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

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Danny—An Anniversary

It's been seven years this week since the brutal murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. For those who may have forgotten, Pearl was beheaded by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan. Pearl was kidnapped because he was an American, but all evidence indicates that he was beheaded because he was a Jew.

I recall that even at the time, the MSM treatment of Pearl’s execution was muted. Sure there were many articles expressing concern and sorrow, but relatively few expressed the outrage that should have been widespread in the media community. The reason, even then, was an effort by the media to downplay the utter brutality and irrationality of the Islamist mindset. Over the intervening years, things got even worse. Consumed by opposition to Bush’s war on terror, Left-leaning media adapted a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil approach to Islamist acts of terror.

Daniel’s Pearl’s father, Judea Pearl is a professor of computer science at UCLA. Yesterday, he penned a moving op-ed in the WSJ in which he asks many questions that should embarrass those on the Left who insist on post-modern moral equivalence when they consider acts of terror:
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.

I have on many occasions commented on the bizarre phenomenon that somehow justifies barbaric acts of terror based on “oppression” or “resistance” or “grievance.” The stupidity of this justification is breathtaking, but it continues to accelerate as the years pass, particularly among the Leftist intelligencia (I used that term guardedly) and much of academia.

Judea Pearl comments:
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.

Why is it that those in academia feel compelled to demonize the victims of terror but not the terrorists themselves? Why do they live in a through-the-looking-glass world in which America and Israel are “oppressors” and “terrorist states” but Hamas, Hezballah and even al Quaida are “victims?” Over the years, I’ve tried to answer that question here, here, here and here, but even good answers will do little to assuage the deep sadness of Judea Pearl—a father who must live the rest of his life knowing his son was brutally murdered.