Watching “Kingdom of Silence” in October 2020
The searing Showtime documentary about Jamal Kashoggi’s murder, Kingdom of Silence, and the United States-Saudi Arabia relationship, brought me back to the first weeks of his reported disappearance
“But I have also been reading a lot about a man I didn’t know, Jamal Khashoggi, who appears tragically to have been murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. His fiancée was waiting for him outside. Jamal was a friend to a number of my friends, though I didn’t know until they started posting on social media that he had gone missing.
Who was Jamal? I will answer only with the barest facts: He was a writer and journalist who grew up in close proximity to the Saudi royal family.In recent years, he had been critical of illiberal policies of the new Saudi Crown Prince and taken up permanent residency in the United States.
Now the news is reporting Turkish intelligence has audio and video evidence of Jamal being interrogated, tortured, killed, and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
If these reports are true, the brazenness of the crime, carried out by the government of a U.S. ally on the soil of another U.S. ally, is a new sign of frightening decay in a world order America helped build over generations.
I will be the first to acknowledge that even the rosy-looking past was a complicated, dangerous place full of impossible and morally unsatisfying choices. But if the United States does not return to leadership on behalf of universal human rights, things will continue to grow more and more dangerous abroad and at home.
This one data point, one life snuffed out for the courage of free thought… reminds me of the higher purposes our country has stood for in the past, the life or death implications of the choices we and our leaders make — and the contributions brave writers, reporters, artists, and intellectuals make to our societies.
It’s why I hope we will elect leaders whose hearts and heads are in the right place, and who are ready to lend their shoulders to the wheel.”
Upon listening to the audio recording of Jamal’s final minutes, played in the documentary, one cannot help but recoil in horror and psychic pain.
We are mere weeks away from the U.S. presidential election where the incumbent, who vacillated in the face of Kashoggi’s murder the same way he vacillated in the face of the white supremacists marching on Charlottesville, VA, seeks another term. The American people at the ballot box should show no such infirmity.