More “Byko” Blatherings On Euna Lee And Laura Ling

June 25, 2009

Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky wrote the following today (from here)…

IT’S HARD FOR me as a journalist, and as an American, to write this, but if Laura Ling and Euna Lee deliberately crossed into forbidden North Korea to grab some video and perhaps an interview, the U.S. shouldn’t do much, overtly, to help them.

And we’re not.

Even if they were kidnapped, the U.S. should not bow to extortion when North Korea – a saber-rattling, paranoid thugocracy run by a stunted loon with a bad haircut – tries to use them as bargaining chips.

I hasten to add that Bykofsky didn’t say to leave Ling and Lee behind altogether, which was decent of him (though I’m sure he would be all over Hillary Clinton were she to speak again publicly on this). However, he then goes on to compare the capture of the two with the seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo by North Korea in 1968.

I know the common element here is a crazed regime in North Korea acting with typical thuggery as Byko said, but I just don’t see the equivalency between what could have been an act of war (and it might have initiated that had we not been already engaged militarily a few degrees south of where the Pueblo was seized at the time) and the capture of two reporters.

(Also, Byko said the Pueblo seizure was “far more serious.” Any idea of how he came to equate one capture with the other?)

Another thing – I wonder if there would have been so much pejorative criticism aimed at Ling and Lee if they had been instead, say, Carlotta Gall of the New York Times and Christiane Amanpour of CNN instead? Yes, I realize venturing into North Korea like that was foolish; however, Ling and Lee are American journalists! But, as far as Byko is concerned, they used bad judgment, so they don’t deserve another public word on their behalf.

And in a perfect world, Ling and Lee would be affiliated with the Times, and the whole story of their capture would have been embargoed as the story of reporter David Rohde was, which helped lead to his escape (here). But again, I guess, in Byko’s view, Ling and Lee are also supposed to be punished because they’re not sophisticated enough in these matters (or perhaps talented enough) to be employed by “the old gray lady.”

Well, in spite of that, I should note that vigils were held for Ling and Lee in San Francisco on June 3rd and elsewhere (here) and Santa Monica, California on June 4th (here). Also, this provides more information on what you can do to publicize their cause.

Although Byko is right about the insanity of North Korea’s “leadership,” that doesn’t mean that we should let the cause of the two journalists disappear from our public dialogue (maybe North Korea has calculated that they can act with impunity against them because not enough people in this country will care about the outcome – all the more reason to prove them wrong, as far as I’m concerned).

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