The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


The recently released movie “A Mighty Heart” is the story of Danny Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped by Islamofascists in Pakistan and beheaded, his body cut into many peaces and dumped at the side of the road. Pearl was killed because he was an American, a reporter, and oh yes, a Jew.

The movie is mediocre at best, focusing on the anguish of Pearl’s wife, the efforts of reporters and Pakistani police (at least one of them) to find Pearl, and deemphasizing and in subtle ways justifying the barbarity of the Jihadists. Like many “artistic endeavors” that come out of Hollywood, it falls into the Leftist trap of moral equivalence—since we have Quantanamo, what are the poor, oppressed Jihadists supposed to do? After all, they have to fight back, don’t they? Beheading – is that any worse than a US soldier with an automatic weapon? Blah … blah … blah.

Judah Pearl, Danny’s father, is a life long progressive, who is far more at home at NPR and in the pages of the New Republic that he would be at the WSJ. Yet on the matter of moral equivalence, he has had a epiphany. He writes in The New Republic:
I used to believe that the world essentially divided into two types of people: those who were broadly tolerant; and those who felt threatened by differences. If only the forces of tolerance could win out over the forces of intolerance, I reasoned, the world might finally know some measure of peace.

He goes on to note “a famous paradox formulated by Bertrand Russell in 1901 … Any person who claims to be tolerant naturally defines himself in opposition to those who are intolerant. But that makes him intolerant of certain people--which invalidates his claim to be tolerant,” suggesting that there can be no such thing as unqualified tolerance.

On the movie about his son's murder, he writes:
Drawing a comparison between Danny's murder and the detainment of suspects in Guantánamo is precisely what the killers wanted, as expressed in both their e-mails and the murder video. Obviously Winterbottom [the Movie’s director] did not mean to echo their sentiments, and certainly not to justify their demands or actions. Still, I am concerned that aspects of his movie will play into the hands of professional obscurers of moral clarity.

Judah Pearl is a progressive who has been mugged by a horrific reality—the brutal murder of a child. He has concluded that moral equivalence has bounds.
Danny's tragedy demands an end to this logic. There can be no comparison between those who take pride in the killing of an unarmed journalist and those who vow to end such acts--no ifs, ands, or buts. Moral relativism died with Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, on January 31, 2002.

There was a time when drawing moral symmetries between two sides of every conflict was a mark of original thinking. Today, with Western intellectuals overextending two-sidedness to reckless absurdities, it reflects nothing but lazy conformity. What is needed now is for intellectuals, filmmakers, and the rest of us to resist this dangerous trend and draw legitimate distinctions where such distinctions are warranted.

Islamofascists hide behind moral equivalence, comforted in the knowledge that useful idiots among the "intellectuals, filmmakers, and the rest of us" will give them cover. Turn on CNN, read the NYT or the Guardian and you'll assuredly see reckless absurdities masquerading as deep thinking and even-handedness. Have the wisdom to reject this nonsense -- even if you're labeled "intolerant."