Life sure is tough here where we live. Our mysterious dictator — a hot-tempered enigma whose family is known for bizarre, cartoonish hijinks such as kidnapping foreign actresses and forcing them to perform in over-the-top, poorly produced propaganda films — just loves to kill people in public.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a friend, toady, rival, or family. Criticize the government, disrespect a monument, import a forbidden film, or merely raise suspicion in the wrong political quarters, and beware: You might end up in a labor camp if you’re lucky. If you’re not, you’ll find yourself facing flamethrowers, anti-aircraft guns, or deadly high-level nerve agents. Oh, and by the way: You’re probably also starving.
This isn’t America, in case you haven’t guessed. It’s North Korea, the globe’s most alarming rogue regime. There, the Dear Leader has replaced his usual hobby — running a 46,541-square-mile police state — with lobbing a bunch of missiles into the sea and generally terrifying the world. As a reminder, this is the same person who recently had his estranged half-brother murdered in a Kuala Lumpur airport using two reportedly clueless accomplices and the aforementioned deadly high-level nerve agents.
The more you learn about Kim Jong-un, and North Korea in general, the scarier things get. Don’t tell that to comedian and talk-show host Chelsea Handler, however. Last week, the Netflix star broadcast her desire to “trade” Donald Trump for the notorious Kim. This declaration was voiced on Twitter, of course, which does not exist in North Korea. As it turns out, there are many things that do not exist in North Korea, including a functioning Internet, the rule of law, and goofy unhinged Netflix stars blessed with the right of free speech.
Meanwhile, over at The Intercept, journalist Peter Maass — who visited North Korea as a reporter 28 years ago — argued that “North Korea is perhaps the most predictable regime in the world; they are not the X-factor in today’s unnerving game.” The real problem? Aw, shucks. You know the answer. “Trump and cable news are the feedback loop from nuclear hell. In a narrow way, this is good for American journalists who wish to write about political insanity. They do not need to travel thousands of miles to visit ground zero of crazy and dangerous.”
Now, look: Many people are understandably displeased with today’s brand of American politics, which sometimes appears to have been imported directly from the shadier corners of the most questionable saloon in the worst neighborhood of Dysfunction Junction. However, when it comes to the absurd narrative that North Korea is not the problem, I’ll borrow the delightful phrasing used by the North Korean state news agency when it responded to rumors that Kim Jong-un underwent plastic surgery to look more like his beloved grandfather Kim Il-sung. This is — and I may use this phrase regularly from here on out, when the occasion arises — “sordid hackwork by rubbish media.”
But when it comes to the Left’s dictator envy, North Korea isn’t the only unsavory proverbial foodstuff on this sad international Lazy Susan. With its “Red Century” series — dedicated to exploring the history of Communism — the New York Times has truly outdone itself. “For all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big,” declares the latest entry, after devoting several paragraphs to tiptoeing around the humanitarian horrors, mass catastrophes, and brutal death marches of Mao’s China. “The narrative of an across-the-board elevation of women’s status under Mao contains crucial caveats,” the piece notes, somewhat hilariously. Caveats? Really?
Well, never mind. For further reading at the Times, there’s “When Communism Inspired Americans,” “Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism,” and “The Little Red Book for Children.”
When it comes to the Left’s dictator envy, North Korea isn’t the only unsavory proverbial foodstuff on this sad international Lazy Susan.
Then there’s Shannon Watts, a leading American gun-control advocate, who celebrated Saudi Arabia’s recent royal decree granting women the right to drive with a reminder of how terribly oppressed we are right here at home. “For those who think we’re more advanced than women in Saudi Arabia because we can drive, reminder that these men are deciding our health care,” Watts tweeted, paired with photo collage of smiling yet clearly sinister and dastardly Republicans.
I’m disappointed that Watts forgot to earnestly describe how life in America is now a horrifying facsimile of the dystopia in The Handmaid’s Tale, which I believe is part of the current left-leaning rulebook on these things, but hey, nobody’s perfect. Let’s talk Saudi Arabia. Right now, in the year 2017, Saudi Arabian women are still not allowed to, as listed in a recent CNN rundown, “marry, divorce, travel, open a bank account, get a job, or have elective surgery without permission from their male guardians.” They cannot mix with men; they must wear giant black abayas in public. (I refuse to do so on principle, but you can insert your own comparison to The Handmaid’s Tale here.)
Well, the best change starts at home, right, folks? In troubled times, do your best! For Shannon Watts, that involves regular attempts to erode Second Amendment rights that are crucial for women’s self-defense. For others, it involves glorifying Communist dictators. For still others, it involves normalizing nuclear-armed madmen who run giant prison camps. Sure, America’s current political scene can be wacky and sometimes even cringe-worthy. It’s too bad some of its most vociferous critics seem devoted to consistently upping the ante.