The shame of the left
The death of 22 year-old Otto Warmbier shortly after his release after a nearly two years in the custody of North Korea's despots is a very sad end to a harrowing story.
But as with all such stories, it seems, there are those who could not resist blaming the victim. As Reason Magazine's Nick Gillespie reminds us:
A bit over a year ago, as Warmbier's sentence hit the news, some media outlets used it as a teachable moment, though the exact point was never all that clear. On Comedy Central's The Nightly Show, host Larry Wilmore opined that the lesson was "Frat Bro Privilege not valid in totalitarian dystopias."
"North Korea isn't a playground for college pranks, Kim Jong-un isn't a fictional character from a Seth Rogen movie, and Pyongyang isn't some game you play with Coors Light and Solo cups... It's just tough for me to have much sympathy for this guy and his crocodile tears."
Ebony magazine took things farther, insisting that the takeaway was not about frat-bro privilege but "white privilege." In a story reprinted from the site Kinfolk Kollective, the author LaSha argued:
I'm willing to bet my last dollar that he was aware of the political climate in that country, but privilege is a hell of a drug. The high of privilege told him that North Korea's history of making examples out of American citizens who dare challenge their rigid legal system in any way was no match for his alabaster American privilege. When you can watch a white man who entered a theatre and killed a dozen people come out unscathed, you start to believe you're invincible. When you see a white man taken to Burger King in a bulletproof vest after he killed nine people in a church, you learn that the world will always protect you....
What a mind-blowing moment it must be to realize after 21 years of being pedestaled by the world simply because your DNA coding produced the favorable phenotype that such favor is not absolute. What a bummer to realize that even the State Department with all its influence and power cannot assure your pardon. What a wake-up call it is to realize that your tears are met with indifference.
As I've said, living 15 years performing manual labor in North Korea is unimaginable, but so is going to a place I know I'm unwelcome and violating their laws.
There can be no question that North Korea is, and for seven decades has been, a sadistic police state. Its jailers brutalized Warmbier, and only released him when he was near death. That some in this country chose to see his captivity as a case of white privilege run amok, or frat boy hijinks gone bad says a great deal about their own moral depravity.
George Bush was right when he put North Korea on the list of evil regimes in the world. They remain firmly planted on that list today. The sad, and worrying, thing, is there are those in this country who would equate North Korea's ongoing horror show with affairs in this country.
We would say "shame on them," but shame, not to mention empathy, is a concept the Larry Wilmore's of the world cannot understand.