“The Man who spoke out. “
The Economist featured an obituary upon the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudi government. They entitled it “The man who spoke out.” and noted the price free men sometimes are forced to pay for their choice to speak truth to power. This diary attempts to honor his bravery while calling into question those who make the choice to enable evil and imperil freedom.
“I have made a different choice now. I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot. I want you to know that Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better.”
–Jamal Khashoggi, September 17, 2017
On Tuesday, November 21, when asked by a WH reporter his thoughts on who may be the Times “Person of the Year” the Narcissist-in-Chief responded:
“I don’t know, that is up to Time magazine… (but) I can’t imagine anybody else other than Trump, can you imagine anybody else other than Trump?”
This is the same day that the person who often talks about himself in the third person couldn’t be sure whether Mohammed bin Salman, MBS for short, had lured, tortured, and ordered killed Khashoggi despite mounting evidence bolstered by his own CIA assessment that the Saudi prince was complicit. Using non-denial denials as fog, Trump concluded that he could not conclude because the Saudi King had issued him a “vehement” denial. That was a bridge too far for this president. After all, liars lie and all that, who questions a vehement denial from a perp?
“[It] could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
–Donald Trump, November 21, 2018
The man who would be Time Magazine “Person of the Year” was having difficulty proving himself either believable or human.
In response to the President’s humility-light self-promotion, I offer the following suggestion to the Time editors. This is the year in which an unprecedented attack on American institutions have been waged by a president and his party. The point of their spear has been aimed at the free press. Trump has called them the enemy of the people on many occasions. Jamal Khashoggi, as a representative of the free press throughout the world, is a mirror reflecting a president’s and a prince’s autocratic bent.
Khashoggi’s torture and death at the hands of Mohammed bin Salman make him an appropriate candidate for the posthumous Time recognition. It is also fitting as a warning to Americans who support Donald Trump’s presidency as if it encompassed something more relevant than imagined grievances. Jamal Khashoggi was the spokesman for the cause of modernity. A free and unfettered press, established in the very first amendment to the American Constitution,
is the political equivalent of the discovery of fire—it marks a point of demarcation separating the political doctrines of subjugation and self-rule— feudalism and modernity. The Saudi Kingdom is now an anachronism and its treatment of a modern man who pointed that out only proves its obsolescence and inevitable demise.
One of Khashoggi’s final columns in the Washington Post gives us pause to consider the gifts our political system has bestowed upon us and the plight human beings in less enlightened systems must endure. It is frightening to contemplate the attacks on our institutions and freedoms that have been lodged by the president who thinks himself a prince. The realization that we are only a presidential election apart from the darkness of political gulags like Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China is frighteningly more apparent now. Donald Trump has shown us how precious and fragile our democracy is—how vulnerable it is to the vagaries of the political winds that swirl around us. Donald Trump does not deserve any further recognition for the instability his ruinous reign has fashioned. He deserves no cover. Khashoggi reminds us of what we Americans have placed in jeopardy by electing the village idiot to represent our nation:
“Is there no other way for us? Must we choose between movie theaters and our rights as citizens to speak out, whether in support of, or critical of, our government’s actions? Do we only voice glowing references to our leader’s decisions, his vision of our future, in exchange for the right to live and travel freely — for ourselves and our wives, husbands and children too? I have been told that I need to accept, with gratitude, the social reforms that I have long called for while keeping silent on other matters — ranging from the Yemen quagmire, hastily executed economic reforms, the blockade of Qatar, discussions about an alliance with Israel to counter Iran, and last year’s imprisonment of dozens of Saudi intellectuals and clerics.
This is the choice I’ve woken up to each morning ever since last June, when I left Saudi Arabia for the last time after being silenced by the government for six months.“
–Jamal Khashoggi, May 21, 2018
So, in response to the man who knows neither shame nor humility, I can imagine someone more deserving –by far– than Trump for the honor bestowed annually by Time Magazine. My vote for Person of the Year is Jamal Khashoggi as an embodiment of the enlightenment and fragility of freedom, and ultimately as the voice of modernity, in a soon to be post-Trump world.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.