Nicholas Kristof wants to know why liberals aren’t out front in alleviating human rights woes in general and in the nightmare that is North Korea in particular.
[T]hese days liberals should be embarrassed that it's the Christian Right that is taking the lead in spotlighting repression in North Korea.Mr. Kristof’s heart is in the right place, but why should such atrocities be framed in the idea of which side is doing more? What is apparent it that neither liberals nor conservatives are able to do enough.
Perhaps no country in human history has ever been as successful at totalitarianism as North Korea. Koreans sent back from China have been herded like beasts, with wires forced through their palms or under their collarbones. People who steal food have been burned at the stake, with their relatives recruited to light the match. Then there was the woman who was a true believer and suggested that the Dear Leader should stop womanizing: after she was ordered executed, her own husband volunteered to pull the trigger. [SNIP]
Conservative Christians have aggressively taken up the cause of North Korean human rights in the last few years, and the movement is gathering steam. A U.S.-government-financed conference on North Korean human rights convened in Washington last week, and President Bush is expected shortly to appoint Jay Lefkowitz to the new position of special envoy for North Korean human rights.
Perhaps Mr. Kristof—a liberal himself--knows the liberal mindset better than I do and is trying to shame them into acting. (“Can’t have those conservatives be seen as more of a friend to the oppressed than we are.”) If that’s the case, then more power to him.
He also laments liberal media and the conservative government inattention to the slavery and genocide in Sudan.
More than two years have passed since the beginning of what Mr. Bush acknowledges is the first genocide of the 21st century, yet Mr. Bush barely manages to get the word "Darfur" out of his mouth. Still, it seems hypocritical of me to rage about Mr. Bush's negligence, when my own beloved institution - the American media - has been at least as passive as Mr. Bush. [SNIP]I don’t see why liberals and the non-Christians should be surprised or embarrassed at this. Christian groups were at the forefront of ending American slavery also. The only thing the left should be embarrassed about is the tendency of some of their number to criticize any effort that isn't perfect and isn't theirs.
I'm outraged that one of my Times colleagues, Judith Miller, is in jail for protecting her sources. But if we journalists are to demand a legal privilege to protect our sources, we need to show that we serve the public good - which means covering genocide as seriously as we cover, say, Tom Cruise. In some ways, we've gone downhill: the American news media aren't even covering the Darfur genocide as well as we covered the Armenian genocide in 1915.
Serious newspapers have done the best job of covering Darfur, and I take my hat off to Emily Wax of The Washington Post and to several colleagues at The Times for their reporting. Time magazine gets credit for putting Darfur on its cover - but the newsweeklies should be embarrassed that better magazine coverage of Darfur has often been in Christianity Today.
I know of a several private Christian organizations that raise money to buy people out of Sudanese bondage and set them free. Does it work toward the greater goal of ending the slavery and genocide in the country? Probably not. However, they are doing something besides blaming Bush and, perhaps a few hundred black Sudanese will live the type of lives than would have been impossible otherwise. It is better than nothing.
All Americans, left and right, need to stop a minute and ponder just what it’s like to not have to worry about being herded.
(Thanks to Dennis Prager)