Editor’s Note: Below is a video of Otto’s press conference televised from North Korea.
A student who studied economics at the prestigious University of Virginia has been sentenced to 15 years in the North Korean gulag for stealing a banner praising the patriotic socialism of the late communist dictator Kim Jong Il. Otto Warmbier was on a trip to the communist workers’ paradise sponsored by Young Pioneer Tours, and apparently wanted a souvenir or memento.
It’s not clear if he was a Bernie Sanders-style socialist or a member of the campus Democratic club. In any case, he didn’t realize the power of the state. Perhaps he is a victim of academia or Sanders’ notion of socialism.
Washington Post columnist Christine Emba, in an article on our “socialist youth,” writes about how socialism seems to have become “the political orientation du jour among voters of a certain (read: young) age.” Emba says socialism has ceased to be a dirty word, and there’s nothing wrong with young people turning out in support of the “democratic socialist” Sanders.
“When Sanders’s critics raise the alarm about socialism’s return, they paint a picture of collectivization, supply shortages and totalitarian regimes,” she writes. “But in fact, the socialism that most millennials want is simply a return to a more muscular form of traditional liberalism, one that would have felt right at home in the administration of FDR.”
So is FDR’s New Deal to be found in North Korea? Perhaps Emba ought to devote some time and attention to the bloody record of 100 million dead from communism.
Despite running around the country as a “democratic socialist,” Sanders insists he is not a socialist or a communist. He says, “The next time you hear me attacked as a socialist…remember this: I don’t believe that government should take over the grocery store down the street, or control the means of production. But I believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.”
Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) National Political Committee Member David Green says, “Our goal as socialists is to abolish private ownership of the means of production.” That’s communism.
Sanders has appeared before various DSA conventions and rallies over the years and has been reported to be a member of DSA. He has thanked the group for supporting his various campaigns for public office. He hasn’t been asked by the media to comment on the fact that one of his prominent supporters in the Washington, D.C. area is a convicted former spy for the Soviet Union and East Germany who is still a member of the DSA.
DSA has signed on as a co-sponsor of Democracy Spring, a march from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. beginning April 2, with “actions” in the capital April 11-16 that are predicted to include “mass civil disobedience with a potential for arrests.”
It’s too bad Warmbier won’t be here to participate. Will Sanders travel to North Korea to get freedom for the American student?
“Welcome to Young Pioneer Tours, the first company to offer budget tours to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [DPRK],” says the group that sponsored Warmbier’s trip to communist North Korea. It also sponsors tours to Cuba. The symbol of the tour group is a person holding a red flag with the hammer and sickle.
You may recall that the media discovered, through digging (because the Sanders campaign was not forthcoming), that Sanders lived in an Israeli commune whose members paraded around carrying red flags and were dedicated to Joseph Stalin. Sanders and his wife later went on a honeymoon to the Soviet Union.
Stalin engineered the North Korean invasion of South Korea, resulting in the deaths of 54,246 Americans.
In a question-and-answer section on the tour group’s website, we are told that North Korea is “Extremely safe!” and that “Despite what you may hear, North Korea is probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit. Tourism is very welcomed in North Korea, thus tourists are cherished and well taken care of. We have never felt suspicious or threatened at any time. In fact, North Koreans are super friendly and accommodating, if you let them into your world. Even during tense political moments tourism to the DPRK is never affected.”
You may have seen Warmbier crying on television and apologizing for his crimes against the communists. He blamed the United States, saying, “I wish that the United States administration never manipulate people like myself in the future to commit crimes against foreign countries. I entirely beg you, the people and government of the DPRK, for your forgiveness. Please! I made the worst mistake of my life!”
Rather than insist that these students merely want a “more muscular form of traditional liberalism,” it would appear that some of these Sanders supporters desire socialism or full-blown communism.
“President Obama told a group of young people in Argentina not to worry about the differences between capitalism and communism and ‘just choose from what works,’” The Washington Times reports. Obama knows his Marxism. According to the Marxist dialectic, socialism is just one stage on the way to communism. What “works” is what works at a particular time in a particular country.
Obama had just left Cuba, which is a Marxist-Leninist single-party state.
Not much is known about the political views of student Otto Warmbier, but it’s a safe bet he was a victim of academia and the media regarding the nature of Marxism and Marxist regimes.
Did he not understand that the term “young pioneers” harkens back to the Young Pioneers in the Soviet Union? According to Russia Today’s Russiapedia, “…the Pioneers was militaristic in style with many symbols of hierarchy and the state. Flags, bugles and drums all helped to instill a sense of belonging to a cause, and young pioneers wore uniforms with badges of rank.”
Sanders has said, “I worry very, very much about an isolated country,” in regard to North Korea. He says it’s “a very, very strange country because it is so isolated, and I do feel that a nation with nuclear weapons, they have got to be dealt with.”
Yet, on February 10, when the U.S. Senate approved new sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear tests by a 96-0 vote, Sanders was absent. “GOP presidential candidates Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas came off the campaign trail to cast their votes on the important national security issue, while Democratic 2016 hopeful Bernie Sanders of Vermont did not,” CNN reported.
Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson said, “It is unfortunate that yet again, Senator Sanders has shown a lack of interest in vital national security issues, failing to vote on sanctions against the country he said poses the greatest threat to the United States.”
How exactly is the Sanders brand of socialism different from that practiced in the DPRK? Perhaps Warmbier can now enlighten us.
“The DPRK is an independent socialist state representing the interests of all the Korean people,” the government’s official website declares. “The socialist system of the Republic is a people-centered social system in which the masses of the working people are the masters of everything and everything in society serves them. In accordance with the nature of its socialist system, the Government of the Republic defends and protects the interests of workers, peasants and intellectuals and all other working people who have become masters of state and society, free from exploitation and oppression.”
Was Warmbier a true believer? Or was he duped like so many of the others?
Come on, Bernie. Demonstrate your commitment to democratic socialism by traveling to North Korea to get the American student back. Denounce the regime. Stand up for freedom.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Roman Harak