There’s always some element of politics when it comes to the Olympics. This year’s winter games in South Korea were no exception.
The games were being held amid tensions between President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. The Korean peninsula is a hotbed for conflict and people wondered what role the Olympics would play.
Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence to attend the opening ceremony for the U.S. Kim decided to send his sister Kim Yo-jong to represent North Korea. What followed was liberal news outlets’ very bizarre news coverage.
CNN’s article claimed Kim’s sister was “stealing the show” with her “smile, handshake, and a warm message in South Korea presidential guest book.” The New York Times wrote she was “turning on the charm” with her “sphinx-like smile and without ever speaking in public” and managed to outflank the vice president.
For those who are curious about her position in the North Korean regime, Kim Yo-jong is the vice director of the department that publishes propaganda. It is her responsibility to make her brother appear godlike at all times and keep the population brainwashed. Last year, she was placed under American sanctions because of her efforts to censor any media that reveals the truth about the government.
Kim works for a government that, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, is responsible for the atrocities of “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, forcible transfer of populations, enforced disappearance and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”
Winter Olympics: Joint Korean team creates major questions on international stageThe 2018 Winter Olympics theme has got to be an underlying current of precariousness. I’m not only referring to the Read…
Yet the generous coverage the liberal media gave her should not be a major surprise. For years, liberals have been apologists for many of the world’s atrocious regimes and leaders.
This isn’t to say the right hasn’t had its own dark moments of backing leaders who’ve violated human rights. Richard Nixon authorized a CIA covert operation to overthrow the leftist Chilean government and installed a military junta under Augusto Pinochet. Ronald Reagan vetoed sanctions on South Africa, which at the time was still under apartheid.
But there is something different about the regimes the left admires. Whereas Chile and South Africa were supportive of the U.S. in the Cold War, the oppressive regimes liberals find attractive are all threats to American security.
Let’s start with none other than the Soviet Union. For nearly half a century, American and Soviet leaders built overwhelming nuclear stockpiles and waited to see who would blink first. They sent their intelligence agencies to prop up pro-American and pro-Soviet regimes. The Cold War was above all a war of ideas between the West’s theories of the Enlightenment and the East’s theories of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Tse-Tung. It was a competition between the economic models of capitalism and communism and the political models of democracy and dictatorship.
This didn’t seem the matter to several liberals throughout those decades. Talk show host Phil Donahue is the perfect definition of someone who enjoyed giving American enemies a platform on his show. His favorite guest was Vladimir Pozner, who defended the Soviet Union on every infamous action — no matter how brutal.
Many politicians in the Democratic Party held a defeatist “if only we could be friends” mentality toward the Soviets. Sen. Ted Kennedy secretly tried to strike a deal with Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov. Kennedy offered to visit Moscow and help the Soviets handle Reagan if they helped the Democrats in the 1984 presidential election. This deal was discovered in a memorandum that was made public in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
There’s been a similar attitude towards communist dictator Fidel Castro in Cuba, who allowed Soviets to ship missiles to their island and almost brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. When Castro died in 2016, former President Barack Obama released a statement offering condolences to his family. He wrote, “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.” In case Obama wasn’t aware, the verdict on Castro’s legacy has already been made. You can just ask the Cuban exiles in Miami who celebrated the death of the murderous tyrant.
Robert Mugabe was another communist who brought Zimbabwe to economic ruin and led a genocide against the Ndebele in his country. That didn’t matter to the left, who praised his land redistribution program. He finally resigned after a 37-year rule, a moment of jubilance for the people who suffered under him.
When he wasn’t bashing Gov. Scott Walker’s economic policies (which brought Wisconsin’s unemployment rate to a record low) on Salon, writer David Sirota praised Hugo Chavez’s “economic miracle” in Venezuela. Chavez died in 2013 and Hollywood liberals fondly remembered him. When you look at what’s happening in Venezuela now, that love for Chavez’s model is just plain laughable.
Why does this love affair with some of the most dangerous regimes in the world go on? Part of it might be for political gain, as seen with Kennedy. Sometimes it is the nature of the dictator. Totalitarian leaders aim to make drastic changes to societies to achieve a utopian endgame. They are not elected politicians who may have great rhetorical skills but often cannot make seismic changes. Other times it might just be stubborn Marxists who frantically search for at least one country that has a successful socialist or communist model.
Whatever the reasoning, one thing is true — if you praise Castro and Chavez and find Trump and Walker threatening, then you’ve lost the moral high ground.
John Graber ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in history and political science.