President Bush has repeatedly referred to Osama bin Laden as “evil” because the terrorist plotted the deaths of thousands of American civilians. Naming evil has been passé for some time. When President Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” there was an outcry from academia and media pundits of cultural insensitivity and diplomatic tactlessness. So has naming evil made a comeback?
Not in South Korea, where President Kim Dae Jung has stifled all criticism from his administration of Kim Jong Il. In fact the South Korean president largely won the Nobel Peace Prize because he went to the North and toasted to the dictator’s good health. What good, after all, would calling the North’s leader “evil” do anyways but unnecessarily antagonize and impede the peace process. This is the rationale behind the sunshine policy, which is shared by all policies of appeasement.
Here is my response. Naming evil is important for the same reason naming diseases or crimes is: one cannot cure them until one recognizes them as unwanted deviations from the norm. To illustrate, until apartheid in South Africa and segregation in the U.S. were named evil, there were no boycotts or lawsuits or protests to challenge and eventually change these systems.
Further, naming evil does good because it challenges evil to its face. When Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire, two crucial things happened: Gorbachev’s regime was made self-conscious because its legitimacy was undermined; and dissidents within the USSR were emboldened by an outsider’s testimony that they had the moral high ground. Unfortunately, neither starving protestors in North Korea have been encouraged nor has the legitimacy of Kim Jong Il’s regime been undermined as a result of Kim Dae Jung’s sunshine policy. If anything just the opposite has occured.
Therefore, the world should make known the simple truth that Kim Jong Il is evil. Here are the symptoms: He continues economic policies that have resulted in the deaths of a million of his people. In 1997 at the height of the famine he brought in Italian chefs and special ovens to make gourmet pizzas. This year he bought $340 million worth of military arms in part through selling North Korean political prisoners as gulag laborers to Russia all the while receiving $120 million in unmonitored foreign aid that is redirected to the elite and military. He perpetuates a cult of personality and punishes those who do not refer to his dead father in the present tense. He controls his starving population by imprisoning up to three generations of families whose descendants were Christians or from South Korea. He sends 100,000 N. Korean agents into China to assassinate South Korean missionaries and to infiltrate the underground railroad for N. Korean refugees. He prevents seven million North Koreans from reuniting temporarily with their relatives in the South after more than 50 years of separation. He directly ordered the terrorist bombing of KAL flight 858 and routinely orders the kidnapping of South Korean and Japanese citizens.
There is evil in the world. Today Osama bin Laden is the politically correct evil one. But like most politically correct things, the attention has been disproportionate. If the world has no problem calling bin Laden “evil,” the world should have no problem naming Kim Jong Il evil alongside others of his kind: Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin who all now literally lie in history’s unmarked graves of discarded lies, or in a word for those religiously inclined, hell.