It's only been a few months since Daniel Pearl, the chief of the Wall Street Journal's South Asia bureau, was kidnapped and murdered by a group of Islamic extremists grandiosely calling themselves the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. Even in a world that is sadly no stranger to brutality, the details of Pearl's execution were gruesome beyond belief: After being beaten, he was forced to confess to various crimeschief among them was that he was Jewishand to issue pro forma denunciations of Israel and the United States. Then his captors slit his throat, decapitated him, and dangled his head in front of a video camera. Pearl's murder formed the centerpiece of a video that aired the group's demands to the West.
The murder was met with universal outrage in the Westand censure even in much of the Islamic world. Yet the question of how to respond both to Pearl's murder and to the video recording it, which is available online, has sparked heated debate. Against the objections of Pearl's parents, his pregnant widow, the Journal, and the FBI, CBS news chose to air a portion of the tape. The Boston Phoenix, The New Republic, and my own publication, Reason, not only told readers where they could find the uncensored footage but advised them to have a look. As The New Republic put it, "Why should Americans not see the actual savagery of some of our actual adversaries?"
While the editors of the Journal argued against airing the death video, they nonetheless wanted to make sure that people understood the true import of their slain colleague's life and death. The result is At Home in the World, a collection of some of Pearl's work for the Journal; the anthology also includes reminiscences by ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more