschle, his nominee for health and human services secretary, and Mr. Daschle, who met late in the day with leading senators in an effort to keep his confirmation on track, said he had “no excuse” and wanted to “deeply apologize” for his failure to pay $128,000 in federal taxes.
But the episode has already shown how, when faced with the perennial clash between campaign rhetoric and Washington reality, Mr. Obama has proved willing to compromise.
Every four or eight years a new president arrives in town, declares his determination to cleanse a dirty process and invariably winds up trying to reconcile the clear ideals of electioneering with the muddy business of governing. Mr. Obama on his first day in office imposed perhaps the toughest ethics rules of any president in modern times, and since then he and his advisers have been trying to explain why they do not cover this case or that case.
“This is a big problem for Obama, especially because it was such a major, major promise,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “He harped on it, time after time, and he created a sense of expectation around the country. This is exactly why people are skeptical of politicians, because change we can believe in is not the same thing as business as usual.”
Anyone gullible enough to believe that Obama was anything more than a politician deserves to be disappointed.
Obama wants to “restore” billions of dollars in grants to put more cops on the street. Bush had eliminated them because “their results didn’t justify the hefty price tags.”
The grants are popular with Democrats, and restoring them was central to Obama’s campaign plan to combat rising violence. By tacking the money onto the stimulus plan, Obama avoids having to defend the spending during the normal budget process.
That’s just a nice way of saying that Obama is cynically manipulating economic fear to push through pork. As his right-hand man Rahm Emanuel noted, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”
How can hiring cops be pork?
The proposal allocates $3 billion for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, a program that has funded drug task forces, after-school programs, prisoner rehabilitation and other programs.
No mention of cops.
Another $1 billion in stimulus money is set aside for the Community Oriented Policing Services program begun under President Clinton. The program, known as COPS grants, paid the salaries of many local police officers and was a “modest contributor” to the decline in crime in the 1990s, according to a 2005 government oversight report.
Stimulus via hiring police? Apples and oranges. Bush cut the program as waste.
But the programs remain popular among many lawmakers, who often used the grants to steer money to their home districts. Mayors and police chiefs love them, particularly during lean economic times.
Pols love to play Sugar Daddy — it’s how they maintain power. Finally, there’s this:
In New Bedford, Mass., a port city of about 92,000, Police Chief Ronald Teachman said a new round of grants would put police on the streets at a time when experts expect crime to rise with the unemployment rate.
Crime rates during the Depression were lower than during the crime waves of the ’70s-’80s. The belief that joblessness causes crime is an article of faith among liberals, one that facts can never touch.
Hiring police is a good thing. We need good police. But why should this be a federal concern? Let the states, cities and counties manage their own finances. Why? Because Democrats love big government and the votes it produces.