By Rasta KEITH
During the last several weeks, news of the return of an American university student to the United States after his release from imprisonment in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) had dominated the networks throughout North America and probably the rest of the world.
According to press reports, Otto Frederick Warmbier was sentenced by a court in Pyongyang to serve fifteen years of hard labor after being convicted of stealing an ideological poster from his hotel. Approximately two months into serving his term, 22-year old Otto fell seriously ill due to what the Kim Jong-un regime described as a case of botulism.
Given that North Korea is classified by the United States as a rogue state which controls the minds of its citizens from cradle to grave, no one should be too surprised that being of Caucasian-Jewish background, Otto might have had absolutely no scruples appropriating the so-called propaganda banner with the supposed intent of returning to America with that kind of smoking gun as evidence of the subtle means by which the Kim Jong-un regime achieves its totalitarian objectives.
There is a saying in the Caribbean to the effect that “what is joke for school children is death for crapaud.” Accordingly, while most Americans might think that Koreans must be crazy in their reverence for the “Great Leader” and in their patriotism, as far as the Koreans might be concerned, that has been their way of life since the end of the Korean War and that is how they like it. And so, with regard to Otto’s plight, they might figuratively retort that “anyone who might venture to live in Rome without doing as the Romans do should hardly be surprised when they get what they have coming to them”.
True to form, however, the Obama and Trump administrations were adamant in their refusal to accept the Korean account of their citizen’s condition and demanded his unconditional release. To make a long story short, the Kim Jong-un regime conceded to the American request and, after spending some 18 months in jail, Otto’s limp body was returned to the United States; albeit in a coma.
Meanwhile, a development of parallel proportions had been taking place right under the nose of Americans. The name Jawara McIntosh might hardly be familiar to most readers but a little refresher on the young man’s blood line should ring a bell. Reggae music fans would surely remember the song LEGALIZE IT by Peter Tosh; a former member of the internationally renowned reggae group Bob Marley and the Wailers. Well, Peter begat Jawara some 37 years ago.
And it came to pass in the year [“of our Lord”] 2013 that Jawara was charged with the alleged possession of some 65.5 pounds of ganja (the term preferably used by his dad for cannabis sativa or marijuana), and was sentenced to serve six months in a New Jersey prison. As fate would have it, though, the “bredren” is now lying in a hospital bed in Boston, Massachusetts; after having slipped into a coma at some point during his incarceration.
Unlike Otto, Jawara’s motives for his alleged crime might best be understood from the perspective of his dad’s contempt for the world order. Peter had held the establishment in such disdain that he habitually referred to the powers-that-be as “downpressors” rather than as oppressors as is formally denoted in the English language. Tosh was also one of the foremost activists for the decriminalization of ganja. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Jawara’s DNA was “laced” with the same kind of militancy which had earned his father the respect of Rastafarians around the globe.
Now, although the U.S. constitution allows for as many interpretations as might be imagined to emanate therefrom, the first amendment clearly guarantees the right to religious freedom. And since marijuana is regarded within Rastafari as a God-given herb for spiritual, medicinal and other purposes, it might be argued that Jawara’s imprisonment for the victimless “infraction” of marijuana possession was a gross violation of his constitutional right.
Notwithstanding such a flagrant breach of a citizen’s rights by the state, many Americans seem to be of the persuasion that while Jawara’s six-month sentence was just penalty for his allegedly illegal conduct, President Trump should not hesitate to exact the most heinous form of revenge on North Korea for the alleged brutality meted out to one of their fellow citizens. Such folks might argue that no American deserves the fate suffered by Otto for the simple removal of a propaganda poster while insisting that so-called drug possession should be dealt with in the most draconian manner possible.
It is no mere co-incidence, therefore, that while the U.S. government seemed poised to muster the full might of their superpower arsenal in their effort to secure Otto’s release, Jawara’s family has had to engage in months of arm twisting with the relevant authorities in New Jersey in their quest for information with respect to their loved one’s circumstances.
But just as no one in the U.S. Administration, and no one related to Otto has accepted the Korean account that Otto had sustained his injury as a result of overdosing on sleeping pills, almost all of Jawara’s family members and acquaintances are finding it extremely difficult to accept the New Jersey prison authorities’ narrative that Jawara had been brutally beaten by another inmate.
As is inevitably the case whenever Black People are handed the short end of the stick in matters involving the law, the apparent variance in the reaction of U.S. government officials to the two cases in question has given rise to widespread allegations of racism. But while there might be some justification for such a claim by Jawara’s supporters, the apparent indifference with which the respective authorities in North Korea and the United States have handled the suspicions of their probable perpetration of those kinds of extra judicial acts must be regarded as being even more troubling.
Still, that kind of nationalistic arrogance should come as no surprise since it clearly is an offspring of the relativistic theories of Law by which nations are governed. Legal relativism might be regarded as the unwilling spouse of “the rule of law”; and it is as a consequence of the consummation of such an unlawful union that much of the evil plaguing the world have derived their genesis.
It is within the framework of such a convoluted social paradigm that countries engage in every conceivable manner of atrocities against their citizens and so-called aliens; as they strut along wrapped up in the sordid cloak of national sovereignty. It is also under the sinister guise of legal relativism that the respective authorities in North Korea and New Jersey, U.S.A. seem to suggest that they are not accountable to anyone for anything that might have happened within their territorial borders. And it is in reliance on the dogmas of such a system that Americans continue to bask in the illusive luxury of thinking that their military might would always be the final arbiter in any conflict with other nations.
Even so, despite the apparent willingness of world leaders to genuflect at the antiquated altar of legal relativism, many enlightened statesmen are of the opinion that the system is antithetical to the values espoused by the Golden Rule. His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie, for instance, has admonished, in speech after speech, that legal relativism should be relegated to the past and be replaced by a New World Order in which persons would have world citizenship and so owe their allegiance to their fellowmen rather than to any particular country or flag (Universalism).
The essence of the matter might best be articulated by paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice: “Hath not every human hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same summer and winter as any other human being is? If you prick anyone of us, do we not all bleed?”
Thus, unless and until world leaders are willing to open up their minds and confront the absurdities of legal relativism head-on, the trampling of man’s inalienable rights by the state, whether it be North Korea or the United States, will never end.