Daniel Pearl as Metaphor


The killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 was of particular importance in reinforcing this understanding of Pakistan. A Jewish-American reporter engaged in a multiethnic marriage, Pearl’s murder by Islamic militants was promoted as an iconographic instance of the clash of civilizations thesis, transposed to America’s relationship with Pakistan. The ideological tensions inherent in emphasizing Pearl as though he were the US – multicultural, liberal, interfaith – to Pakistan as uncivilized, violent, politically corrupt and religiously intolerant – ought to be clear.

Pearl represented America, and its actualization of the ideals it was promoting on the War on Terror, which Pakistan, with its tribes, its madrassas, and its fundamentalists was in conflict with. This made Pearl a martyr-equivalent to domestic neoconservatives. If Americans wanted more nuance in news coverage of the country than Pearl’s remembrance allowed, they had to seek it out from foreign news sources such as the BBC and The Guardian.

From a report I recently wrote about south Asian news coverage in the US