The Corner


‘I Believe in Justice, Democracy, and Freedom’

Journalists Wa Lone (left) and Kyaw Soe Oo at the Reuters office in Rangoon, Burma, December 2017 (Antoni Slodkowski / Reuters)

In Impromptus today, I discuss some momentous issues and some less-than-momentous issues. The emphasis is on the former, however. I talk about the end of the post-war world order (no less). It was shaped by America and has been a boon to America — and to freedom, democracy, prosperity, and peace. Should we be eager to see it end? What will replace it? Something pleasanter? More effective?

We conservatives like to talk about “Chesterton’s fence.” The fence must have been put there for a reason, even if we can’t quite see the reason. We ought to think twice before pulling it down. Same with various international institutions. They were established for a reason. Maybe we will rediscover, to our sorrow, why they were put up in the first place. Maybe there has to be a great and painful and bloody relearning.

I also talk about Syria. There were consequences of intervention, yes. Those are always very important. But there have also been consequences of non-intervention. Those are important too, and are much less frequently discussed. Further in Impromptus, I talk about China and Taiwan; the Holocaust; Burma; fake news; and the QAnon movement. Do you know about that movement? Recently, one of its leaders had his picture taken in the Oval Office. An amazing snap.

By way of relief, maybe, I have Peter Wood and Tiger Woods. They are very different men, but both are very impressive. I wish I could hang a medal around Peter Wood’s neck. (Tiger has plenty of medals and trophies and such.) Also, I have the usual notes on language and music. Am I the last to know the word “grubstake”? I’ve learned it from a Steve Bannon interview.

Let me dwell on Burma for a second. In that country, authorities have committed atrocities against the Rohingya minority, atrocities that are extremely hard to contemplate: mass murder, mass rape, the same old human story. I wrote about this earlier this year, here.

Also attempting to write about these atrocities — right on the ground — were two reporters from Reuters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. They were arrested in December 2017. They have now been sentenced to seven years in prison each. The government is loath for anyone to know about the fate of the Rohingyas — which may indicate some shame on the part of the government. The civilian leader of that government is Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize — and deservedly so — and was a heroine to millions around the globe.

After being sentenced, Wa Lone said, “We know we did nothing wrong. I have no fear. I believe in justice, democracy, and freedom.” We are lucky to have such people working in journalism, taking risks that most of the rest of us could hardly imagine. “Democracy dies in darkness” is a slogan that a lot of us laugh at, but there is truth to it, through this broad, nasty world.

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