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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Three Stories Loosely Bound

Three books came to mind yesterday as I did some daily reading. They are somewhat related in subject matter.

The first was an obituary of a 93 year old woman from Yoakum, Texas. She was well known in Republican women circles as a driving force in the establishment of the Republican party in Texas, certainly here in the Houston area. She had a big life.

Marjorie Meyer Arsht was born in Yoakum Texas to parents determined to encourage their daughter to taken advantage of all available educational opportunities. She graduated from Rice Institute, now Rice University, Phi Beta Kappa at the age of 18. She studied at The Sorbonne, she earned a Masters of Art in French from Columbia University at the age of 20. And, then at the age of 84, in 1996, she enrolled in continuing education studies through Rice University's Advanced Novel Writing Program. She then wrote and published her memoir at the age of 90, "All the Way from Yoakum: The Personal Journey of a Political Insider." I read and enjoyed her story. I was lucky to attend one of her book signings and meet her. I also wrote a book review for an Internet magazine, for which I sometimes contribute, on it. She was quite a woman.

She was Jewish, born at a time when Jewish families in her part of the state were scarce. She was a past president of her Temple Beth Israel's Sisterhood and she also served as the national spokeswoman for the American Council of Judaism. She was a teacher, a licensed real estate agent, President of the Arsht Company, which was an energy development company started by her husband. Just a slice of her accomplishments.

In today's WSJ.com, a commentary is published that was written by Judea Pearl, father of Danny Pearl. Danny Pearl, you will remember, was the Wall Street Journal reporter and bureau chief in Pakistan who was murdered, beheaded, by al Qaeda. This week is the sixth anniversary of that tragic, unthinkable, act of IslamoFaciscts. Pearl did not deny that he was a Jew and he bravely tracked down stories in the region of terrorism. "The shocking element in Danny's murder was that he was killed, not for what he wrote or planned to write, but for what he represented - America, modernity, openness, pluralism, curiosity, dialogue, fairness, objectivity, freedom of inquiry, truth and respect for all people. In short, each and every one of us was targeted in Karachi in January of 2002."

"It was through Danny's face that people came to grasp the depth of cruelty and inhumanity into which this planet of ours has been allowed to sink in the past two decades. His murder proved that 9/11 was not an isolated event, and helped resurrect the age-old ideas of right and wrong, good and evil. Moral relativism died with Daniel Pearl in January 2002."

He wrote of the current state of journalism, the press and the media, as they no longer simply gather information and report. Today's journalism is agenda-driven and deliberately polarizing. He reminded the reader of CNN's own admission that in 2003, they concealed information about the Iraqi regime in order to keep open their office in Baghdad.

"...to distinguish true from false journalism, just choose any newspaper or TV channel and ask yourself when was the last time it ran a picture of a child, a grandmother or any empathy-evoking scene from the "other side"of a conflict. I propose this simple test as the "Daniel Pearl standard of responsible journalism." "Anyone who reads Danny's stories today, and examines the way he reported the human story behind the news, would agree that adopting the proposed standard fro the profession would be a fitting tribute to his legacy."

Danny Pearl's widow, Mariane, wrote and published A Mighty Heart, their story.

And last. A little news blurb I read in the American Thinker by Clarice Feldman. "Laurie Mylroie critiques the 60 Minutes interview with Saddam's interrogator Piro, reminds the memory challenged of facts which contradict Saddam's self-serving explanation of what happened to Iraq's WMDs and concludes: Ronald Kessler also interviewed Piro, and Kessler's latest book, The Terrorist Watch, includes three important points absent from the 60 Minutes interview. First, "Saddam was very smart -- a lot smarter than we gave him credit for in the West," Piro told Kessler. Second, "after Desert Storm, Saddam considered himself to be a war with the United States," Piro explained. Finally, Saddam's foremost concern was his legacy. Before OIF began, Saddam was offered a comfortable exile in Saudi Arabia, but Saddam told Piro, "he cared more about what people would think of him in five hundred or a thousand years than they did that day."

A little agenda driving by 60 Minutes perhaps?

"These observations knock down two views embraced by Middle East experts after the 1991 war that helped buttress Bill Clinton's do-nothing policy toward Iraq. Taken together, Piro's three observations suggest that sometime in the future, when Operation Iraqi Freedom is no longer a political football, Americans will likely learn that Saddam was indeed a major threat and that he was not idle in the 12 years between the end of the 1991 war and the start of the second war."

Laurie Mylroie was a foreign policy advisor to Bill Clinton and left her position when she realized Clinton was not serious about foreign policy or national security. She wrote an interesting book, largely ignored by the media because Clinton was in office and he was their guy.

History will look favorably at Ms. Mylroie and President Bush, both.

6 comments:

Frasypoo said...

Hi Karen
Daniel Pearls death affected me immensely.I guess it was the thought of an innocent beheaded for no reason and maybe it was the first time I realised how radical Islam can be.It still makes me so mad.

Layla said...

These things that happen at the hands of terror-well no words for them except one, evil. They are all so sad and tragic, but Daniel Pearls I think was one of the most horribile.

I hope history does favor Bush kindly because at the rate he is going of late, I doubt it now.

Beverly said...

Thank you for your post today, Karen. Thank you for keeping before us these images that most never think about.

God help us in the days ahead.

Incognito said...

I can't believe it's been 6 years already!! and, sadly, nothing has changed.. they're still blowing each other to pieces...

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

incognito,

Change is happening. But after 30-some years of being under the thumbnails of Saddam, it has to be given time. Six years is NOTHING for the kind of change we are looking for. It took me 6 years to do my undergraduate work; in six years, and with outside forces working to sabotage the reconstruction and reconciliation efforts, what can you expect? Also, I think we are in an overall conflict that might stretch generations. It's not President Bush's fault that we are in the war we find ourselves in. It's not his fault that it can't all end nice and tidy like, under his watch. There's no expiration date on wars. They end when it's time for them to end, and not one day sooner.

I hope history does favor Bush kindly because at the rate he is going of late, I doubt it now.

I have absolute confidence that decades from now, history will vindicate him.

Janie said...

great post, Karen....hopefully soon i'll be able to come by more often...