“Send bombers, and turn North Korea into a parking lot.”
That was my initial knee-jerk reaction when I heard that Otto Warmbier was dead.
It was not the most Christian thought ever to flash through my heart and mind, and going to war against that pariah state would cause a world of hurt and a small universe of casualties. Under the circumstances, I hope I can be forgiven for wishing momentarily to see the Boy Stalin and his henchmen wiped off the map.
By the way, I’d still like to see them wiped off the map. I welcome suggestions.
The American physicians who treated Otto when he was safely home were judicious in their assessment of his condition. That is as it should be. They are men and women of science, they should stick to what they can prove, particularly when speaking to the press. It stands to reason, however, that shortly after Otto was sentenced to 15 years hard labor, allegedly for pilfering a propaganda sign, he was beaten, or tortured, or brutalized by his captors to the point that he fell into a coma from which he never emerged, and suffered severe brain damage from which he never recovered.
By all accounts he was a bright, friendly, hard-working, promising kid, with a great future ahead of him. And he was murdered by one of the most vicious governments on the planet. Considering how the Kims have terrorized and continue to terrorize their own people, we should not be surprised. But it breaks the heart anyway. And in my naïveté, I thought that here at least was a point around which the country could rally — grief for the murder of an innocent young American, and profound sorrow for his family and friends.
I was wrong.
Almost immediately after news broke that Otto had died, Katherine Dettwyler, an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware, signed on to her Facebook account and asked, “Is it wrong of me to think that Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved?” She went on to deride this dead kid as “spoiled, naïve, arrogant.”
That is despicable. But apparently Dettwyler felt the need to reach a broader audience than Facebook, so she weighed into the Comments box on National Review where she wrote, “Otto is typical of the mindset of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueles [sic] males who come into my classes.”
Another commenter on National Review took her on, reproaching her for “the hatred you spew at ordinary white college kids.”
But Dettwyler, loaded up with a full tank of venom and not an ounce of shame, wasn’t backing down. She attacked Otto as one of those “white, rich, clueless males” who “think nothing of raping drunk girls at frat parties and snorting cocaine, cheating on exams, and threatening professors with physical violence.”
Of course, Dettwyler did not spare Otto’s parents. “His parents, ultimately, are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted…. And, of course, it’s Otto’s parents who will pay the price for the rest of their lives.”
To its credit, the administrators of the University of Delaware have released a statement that suggest they are not too happy with Prof. Dettwyler: “We condemn any and all messages that endorse hatred and convey insensitivity toward a tragic event such as the one that Otto Warmbier and his family suffered.”
A loud-mouthed, self-absorbed, hate-filled academic is just one more loud-mouthed, self-absorbed, hate-filled academic. Right? We can write off Dettwyler as an ivy-covered aberration. Right? But I was a wrong about that, too.
I went over to the National Review and found a story by David French about some reactions from the Left back in January 2016 when the North Koreans dragged Otto before television cameras for a show trial. There it was: the injustice of the court, the ridiculous “confession,” the tears and despair of the victim when he was given a cruel sentence. But none of that touched some the Left’s favorite wiseguys.
French points to Larry Wilmore, one of the stars of Comedy Central, who just hours after Otto was sent to a North Korean hell-hole launched into “an eight-minute festival of mockery that accepted the North Korean regime’s version of events, mocked Warmbier’s anguished tears, and even posted a graphic calling him an ‘ass’ — based on the initials of a fictional fraternity.”
Over at the Huffington Post is La Sha, who tells us she uses her writing “to deconstruct oppressive ideologies and systems.” She also describes her self as “a softee.” Her piece on Otto’s sentencing doesn’t quite fit that description: “What a mind-blowing moment it must be to realize after 21 years of being pedestaled by the world simply because your DNA coding produced the favorable phenotype that such favor is not absolute.”
But La Sha doesn’t stop there. “The hopeless fear Warmbier is now experiencing is my daily reality living in a country where white men like him are willfully oblivious to my suffering even as they are complicit in maintaining the power structures which ensure their supremacy at my expense.”
French also mentioned a mocking piece published by Salon after Otto’s sentencing. Since Otto’s death, Salon has deleted the article from their site. I give them points for having some sense of decency.
Speaking of shutting things down, Dettwyler’s Facebook page has vanished.
Spewing hate is not the sole province of the left. There are folks on the Right who are pretty good at it, too. A plague on both their houses.
If either side goes after a politician, or a celebrity, or anyone else who actively puts himself/herself in the public spotlight, well, they should brace themselves, because the s**t-storm is coming.
But Otto Warmbier was an anonymous kid who was torn apart by a vicious regime. But that didn’t stop a two-bit yuckmeister from using him as a punchline, or a soapbox revolutionary making him the target of her rant-du-jour, or a tin-pot classroom dictator from announcing to the world that because Otto Warmbier was young, white, male, and accomplished, he deserved to die.
Ordinarily, it’s easy to take notice of such people. Wilmore: change the channel. La Sha: scroll down. Dettwyler: drop her class. There is no point confronting these people, you’ll never make a dent in their arrogance. And perhaps we should listen to them. After all, they are on TV; they get published; they have Ph.D.s, so they can say and do whatever they like.
Golly, that sounds like privilege.