A few months ago the Telegraph reported that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s ex-girlfriend and a dozen of her friends were executed by machine gun for pornographic crimes. “All 12 were machine-gunned three days later, with other members of North Korea’s most famous pop groups and their immediate families forced to watch. The onlookers were then sent to prison camps, victims of the regime’s assumption of guilt by association, the reports stated. ”

That’s a heck of a way to break up with your ex. But it’s North Korea and people do things differently there. Just now the wires say Kim has struck again. This time he’s executed his uncle.

The announcement came only days after Pyongyang announced through state media that Jang Song Thaek — long considered the country’s No. 2 power — had been removed from all his posts because of allegations of corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and leading a “dissolute and depraved life.”

The state news agency KCNA said a tribunal examined Jang’s crimes, including “attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state.”

The report called him “a traitor to the nation” and “worse than a dog.”

One moment Jang Song Thaek bestrode the world. Then a few days ago the secret police came up to the old geezer at a Party meeting and dragged him off.  Well that’s one less card to send this Christmas, I mean Holiday Season.

Indignant protesters can safely throw shoes at John Howard or George Bush yelling “Hitler” precisely because they know they ain’t.  If they threw shoes at a real Kim Jong-un — or Hitler — the results would be rather different.  We throw shoes at those we are sure won’t strike back. The guilty we call Mr Honorable Excellency.

I'm your bro, not your uncle

I’m your bro, not your uncle

Recently 13 journalistic organizations, including the BBC, Atlantic, Washington Post, Reuters, AP and the New York Times composed a letter to the Syrian rebels requesting assurances they would not be kidnapped. It said “we believe it is imperative for the leadership of the armed opposition to commit itself to assuring that journalists can work within Syria, secure from kidnapping.”

The press regularly sends the most obsequious and fawning letters to groups they describe as the “armed opposition”, “militants” or something similarly grand.  But they reserve their terms of opprobrium for the US Armed Forces  – those brutal, war-crime committing, imperialist running dogs — for the simple reason they know the opposite is true.

You’d never insult an armed force that would actually shoot you.

Things are rather less contrived in places where political correctness does not yet reign. There raw passions  rule. The Associated Press reported that “African peacekeepers fired into the air Thursday in Central African Republic’s chaotic capital, trying to disperse a mob bent on hunting down and killing Muslims taking refuge in a church compound.”

That lead paragraph is so wrong it is difficult to imagine it being published in any normal Western newspaper. But it is no less perplexing than this headline. “Syrian opposition seeks Islamists’ protection against al Qaeda”.

(Reuters) – Syria’s Western-backed opposition said on Thursday its military arm had invited Islamist fighters to secure its weapons depots on the Turkish frontier after an attack by al Qaeda militants.

The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria after reports that Islamic Front forces had taken buildings belonging to the coalition’s Syrian Military Council (SMC) in Bab al-Hawa on the border with Turkey.

The need to survive makes strange bedfellows.  Things don’t always work according to the narrative.  But they work according to the laws of physics.  Fantasy is a luxury good that can only be enjoyed in the absence of consequences.

Put it there pardner

Put it there pardner

The population of the West would be astonished at how brutish life can be in those bucolic countries which the Left perpetually idealizes.  The Dear Abby problems of life in Syria. “In Syria, Be Careful Who You Behead — Mistaken execution pits Islamist rebels against each other.”  Good advice. Clip it out and keep it in your wallet. You may need it in Syria.

In the West people have rather other priorities. Recently Mr. Trenton Oldfield, facing deportation for disrupting the boat race between Oxford and Cambridge appealed against his deportation to Australia on the grounds that it was “a particularly racist country”. He added:

that if deported he would be separated from his wife Deepa Naik, 36, and child. Mr Oldfield said Ms Naik had never visited Australia and couldn’t live there because some Indians in the community had suffered violent racist attacks. There was also everyday “passive water-cooler racism”, he said. “Our home is here. Australia is on the other side of the world.”

What kind of guy thinks it’s a really important cause to disrupt a boat race to protest “elitism”? What sort of person thinks Australia is worse place to live than the subcontinent?  Certainly a person who can afford to worry about such things. If he were in North Korea he’d be busy worrying about other things.

The judge granted his request and inadvertently served the ends of convenience. Mr. Oldfield will get what he wants and at least some Australians will never clap eyes on him again.

But whether the judgment served the ends of justice is a different matter. We have grown altogether too casual about the truth; far too inclined to ascribe virtue to vice and enshrine vice as virtue. The 20th century was perhaps the first time in human history when men felt entitled set aside the facts in order to serve the vanity of self-righteousness. Albert Camus, wondering how European civilization collapsed in a smoking ruin thought that perhaps it had not only lost the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, but actually exchanged their places. In the past even evil men knew they were evil; and in their depravity felt a sense of transgression.

Today we shout our inversions from the housetops.

In more ingenuous times, when the tyrant razed cities for his own greater glory, when the slave chained to the conqueror’s chariot was dragged through the rejoicing streets, when enemies were thrown to the wild beasts in front of the assembled people, the mind did not reel before such unabashed crimes, and the judgment remained unclouded. But slave camps under the flag of freedom, massacres justified by philanthropy or by a taste for the superhuman, in one sense cripple judgment. On the day when crime dons the apparel of innocence — through a curious transposition peculiar to our times — it is innocence that is called upon to justify itself.

No one apologizes any more; least of all the wicked.  We misspeak but never lie; we make excuses and evade responsibility; or worse we create new frauds to conceal the old. In place of the old injunction “go and sin no more” we have substituted the new commandment: “sin is no more.”

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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