Double standards and media myths on North Korea’s “brutal and despotic” regime.
American student Otto Warmbier, 22, passed away in Cincinnati on Monday, only days after he returned from North Korea unable to speak, see or respond to voices. North Korea had sentenced Warmbier to 15 years hard labor based on a bogus charge.
President Trump said “It's a total disgrace what happened to Otto and it should never ever be allowed to happen.” The American’s death also prompted outrage from a leading Democrat.
“The barbaric treatment of Otto Warmbier by the North Korean regime amounts to the murder of a U.S. citizen,” California Democrat Adam Schiff told reporters. “The North Korean regime has shown once again that it is perfectly willing to treat Americans who visit their nation as hostages to extract concessions from the United States.” Schiff also echoed Republican calls for a ban on travel to North Korea because tourism “helps to fund one of the most brutal and despotic regimes in the world.”
Schiff is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and a prime mover of the charge that “President Vladimir Putin decided to become an active participant in the U.S. election and attempt to influence its result for Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton.” This sudden display of wrath against North Korea might lead some to believe that the American left has always opposed that regime with the same vigor. Such is hardly the case.
With aid from American Stalinist spies such as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin gained the technology to build nuclear weapons. The USSR exploded its first atomic bomb on August 29, 1949 and the blast encouraged Stalin to mount a surge in his expansionist plans. He urged his North Korean ally Kim Il-Sung to attack South Korea, an ally of the United States, and on July 25, 1950, the Communist forces invaded.
According to The Hidden History of the Korean War, it was South Korea that invaded North Korea. That was the official Soviet position, and no surprise from author I.F. Stone. As John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev explain in Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, Stone was in fact a Soviet agent who took money from the KGB. He made a career of recycling Communist propaganda but “by the time he died in 1989, I.F. Stone had been installed in the pantheon of left-wing heroes as a symbol of rectitude and a teller of truth to power.”
Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs books, explains that the publishing house, “is a tribute to the standards, values, and flair of three persons who have served as mentors to countless reporters, writers, editors, and book people of all kinds, including me.” The first mentor is “I. F. Stone, proprietor of I. F. Stone’s Weekly,” a man who “combined a commitment to the First Amendment with entrepreneurial zeal and reporting skill and became one of the great independent journalists in American history.”
In similar style, when he passed away, the New York Times called Stone an “independent, radical pamphleteer of American journalism.”
In Hollywood, Communist writers portrayed North Korea as a peaceful, democratic country struggling to defend itself against the evil United States. Stalinist screenwriter Lester Cole, one of Hollywood Ten, praised North Korean cinema in his 1981 memoir Hollywood Red.
Leftist writers mocked movies such as Pork Chop Hill, about a hard-fought American victory in the Korean War. In recent decades, North Korea’s Stalinist regime has not been a favorite subject for Hollywood filmmakers, though not for a lack of stories. For example, Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, charts the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, one of the few ever to escape.
In camp schools Shin saw teachers beating students to death for no reason. Students worked as slaves gathering human excrement in freezing conditions. Anyone who does not “acknowledge his sins and instead denies them or carries a deviant opinion of them will be shot immediately.”
This is the Stalinist regime that now menaces the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons. President Trump has responded with a deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which North Korea, China and Russia find disturbing. Newly elected South Korean president Moon Jae-in opposes further deployment of THAAD, but this has not sparked the interest of congressional Democrats such as Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee.
Did China and Russia perhaps intervene in the South Korean election? The Democrats neglect such questions and continue to charge, with no evidence, that Putin swung the U.S. election for Donald Trump. Adam Schiff supports a travel ban to North Korea but shows no support for the president’s temporary restrictions on travel from six countries where those who seek to murder American citizens now thrive.
The old-line establishment media opposes the travel ban and echoes the baseless charge that Putin and Trump stole the election from progressive champion Hillary Clinton. It’s the same inversion of reality one finds in The Hidden History of the Korean War by “independent journalist” I.F. Stone.