It’s been over a month since I wrote about the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter and father-to-be Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. As it happens, it’s been a month of considerable personal trauma for me and for the Institute, but far, far less than what has befallen Daniel Pearl, may he rest in peace.
As the world now knows, Daniel Pearl was murdered by his kidnappers, brutally decapitated in what has become one of the most talked-about snuff films in the current War on Terror.
Of course, his execution was always a possibility once he was captured by men whose aim seems to have been to “guard” certain parts of Pakistan from investigative reporters (my personal correspondence with esteemed Pakistani journalist Saqlain Imam demonstrates just how dangerous it is to be a journalist in Pakistan right now). They also seem to have wanted to make the point that whatever America could do to our prisoners at Guantànamo Bay, they could do the same and worse.
Ah yes, the Orange Men. I was appalled at our well-publicized treatment of these prisoners-of-war whom we, at first, refused to even recognize as prisoners-of-war. My dismay was not so much because I felt sorry for the prisoners themselves (even their own PR portrays them as violent, authoritarian, mysogynistic cretins); as because I was revolted by our behavior, as well as by our pornographic portrayal of our treatment of these Osama Stand-Ins. And given this S&M spectacle, I was terribly afraid of what the experts call “blowback” in terms of how American citizens abroad might be treated if they were kidnapped, as they so often are, by enemy sympathizers.
Then, just a couple of days later, Daniel Pearl was kidnapped by enemy sympathizers. It was too, too freaky. The photos of him looked frightening. Realizing that they were actually no worse than the photos of our prisoners in Guantànamo Bay made them even more frightening.
Of course, Daniel Pearl was not a fighter; he was a reporter. And in the end, he wasn’t simply tortured, he was killed. Such are the ways of the New World Disorder.
“Daniel Pearl was a highly cultured man and a talented journalist,” recalls colleague David North of the World Socialist Website. “His writings exemplified the schizophrenic character of the Wall Street Journal, where the reactionary frothings of the editorial board are regularly contradicted by the conscientious dispatches of the newspaper’s best reporters.”
We don’t know whether his captors killed him because of his feisty reporting, his religion (Jewish) or his nationality (American). We are not even certain as to just who his killers are, and how closely related they are to al-Qaeda, the Taliban or to Pakistani Intelligence and the CIA. The actual identity of his murderers is turning out to be another great mystery of the Terror Wars, though Islamist militants Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Sheikh Mohammed Adeel are prime suspects.
Ironically enough, now the prisoners at Guantànamo Bay have Geneva prisoner-of-war rights; at least some of them do. I wasn’t the only one questioning the sadistic treatment of those Orange Men. “The Photo” and the PR disaster that accompanied it, were just too, too terrible for President Pretzel-Swallower, Rummy and Ayatollah Asscraft to hold firm. Now the international uproar over American torture has died down a bit.
But it all happened a little too late for poor, brave, handsome Daniel Pearl. He was a tragic casualty of the War on Terror. I never met the man, but I admire his work, I melt under the gaze of his warm, dark eyes, and I mourn him with all my heart. I know that I am one of many around the world who feel the same way. Daniel Pearl was a freedom fighter who fought with a pen not a sword. His murder reminds me of the importance of fighting violence–as well as religious, national and ethnic stereotypes– everywhere.
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Dr. Susan Block is a sex educator, host of the Dr. Susan Block radio show, and author of The 10 Commandments of Pleasure. Visit her website at: http://www.drsusanblock.com/