I’ll have to confess that I’m gobsmacked by the reaction to my piece below on the LA Times story on North Korea. People seem to think that it’s just no big deal.
Why? Because to have walked through Belsen in 1944 and noted the concerts, the “children happily singing” or the “carefully tended gardens” with giving a side note to the unmitigated evil of the place may in fact be technically accurate reporting – possibly the weren’t burning people that day – but is, as I put it, vile.
And the willingness to cover one’s nose to hide the stench of the dead while commenting on the charm of a Starbucks-free existence seems, sadly all to common in the world of the modern tourist.
I find my sense of smell a little to sensitive to make that work for me.
And before you suggest that Guantanamo or Abu Ghreib are as bad as North Korea – no they’re not. We put people in jail when they are caught doing things like that. In North Korea, they get extra rations.
Look, let me put it another way that might make things clearer.
This is a music program for September 1943 at the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
It’s an impressive collection of music.
Can you, for a moment, imagine the LA Times music critic attending a concert there, coming back,and talking about the music as though he was watching a concert at Lincoln Center?
Sadly, I can imagine it, because I see people doing it.