Perhaps the most serious and most dangerous problem we face is the normalization of evil. That's the title of an essay published on Feb. 3, 2009 in the Wall Street Journal by Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl, the 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter who was beheaded by Islamofascist terrorists in Pakistan.
The title of the article, "The Normalization of Terror," and its theme carry a devastating message, showing how the mainstream media, many of our leading universities, and people like Jimmy Carter and Bill Moyers have succeeded in transforming the most despicable, immoral, genocidal degenerates into a respectable category — freedom fighters, part of a resistance movement — even though they are using the most illegitimate, immoral, and illegal ends to achieve their political goals.
These are the real moral degenerates of our time, with the likes of Jimmy Carter and Bill Moyers leading the parade of evil, followed by many in our elite universities and the mainstream media. They speak in Orwellian language, turning evil into good, murder and genocide into resistance, and blowing the brains out of young children into acts of heroism. What is most disturbing about this terrible trend is that barbarism seems to be going mainstream even in America.
This is the story that Judea Pearl tells so well and so powerfully that it is a classic of the English language and a message that should be engraved on the mind and soul of every civilized person.At the end of his powerful message to establish moral clarity in a world gone mad, Mr. Pearl writes, "Danny's picture is hanging just in front of me, his warm smile as reassuring as ever. But I find it hard to look him straight in the eyes and say: You did not die in vain."
Mr. Pearl says it is now seven years after the murder of his son, and then asks, "Would Danny have believed that today's world emerged after his tragedy?
"The answer does not come easily. Danny was an optimist, a true believer in the goodness of mankind. Yet he was also a realist, and would not let idealism bend the harshness of facts.
"Neither he, nor the millions who were shocked by his murder, could have possibly predicted that seven years later his abductor, Omar Saeed Sheikh, according to several South American reports, would be planning terror acts from the safety of a Pakistani jail. Or that his murderer, Khalid Sheiky Mohammed, now in Guantanamo, would proudly boast of his murder in a military tribunal in March 2007 to the cheers of the sympathetic jihadi supporters. Or that this ideology of barbarism would be celebrated in European and American universities, fueling rally after rally for Hamas, Hezbollah and other heroes of 'the resistance.' Or that another kidnapped young man, Israeli Gilad Shalit, would spend his 950th day of captivity with no Red Cross visitation while world leaders seriously debate whether his kidnapers deserve international recognition."
Judea Pearl would have thought that the murder of his son, Danny, would actually be a turning point in man's inhumanity to man, and that the slaughter of innocents to communicate political messages would once and for all be universally condemned by civilized people and sent to the ashcan of history, where such gross barbarism is no longer tolerated, the place reserved for such atrocities as slavery, human sacrifice, and other shocking and totally discredited practices of an era long gone.
But the moral degenerates mentioned above have given these icons of evil, these most degenerate of moral degenerates, moral standing in our society and acceptance in elite circles of universities, of the media, and of political leadership. Mr. Pearl says we have reached the point where we are no longer disgusted by evil: "Civilized society, so it seems, is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil."
I am not so sure we have been numbed by violence into acceptance of evil. I don't think people like those moral degenerates Jimmy Carter and Bill Moyers are numbed by anything. That would be an excuse. They are not numbed but have placed themselves in the hands of the devil by dark prejudices of various sorts that are lodged deep in their psyches. The people I associate with have not been numbed and they can still recognize evil, be disgusted by it, and reject it. Mr. Carter and Mr. Moyers can no longer do that, but that is due to dark prejudice, not numbness.
This is the way Mr. Pearl explains the described descent into evil. He reasons that well-meaning analysts in their zeal to find creative solutions to terror decided that terror is not a real enemy but only a tactic. Thus the mechanism that drives terrorism was made to disappear and in its place we now have the more "manageable 'tactical' considerations."
Armed with that kind of reasoning, the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, in July 2005 could tell Sky News that suicide bombing is almost man's second nature: "In an unfair balance, that's what people use." So the slaughter of innocents, the blowing the brains out of babies, was suddenly transformed into human nature, an almost reflex-like inevitability with moral neutrality. It's not a choice or a moral decision, but more like breathing out and breathing in. Terrorism is magically transformed into the morally acceptable.
But our former president, Jimmy Carter, the most degenerate of the moral degenerates of our time, makes the clearest argument for terrorism and the slaughter of innocents. In his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, this is the way Mr. Carter slyly justifies terrorism with what is an appeal to suicide bombers: "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Road-map for Peace are accepted by Israel." Translation: Acts of terror are no longer taboo, but are just a legitimate means to a political end. Until you get what you want, terrorism is perfectly acceptable. Jimmy Carter, in effect says, "Keep killing women and children, and blowing up babies; as a former president of the U.S. I find your terrorism and even genocide perfectly acceptable." And a subtext of that translation: The Palestinians should continue the slaughter of innocents until Israel yields to their demands, however reasonable or unreasonable, and without regard to whether the acceptance of those demands would spell the eventual destruction of Israel. Whenever I hear of Mr. Carter's foreign policies misadventures, I wonder if there is a way to impeach an ex-president. If the answer is yes, I recommend starting with Mr. Carter.
Mr. Carter, whose ability to do evil knows no bounds, has put forth the dominant paradigm now widely used to justify, humanize and legitimize terrorism. When Syrian first lady, Asma Al-Assad, was asked what Israel should do to end rocket attacks aimed at innocent civilians, she replied, "They should end the occupation." In other words, terrorists must have their demands met before they agree to stop murdering innocents and blowing the brains out of babies.
Mr. Pearl also notes that the media, in the U.S. and abroad, have played a major role in making terrorism acceptable. Qatari-based al-Jazeera television keeps providing Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi hours of free television time to spew the murderous interpretation of the Quran, authorize suicide bombings, and call for jihad against Americans and Jews.
Don't think it can't get worse, as it always does thanks to the international media and our own mainstream media. In August 2008 came the birthday of Samir Kuntar, an unrepentant killer, who is 1979 smashed the head of a 4-year-old Israeli with his rifle after first killing her father before her eyes. (But remember, Jimmy Carter, in effect, gave him the OK to do that.) al-Jazeera elevated Mr. Kuntar to heroic heights, writes Mr. Pearl, "with orchestras, fireworks and sword dancers, presenting him to 50 million viewers as Arab society's role model. No mainstream Western media outlet dared to expose al-Jazeera efforts to warp its young viewers into the likes of Kuntar. Al Jazeera's management continues to receive royal treatment in all major press clubs."
American pundits like Bill Moyers see the world just like al-Jazeera, so they should not be surprised to find the blood of innocents dripping from their hands. Mr. Moyers, after the war in Gaza, was quick to lend Hamas legitimacy as a "resistance movement." And he resorted to the old cycle of violence, to make moral equivalence between Hamas' deliberate slaughter of innocents and the Israeli attempts at self-defense.
He said, each side greases the "cycle of violence" and one man's terrorism becomes another's resistance to oppression. Thus, whether blowing up innocents or acting in self defense, it's all the same. There is moral equivalence and neutrality; anything goes in this immoral world of Mr. Moyers, Mr. Carter and much of our mainstream media. Mr. Moyers uses this moral equivalence to indict the victims of terrorism as if they are merely actors in the endless cycle of violence.
Then Mr. Pearl turns to the universities, which he says are being manipulated into the support of terrorist and genocidal organizations like Hamas. He uses his own university, UCLA, where he is a professor of computer science, to illustrate the point. At UCLA there was a symposium on human rights, which was turned into a recruiting tool for Hamas. The director of the UCLA Center for Near East Studies selected only Israel bashers for the panel, and every member of the panel concluded Israel is the greatest criminal in human history.
Here is the way this human rights symposium turned out: " The primary purpose of the event was evident the morning after, when unsuspecting uninvolved students read an article in the campus newspaper titled, 'Scholars says: Israel is in violation of human rights in Gaza,' to which the good name of the University of California was attached. This is where Hamas scored its main triumph — another inch of academic respectability, another inroad into Western mind." For more on the sorry state of our colleges and universities read David Horowitz's classic, The Professors, and his second book on the subject, Indoctrination U.
So, as Mr. Pearl's article so artfully documents, we are losing our ability to distinguish between good and evil. We are being brainwashed into thinking that evil is good. Our media, our academics, and some of our political leaders are transforming terrorists and genocidal murdering maniacs into freedom fighters. If we lose our moral clarity, losing everything else we hold dear may not be far behind.
I have often written about the mainstream media, our academic institutions, and some of our political leaders seem to have become pro-terror and even anti-American. The Pearl essay is another classic statement of this theme. If I were editing one of those "Patriot's Handbooks," I would put Pearl's piece in it. I would recommend it for inclusion in the second edition of William Bennett's fine book, The American Patriot's Almanac.
I was struck by something else about the article. I missed it when it originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 3, 2009, the seventh anniversary of the death of Daniel Pearl. In retrospect, I thought it significant that it appeared in the Wall Street Journal, one of the few major American papers that has retained its moral clarity and that is able to distinguish between good and enable. You would not find this article in the New York Times or Philadelphia Inquirer, as they are part of the problem, the part that gives legitimacy to terror, murder and genocide.
And where did I come across the Pearl piece after missing it in the Journal? It is reprinted on Steven Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism Web site (www.investigativeproject.org). It is significant, that one of the most powerful forces in identifying and fighting terrorists and terrorism has the moral clarity to see the importance of Mr. Pearl's message, and consequently pay for the republication of the piece on its Web site. People like Steven Emerson have more moral clarity and common sense than the mainstream media put together. It is also significant that the mainstream media, which did not and probably would not publish the Pearl piece or one like it, are also that segment of America that has lost moral clarity and that has virtually become friends and advocates of terrorists and other enemies of America.
Can we fight and win the war on terror when such powerful opinion makers as the mainstream media and our elite academic institutions often seem to be on the side of terror? Can we fight and win the war on terror when political leaders such as the moral degenerate Jimmy Carter are dedicated to legitimizing terrorism, terrorists and their organizations?
Let me clarify one point, as in the course of this column I may have paid the likes of the Jimmy Carters and Bill Moyers of this land, the mainstream media, and our elite academic institutions an undue compliment. I've done that by implying they are on the same moral level as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the world's other terrorist and genocidal organizations. The compliment is undue because I said they were on the same level as the terrorist and genocidal organizations. I should make it clear they are on a lower level. They have had the advantages of living in the greatest country in the history of the world, reaping all of its limitless advantages, and enjoying its right of citizenship. Yet they turn on their own country in favor of terrorists and the other enemies of America. This puts them on an even lower plain than the terrorist organizations. They, like Jimmy Carter, are indeed among the most morally degenerate of the morally degenerate.
Perhaps this all raises an even more fundamental question: Has America lost its moral bearings? We've seen Europe lose its moral bearings, where even religion is virtually disappearing from the scene. We've seen powerful observers of the scene, such as Mark Steyn in America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, and Bat Ye'or in Eurabia, show us how Europe has pretty much surrendered to Islam and Shariah. Is that one more sign it has lost its moral bearings and doesn't even defend its values? Like Europe, are we too becoming victims of multiculturalism (all cultures are of equal value) and political correctness? When you observe the pathetic moral and verbal gyrations of the mainstream media, our academic elite, and leaders such as the moral degenerate Jimmy Carter, you tend to answer America may be far along on the road traveled by Europe.
Perhaps this suggests we better get back to fundamentals, and have less tolerance for who clearly can't distinguish between good and evil. We better start treating the likes of the mainstream media, those academic elites, and the political leader exemplified by Jimmy Carter for what they are — worse than the terrorists and genocidal maniacs we are at war with. That means no support for such political leaders, media outlets, and academic institutions where these types hold forth (such as Columbia and UCLA). If Americans don't make a stand on this issue, no one else will. If Americans don't make a stand now, America itself may be lost.
Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.