OPINION: The Un-American activists’ reaction to Otto Warmbier
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When an American citizen is brutalized at the hands of a subhuman communist dictatorship, America and humanity at large should mourn together.  Instead, in a sick and twisted display of cruelty, some celebrated.

It’s been just one week since Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American student, lost his life after spending 17 months in a North Korean prison for allegedly removing a propaganda sign from a wall — an allegation that was dismissed by his travel companion and never proven in a democratic court of law.  


While several malicious left-wing writers seemed to relish in his undemocratic, hostile capture by a maniacal regime, one professor went so far as to revel in the death of this innocent American student.  The anthropology professor wrote that he “got exactly what he deserved”, saying Warmbier was “typical of a mindset of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueless males who come into my classes.”  The adjunct professor was rightfully fired for her foolish and hateful victim-blaming.

While the University of Delaware did the right thing in dismissing the professor, the Huffington Post has taken the classless route of continuing to feature a sick 2016 article that appears to take joy in Otto’s unjust prosecution.  

The writer, who said she was “writing to deconstruct oppressive ideologies and systems,” ironically seems to condone the actions of one. In the beginning of her piece, she describes her mother’s reaction to an American teenager punished abroad with six lashes from a cane in Singapore.  “That’s what the hell he gets. Good for him!” her mother responded.  

Now referring to Warmbier, she writes, “[M]y mother’s callous reaction … is my reaction to another young white man who went to an Asian country and violated their laws, and learned that the shield his ... white male identity provides here in America is not teflon abroad.”

After appearing to excuse North Korea’s autocratic handling of Otto, she ends by making a troubling comparison, alleging that “[t]he hopeless fear Warmbier is now experiencing is my daily reality living in a country where white men like him are willfully oblivious to my suffering … He is now an outsider at the mercy of a government unfazed by his cries for help. I get it.” 

No, you do not get it.  You do not get it all. To compare the United States of America – the beacon of the free world – to the brutal North Korean dictatorship is as insulting as it is asinine.  And as the arrogant Huffington Post author sat in the comfort of her safe American home, Otto Warmbier sat in front of a kangaroo court more than 6,000 miles away crying and pleading for his freedom, “Please, you have to save me. Think of my family,” he begged.

But Otto would not be saved.  Instead, he would incur severe neurological injury and fall into a coma from which he would never emerge.  The privileged one was not Otto Warmbier but the activist author who enjoys the freedoms of our great country.

Sadly, the Huffington Post was not the only publication to allow the smearing of innocence.  Affinity Magazine – a “social justice” magazine for teens – tweeted “[w]atch whiteness work,” declaring that Otto was not “innocent.”  Salon mocked Otto as “America’s biggest idiot frat boy” in an article that they have since removed.  Salon’s heartless article was prompted by comedian Larry Wilmore’s tasteless roasting of Otto as a frat boy and an “ASS.” Public outrage prompted Wilmore to apologize to the family several days ago. 

The Salon piece appears to have been removed.  

The unmerited condoning of Otto’s capture and the summation of his personhood based solely on the color of his skin is the very type of discrimination we seek to rid from society. And yet some hypocritical activist authors, who claim to fight for an end to discrimination, are doing just the same in pointing to Otto’s “whiteness.”  

Whether black or white, we are all Americans, and we should stand united against the horrid and tragic loss of one of our brothers. Anything less is simply not the American way.

Kayleigh McEnany (@KayleighMcEnany) is a graduate of Harvard Law School. She completed her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and studied politics at Oxford University. 


Views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.