February 24 2014
The Banality of Samantha Power
Daniel Pearl was the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and beheaded by a jihadist group in Pakistan in 2002. Pearl was held in captivity nine days before his throat was slit on camera. Former New York Mayor Ed Koch chose moving words that Pearl uttered in his last moments for his own tombstone:
My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.
So along comes Ambassador Samantha Power, the U.S. representative to the United Nations, who on Sunday delivered the annual Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA. The event was co-sponsored by the Daniel Pearl Foundation. It would be an opportunity to say something imporant, no?
Daniel Pearl's story is reminder that individual accountability & reconciliation are required to break cycles of violence.
What—if anything—does this mean?
I think I saw somebody say recently that murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un should be “held accountable” for conditions in his hellish nation. That's about the level of Ms. Power's tweet. The mind reels that this platitude is all that Ms. Power can come up with.
Some interpreted Ms. Power’s tweet as blaming Pearl for his death. I don’t think that. I think that she was just mouthing a banality. Power seems to believe that Pearl’s death was the result of a “cycle of violence.” Cycle of violence rhetoric is often used to claim moral equivalence between two opponents—in this case, as Ed Morrissey notes, possibly between Pearl’s butchers and those who oppose such butchery. Cycles of violence talk helps people get off the hook: no assigning blame. It's the cycle of violence. I'm still trying to parse what Ms. Power means by "individual responsibility" in the context of a beheading.
Power has issued a statement that what she meant to say is that the mission of the Daniel Pearl Foundation is “a reminder that individual accountability [is] required to break cycles of violence.”
I don’t know what this means either.
John Hinderaker is as baffled as I am about what Power was saying:
I saw this on Twitter late last night and pondered it for a while. What is it supposed to mean? I have no clue. Power refers to “individual accountability.” If by that she means tracking down and killing the people who slit Daniel Pearl’s throat, I am with her all the way. But somehow, I don’t think that is the accountability she has in mind. …
What cycles of violence is Daniel Pearl’s murder a “reminder” of? Is Power suggesting that Pearl’s murder was carried out in retaliation against prior killings of al Qaeda terrorists by Wall Street Journal reporters? I don’t think so…but what “cycles of violence” she associates with Pearl’s beheading at the hands of terrorists, I can’t imagine. …
I think Samantha Power–who among fans of the Obama administration is considered a deep thinker!–suffers from the muddle-headedness that typifies most liberals. She can’t face the truth, which is that radical Muslims are an existential threat to civilization and freedom, with whom we can never be reconciled. So in lieu of truth, she emits platitudes about “cycles of violence” and so on. The sad reality is that her boss, Barack Obama, who has appointed her to a series of high-profile foreign policy positions, has just as incoherent a view of the world as she does.
It should be no surprise that Americans are beginning to recognize that President Obama, who has peopled his administration with such giant intellects as Ms. Power, is not respected in the world.