As much as I hate to start a post quoting Ashton Kutcher, his sentiment sums up the outrage in the United States over the jail sentence handed down to two American journalists:
“This should be a national crisis… We have to demand that something be done. This is our country, it’s our military,” Ashton Tweeted on Monday. “I say it’s special ops time… If we can save that Captain from pirates we can save these journalists.”
I am sympathetic to the plight of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, and that it is fair to argue that by western standards, the 12 year sentences doesn’t nearly fit the crime, but lets take a closer look.
Reports are saying that Ling and Lee were taken on the China/ North Korean border where they were “reporting about the trafficking of North Korean women.” But there’s a flaw in that statement: the proximity to the border is irrelevant, because they were arrested inside North Korea. If they had been taken inside China, the “international incident” wouldn’t just involve North Korea and the United States, it would most definitely involve China, who would be outraged about an incursion into its territory by North Korean troops.
So these two “journalists” were arrested inside North Korea, having crossed the border without permission or appropriate paperwork. What if the incident were the other way around: two North Korean “journalists” crossed into the United States, cameras at hand, without paperwork. Better still, substitute North Korean journalist for a muslim journalist.
We already know the answer, and despite the occasional travel brochure suggesting otherwise, Gitmo isn’t overly pleasant for those detained there.
It’s terribly rich for America to complain about two entirely stupid journalists who purposely put themselves in harms way, knowing to well what the consequences might be, while America routinely detains anyone remotely suspected of being a threat, and holds them without trial nor natural justice.
To hold others to such high standards, you yourself practice those standards; when you do not, it can only be considered hypocrisy.
I do hope that Ling and Lee are released, and the issue is resolved. But the incident should be cause to reflect that America is long since dropped the flame when it comes to justice. President Obama promises hope, but every day prisoners at Gitmo do not face trial, nothing really changes.