If a man can be judged by the company he keeps while he lives then I would add that a man can also be judged by those who weep when he dies.
In the case of the recently departed Kim Jong-Il the only people shedding tears for him (apart from the North Koreans forced into publicly outgrieving their neighbors) are the world’s tyrants.
According to an article in The Guardian written by David Smith, their Africa correspondent, Cuba’s Raul Castro has declared three days of mourning with flags to be flown at half mast. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (who called Kim his “comrade”), Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega (Kim had congratulated him on his “re-election” last month) as well as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe have all lamented Kim’s passing.
Indeed, a top official from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF described Kim as “a lovely man.” Given how Zimbabwe has emulated North Korean agricultural policy by going from a net exporter to a net importer of food, I doubt neither the sincerity nor the cruelty of those condolences.
If only Christopher Hitchens had lived long enough to write one more article about the absurdity of it all.