Back when The Stupogants™ (i.e., Laura Ling, Euna Lee, and Mitch Koss) ran afoul of the North Korean authorities in 2009 — leading to the detainment, conviction, and incarceration for Ms Ling and Ms Lee — I got a bit of flack for my criticism of those three for what they did and how they did it. At places like One Free Korea, it was merely ideological and based on interpretations of the facts, but in other places it got more personal, including accusations of plagiarism.
With apparent Christian missionary Kenneth Bae being the latest guest at the Pyongyang Palazzo, it's natural that some are drawing parallels between Mr Bae and the case of Ms Ling and Lee (and Mr Koss), or even that of Messianic crusader Robert Park and his buddy Aijalon Gomes. I myself did so in a recently post.
But what gets in my craw today is this comment by Marmot's Hole dweller DLBarch in response to the news (carried also by me yesterday) that Kim Jong-un's new BFF Dennis Rodman has asked KJU to do him a solid and pardon Mr Bae:
Okay, so maybe I shouldn't take regard as direct criticism of my views since I do not comment at The Marmot's Hole anymore (no, not in any way, shape, or form for many years now), but since I was early on the preeminent critic of The Stupogants™ (enough that Laura Ling's famous sister, Lisa Ling, contacted me directly about my criticisms) and there was an entire post at The Marmot's Hole about my views on the matter, I'm taking DLB's bogus comments personal, at least as they relate to me.
But, but…it is fascinating to compare how the MH commentariat has treated the Kenneth Bae incident with how it treated Laura Ling and Euna Lee not too long ago. The full-throated vituperation and, yes, barely disguised misogyny that surrounded the Ling and Lee drama is nowhere to be found in the latest Bae hostage taking.
Given Bae’s voluntarily — and repeatedly — entered North Korea whereas Ling and Lee got misled into inadvertently crossing the North Korea-China border, this difference of popular reaction to the two incidents is striking. Bae seems to be getting a huge pass, while Ling and Lee were thoroughly excoriated in the most personal of attacks.
While I agree with DLB's first paragraph, to describe my "full-throated vituperation" as "barely disguised misogyny" is preposterous, and demonstrably false for a number of reasons. Let's go over them, shall we?
- Do a word string search for "Mitch Koss" at my site and you'll see me referring to him repeatedly in my criticisms of The Stupogants. My full-throated vituperation of Ling and Lee extends to him as well, and that was early on. It has nothing to do with them being women; the closest I got to a gendered comment was mocking Koss — who managed to escape while Ling and Lee ended up captured — for his lack of chivalry in saving his own ass.
- I also spent considerable time skewering Robert Park, a mentally troubled man who can't decide if he's Moses or the Messiah. Robert Park, you may have noticed, is a man. Ditto with Aijalon Mahli Gomes.
- The criticism of The Stupogants is valid and has nothing to do with their gender. They were there for personal gain (fame from getting the scoop of all scoops) and their journalistic negligence — they were carrying tapes of the escaped refugees they'd interviewed! — may well have cost lives and caused the North Korean authorities to plug up an important escape route. (Likewise, Robert Park's crazy walkabout into North Korea was about increasing his own fame.)
- Unlike The Stupogants or Mr Park, Mr Bae has been risking his freedom for something that offers no financial aggrandizement or opportunity for fame. In fact, if his life-endangering "mission" is offering hope and escape to individuals in the North (or providing a slow-dose poison pill to the regime), his motives are the diametric opposite of those of The Stupogants. Consequently, any "striking" difference in levels of criticism would be about something other than gender.
- My "attacks" on Lee and Ling (or Koss) were no more "personal" than to admonish others not to buy their books, because they shouldn't profit from their foolishness and arrogance that endangered some extremely vulnerable people in China and North Korea. They sought publicity afterwards, and that opens them up for scrutiny and, if warranted, criticism.
- Whether or not Bae "gets a huge pass" will depend a lot on what information comes out when he's released. If it turns out that he knowingly did careless things that could bring considerable harm on those he encountered — as was the case with Koss, Lee, and Ling — I will be first in line to pillory him for that. The Stupogants were depicted as innocents who just got lost, when the reality turned out to be quite different; if I was so full-throated in my vituperation, it's because I recognized that early on and I was at first the lone voice in saying so.
- Oh, and Ms Ling and Ms Lee did not "inadvertently cross the North Korea-China border" (which is a river, by the way). They knowingly and deliberately crossed in order to have a great hook for their program.