Sunday, March 20, 2005

Peace Activist?

Secretary Rice encountered a protester in South Korea while highlighting South Korean freedom.

In Seoul, Rice conducted an unusual press conference with Korean Internet reporters. The event, meant to highlight the freewheeling nature of computer communication in an open democracy, got off to a bad start when American security guards tackled a peace activist as he shouted to get Rice's attention.

"Miss Rice, the North Korean people are dying and they are crying for your help," yelled the activist, German physician and former aid worker Norbert Vollertsen. He held up a poster that read "Freedom for North Korea: 50 Years Overdue," until a State Department employee ripped the poster in half.

Sure, there was the intrustion, yelling in a European accent, and a poster, so it is easy to understand why the immediate reaction is "there's a peace activist," but is he?

He called for freedom for North Koreans. Heck, if a Bush administration said that, well ... I guess he'd be John Bolton. But my point is that "peace activist" seems to be a really inexact term. Let's just say that Vollertsen wants freedom and food for the North Korean people and opposes the Pillsubury Nuke Boy's brutal regime.

I am upset that a State Department official ripped the poster in half. Sure, hustle him out of there since at best this was rude. It isn't as if we are doing nothing about North Korea. But I'm sure that North Korea will mention this once or twice and highlight the poster ripping as a sign that the US is afraid of or supports North Korea's regime. Or maybe State still thinks that freedom is not 50 years overdue in North Korea. If so, Rice has a lot more work to do.

Back to my original point, more generally, just call them protesters and mention who they support rather than tagging them as "pro-peace" which they are almost never are.

Just a suggestion. You know, for accuaracy and my blood pressure.