Media Attending to Murder:
Reflections on the coverage of Daniel Pearl's Brutal Murder
The beheading of Mr. Pearl on camera
is a dreadfully barbaric act from our primitive pasts of hanging,
drawing and quartering, all before cheering mobs. It is truly
horrendous and a giant step backwards.
It will surely be decried as such around the world, thus setting
back the hopes so many intelligent and rational Muslims have
held for honorable accomodation with the West and peaceful reconciliation
with current enemies.
But I doubt whether this horror from the primitive
past will be compared in our major corporate media with the technological
horror of the high-tech present: strategic bombing or strategic
air power, which decapitates, dismembers, roasts, eviscerates,
buries alive not merely combatants or those who volunteer the
risk of harm's way, like journalists in hostile territory, but
the innocent in their homes, of whatever age and condition.
This is what converting countries into parking
lots means on the ground. And this is the direct purpose of strategic
bombing doctrine: demoralize the enemy so that he has nothing
left to fight for. The damage is not collateral, it is essential,
from Dresden and Hiroshima to Baghdad and Kandahar. What kind
of victory results is as varied as the times and the enemy, but
it is never neat and surgical.
Both classes of murder are barbaric, but beheading,
being primitive as well as barbaric, can only cut off one head
at a time. Nothing like the efficiency of carpet bombing.
Yet Mr. Pearl's horrid death will be singled
out as a sign of the monopoly on evil and lack of respect for
human life by those unable to wield the whirlwind of high-tech
industrial strength death-dealing.
One day perhaps we can all find less brutal
and more lastingly effective means to justice and peace. Innocent
victims are not avenged by more innocent victims. So long as
our media and politicians keep trumpeting our unique concern
for human life and loathing of violence as we extract eyes and
teeth, that day stays ever distant.