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Time To Take On Kim Jong Un
Workers remove a poster-banner for 'The Interview' from a billboard in Hollywood, California, December 18, 2014 a day after Sony announced was cancelling the movie's Christmas release due to a terrorist threat. (Michael THURSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Time To Take On Kim Jong Un

Harold Furchtgott-Roth

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un imitates Adolf Hitler in all but scale. He imprisons all who live in his prison state. He has taken countless innocent lives. In the past week, he has violated the privacy of myriads of Americans, stolen intellectual property with impunity, and threatened the world with ferocious acts.

Arguably, North Korea and its thug leader have launched the largest direct attack on America since 9/11. For his crimes, Kim Jong Un garnered remarkably little reaction until Sony decided not to release its film The Interview after theaters balked at showing it. Rather than defend Americans under attack and in distress, our government has done little or even worse by blaming the victim. President Obama went so far as to say “I wish they had spoken to me first,” as if corporations should check with the President before making corporate decisions. In a fascist state, corporate executives check with the government first. In America, they do not.

Perhaps the worst damage from Kim Jong Un is that he has revealed America to be a lesser country than we thought we were, and certainly a lesser country than we should be. By that, I do not mean that our cyber-security systems are less robust than we thought. Perhaps they are less robust, but that alone would not make America a lesser country. We would simply pull ourselves up, develop better cyber-security, and move forward. Rather, it is our reaction to a brutal attack against ourselves that leaves us short.

Stealing and revealing private emails is a crime. Rather than be horrified by the breach of privacy, we are titillated by reading private emails, published widely by otherwise reputable publishers. Instead of recoiling from Kim Jong Un, we eagerly benefit from his crime. When we benefit from his crime, Kim Jong Un wins, and America loses.

Similarly, stealing and disseminating intellectual property is a crime. All too many Americans have chased down the criminals with the stolen goods, eager to share in the loot. Sony had much of its intellectual property stolen. No public outrage ensued. No politicians vowed revenge. When we accept his crime, Kim Jong Un wins, and America loses.

To add insult to injury, Kim Jong Un’s minions issued threats that any entity distributing the film The Interview would suffer dire consequences. Rather than offering soothing words such as “Keep Calm and Carry On,” our government gave credence that the threat from the North Korean criminals should be taken seriously. Overnight, no business would distribute The Interview. When we cower before his crime, Kim Jong Un wins, and America loses.

To show how weak we have become, our government reportedly has sought help from China to thwart North Korea’s Internet-based terrorism. The irony is precious. America is supposedly the land of network neutrality, of an open Internet, where no Internet site can lawfully be blocked. But in a world in which evil lurks, an Open Internet is an invitation for evil to spread. Rather than fight evil on the Internet with all of strength and virtue that is America, we turn to the country that administers the most closely government-controlled Internet in the world—China. It is as if to say that an open Internet cannot defeat Kim Jong Un, but a closed Internet can.

The Wall Street Journal recently suggested that the federal government should buy the rights to The Interview from Sony and put the film in the public domain online. I have a different idea: Sony should sell the rights to the highest private bidder. If that bidder has any sense, she will let any politician license the film to be shown at political gatherings around America.

Americans long to hear a politician willing to take a stand against Kim Jong Un and all of his evil actions. They want to hear a politician saying that stealing and disseminating emails and intellectual property is wrong, rather a source of amusement. Americans would pay to hear a politician declaring that cowering in fear of North Korea is wrong. Americans yearn to hear a politician say that America does not desperately need the help of China to thwart North Korea.

In 1940, the Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplin, and others produced movies caricaturing Adolf Hitler. Some politicians at the time no doubt thought it unwise to annoy the tyrant. But accommodating evil is never a good strategy. Not in 1940. Not today. Kim Jong Un has through his crimes attacked America and brought us low in ways that we do not yet fully understand. It is time to fight back.

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