According to psychology, we are all prone to overestimating the extent to which people are like us. Which, I suppose, is why I routinely overestimate my Facebook friends' ability to think rationally and critically.
Case in point: why do so many people think it makes sense to compare what happened to Otto Warmbier in North Korea... to the fate of a mentally ill, knife-wielding woman in Seattle?
It is not the same thing. Not even close.
But the comparison brings to light several hypocrisies and inconsistencies in regressive left thinking. For example:
1. Warmbier is an "idiot" for probably doing nothing. But Trayvon Martin et al. did nothing to deserve his fate.
While "tolerant" liberals are gleefully, spitefully doing a "White privilege isn't universal!" dance, and accusing Warmbier of being an "idiot" for breaking "international law"... it's not even clear that the 21-year-old college student actually broke any law.
Many close to the case have speculated that Warmbier's tearful confession was coerced -- that North Korea regularly detains Americans, just for political leverage.
If you want to compare this to police shootings in America, though, let's!
If a black man were shot for allegedly committing the "crime" of stealing a propaganda poster... would "tolerant" liberals believe he deserved to be tortured into a coma?
Was Trayvon Martin an "idiot" who "deserved" to be shot? After all, according to "star witness" Rachel Jeantel, Martin decided, after arriving safely at home, to go back out. Jurors later cited her testimony as a major factor in their decision. (Start the video at 5:12 if you don't want to watch the whole interview):
Here's the transcript:
Another key thing for me was tying Rachel Jeantel’s testimony to when she was on the phone with Trayvon, and…you can’t say what she was saying, except for when the phone disconnected and she called back. And she called back and talked to him again. At that point Trayvon said he had lost the man and he was at where his father was staying – he was at that place. At the same time as that happening George Zimmerman had only just gotten out of his car – about 25, 30 seconds so he was still up at the “T,” and Trayvon, according to Jeantel’s testimony, would have been down at the other end of the buildings, at that point. So somehow those two got back together at the top of the “T.” We don’t know how that happened, but in all likelihood, and in my mind, if George Zimmerman had walked down to where Trayvon was, then they both walked back up to the “T,” so that would have implied that Trayvon had followed George Zimmerman back up. If George Zimmerman didn’t walk down there, then Trayvon walked back up to the “T” somehow, cause then the ear witnesses heard the noises up there, most of the witnesses – I believe one said the noises went the other direction but a majority of them had the noises coming from the top of the “T” down to the trunk where John Good saw him laying on the ground with Trayvon on top of George Zimmerman. I believe that John Good said that he believed it was Zimmerman because he had the color of the jacket that he had.
Here's the map:
Surely Trayvon knew the dangers of going out and getting into a physical confrontation with a stranger!
Was Alton Sterling an idiot, too? I mean, in addition to being a child rapist (oh, wait -- consent doesn't matter if the aggressor has more oppression than you!) with a record of aggravated battery, criminal damage to property, unauthorized entry and domestic abuse battery... shouldn't he have known better than to have a gun on him (illegally) when he was on probation? Shouldn't he have put his hands up and done a better job of complying with police orders?
No? They didn't do anything wrong? They didn't deserve what happened to them? Then how on earth did Otto?
2. Victim blaming is wrong... except for when the victim is white.
So many gleeful little posts about white privilege came out in 2016, when Warmbier was first sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor. Salon has deleted one such post, This Might Be America's Biggest Idiot Frat Boy: Meet the UVa Student Who Thought He Could Pull a Prank in North Korea.
Not to mention that comedian. You know... the one whose name I can't quite remember, because he wasn't quite funny, and his show got canceled pretty quickly after it started? Who was that...? Oh, right. Larry Wilmore.
He continued to chide:
“Frat bro privilege not valid in totalitarian dystopias. Listen, Otto Von Crybaby, if you're so anxious to go to a country with an unpredictable megalomaniac in charge, just wait a year and you'll live in one! It's coming, you guys! You know that shit is coming! Make America Great!"
Otto Von Crybaby? That's a pretty hateful way to talk about someone who was just openly sobbing and begging for his life.
But, right, I forgot. He's white, and he looks like he could be a frat boy, so fuck him! He deserves this!
But never, ever say a black man deserved to get shot for resisting arrest.
Never, ever blame a girl for getting raped because she shouldn't have been dressed like that or she shouldn't have been drinking or she shouldn't have gone to that party.
I mean, I definitely understand the, "Why would he even go to North Korea in the first place?" thing. I have similar feelings about North Korea. Why would anyone go there? It doesn't even look that pretty! It's like, Oh, cool! A statue of mass murdering psycho-dictators and a smoggy city full of oppressed people! Cool!
Maybe Otto had an interest in human rights or government, and he thought it would be a valuable intellectual experience. Maybe going to North Korea made him feel brave and empowered. Maybe he thought it would be safe, since he was going with an established tour group with a good reputation and (according to his roommate) he followed all the rules.
How safe is North Korea? "Extremely safe!" according to the company that took Otto to Pyongyang, where he was arrested at the airport. The website makes no mention of Otto or other detainees.
Maybe he just underestimated the depravity of North Korean officials.
We don't really know. We don't even know if he actually committed any crimes, or if his confession was coerced.
I know someone who's traveled to North Korea, and he came back fine. Most people who go aren't detained and sentenced to hard labor or death by torture. Driving to work back in the States is probably WAY more dangerous than going to North Korea (and although, statistically, driving is one of the most dangerous things we do, it's still pretty safe -- if all you did, 24 hours a day, was drive, and the only thing that could kill you was a car crash, you'd be driving for 250 years). Going to a frat party is way more likely to end in disaster than going to North Korea. In terms of risk assessment, I don't think Otto did a terrible job.
But either way, that shouldn't matter, right? Because victim blaming is wrong?
3. It is retarded to compare a local police shooting (of which there have been many) to an international crisis (the likes of which we have never seen).
Yes, I said retarded. Yes, I know regressives consider it a slur. Here's why I disagree them.
But I digress.
The point is, apples and oranges.
Just days after returning home from over a year in North Korean captivity, Otto Warmbier died from injuries sustained during his time in Pyongyang. Not only is the civilized world outraged by this event... but we're all struggling with the question, now, of what the US will do in response.
Moreover, this strange and sad case is raising serious questions about why Pyongyang broke with its normal practice and injured the young American so horrifically that he came home in a coma.
In an interview, North Korea expert Sung-Yoon Lee of Tufts University said it’s not unprecedented for foreign detainees -- even US citizens -- to be subject to physical abuse. What's unprecedented with the Warmbier case is the severity of the abuse. No US detainee has ever returned home in a comatose state before. And now he is dead.
It is senseless and tragic and one-sided. There is no universe in which what happened to Otto is okay.
Oh! And then there's the whole nuclear tensions thing. In case you missed it:
If you truly think an apt comparison can be made between Otto Warmbier's treatment and murder by North Korea can be compared to Charleena Lyles, a pregnant black woman with mental health issues who was shot after approaching police with a knife... you should probably start spending a little more time reading the news, and a little less reading Everyday Feminism.
And speaking of the media:
4. If you think the Otto Warmbier story is getting more coverage than the Charleena Lyles story because of racism, you don't understand how the media works.
It's clear that social justice warriors don't understand business. They think plus-size fashion is a big pile of easy money, but no one will take it because we all hate fat people. Even though:
They think they should boycott black immigrant entrepreneurs for trying to grow their business to include products for white women and non-black people of color -- which is so sad! Don't you want to see black entrepreneurs from war-torn countries to succeed?
And, apparently, they think it's racism, and not business or journalism or relative importance, that has kept Otto's story on the front page over Charleena's.
But here's the thing:
"Good" news stories have both a clear victim and an underlying humanitarian cause. That is why, despite the fact that there is a ton of crazy stuff going on in the South China Sea right now, we rarely hear about it. Because it's a naval conflict, there are no victims, only naval/marine casualties. Because it's an economic conflict, rather than a human rights or political one, people aren't especially outraged or concerned. (But it is a totally important and interesting, and I highly recommend reading Robert Kaplan's Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific.)
Otto's is a tragic story with a clear, innocent and undeserving victim. He was tortured and murdered by an evil, brutal regime. And we may never know what really happened to him to put him in a coma.
Charleena's is a story that we've all heard before. Her innocence is contested by police officers, who say she had a history of mental illness and attacked them with a knife. She is not a clear victim here. And even if she is a victim, she's probably not the only victim. If two police officers shot a pregnant, crazy woman without good reason... they are either hateful racists, or they did not receive the proper training and resources to safely do their job.
It's kind of like Officer Bailey in Orange is the New Black.
Yes, it is a tragedy... but the reason it's not getting as much attention as the North Korea situation is because it is not a unique story, and its significance is dwarfed (sorry -- was that a microaggression?) by that of the North Korea situation... and, quite frankly, it just doesn't have the makings of a "good" and "sensational" story.
It's even less logical than saying that the reason a terrorist attack in London or Paris gets more attention than one in Pakistan or Egypt is "racism." It's obviously because the former are full of people who look and speak like us; who share our Western values; and who don't generally have violent political or religious clashes. Many of us have even visited England or France! Meanwhile, terror attacks happen in the Middle East all the time. We don't share many of their religious, political, or cultural values (thank God!). We don't study their languages in school. Most people have not traveled there, and don't know anyone from there.
Of course London attacks get more coverage than Pakistani ones.
And of course Otto is getting more coverage than Charleena.
Logistics aside, I am shocked by the "liberal" lack of compassion. For example:
To which reasonable people responded:
But perhaps Noah Rothman said it best in Otto Warmbier, Moral Perversion, and the Social Justice Left:
"This horrifying zest to attack this young adult, now just another victim of a totalitarian and criminal state, has exposed social justice for what it is: the precise opposite of objective justice. There is no theory of justice, no school of thought that would justify the treatment to which Warmbier was subjected. There was nothing just about his ordeal. Those who would excuse the regime’s conduct, even going so far as to adopt its language (the grave “international crime” of poster theft) have abdicated all moral authority. And for what? The base pleasure of pleasing a mob that lusts for the blood of those with certain characteristics adopted at birth—characteristics they happen to resent. That’s not justice. It’s prejudice."