1964 - 2002

March 15, 2002 Halifax Herald

Daniel Pearl: another victim of mindless hate

VERIFYING that we live in a world with more than a fair share of uncivilized brutes, it was confirmed on Friday, Feb. 22, that Daniel Pearl, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, had been brutally executed by his Islamic extremist kidnappers. Why? By all accounts, it appears that his barbaric murder was deemed necessary because he was a devout Jew. Will the days of the sacrificial human, to promote evil religious madness, ever end?

I've followed the accounts of Pearl's abduction since it was first reported, including those about the type of person he was, and have concluded he was a man that any decent person would have been proud to count among his friends; certainly, I would have been.

Pearl had a zest for life and much to look forward to, including a child. His widow, Mariane, is by now eight months pregnant. Only the stony-hearted cannot grieve for the child denied the love of his father, a wife the love of a devoted husband, parents and siblings the love of a son and brother. Ironically, the terrorists themselves, by slaying a man who held some sympathy for the plight of their people, have removed a person who might have helped their cause by reporting about it unbiasedly.

Daniel's parents and two sisters, after receiving the shocking news of his brutal murder, issued this sad lament from their home in California: "We're shocked and saddened about the confirmation that our worst fears have been realized. Up until a few hours ago, we were confident that Danny would return safely, for we believe that no human being could be capable of harming such a gentle soul." They didn't, as decent human beings, take into account the madness of mindless zealots.

This brings us to why so many members of the human race persist in believing that by visiting collective brutality upon people with lifestyles different from their own, they will make them reciprocate with respect and fondness. One of the best modern examples of the application of this mindset are the sanctions that have pushed many Iraqis to the edge of starvation. Great Britain and the United States, in particular, firmly believe that these actions will cause Iraqis to love them and thank them for the hurt they subject them to. I hardly think that parents who see their beloved child waste away from the effects of malnutrition will grow to love and embrace the people who caused it.

The only thing being accomplished by the denial of food and the bombing is the shoring up of a reservoir of hate within Iraq for both nations. I've heard commentary from officials in both countries alluding to the hope that the hardship they inflict will cause the Iraqi people to rise up and depose Saddam. Probably not. If I recall correctly, after George Bush Sr. made his colossal mistake and opted not to depose Saddam after the Gulf War, many Iraqis did rise up with the expectation that the Allies would help them do just that, and then were abandoned by them. Once burnt, very few return for more.

Now the question is: What did Daniel Pearl's murderers accomplish by their heinous deed? They've accomplished exactly the opposite of what they hoped they would - almost universal revulsion. What decent human being could find anything positive to say about such a foul act being carried out upon a totally innocent fellow human being? Only the mad could countenance it! Especially so when it was done simply because he was a Jew. To kill a person because of his religious convictions is not an act that should be countenanced by even the most devout believers. No God, unless he is the god of evil, would welcome such barbarity done on His behalf.

Pearl's wife, Mariane, in the midst of her grief, probably said it best about the hopes for the future, in a statement she released through Steve Goldstein, vice-president of Dow Jones and Co., owners of the Journal: "The terrorists who say they killed my husband may have taken his life, but they did not take his spirit. Danny is my life. They may have taken my life, but they did not take my spirit.

"My . . . hope now - in my seventh month of pregnancy - is that I will be able to tell our son that his father carried the flag to end terrorism, raising an unprecedented demand among people from all countries, not for revenge but for the values we all share: love, compassion, friendship and citizenship far transcending the so-called clash of civilizations."

Justice must be found for all oppressed people, whether they are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, etc. However, the killing of innocents will not help the search, only impede it.

Religion is a personal matter; every person has the right to practise their personal choice as they see fit. It does not need to be paraded around like a badge, with the expectation that others will see the light as you see it. When we learn to respect and protect the personal, non-threatening religious choices of people, then we will know peace. Until then, innocent lives, such as Daniel Pearl's, will be taken by mindless zealots who believe that God would approve of such barbarity.

Hats off to a hero!

Daniel N. Paul


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