A Note on Jamal Khashoggi

Last week, I wrote a piece about Jamal Khashoggi, and some of the reactions took me by surprise.

My piece took it for granted that Saudi Arabia was wrong to kill an innocent man and then cover up what they did. Khashoggi was a Saudi national, but an American resident, and a journalist. I thought we could all agree that sending 15 government agents to murder him was, unequivocally, a bad thing.

But not everyone agrees on that – which I learned when I got some comments calling Khashoggi a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a Palestinian sympathizer. This wasn’t just one or two comments mentioning Khashoggi’s political leanings…some of them said there was no evidence that Saudi Arabia killed him, and many said the United States should not react to this in any way at all.

For the record, Khashoggi did publicly support Palestine. Was he a member of the Muslim Brotherhood? I don’t know, and I’m not going to look it up, because I do not care.

If you are fine with Khashoggi’s murder because he had political opinions you don’t like, you are no better than the Saudis. What does it matter if he dies, his views are all wrong! That is the logic of the murderers.

The victim’s politics might be totally wrong, but they don’t justify sending 15 government agents to attack him, torture him, and saw his body into pieces. The crime itself is so grisly, I was shocked that anyone could bring themselves to look the other way. We cannot be a country that bases our sympathy for murder victims on the victims’ political opinions.

The Saudis want you to be complacent. They want our country to take no action at all. If the al-Saud family can get away with this, what else will they try? Who else will they kill?

Khashoggi isn’t the only one who sought reform in Saudi Arabia. In fact, the Saudi government may execute 2 more would-be reformers by the end of this month. One of them, Israa al-Ghomgham, has been jailed for filming a peaceful demonstration. She would be the first female human rights advocate executed by the Saudi regime. That’s not the kind of history she wanted to make.

If the global community writes off Khashoggi’s murder as an unfortunate side note, or simply the cost of doing business with a very wealthy regime, the Saudis will only become more ruthless.

If you want to ignore Khashoggi’s murder, not only do you fail to understand Saudi Arabia – you fail to understand America, too.

As Americans, we should all know that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, no matter who they are or what they believe. Civilized countries tolerate disagreement. Uncivilized ones don’t.

I hope you’ll keep talking about Khashoggi and keep asking what your elected officials will do to hold Saudi Arabia accountable.

Thanks for reading.

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