May 22nd, 2010

Obama, Daniel Pearl, and freedom of the press

It seems like a long, long, time ago that Daniel Pearl was kidnapped, held hostage, and then beheaded by jihadists in early 2002. At the time, it was a profoundly shocking event, and part of the horror was the fact that it was recorded on video and posted online (a sight I did not choose to watch and never will).

Despite 9/11, many of us were still comparatively naive back then about what the radical jihadists wanted and what outrages they were prepared to perpetrate to get there. The murder of Daniel Pearl was another wake-up call, and it was followed by many others. For a while, many Americans seemed to understand the nature of the enemy.

President Obama, however, has dedicated himself to undoing that knowledge and replacing it with PC pap. He used the occasion of the signing of the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act to continue that mission, as Mark Steyn describes in his piece excoriating Obama for his remarks at the ceremony.

Here’s the full text of what Obama said. Missing, of course, is what he didn’t say. Nothing about who murdered Pearl; just that his “loss” was “one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.”

Obama managed to get through the entire occasion without saying that Pearl was killed, much less that he was murdered. He labeled Pearl as a target of “silencing” because he was a generic journalist rather than a specifically Jewish one.

Obama allows “those” who “silenced” Pearl to remain nameless and featureless. But one of them, of course, was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, radical Muslim (are you listening, Eric Holder?) jihadist and mass murderer on whose behalf the Obama administration has been working overtime to secure his day in a NY civilian court rather than a military tribunal.

Obama may be keeping relatively mum. But KSM himself had a bit more to say, and he apparently was a mite more clear on the subject [emphasis mine]:

On March 15, 2007, the Pentagon released a statement that Mohammed had confessed to [Pearl’s] murder. The statement quoted Mohammed as saying, “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.

What happened to Pearl was vile and sickening. But it is also outrageous (although in a completely different way) that our current president cannot manage to describe it properly: name the perpetrators and their ideology, say why the victim was actually targeted, and summon up the requisite intensity and moral outrage in response.

Other people will have to do it for him. As Steyn says:

Daniel Pearl was the prototype for a new kind of terror. In his wake came other victims…But Daniel Pearl was the first, and in his calm, coherent final words understood why he was there:

“My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American from Encino, California, USA …”

He didn’t have a prompter. But he spoke the truth. That’s all President Obama owed him – to do the same.

President Obama will not pay that debt, and it is no coincidence. It is a conscious decision on his part.

But there was still another Obamic peculiarity about that signing ceremony the other day. The bill that was named after Daniel Pearl was designed to, as the president said:

…[S]end…a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press. It has the State Department each year chronicling how press freedom is operating as one component of our human rights assessment, but it also looks at countries that are — governments that are specifically condoning or facilitating this kind of press repression, singles them out and subjects them to the gaze of world opinion in ways that I think are extraordinarily important.

And yet, at the end of the ceremony, the following exchange occurred between the president and the US press:

Q Speaking of press freedom, could you answer a couple of questions on BP?

THE PRESIDENT: You’re certainly free to ask them, Chip.

Q Will you answer them? How about a question on Iran?

THE PRESIDENT: We won’t be answering — I’m not doing a press conference today, but we’ll be seeing you guys during the course of this week. Okay?

By the standards of the world, this hardly qualifies as press repression or intimidation. But it’s a continuation of Obama’s contempt for and lack of cooperation with a press that remains for the most part his admiring, excuse-making lapdog. What’s more, Obama has singled out Fox News for special snubbing and criticism (see this, for example)—which is not exactly intimidation or repression, either, but is antithetical to the functioning of a free press.

And remember this incident during the 2008 campaign, when Obama’s lawyers threatened FCC license challenges to stations that aired campaign ads he didn’t like? Seems a bit intimidating to me.

The Orwellian ironies abound.

[ADDENDUM: At his blog “Had Enough Therapy?” Stuart Schneiderman sums it up well, I think:

A president who has expressed outrage against the indignity of asking an illegal immigrant to show his papers when caught speeding has nothing to say about the decapitation of an American Jew.]

30 Responses to “Obama, Daniel Pearl, and freedom of the press”

  1. Occam's Beard Says:

    Buraq is himself either a covert Muslim, or an apostate one – the latter category also calling for ritual killing.

    File that next to the unwanted baby’s support for access to abortion, which if present in 1960 would apparently have precluded his Presidency.

    Is the man entirely bereft of self-insight?

  2. Occam's Beard Says:

    We won’t be answering — I’m not doing a press conference today – the TelePrompter is in the shop -but we’ll be seeing you guys during the course of this week (once it’s fixed).

  3. A_Nonny_Mouse Says:

    The Wild-Eyed Left *CAN’T* address Muslim terrorism. Their whole belief system is based on poor noble brown people (living in harmony with nature) who are oppressed by rich white capitalistic fat cats (plundering and destroying the Earth). The image of a group of noble brown people hacking the head off a helpless white man is –simply put– IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO PROCESS. So they don’t see it, don’t hear it, don’t comment on it. IT COULD *NOT* HAVE HAPPENED. It is not part of a Reality they care to engage, so they don’t.

  4. expat Says:

    Occam’s, To self-insight, I would add human emotion. And the answer to your question is yes. He is COLD. He knows how to use sob stories, but I doubt that he has sobbed since early childhood. He can’t have a normal reaction to Danny Pearl’s horrible murder.

    Did you see what he’s telling West Point grads about his goals? I counted six, and on the seventh day he’ll play golf.
    While you are over at Hot Air, look among their Headlines for a report on the movie about Obama’s childhood.

  5. mizpants Says:

    “Loss.” How obscene is that, and on how many levels?
    The beheading of Daniel Pearl was the real shock for me. 9/11 left me in a daze. It seemed unreal, a stunt, its enormity unrealizable. But the gleeful cruelty of what they did to Pearl really registered, and for the first time I hated them.

  6. jon baker Says:

    To be fair, Former President Bush’s oft repeated lie ‘”Islam is the religion of Peace” was one of two things the left readily believed from him. The other had to do with the lie about the necessesity of those bailouts at the end of his administration.

  7. jon baker Says:

    Ha!, I propose that when some leftist says “Real Islam is peaceful” then point out they are agreeing with GW Bush!

  8. Jim Packard Says:

    Ob**tard could be a Muslim, but he doesn’t need to be for all this to make sense. Ever been to a “progressive” forum like DailyKos or Common Dreams or the Grauniad’s Comment Is Free? Okay, I know you don’t have your mind bleach handy, so I’ll tell you how it is: On everything discussion of Israel, without exception, both the article and even more so the comments are in perfect synchronism with the thoughts and sentiments of your average Hamas or Al Qaeda member.

    So, while he could be a Muslim, being a Marxist is enough for him to say things that sound like a Muslim. Deal with it: The two are on the same side in this war.

    Jim Packard (formerly a.k.a. Conservigilant on

  9. John Says:

    “Despite 9/11, many of us were still comparatively naive back then about what the radical jihadists wanted and what outrages they were prepared to perpetrate to get there.”

    There was a documentary made several years ago, Beneath The Veil.

    You may have seen it already but if not here is a link:

    Beneath The Veil

    Watch Free Documentary Online

    I’ve never understood those on the left or the right or the middle who choose to ignore the fact that radical Islam is waging war on civilization.

    I’ve never understood their willingness to forgive and forget what they did on 9/11.

  10. rickl Says:

    The “loss” of Daniel Pearl. He makes it sound like he was killed in an auto accident.

    During the 2008 election campaign, I had no doubt whatsoever that Obama was a Marxist. That alone should have disqualified him from holding elective office.

    But I drew the line at the charges that he was a closet Muslim. While I was aware of his childhood in Indonesia, that just sounded too tinfoil-hattish to me. Besides, I reasoned, his belief in Marxism should have trumped any religious belief, including Islam.

    I was wrong. Whether or not he is a practicing Muslim, he is clearly a Muslim sympathizer, which makes him an enemy of the United States.

  11. rickl Says:

    It just occurred to me that maybe he has been able to synthesize the tenets of Islam and Marxism in his own mind. After all, there are many Christian churches that preach “liberation theology”, which is just Christian-flavored Marxism. And there have been a number of threads right here on this blog exploring how many Jews have been seduced by the same kind of thinking.

  12. Perfected democrat Says:

    “To be fair, Former President Bush’s oft repeated lie ‘”Islam is the religion of Peace” was one of two things the left readily believed from him.”

    Nobody “really” believed it, even the completely ignorant would have intuitively recognized that it was stated with an invisible wink; everybody always knew it’s just pathetic pc “diplomacy”. The left only play into it while they can use it for their own insidious long-term agenda.

  13. Perfected democrat Says:

    Should have read: “… pathetic, GROVELING pc “diplomacy”.”…

  14. Dan D Says:

    Of course Obama does not respect the press. The press has not acted in ways that those who deserve respect generally act. All the fluttery sucking up and covering up is similar to the too-eager suitor. The cagey damsel pushes the suitor to act ever more foolish and needy, and she responds with contempt. No, the media have not earned respect, and Obama is not about to give them any.

    And yes, his absurd comments on Daniel Pearl were absolutely disgraceful and have removed the benefit of doubt that I have to date extended to the President. Now I hold him in the same contempt that he apparently holds what we used to call civilized norms.

  15. baldilocks Says:

    rickl: I was the same as you. And I was wrong as well.

  16. Occam's Beard Says:

    No idea whether he’s still a Muslim or not, but I was referring to his name. Anyone named after Buraq – the mythical creature that bore Mohammed from Mecca to Jerusalem and back in one night – and Hussein who isn’t a Muslim is definitely owed change back.

    It’d be like someone named Mary Magdalene O’Toole claiming she was born a Muslim, and had always been one. No sale. On its face, it’s laughable.

    In Buraq’s case, he’s implicitly asking us to believe that not one but two Muslims were perfectly happy to raise male children in their houses in some other religion than Islam. If true, Buraq should definitely buy lottery tickets, because he hit the only two Muslim free-thinkers on the planet.

  17. Ilíon Says:

    Capturing the imagination rather implies approval, doesn’t it?

  18. waltj Says:

    I’m speculating that BHO might have received some instruction in Islam, particularly from his stepfather, but how much is an open question. His natural father was a Marxist who was unlikely to spend much of his time on religion of any type. But I can tell you that here in Indonesia, there are plenty of Muslims who pay only lip service to Islam, others who follow some of its teachings while ignoring others, and others who are all-out fanatics. Where Lolo Soetoro fell on that continuum, and what he passed along to his stepson, is something I have seen adequately addressed. What a surprise.

  19. waltj Says:

    oops…I haven’t seen adequately addressed…

  20. SteveH Says:

    The jihadist couldn’t have cared less if Daniel Pearle were a banker, baker or candlestick maker. He was a prominent American and a jew whose beheading would get notice and invoke terror.

    And this President has the audacity to make this man’s gruesome death into his own pie in the sky noble cause, claiming to save the world’s free press?

    People not outraged by now about this President don’t have an ounce of human decency left in them.

  21. will Says:

    Fox News has a poll this morning asking readers to identify the greatest threat to America. It offers the Taliban, Al Qaeda etc. I choose the “other” option and filled in that, of course, Obama is now the greatest threat to America. The list of shenanigans continues to grow. One of the latest examples being his standing with the President of a notoriously corrupt and dangerous country and berating an America state (one he has sworn to defend) for implementing pro-active laws to deal with serious problems. His dancing around and mincing of words regarding Pearl’s execution comes as no real surprise to me now. One only has to look at the culture he’s surrounded himself with to see how that could be. Jackson, Sharpton, the Panthers and others too numerous to mention make no attempt to hide the virulent anti-Semitism. His contempt for anything other than a compliant press is no longer alarming either. Mugabe won’t tolerate any lip from smart-ass reporters, and he won’t deal with it either. As for the “religion” aspect, whats the real difference between Rev. Wright and the blind sheik?

  22. waltj Says:

    …whats the real difference between Rev. Wright and the blind sheik?

    One knows he’s blind but thinks he can see, the other can see, but doesn’t realize how blind he really is.

  23. Artfldgr Says:

    Freedom to say what you want on the radio? 🙂

    Invasion USA (1952)

  24. JBalconi Says:

    “captured the world’s imagination”

    This is the part that really shows his disconnect, doesn’t it? It DIDN’T capture the imagination. Rather, it shoved reality into the faces of any daydreamers who still thought that certain people could be reasoned with.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    SteveH: making Pearl’s death part of the free press cause doesn’t bother me; it’s the speech itself, and what Obama chose to emphasize and what he left out, plus his tone. As far as the cause itself goes, the act was named for Pearl, and family members were present at the ceremony. It was done with the consent of the family, but it wasn’t their idea (I may write a post about this, come to think of it).

  26. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    OB and rickl, I still hold with the full narcissism of the “I’m both” idea. He sees himself as the Kwisatz Haderach, uniting Muslim and Christian, black and white, elite and colonial. He unifies these seeming oppositions in his one magnificent personality, able to see all sides and bring them into harmony merely by sitting and talking with them.

  27. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Grimly, but not without its own humor, he is also able to unify true marxism with the fuzzy feelgood liberalism of the elites; to protect both aristocratic statism as well as freedom for the Right People; and the starry-eyed idealism of the hippie with the practicality of a mafia don.

  28. Standing Pat Says:

    President Obama said:

    Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.

    Oh yeah. It sure captured the Muslim world’s imagination. One of their heroes killing a Jew on video. Great. Daniel Pearl made sure the world knew he was an American Jew. God bless him. But you can be sure there were Muslims celebrating his murder in the same way as the Palestinians celebrated 9/11. Lots of whooping and hollering “Allahu Akbar” as they fired their AK 47′s into the air. Just like that disturbed Major at Fort Hood.

    It hardly captured the West’s imagination because the media treated it like a routine murder. Media mavens lacked sufficient empathy to understand that, had they had Danial Pearl’s courage in pursuing a story, they could have died just as brutally.

    Just how does the brutal murder of an American Jewish reporter at the hands of Muslim fanatics “remind[ed] us of how valuable a free press is”? It doesn’t. Mr. President, that is a non sequitur. It does not follow that Muslim fanatics killing Daniel Pearl should remind us of the “value of a free press”, just as it does not follow that Muslim fanatics killing 3000 Americans on 9/11/2001, reminds us of the “value of a free press”.

    What it does remind us of is the fact that, amongst the billion Muslims in this world, millions of them want to slaughter us, and too many of the rest want to cheer them on. Well, maybe not all of us. You might get an exemption because your father was a Muslim, which, according to the laws of Islam, makes you a Muslim. Heck, you even said “My Muslim faith” on TV. But the rest of us, especially the Jews, gays, atheists, agnostics and cross-dressers, are out of luck if we ever fall prey to one of those Muslims predisposed to holler “Allahu Akbar”.

    Presidents are supposed to be careful in what they say. If President Obama was being careful in his words, then God help America, for we have elected a moral monster.

  29. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Obama managed to get through the entire occasion without saying that Pearl was killed, much less that he was murdered.

    Spot on, Neo!

    It’s enough to make one long for a President who, like Teddy Roosevelt, would respond to an American kidnapped overseas by demanding the hostage back, alive — or his captors, dead.

  30. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    It doesn’t “remind us of the value of a free press.” It reminds us of the value of American lives. Had this American Jew been a doctor, a soldier, or a diplomat it would have been the same to his captors.

    This is an excellent example of the superficial thinking that goes into liberal ideas. There is a nearby narrative that they can dress this up in, so they grab it. Then they put their real energy into selling their ideas and implementing them.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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