When columnist and best-selling author Fareed Zakaria was suspended by Time magazine and CNN for plagiarizing a paragraph in an essay from The New Yorker, I feared for him. A career so brilliant could soon be snuffed out just because of one inexplicably stupid mistake. On top of that, it was possible that Yale University, where Zakaria sits on the governing board, would fire him.
Plagiarism is an offense for which students are routinely kicked out and professors are coldly shown the door.
When the Syrian opposition last year launched a pro-democracy uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, it could not have chosen a more symbolic day and place for that act of defiance.
It was on the Ides of March, the date when a famous tyrannicide was carried out in 44 BC: the assassination of Julius Caesar. The place was the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, where citizens in ancient times gathered for the defense of the city. In that vicinity is the tomb of the greatest military leader the Middle East has known, Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, Sultan of Egypt and Syria during the late 12th century, better known as Saladin.
When insult is added to decades of injury, the offense cries to heaven for vengeance. Or at least that was what many Palestinians felt when Mitt Romney recently addressed a breakfast audience of wealthy Israelis in Tel Aviv. Forty major donors added to his campaign chest, and he told them what must have been music to their ears: that it was their culture that made the Israelis more economically successful than the Palestinians.
“Culture,” said Romney, “makes all the difference.” To back up this contention, he cited the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by scientist Jared Diamond, “Guns, Germs and Steel.”