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US Has No Right to Condemn NK Human Rights Abuses: NY Philharmonic Music Director

The music director of the New York Philharmonic would like Americans to know they are in no position to criticize North Korea’s human rights record:

On the eve of the New York Philharmonic’s departure on an Asian tour that will include a visit to Pyongyang, its music director, Lorin Maazel, suggested that Americans are not in a position to criticize the North Korean regime, because America’s own record on human rights is flawed.

“People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw bricks, should they?” Mr. Maazel told the Associated Press. “Is our standing as a country — the United States — is our reputation all that clean when it comes to prisoners and the way they are treated? Have we set an example that should be emulated all over the world? If we can answer that question honestly, I think we can then stop being judgmental about the errors made by others.”

I think Nick Eberstadt had the best reaction to this:

“I guess I can respect the argument that art is enriching in its own right and art should be just judged for art’s sake, but it’d be a little bit harder to make that if the Philharmonic were going to Auschwitz, wouldn’t it?

BTW, in case you were wondering, Dvorak, Gershwin and Wagner will be on the program for the Feb 26 concert in Pyongyang. Said Maestro Maazel:

“I have always felt that music is a powerful language,” says Maestro Maazel, “in which those of us who are humane and intelligent can speak to each other, in defiance of political and cultural boundaries.”

Humane and intelligent. Hmmm…

(HT to Paul H)

UPDATE: Joshua at OFK calls Maazel “morally retarded.”

UPDATE 2: Over at his blog — and yes, he has one — Maestro Maazel answers his critics. Just not very well, IMHO:

Some folks seem to be missing the point about finger-pointers.

The United States of America has a reputation among nations as the primary defender against human rights abuses.
We have traditionally been a safe-haven for the persecuted, setting an example for other nations to follow.
We have, more often than not [do you like this addition?], occupied the moral high ground and are judged, and should be, by totally different standards than by those applied to countries without our tradition of respect for the individual [emphasis mine].

Our juridical system is based on the principle “innocent until proven guilty”. Much, much more is expected of us than of other nations. We Americans should indeed raise our voice against human-rights abuses outside our borders, but never give tyrannical regimes the opportunity to refer to abuses, real or alleged, committed by us.

By doing so, we would allow our primary position to be challenged and would become ineffectual in the struggle against these all-pervading abuses. No independent-thinking, non-fanatical, apolitical person (such as myself) would dream of equating our history with that of any of the tyrannical regimes presently abusing human rights in a systematic fashion.

Hmm… so we (i.e., Americans) should be judged “by totally different standards than by those applied to countries without our tradition of respect for the individual.”

Or, in other words, human rights abuses should be criticized only when they are committed by white people.

You know, when I read this in the Washington Times:

“Lorin Maazel’s comparison of America’s lawful treatment of its prisoners to North Korea’s unlawful mistreatment of theirs bespeaks a mind so befuddled and corrupted by the poison of multiculturalism that it should dishearten us all,” says Arkansas writer Paul Lake, poetry editor of First Things, whose new novel, “Cry Wolf: A Political Fable,” is due out in late spring.

I thought it was just a guy grinding his anti-multiculturalism axe. Apparently I was wrong.

Anyway, Maestro Maazel will have a wonderful opportunity to reconsider his comments on Feb 28, when the New York Philharmonic plays in South Korea, where people — despite lacking “our tradition of respect for the individual” — spent decades struggling against must less totalitarian regimes than the one in Pyongyang.

UPDATE 3: Commenter mjw got me thinking — as odious as his statement may have been, can we really expect much from a music director when even the Bush administration has all but forgotten the North Korean human rights issue? For a nuclear deal that’s blown up in their face?

Christ, it’s enough to make a man vote for Ron Paul…

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • dogbert

    The U.S. certainly has the right to comment on the human rights abuses of other countries, but there is no denying that, thanks to our worthless soon-to-be-ex-president, our criticisms have lost all authority and persuasiveness, due to our own human rights abuses.

  • aaronm

    Not that I am in favor of the visit, but where does one draw the line at visits to the North? Does going on the Kumgangsan trip or visiting Pyongyang for the Mass Games also constitute an act of support for the Kim Family Regime’s blatant disregard for the rights for its citizens? Does owning shares in any of the businesses operating out of Kaesong or indeed purchasing their products count? Heck, I feel guilty even purchasing a bottle of Taedonggang beer. If any of these actions are beyond the pale, I know a great number of people, Korean and foreign who have thus been active supporters of the DPRK and its death camps. Shudders.

  • mjw

    Dogbert of course is correct. But bush is hardly the beginning of the decline in US moral authority.

    As for OFK, Joshua too, is often correct. And the cause that he seems to devote a tremendous amount of his life to can hardly be assailed. But “morally retarded”? that’s a bit much, isnt’ it? Woefully ignorant is probably a more appropriate epithet for the director of the NY Phil.

    And it seems like ignorance is precisely the issue here. Guys in the know like Joshua should indeed be offended when the NY Phil’s DPRK adventure is likened to ping pong diplomacy. But the fact is that people DON’T KNOW what the REAL situation is there. They don’t have any understanding of the true depths of DPRK depravity towards people in the north. And it seems to me that Joshua’s blog is dedicated to raising awareness so people like maazel will do the right thing.

    There are polemics and then there are distasteful and unpurposeful polemics which often only serve to undermine the credibilit of the polemicist.

    “mentally retarted” unfortunately falls into the latter category.

  • http://briandeutsch.blogspot.com Brian

    I’ve never been a fan of westerners who “vacation” in North Korea. They go for the kitsch factor of this time-capsule country, and ignore the severe human rights abuses for the sake of beefing up their flickr pages. Good point aaron, though, about beer and Gaesong. Where does one draw the line? And I guess you could make a similar case for vacationers going to China, the US, Iran, Russia . . . hey, come to think of it, pretty much every spot on the globe. I’m probably a little more sensitive about the North b/c I live in the South.

    I would expect a Jewish-American like Maazel to be a little more sympathetic to genocide, but, hey, no reason to let prison camps get between a man and his headline. You do have to wonder how much he was coached on his opinions. Blind devotion to the mystique of multiculturalism is pretty high in the US, but I don’t think his opinions regarding the North are very common over there. His comments will play well in some parts of the South, and are obviously the type of thing KJI would like to hear. 우아! he really understands Korean mind.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    And it seems like ignorance is precisely the issue here.

    I wish that were the case. But really, you’d have to imagine — given the political implications of his visit — that the good director might have read up a bit on what was taking place in North Korea. And his explanation on his blog seems to suggest that his comments were, in fact, ideologically motivated — not by Juche, or course, but Western multiculturalism.

    Blind devotion to the mystique of multiculturalism is pretty high in the US, but I don’t think his opinions regarding the North are very common over there.

    Well, at least the North Koreans are pretty clear about what they think about multiculturalism:

    http://www.rjkoehler.com/2006/04/27/i-guess-this-means-the-dprk-wont-be-inviting-hines-ward-for-a-visit/

  • http://freekorea.us joshua

    Woefully ignorant is probably a more appropriate epithet for the director of the NY Phil.

    And also, a dull cliche. You can keep that one.

    By the way, feel free to criticize me on my own blog.

  • Zonath

    Well heck, now I know what argument to use the next time I get pulled over for speeding. “I know I was speeding, Officer, but who are you to ticket me? You probably speed all the time.”

    So yeah, I know that we don’t necessarily expect music directors to be all that smart in fields other than music, but come on… New York’s a big city… I’m sure they could find someone there to direct their orchestra who wasn’t so eager for people to heap scorn on both him and his little music club.

  • mjw

    Robert, I was certainly thinking that as I wrote my comment. But as a purveyor of information for others I can attest to the fact that just supplying the info doesn’t mean that someone will “get it”. In other words, he’s woefully ignorant (please pardon my cliche, Joshua) because he really ought to know better, both because, as Joshua points out, he’s an intelligent member of society’s elite, and also because of the controversy this visit has stirred up.

    In my mind, though, it speaks to the fact that people who do not deal with this issue on a regular basis have difficulty viewing the information from anything other than the frame of their own existence. Hence the silly request to have the concert broadcast. To the good director, it wouldn’t seem that silly, would it? But, of course, it should.

    There’s also what I’d like to call the “leftkowiz factor”. Here’s a guy who ought to know but who is co-opted and struggling with that fact. Most important, he’s incredibly out of his league, in over his head, put in his position for obvious reasons by a regime that really just doesn’t give a shit about HRs in the DPRK (or anywhere?). Point is, even he can’t be counted on to say the right thing about it. So why should we expect it from the director of the NY Phil, whose head is normally buried in stacks of music and whose principal poliitical dillema is the rivalry between the first and second violinist?

  • a-letheia

    Geez, I wonder what Maazel thinks about the boycott of South Africa in the 60s, 70s and 80s? Hmmm…

  • dissidentdave

    once again, a prominent, internationally-known figure has been given a platform on which he could stand and criticise the US’s human rights abuses and, once again, the person falls flat on his face because he chose an indirect way to criticise. true, the controversy surrounding the philharmonic’s visit to pyoungyang is not related to any US rights offences, but abusing human rights is still the abuse of human rights, regardless of the reason or propagandist spin for said injustice.

    while it may or may not be valid, depending on your point of view, to lambaste maazel for his stance in this particular controversy, his whole allusion to the US’s abuses of power and/or human rights is very much being ignored. and this, to me, is sad.

    it should be more lamented by those who are having their say in the whole controversy that maazel missed a great opportunity to be more harsh or direct in his condemnation of the US’s shameful history of abusing the rights of people the world over. of course, it is also regrettable that the maestro’s condemnations of pyoungyang’s human rights abuses are sorely lacking.

    though it’s a cliche to condemn pyoungyang for these wrongful acts, it’s a cliche that must be used. unfortunately, too many people–americans, especially–want to use these abuse of human rights by pyoungyang (as well as by other places the world over) as a veil willingly to overlook any and all injustices being committed by washington.

    anyway, the guy missed all sorts of opportunities to take a few strong stands.

  • mjw

    #10, that was my reading of it as well. unfortunate.

  • hoju_saram

    Not sure what the angle of the Maestro is here. Maybe he’s just ensuring his entourage is going to be welcomed with open arms. Not the best reasons to be sidestepping the matter of human rights in the DPRK.

    There are levels of morality and immorality. On a sliding scale, the DPRK regime is somewhere near the bottom, the U.S right near the top, IMHO. In light of this, the U.S is in a good position to be critical – on the matter of human rights, they’re doing much better. Moral relativity and all that. Unfortunately – and here is where our good friend Joshua’s moral compass gets confused – there is room for improvement, and that detracts from the administration’s posturing.

    Is the Maestro morally retarded? Strong words. I’d say morally special. On the other hand, lets have a look at the guy casting the stone. Joshua is a frank and strident supporter of Guantanamo Bay. He sees nothing morally wrong with locking up a human being in solitary confinement for 5 years without a trial.

    It’s hard to take someone seriously when they set their own moral bar at knee height.

  • http://www.di2.nu/blog.htm FrancisT

    And in breaking news Maestro Maazel announces a conversion to Anglicanism and a special service with the Archbishop of Canterbury where they pray that the Dear Leader is welcomed into Islam, the religion of peace.

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    “Morally retarded” is kid gloves.

    Bringing up Gitmo in light of North Korean abuses (for example, Camp 22), shows a mindbogglingly enormous gap in knowledge and understanding. Pure laziness, at best.

  • hoju_saram

    It was Joshua who brought it up.

  • slim

    “There’s also what I’d like to call the “leftkowiz factor”. Here’s a guy who ought to know but who is co-opted and struggling with that fact. Most important, he’s incredibly out of his league, in over his head, put in his position for obvious reasons by a regime that really just doesn’t give a shit about HRs in the DPRK (or anywhere?). Point is, even he can’t be counted on to say the right thing about it. ”

    This strikes me as a somewhat off-base characterization of Lefkowitz’s troubles. There’s no question that JL knows and has said and says the right things — see recent headlines and analysis about his sad rebuke from Condi Rice. However, he lost his platform when the decision was made to put all US chips on the Chris Hill diplomatic hand and the Bolton/Cheney line was all but repudiated. I’d say he was not co-opted by a “regime” but rejected like a failed organ transplant by the permanent bureaucracy at Foggy Bottom. I blame Bush for inattentiveness and Rice for putting process — and probably her legacy quest — ahead of principles and results. This didn’t happen in a vacuum of course: three of the 5 U.S. partners (2 if you consider Russia a mere passive bystander) in the 6-party process rejected, thwarted or undermined tougher approaches to North Korea.

    IMHO the NYSO trip was a carrot thrown into the mix way too early in the 6-party or US/DPRK “normalization” process, such as it is. It appears to have little chance of becoming a catalyst for changes in North Korea and will most likely be used for Kim regime propaganda. (And you thought “making” Paris Hilton wear a Hanbok was bad.)

    That said, there’s simply no hiding the awfulness of North Korea from visitors who are not card-carrying DPRK friendship types or Roh administration officials — even from the “woefully ignorant” or the “morally retarded” — because the onerous security restrictions, the heavy-handed secret police presence and the rote propaganda that will flow from the lips of the musicians’ minders will make it clear that they are on another planet. (Recall Mohammed Ali’s classic 1995 Pyongyang goodwill appearance quip: “No wonder we hate these motherf*ckers.”)

    Some, perhaps even the Maestro himself, will come out and talk or blog about their experiences. There’s even the theoretical chance that some orchestra members will talk to the traveling press in Pyongyang and say or do something that sparks an incident. (Hey! Isn’t that Norbert Vollertsen on the oboe?! How’d he sneak in?)

    As an aside, I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to Andrei Lankov’s take on the NYSO tour. As someone who witnessed regime change from the inside in 1980s Russia (temporary though that change may turn out to be), he offers an interesting analysis of what might work in North Korea.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/JB07Dg01.html

  • anunsaram

    Surely a registered Democrat.

  • Sonagi

    I’ve never been a fan of westerners who “vacation” in North Korea. They go for the kitsch factor of this time-capsule country, and ignore the severe human rights abuses for the sake of beefing up their flickr pages. Good point aaron, though, about beer and Gaesong. Where does one draw the line? And I guess you could make a similar case for vacationers going to China, the US, Iran, Russia . . . hey, come to think of it, pretty much every spot on the globe.

    It’s easy to draw a line between tourism to North Korea and elsewhere. Every dollar or Euro spent on ridiculously overpriced lodgings, food, and transportation goes to the government; the huge difference between what is paid and the actual value of the goods and services received is used to pamper the elites and maintain the instruments of repression. Tourists to China, the US, and most other countries can make consumer choices to ensure that most of their dollars or yuan support ordinary people’s livelihoods.

  • http://anythinggoeskorea.wordpress.com mcnut

    gitmo or NK gulag
    give me gitmo anytime!

    i am sure all the NK refugees would love to have that choice
    unfortunately they arent prisoners of war or enemies of the country that is currently engaged in that battle

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    hoju_saram; Context smontext. I’ll not bother to hit that softball. But I know where you stand/sit/whatever.

  • kimchipig

    Right wrong, perhaps such comments should give our American neighbours some consideration over such odious legislation as the “Patriot Act,” the illegal detentions at Guantanamo (if it were legal, they would be in the USA) and the failed and illegal war in Iraq.

  • http://expat.wordpress.com/ Matthew Stinson

    But what I really want to know is, will Maazel have any idea how the visit will be covered in North Korea?

    One just imagines…

    Today, our Glorious Leader Kim Jong-il welcomed the American musicians of the American New York Philharmonic who have come to salute Comrade Kim for his tireless and wise rule of the Glorious People’s Republic of Korea.

    During the reception, Maestro Maazel, the leader of the tribute to Comrade Kim Jong-il, marveled at our Glorious Leader’s musical talents. As we all know, when he was just a boy, Comrade King mastered all known musical instruments and, on his 11th birthday, composed a symphony so beautiful that even the birds of the sky perched atop the concert hall to sing along during the first performance.

    Our Glorious Leader Kim Jong-il politely refused a request by Maestro Maazel that he play the piano to accompany Maazel’s orchestra, saying that he didn’t wish to overwhelm the musicians with his presence.

  • http://expat.wordpress.com/ Matthew Stinson

    Heh, Comrade King was a Freudian slip…

  • http://freekorea.us joshua

    hoju saram / Van Midd, I’d like to hear your response to my question about sock puppetry. You’ve been posting at my blog under one e-mail address and two separate names. Not cool.

    Full response to you and your straw-man construct of my (O/T) views on Gitmo here.

    Since I’m on very safe ground as a ferocious critic of the Bush Administration’s hypocrisy on human rights in North Korea, let me ask you — doesn’t your own promotion of tourism to North Korea undermine the consistency of your argument? Not to say that you deny the existence of creepy Orwellian totalitarianism there. In fact, you arguably market it.

    Titillating for you, I’m sure. You don’t have to live there, after all.

  • dissidentdave

    what i’d like to know is why americans–or anyone else–continue to think that what is going on at gitmo is of a less serious nature than what is happening in north korea?

    is it because americans know personally what is happening in either place and thus have legitimate legs upon which to stand on and criticise?

    or is it because they just unquestioningly (and stupidly) buy the propagandist bullshit that america treats its prisoners well while the rest of the world doesn’t?

    while one might believe that ferocious criticism of the bush regime gives one the right to criticise another regime, it strikes me as disingenuous when, on a scale of 100–with 100 being most horrific–one gives auschwitz a 100, camp 22 an 80, and gitmo only a 5.

    no, let me rephrase. it’s not so much disingenuous as it is utter bullshit.

    human rights abuses is human rights abuses. assigning numerical value to the harshness of the abuse is a sign of someone who knows not of what they speak or a sign of someone who’s never been in any sort of situation where they were the ones suffering human rights abuse.

    by focusing only on the abuse of north korea while conveniently ignoring or only passively criticising the abuses of the US (or believing the propaganda that the US treats its enemies–or otherwise–humanely) is just as creepily orwellian–or more–than anything else you can point out.

    this whole discussion is ridiculous when people continuously refuse to acknowledge the US’s horrible human rights record.

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    Dave, if you can’t understand the difference between putting non-state combatants into detention, to debrief/stop from trying us again, from killing/torturing people en masse for their political view and/or genetics, I don’t think anyone can help you. You’ve got to be absofreaking clueless about both Gitmo and places like Camp 22, etc. You’re actually whining about people sitting in Gitmo getting fat while a few hundred thousand are in real live concentration camps in North Korea RIGHT NOW, being tortured, starved, and killed for real or imagined political slights. Sadly, not unbelievable.

  • dissidentdave

    thanks, richardson, for pointing out that you unquestioningly buy the american government’s propagandist bullshit of “people sitting in gitmo getting fat”.

    it lends so much more credence to your criticism of me.

    and also means you mean completely miss my point.

    priceless…

  • Sonagi

    Joshua and Richardson,

    How do you know that what is going on in Gitmo ranks a mere 5 on your scale of human rights abuses? I think disabled former US Army SPC Sean Baker would disagree. Even the worst stories of abuse coming from some of the 300 former detainees do not compare with stories told by former prisoners of North Korean concentration camps. However, those men were released. We do not know anything about the treatment of those who remain detained in top secret sections of the prison compound. Lawyer Joshua supports legally sanctioned torture
    of prisoners in cases “of probable cause that they will kill thousands of innocents.” If a perfectly nice guy like Joshua thinks that torture is okay with a judge’s blessing, then it doesn’t take an active imagination to think that intelligence agents may already be engaging in forms of torture more serious than waterboarding or sleep deprivation on some of the prisoners. This is a suspicion, not an accusation.

  • Sonagi

    I didn’t close the link properly. Can you please fix it, Robert?

  • Acropolis7

    I cannot believe that some people would even compare North Korean long term death camps to Gitmo. I am sure these same people feel that Yodok is really just North Korea’s version of Disneyland,and the 3 generations of innocent families detained there are really just tourists vacationing.

  • http://freekorea.us joshua

    Fine. Let’s not make our judgments in a mathematical vacuum, then.

    According to the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, there are 200,000 people in North Korea’s concentration camps. In 2003, NBC estimated that the annual death rate in Camp 22 was approximately 20-25% per year due to starvation, torture, and murder. Former guards claim that entire families are gassed there to test chemical weapons for use on those of you who live in Seoul. No one is able to go there to verify any of this, of course, because Kim Jong Il has never allowed any foreign observer access and denies that the camps even exists. Most of the prisoners are there because they committed some thoughtcrime against the regime or are directly related to someone who did. The prisoners of North Korea’s concentration camps are what any civilized legal system would call “innocent.”

    According to Global Security, as of December 28, 2007, there were 275 suspected terrorists being held in Gitmo. Detainees receive administrative hearings on the continuation of their detention, except when litigation on behalf of the detainees blocks those tribunals. Those found not to be dangerous are released unless their stays must be extended because (a) their own countries don’t want them either, and (b) we know that their own governments will torture them if we actually send them back. They get enough food to have an obesity problem, shelter, medical care, education in some cases, and Red Cross visits.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the per capita quotient of suffering in Gitmo is exactly equal to Camp 22, although all evidence is to the contrary. Let’s factor in the matter of innocence and say that it’s only twice as bad to indefinitely imprison a child whose mother complained about being hungry than it is to indefinitely imprison a mass-murdering terrorist. Finally, let’s exclude from our comparison the estimated 400,000 North Koreans believed to have already died in the camps.

    Thus, you can quantify dissidentdave’s calculus by dividing 275 by 200,000 X 2, or 400,000. By that calculus, the a North Korean child prisoner detained indefinitely because his mother complained about being hungry is worth less than 0.07% of the indefinite detention of a would-be mass murderer. You are free to agree with that, and I’m free to doubt both your judgment and the sincerity of your outrage.

    Of course, if you really want to hate the United States or George Bush desperately enough, no logic, reason, or calculus will ever persuade you otherwise. But if you’re going to talk about Camp 22 at all, you’re at least obligated to look at the photographs and listen to the eyewitnesses describe it.

    Here’s the Gitmo question that its critics can never answer: what the f*ck, exactly, are we supposed to do with these people? Move them to another prison? Or just release them and let them go on with whatever they were doing?

  • http://freekorea.us joshua

    Sonagi, Like it or not, we’re faced with a choice between waterboarding people and letting mass murder plots go forward. Now, if you believe that waterboarding is torture, don’t you see the benefit in having power that expansive at least checked by some kind of legal process of review?

    Or would you just opt to let the plans go forward, in which case, where’s the due process for the victims of the next 9/11?

  • http://freekorea.us joshua

    In addition the above comment, see this link.

    I’m not interested in distorting the meaning of the word “torture.” Waterboarding sounds like torture to me. In those rare cases in which it’s necessary to use it, I want it to be strictly limited by courts and no more severe than absolutely necessary to save innocent life. What we’re talking about here is choosing the least-bad option. Face the alternatives.

  • Sonagi

    I’ve responded to you on your blog, Joshua.

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    Dave,
    I know many, many folks who have and who are going to Gitmo. I don’t have to guess, am not inclined to half-baked conspiracy theories, and don’t stick my head in the sand. I have not been there yet myself but expect to go at some point. And yes, they are getting fat, or were.

    My criticism of you stands; if you can’t, as Joshua has so eloquently put it, make “a moral distinction between a gas chamber and a fart in a crowded elevator,” you’re hopeless.

  • http://thewilliamg.blogspot.com The_William_G

    Ha! I love right wing wackos and their logic:

    “Our concentration camps are nicer than theirs. Therefore it’s acceptable to have them.”

    A golf clap for you kool-aid drinkers: *clap* *clap*

  • http://freekorea.us joshua

    I tried to post a very detailed response to moral equivalance arguments like dissidentdave’s, but it’s still stuck in Robert’s spam catcher, probably because of all of the links.

    Recalling that I have a blog of my own, I made it an update to my main post. To extend Robert’s point, moral equivalance between Gitmo and Camp 22 means that a North Korean child prisoner is worth less than .07% as much as Khalid Sheik Mohammad. You could argue that trying to have a mathematical discussion about this is absurd, but isn’t equivalence really just mathematics for the intellectually lazy?

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    Those that continue to compare the detention of combatants in a prison to actual concentration camps are firmly among the “morally retarded.”

  • nicecuppatea

    dfd

  • wjk

    There’s too many Registered Morons, I mean, Registered Democrats here, as well as Canadian and European liberals who are quite honestly blinded by this mythical idea that George Walker Bush is a tyrant who is unjustly abusing the human rights of terrorists in G-mo bay. G-mo bay is officially a permanently leased US territory, a naval base that even Castro couldn’t do anything about.

    People in North Korean prison camps go for the following reasons
    1/ they were listening to South Korean radio.
    2/ they were trying to leave the country, hey, you gotta eat.
    3/ they were to be purged, sometimes simply because they were too good of people.

    People go to G-mo bay for the following reasons
    1/ they were captured fighting for the Taliban in A-stan.
    2/ they were arrested in their attempts to kill some home grown US citizens within the United States.
    3/ simply, they were plotting to murder innocent people for their own selfish reasons.

    Patriot Act has done the following since its enactment.
    1/ put lots of red tape for non US citizens on entering the US.
    2/ bombs have gone off in England, Spain, Baghdad, Palestine, but surprisingly, and very importantly, not in any US territories. TSA works, too. Don’t forget the Muslim riot in France, 2 years ago.

    Have you seen video footage of G-mo bay prisoners hauling their own manure, to be used as vegetable fertilizer or as a heat fuel source?

    If not, shut the hell up, you pot loving Canuck. Stop growing pot North of the US, and selling it down south in the US. They seem to get Koran reading time, food, nice orange uniforms, and even allowed to wear Muslim head gear. Canucks can drive down south and shop at Wal mart in the US, and help to keep the retail market vibrant in the US.

    Most of the abuse you cite is something people in Yodok only dream about. They wish they could complain about
    1/ regular food and drink. (this G-mo dude has clothes, a nice hanging belly, surely not being starved. Check out the room. THIS is a prisoner’s room? Hey, I mean, a prison’s a prison, but it looks better than those German death labor camps or the North Korean death labor camps). I’ll let you look at the internet for pics.

    What sort of labor are they doing in G-mo, and are they scheduled to face death?

    I think the scale is right. 100 for the German death camps. 5 for G-mo.

    What war is legal?

  • wjk

    in short, G-mo was part of how American soil was protected from attacks from 2001 to present.

    That’s a damn good reason for the existence of G-mo.

  • Sonagi

    Sonagi, Like it or not, we’re faced with a choice between waterboarding people and letting mass murder plots go forward.

    Nice try at framing the debate between two alternatives, but our means of dealing with captured fighters isn’t limited to waterboarding. I asked you on your blog for evidence that torture saves lives, and all you could produce was a story about a former CIA agent who reported that waterboarding one detainee compelled him to give information about several plots.

    Now, if you believe that waterboarding is torture, don’t you see the benefit in having power that expansive at least checked by some kind of legal process of review?

    Since intelligence agents are already doing it we should legalize this particular method of torture? No, I want to see our judicial system uphold our laws, not discard them to suit the whims of an administration that, since 9/11, has used terrorism to scare Americans into consenting to two wars and an erosion in civil liberties. 3,000 people died six and a half years ago, and you want us to legalize torture because this will stop Al-Qaeda from toppling any more buildings. I worry about many things in my daily life, but a terrorist attack isn’t one of them.

  • Zonath

    #40 – Pot-loving should be hyphenated. As for the rest of your argument… it’s simply too stupid to address.

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  • nicecuppatea

    Oops. wtf was that? Excuse the above, tired fingers, not some mysterious acronym..
    Just a few quick (and weary) thoughts on the above thread.
    1.Torture does not produce reliable intelligence; it produces Jose Padilla’s who have become, in the words of their lawyer “a piece of furniture”.
    2.You might think that’s worth it, but with Habeas Corpus spat on, you could be next.
    3.If you condone torture, you are well off the moral high ground. The means justifies the ends? The ends are subjective. The moral high ground isn’t. You’re fucked.
    4.Where have all the realists gone?
    5.Yeah, they were “getting fat” in Abu Ghraib too were they?
    6. Richardson, ‘the detention of combatants in a prison’?… if only that was what was happening in Guantanamo. It’s an interrogation camp in legal outtaspace where people are being tortured. (not to mention that interrogation camps are flatly illegal under the Geneva conventions). Indeed, according to a Seton Hall University study, most of the Guantanomo prisoners are innocent and were swept upby Northern Alliance warlords (charming folks too) in Afghanistan because the US had offered bounties of 5000 bucks per prisoner.
    In a world in which the phrases “extraordinary rendition, waterboarding, stress-position” etc have become common currency, the Norks hearing a bit of Mozart is the least of my concerns.
    This is a pretty stupid comment “I have always felt that music is a powerful language, in which those of us who are humane and intelligent can speak to each other, in defiance of political and cultural boundaries.” but I’d rather here stupid naive comments like that to a backdrop of Dvorak than righteous comments on democracy in the Middle East to a backdrop of some Pashtun peasant’s screams as he gets tortured for the greater good.

  • http://www.ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    Joshua, which name would you prefer I use?

  • http://freekorea.us joshua

    42. Semantics. You phase your question in such a way that I couldn’t possibly answer it without being (b) the Director of the CIA, or (b) God. I showed you evidence that waterboarding, which causes no permanent harm and which has been done exactly three times, helped us stop several terrorist plots. It’s reasonable to infer that it saved lives. No one could possibly know for sure.

    If you can show me where I’ve condoned anything that causes permanent physical harm, please do. The overriding moral principle that applies to North Korea, Gitmo, and everywhere else ought to be which course of action protects the most innocent lives. I wish it were always possible to do that without chipping one’s fingernails.

    Anyway, this discussion has pretty much exhausted itself, which we know because The William G has entered it with his usual exhibition of snark without substance — just like his blog. As thread exceeds 20 comments, the probability for it to become a sea of red herrings approaches one.

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    nicecuppatea; no one is being tortured at Gitmo. You should probably not speak of, “stupid naive comments.”

  • Wedge

    Luckily, moral equivalence and multi-culti fuzziness weren’t fashionable among the WWII generation. Even though American citizens of Japanese descent were being held unconstitutionally, the people somehow managed to figure out that Japan and Germany were orders of magnitude worse, and they had the steadfastness to take the conflicts with those nations to their logical conclusion: the unconditional surrender of the bad guys. And the people instinctively knew those regimes were worse, as the full enormity of their actions such as the gas chambers and Unit 731 didn’t come out until later.

    Nowadays, I’m not so sure. In America, we haven’t surrendered to the idea of moral equivalence yet, regardless of the maestro’s thoughts and their echoes here, but they sure seem to be heading that way quickly in other countries (Archbishop of Canterbury and sharia law, anyone?).

  • wjk

    I worry about many things in my daily life, but a terrorist attack isn’t one of them.

    Precisely, because of what George Walker Bush has done.

    If you deny this, then there is no hope to even argue with you.

  • nicecuppatea

    Yeah Richardson, because these guys are getting fat, peacefully praying and ‘have clothes’ (thx WJK) aren’t they? http://www.smh.com.au/ftimages/2006/02/15/1139890768716.html

  • http://freekorea.us joshua

    45. I don’t really care which name you choose now that I’ve outed you, as long as you’re consistent.

    What exactly was your purpose in doing that?

  • wjk

    #50, that’s Abu-gb.

    Wrong facility, wrong country. That one was inside Iraq, and it pretty much caused political leadership in the US to discontinue whatever was going on there.

    Tell me dude, does North Korea shut down Yodok, because the world releases video footage of North Koreans carrying their own shit in a wood basket, so it can be used for fertilizer or fuel?

    Stop playing Michael Moore, dude.

  • wjk

    US and North Korea.

    World of Difference.

    Nice summary provided by

    –wjk.

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    nicecuppatea; do you need a geography lesson as well? FYI, Iraq and Cuba aren’t the same place.

  • nicecuppatea

    Richardson. you’re right.
    It’s just that I get so damn angry about the Iraq war whenever I even think about it that, that aspects of the GWOT (Gitmo etc, Cuba/Iraq) sends me off on a polemical tangent. As Joshua pointed out before departing, this thread has gone somewhat off topic, but any discussion of torture et al is bound to raise strong feelings, and rightly so.
    So to get back on topic, roundly and rightly condemning the North for its fucked up form of governance has not got us very far over the past half century. I’m open to fresh ideas. If that involves the NY Phil. and its “moral relativist” director so be it.

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    No matter what we do diplomatically, North Korea will not change. Clinton’s appeasement, Bush’s hardline, and now Bush’s appeasement; it does not matter. No matter what we do diplomatically, North Korea will continue to be a human rights holocaust in modern times. A few fiddle player from NY aren’t going to do a damn thing except lend a bit of credibility to the Dear Leader among his elites.

  • http://freekorea.us joshua

    One more thing, Robert:

    Christ, it’s enough to make a man vote for Ron Paul…

    That makes as much sense as reacting to a bad breakup by trying dick.

  • dogbert

    Luckily, moral equivalence and multi-culti fuzziness weren’t fashionable among the WWII generation. Even though American citizens of Japanese descent were being held unconstitutionally, the people somehow managed to figure out that Japan and Germany were orders of magnitude worse, and they had the steadfastness to take the conflicts with those nations to their logical conclusion: the unconditional surrender of the bad guys. And the people instinctively knew those regimes were worse, as the full enormity of their actions such as the gas chambers and Unit 731 didn’t come out until later.

    So, how exactly did the internment of ethnic Japanese American citizens help the war effort?

    Keeping in mind that the U.S. also put ethnic Japanese American citizens in uniform to fight during WWII.

  • dogbert

    I worry about many things in my daily life, but a terrorist attack isn’t one of them.

    Precisely, because of what George Walker Bush has done.

    wjk, remember when I called you an idiot?

  • Bbundaegi

    #59

    Why do you think WJK is an idiot? Just because he thinks GW Bush is responsible for having kept the US free from terrorist attacks since 9/11?

  • dissidentdave

    Listen, some of you guys have become so deluded in your arguments. You only want to make this a left v. right issue or want to quantify it with numbers or with Mary Jane knows what other sort of logic.

    It’s very simple. If none of you here commenting has never served time in a prison and/or been subjected yourself to any sort of like torture, regardless of how significant it might seem to you, then you have very little business making moral distinctions between the badness of Camp 22 and the goodness of Gitmo.

    They are both wrong. End of story. People are being held against their will for flimsy reasons in both places. People are being subjected to abuse of varying degrees. People are having their basic rights taken and kept from them at both places, if not in more places around the globe. That’s a fact.

    Have any of you on your high moral ground ever served so much as one day in solitary confinement? Have you ever been tortured or abused in a prison-like environment for even one night? Are you personally able to distinguish between what you think is bad abuse and what you claim to be good abuse? Do you know what it’s like to languish in confinement, not knowing when you’ll be released, subjected to guards and other authority figures berating you in languages you may or may not understand for reasons you can’t fathom?

    Sure, I don’t deny that the morality that has been beaten into us throughout our lives doesn’t suggest that certain types of torture seem to be worse than other forms. However, one really doesn’t know this until one has been subjected to it oneself. We each have our own demons and fears and what is torture for me might be a fetish for you.
    While people here like WJK, Richardson, Joshua, and others continue to express their amazement at how others can see things from a different vantage point than theirs, why is it that you guys blindly believe everything you read, see, or are told by the US Government, US mainstream media, and/or US history books? Have there not been enough lies and mistruths throughout at least the last century of the US (or any other) government for you not to question what you see, read, or are told?

    I might be wrong. Maybe those at Gitmo are more luxuriously accommodated than I’ve ever been at any five-star hotel I’ve ever had the fortune to stay in. I concede that there are flaws in my belief and viewpoint. But it’s frustrating to argue with people who NEVER think they are wrong and too often use personal attacks to make their points instead of valid arguments based on an all-encompassing contemplation of the issue. It’s frustrating to argue with or listen to arguments from people who stick to an ideological line, especially on such a contentious issue as this. There should be no ideological toeing of the lines when it comes to the abuses of humans and/or their basic rights.

    I wonder if some of you haven’t even bothered to take the time to read my or other people’s opposing arguments carefully. Maybe English isn’t your native tongue or perhaps reading comprehension isn’t your strong point. I don’t know. But my original post was not to quantify anything or make comparisons, it was to condemn the Maestro both for not having the balls to criticise more harshly the decades-long (at the very least) history of torture of the US Empire or criticise more harshly the history of torture in the North Korean regime. Maazel was given a platform and he used it weakly and ineffectively. By not taking any sort of stand, he came across as lame and bumbling.

    I have, in neither of my posts, directly mentioned any specific examples of torture meted out and sanctioned by US authorities, true, because there are too many to mention and because there are too many people here who would jump on it and twist for their own use. I have, however, brought into question those who blindly believe in the veracity of US Government propaganda or that Gitmo is good.

    You may not like my logic or my stance—and that’s fair—but I’ve gotten to a point where I, unlike many here, don’t believe all that I read or am told, from either sides of an issue. You can attack me for that all you want, but isn’t that what the US was built upon: the suspension of belief in the government because of its hidden tyrannies, the ability to dissent (which, as was once said by a better man than I, is the true nature of patriotism), and the freedom to hold government accountable?

    I don’t mind being criticised, Richardson, by you or Joshua or WJK or anyone else here who disagrees with me. That’s par for the course. However, when you attack me (or anyone else) with nothing but epithets and flash words/phrases/analogies like “morally retarded”, “absofreaking clueless”, “hopeless”, “morons”, “fart in an elevator”, etc., then you’re missing the point. I, too, am always fond of trying to make outstanding analogies to make my point, but it doesn’t become the focal point of my entire argument.

    Read again. At no time have I said that Camp 22 wasn’t a hell on Earth. I’ve only questioned the good Maestro’s lack of cajones and the arguments made here that Gitmo is a good prison. I’ve not introduced calculus into anything; I’ve just taken the numerical games played by others and subjected it to my scrutinisation. I’ve questioned how people can make such statements as, “There’s no torture going on at Gitmo,” with so much confidence. I want to know how people know unequivocally that the people being held in Gitmo are there because it makes the world safer. How do we know these people had plans to harm Americans or American interests?

    What happened to valuing freedom over everything else?

    Why can no one criticise the US anymore?

    What happened to being presumed innocent until proven guilty? Why are there not enough people bothered by the fact that the acceptable way to deal with personal and/or national security these days is to strike or incarcerate first and ask questions later?

    Mary Jane, mother of Shiva, but that was long… My apologies.

  • dogbert

    #59

    Why do you think WJK is an idiot? Just because he thinks GW Bush is responsible for having kept the US free from terrorist attacks since 9/11?

    No, that’s just the latest bon mot in a long, long string of inanities.

  • http://www.ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram
  • http://anythinggoeskorea.wordpress.com mcnut

    damn will_g and dissentdave are some seriously wacked out cats

    and you can critize the US all you want but at least make some god damn sense in your argument
    comparing gitmo and NK camps is as has been distinctfully pointed out simply not on the same level

    your ignorance and hatred of president bush clouds your ability to make a logical argument

  • http://www.boshintang.com boshintang

    I do think it is interesting how dogbert called wjk an idiot when wjk for the first time seemed to actually make sense. I think too many people are taking the “make your own pot at home” thread literally. :-)

  • http://anythinggoeskorea.wordpress.com mcnut

    “While people here like WJK, Richardson, Joshua, and others continue to express their amazement at how others can see things from a different vantage point than theirs, why is it that you guys blindly believe everything you read, see, or are told by the US Government, US mainstream media, and/or US history books? Have there not been enough lies and mistruths throughout at least the last century of the US (or any other) government for you not to question what you see, read, or are told?”

    guys exactly where do you get your TRUTH FROM????

    MSM is completely liberal and ultimately people like you just happen to think everything is a conspiracy at the highest levels of government. So who should really be questioning what they read?

    it is kind of hypocritical for you to claim your information is anymore accurate than some others

    based on what criteria can you make the claim you are more enlightend than the rest of us?

  • dogbert

    I do think it is interesting how dogbert called wjk an idiot when wjk for the first time seemed to actually make sense.

    Considering that “dubya” was the sitting president when 9/11 occurred, I hardly consider him effective at preventing terrorism in the U.S. That was the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history and it occurred on his watch.

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    Dogbert,
    That position doesn’t hold much water. The attack was planned during Clinton’s reign, and those that missed it – CIA, FBI, etc. – had just come through eight years of Clinton. I’m not saying it’s Clinton’s fault, but that it’s something that (in this case) blame to a president (either one) cannot be assigned either way.

  • http://www.dprkstudies.org/ Richardson

    It’s very simple. If none of you here commenting has never served time in a prison and/or been subjected yourself to any sort of like torture . . . you have very little business making moral distinctions between the badness of Camp 22 and the goodness of Gitmo.

    That’s a flimsy argument that would take debate about most historical events off the table for most people, and is a refuge of the ignorant. Probably the better standard would be to use facts, reason, and what experience we do have.

    In this case, I personally know many folks who have debriefed and/or spoken with detainees in several different capacities and have discussed the issue with them. Aside from studying North Korea for the last decade, I’ve been present at the debriefings of North Korean defectors. But even if I did not have that knowledge, there is plenty of other data out there to make an informed and logical judgment.

    While people here like WJK, Richardson, Joshua, and others continue to express their amazement at how others can see things from a different vantage point than theirs. . .

    Being amazed at someone’s ignorance and inability to tell right from wrong, and disgusted at the moral equivalence they propose, is significantly different from how you describe it. I reject moral equivalence for the coward’s argument that it is.

    I might be wrong. Maybe those at Gitmo are more luxuriously accommodated than I’ve ever been at any five-star hotel I’ve ever had the fortune to stay in.

    A strawman and not even a remotely humorous one.

  • http://anythinggoeskorea.wordpress.com mcnut

    HOLY F’ing crap the mere fact that you would blame a guy who was in office 8 months and assign no blame to an entire administration that was in for 8 years before shows your ignorance or left wing lunacy which are one in the same

    oh but wait bush let it happen and the CIA blew up the world trade center so that they could go to war and get all the OIL!!!

    clinton politicized the process of getting intelligence and purely wanted to treat everything as an legal issue to treat these attacks as crimes. he stripped field agents of capabilities to detain and interrogate known terrorists, get informants, or put people inside these organizations back when it would have been feasible to do so

    clinton also was the major obstable into the USS Cole investigation

    bush treats this as an act of war an attack on the country and rightfully so has given power back to agencies to handle these people when and where they rear their wacky heads

    “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

    you are all products of this quote from orwell above simply because you are afforded the freedom and right to come to south korea and make a living because someone made that decision 58 years ago to go into a war that was unpopular and unsupported and wow look how that turned out

    that quote is alive and well to this day because of people all over the world currently doing jobs that most of you wieners cant imagine and not just military folks either

  • Mizar5

    It’s called a classic “straw man” argument. Gandi lacked the moral authority to speak out against slaughter because he once tried chicken.

  • http://www.ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

    Shades of Walt Whitman.

  • drewjube

    @mcnut: I’d say you’re aptly named.

    How much does a lifetime subscription to “Soldier of Fortune” go for, anyway?

  • Robert

    Yes dogbert is correct, because as we all known, waterboarding three people and imprisoning men caught in Afghanistan, fighting against US soldiers is the moral equivalent of imprisoning and starving a nation of millions. Did you hear the story about the people in Philadelphia who were executed for using a cell phone? Oh, wait… And evidently the president of the United States played no role at all in keeping terrorists from attacking the US again after 9-11. It seems the shrill, unbalanced critics of the Bush administration actually deserve all the credit.
    I don’t know what is worse, the fact that someone can compare Bush to Kim Jong Il or the fact that someone thinks it still makes them look cool and edgy to criticize Bush.

  • Robert

    #72
    More like shades of George Orwell, but given the quality of the comments on this thread, I am not surprised someone is that wrong.

  • Maddlew

    I thought it was Jack Nicholson in a “Few Good Men”.

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