Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Moral Relativism Died With Daniel Pearl

Judea Pearl, the father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, has a powerful essay up today at the Guardian. Pearl argues against the moral relativism of "The Mighty Heart," the Angelina Jolie motion picture which tells the story of the younger Pearl's life and murder.

The film draws comparisons between the murderous al Qaeda henchmen who killed Daniel Pearl and American detention policies at Guantanamo:

Drawing a comparison between Danny's murder and the detention of suspects in Guantánamo is precisely what the killers wanted, as expressed in both their emails and the murder video. Indeed, following an advance screening of A Mighty Heart in Los Angeles, a representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said: "We need to end the culture of bombs, torture, occupation, and violence. This is the message to take from the film."

Yet the message that angry youngsters are hearing from such blanket generalisation is predictable: all forms of violence are equally evil; therefore, as long as one persists, others should not be ruled out. This is precisely the logic used by Mohammed Siddique Khan, one of the London suicide bombers, in his video. "Your democratically elected government," he told his fellow Britons, "continues to perpetrate atrocities against my people ... [We] will not stop."

Danny's tragedy demands an end to this logic. There can be no comparison between those who take pride in the killing of an unarmed journalist and those who vow to end such acts. Moral relativism died with Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, on January 31 2002.

My son had the courage to examine all sides. He was a genuine listener and a champion of dialogue. Yet he also had principles and red lines. He was tolerant but not mindlessly so. I hope viewers of A Mighty Heart will remember this.

Melanie Phillips has a post up on this story on her page, where she notes:

The doctrine of moral equivalence, the default position of the secular west, is the core reason why the west is losing the battle to defend itself against the terrorist and cultural jihad. Equivalence is actually a misleading word in this context, since the notion that violence begets violence and both are equally culpable is not just noxious in itself by failing to acknowledge the moral difference between an act of aggression and an act of self-defence against that aggression; it immediately morphs into a justification of that original act of aggression. It is therefore not only amoral but suicidal. And yet it is the knee-jerk posture of so many western intellectuals and media darlings.

I have not seen the film, although I plan to do so, out of respect for the Pearl family, and despite my disgust of the moral relativism of other recent movies I've seen, like "Letters From Iwo Jima."

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