I first met Tony Blankley in his office at The Washington Times in August 2006, when newspaper offices were in a flux over the trans-Atlantic aircraft plot - a terrorist scheme to blow up at least 10 airliners traveling from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada.
Despite chaos raging all around him, Mr. Blankley honored the appointment he had with me and gave me his undiluted attention for 20 minutes. The professional in him did not glance even once at the clock. He listened intently as I spoke to him about the Tamil Tigers and the stranglehold terrorism had on Sri Lanka.
Tony’s erudition was apparent as he discussed the national and global consequences of terrorism. It did not take him more than a few minutes of listening to understand that Sri Lanka was fighting one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the world. Where others tried to fight for human rights of terrorists, Mr. Blankley fought for human rights of innocent civilians - specifically, their right to live.
Within weeks of our meeting came an editorial in The Times titled “Tending to Sri Lanka.” This was the first of eight editorials on Sri Lanka that appeared in The Times during the space of 12 months. On behalf of all Sri Lankans who love their country, I wish to express deep appreciation for Tony’s unwavering stance on the terrorism issue in Sri Lanka and his empathy for those who suffered at the hands of terrorists. When democracy in Sri Lanka was relentlessly challenged by terrorist attacks, he provided the much-needed supportive voice from the West.
Tony was a compassionate human being who observed, understood and accepted the foibles of erring mankind. His warm and gentle manner in interacting with fellow human beings, and the graciousness and dignity with which he carried fame and wisdom, have endeared him to so many.
Tony, we thank you for being a stalwart friend. May you rest in peace.
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'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America