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February 23, 2002

Killed on the job

By Kaishi Lee

My eye is crying all the time
Until my eye gets sick.
My eyes. My eyes.
This is my fate
I have to wait for it.
I can't do anything about it.

-- The lead in Daniel Pearl’s May 14, 1996 article, These Songs Bring Tears To Your Eyes, or Worse.

They say a picture tells a thousand words.

Head bent, hands cuffed and a 9-mm pistol held menacingly at his head, Daniel Pearl’s bone-chilling pictures told more. They told of a man who was a husband, son, father-to-be and, most importantly, a respected journalist killed on the job.

And more … a child of Israeli immigrants, a Stanford student, a late-night music host for the campus radio station, a rookie reporter who worked his way up from domestic beats to international assignments.

His bleary eyes showed desperation and a faint glimmer of hope. His cool head and innate charm couldn’t rescue him after being kidnapped on January 23 in Karachi , Pakistan .

Even when Marianne Pearl pleaded with her husband’s kidnappers in a televised interview, there was no news, except stories that his body had been dumped in an unspecified graveyard.

Daniel Pearl was just a pawn in a show of senseless and egoistic violence that clamored for the world’s undivided attention and got it.

The bottom line is that anti-American sentiment is still prevalent. A Palestinian survivor once said, “We hate Israel for this (the West Bank-Gaza war). But we hate America more.”

Events in the real world are often never a clear-cut black and white. 

Maybe it's just me, but I loathe hypocrisy and jingoism.

The Pearl tragedy has frisked us all, but we are finding out what we are carrying around that no one knew we had.

Some good advice to take is what the playwright August Wilson said: that whatever we do, it should be something we look back upon ten years from now with pride rather than shame.

Considering the extreme complexity and sensitivity of issues that Pearl got caught up in, there is a need, more than ever, to reach out, engage and find common ground.

The full reality is not only important, but something even many Americans have yet to understand: who we are at the end of the day is what we do and not what we say. 

Or else chalk up a small but disconcerting victory for the bad guys.

Picture courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.


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