A week or two ago, Chelsea Handler, a popular television host of Chelsea Lately, political commentator, comedian, and one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2012, posted this tweet on her twitter.
In the tweet Handler suggests that we trade POTUS Donald Trump for the leader of North Korea. At first I read the tweet and though, okay well she is a comedian so they sometimes push boundaries. I figured this was totally not representative of public opinion. She was attacked for this tweet by mostly conservative media (who would likely attack her whatever she does!), but even received some flak from her democratic allies.
Then I remembered that HuffPo ran an article about Otto Warmbier, the American college student who spent 17 months in a North Korean labor camp for trying to steal a propaganda poster. When Otto was returned home he was in a coma resulting from his treatment at the hands of North Korean guards and he later died of his condition. HuffPo’s hot take on this situation was an article titled “North Korea Proves Your White Male Privilege Is Not Universal”.
The overall tone of the article is initially sympathetic to the fact that Otto was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor (oh, darn, that sucks dude), but comes off as a “well you got what was coming to you” kind of piece.
If I didn’t know any better I would say HuffPo was victim blaming the victim of cruel, degrading, and unusual punishment because of his race and sex. As someone who leans left, it was disconcerting to say the least, to see both these examples of what appears to be the left wing excusing the human rights violations of the North Korean regime. In my experience, people of liberal dispositions are in favor of individual liberties, fair treatment under the law, and generally not in favor of egregious denial of basic human dignity. Can you imagine a left-leaning commentator during WWII suggesting we trade one of our politicians for Hitler? Can you imagine if a newspaper had written a piece suggesting that a student who was arrested and taken to Auschwitz.
Of course, it isn’t quite fair to blame HuffPo for this article, as it was published on the sight via the contributor platform for opinion pieces. HuffPo indicated with regard to that article that they realized some articles would be more controversial than others, but were not interested in taking down articles they simply disagreed with. To this end, I wholeheartedly agree with HuffPo. When opinion pieces generate a lot of negative buzz, that’s when we must be the most careful that we do not suppress minority opinions.
A good example of HuffPo’s sterling record for providing a platform for dissenting opinions was when they deleted a contributor opinion piece wherein author Rene Zografos wrote “The truth is, that several European cities have huge immigration problems where even the police force is afraid to interfere in some locations in these cities. UK, France and several other European countries are changing rapidly with extreme quantity of immigration. I’m not saying immigration is only bad, but a lot of problems come with poor immigration policy, as consequences we get violence, terror and gangs.” [/sarcasm]
Then, two days ago, I stumbled upon this video by left-leaning media outlet ATTN:
I thought: Wow what a brave and harrowing story of an escape from an oppressive regime. Then I scrolled down to the comments (never read the comments).
Here we were, comments with hundreds of reactions, with dozens of top comments in agreement. This is clearly propaganda against a largely misunderstood megalomaniacal dictator! Why should I believe him when he doesn’t even have a CATTLE BRAND?!!111
Thank God there were comments in nearly equal measure calling out this kind of behavior. Nonetheless, the popularity of sentiments like those expressed above were eye-opening for me. Are we so divided that we are willing to jump to the aid of Kim Jong Un just because our tangerine god king doesn’t like him? Left-leaning people must defend the ethical and moral foundations of their movement. Where tyranny exists, it must be opposed.