From The New York Times
Editorial/Op-Ed: June 18, 2002
Death Images Hide the Truth of Danny Pearl
By Judea Pearl
LOS ANGELES - Two months before his abduction, my son, Daniel Pearl, wrote an e-mail message to us from Pakistan: "Hi! It looks pretty dicey from here - at least your papers don't run front-page photos of the corpses of journalists." Six months later, an American weekly ran photos of Danny's murder and posted video of that gruesome scene on a Web site for millions of viewers to watch. As devastating as this experience has been for us, the issue goes beyond the anguish of one family - displaying this murder undermines efforts to fight terrorism and anti-Semitism.
Daniel Pearl was not a military hero or political leader, yet millions of people worldwide have identified with his life, mission and legacy. To these people, Danny is a symbol of strength and hope. Wherever he went, Danny radiated joy, truth, friendship and genuine respect for people of all backgrounds. He personified everything that is good in our culture and none of its faults. Even the harshest critics of the West, including leaders of Hamas and noted anti-American journalists, could not find any blemish in Danny's fairness and humanity.
Thus, when they murdered Danny to humiliate the United States, the terrorists created the opposite effect - they unveiled and magnified the humanity of America and made every American feel an inch taller. In fact, they made every decent person in the world feel an inch taller. And when millions of decent people take pride in their common humanity, they can organize against seeds of evil and they can prevail. The legacy of Daniel Pearl has become a galvanizing banner in this fight.
The potential of using this banner to fight hatred and ignorance and to build new bridges has been embraced by many people and scores of organizations. The wide respect that Danny earned in his life, especially in the Middle East and South Asia, offers a unique opportunity to bring together and mobilize these communities. But to realize this opportunity fully, we need proud role models, like Danny in his life, not mutilated bodies in propaganda films.
Less-than-civilized societies have used mutilation as an instrument to empower slayers and weaken their enemies. If we assist the revival of this ancient practice and allow it to infect our media and invade our Web sites, we will be inviting more abductions and more murders. Not less important, we will be helping the enemy destroy our role models and weaken our ability to rally people for the struggle. To preserve the dignity of our champions, we should remove all terrorist-produced murder scenes from our Web sites and agree to suppress such scenes in the future.
Danny's spirit has not been defeated. In the last days of his captivity, he remained proud of his heritage and unshaken in his convictions, a man who lived by truth and compassion. Our children will be inspired by Danny's life, not his death.
Mr. Pearl is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.