The executive branch’s response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has been very troublesome. To me, this is a test of what this country stands for.

In 2010, both houses of Congress overwhelmingly supported passage of the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which mandated “identification of countries where violations of freedom of the press have occurred, and ensure the prosecution of violators who attack or harm journalists.”

Article 19, a British nongovernmental organization, posted a recent report that noted “freedom of expression has been in decline for 10 years and this demise has accelerated significantly in the past 3 years.”

Specifically, 78 journalists were killed last year and 326 were imprisoned. The report said “the intention is to silence journalists and create a climate of fear that discourages others from speaking out.”

Khashoggi was aware of that trend and wrote in The Washington Post:

“It was painful for me several years ago when several friends were arrested. I said nothing. I didn’t want to lose my job or my freedom. I worried about my family. 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.”

Khashoggi embodied the words of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird”:

“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

Both basic decency and the Daniel Pearl Act mandate a strong U.S. response to the horrendous murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Thus far, that has not occurred.

Richard H. Gross

Oak Marsh Drive

Mount Pleasant