The world loses one great man, then rids itself of a tyrant

Have we even seen a day in which we learned two men of such great political stature — stature, that is, which they obtained for diametrically opposite reasons — died, unrelatedly, as we did yesterday? (Note: This has been edited to reflect the updated information that, although we learned of Kim Jong Il’s death Sunday, he actually died Saturday.)

First came the news about Vaclav Havel, the great Czech playwright-turned-political activist who led the completely peaceful overthrow of Czechoslovakia’s communist regime in 1989. From the New York Times’ obituary:

A shy yet resilient, unfailingly polite but dogged man who articulated the power of the powerless, Mr. Havel spent five years in and out of Communist prisons, lived for two decades under close secret-police surveillance and endured the suppression of his plays and essays. He served 14 years as president, wrote 19 plays, inspired a film and a rap song and remained one of his generation’s most seductively nonconformist writers.

All the while, Mr. Havel came to personify the soul of the Czech nation.

His moral authority and his moving use of the Czech language cast him as the dominant figure during Prague street demonstrations in 1989 and as the chief behind-the-scenes negotiator who brought about the end of more than 40 years of Communist rule and the peaceful transfer of power known as the Velvet Revolution, a revolt so smooth that it took just weeks to complete, without a single shot fired.

Among Americans, Havel may be underappreciated compared to other democrats along the Iron Curtain. As communism — and the Berlin Wall — collapsed in East Germany and Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement captivated us from Poland, Havel’s writings and sufferings constituted a powerful moral case against totalitarianism.

Five thousand miles — and more than two decades of progress — away from Prague is Pyongyang, North Korea, from which later Sunday (already Monday on the Korean Peninsula by then) we learned of the death of Kim Jong Il.

Kim was sometimes mocked in the West as a madman (see: “Team America: World Police”), but he oversaw one of the most brutal dictatorships since Stalin. The Czechs, Poles and other peoples of Central Europe were well on their way to restoring their liberties by 1994, when Kim took over from his father, Kim Il Song. Far from modernizing the country, he continued the policies that have led to mass starvation, political imprisonment and executions. All while perfecting the political cult of personality, as this passage from Reuters’ obituary demonstrates:

North Korean propaganda said Kim Jong-il was born on February 16, 1942, at a secret camp for rebel fighters led by his father near Korea’s famed Mount Paektu. But analysts say he was likely born in the Soviet Union when his father was with other Korean communist exiles receiving military and other training.

His official biography said that in elementary school he showed his revolutionary spirit by leading marches to battlefields where Korean rebels fought against Japanese occupiers of the peninsula.

By the time he was in middle school he had shown himself to be an exemplary factory worker who could repair trucks and electric motors.

He went to Kim Il-sung University where he studied the great works of communist thinkers as well as his father’s revolutionary theory, in a systematic way, state propaganda said.

North Korea analysts said however, Kim lived a life of privilege in the capital, Pyongyang, when his family returned to the divided peninsula in 1945.

The lies continued to the end: According to CNN,  North Korea’s state-run TV agency reported Kim “died due to ‘overwork’ after ‘dedicating his life to the people.’ ”

It is hard to believe matters will improve for the people of North Korea under Kim’s son and presumed successor, Kim Jong Un. Still, as great a juxtaposition as his death provided Sunday with Havel’s death, it is fitting that Kim should depart this world in the same year as his fellow mass murderers Osama bin Laden and Moammar Gadhafi.

– By Kyle Wingfield

90 comments Add your comment

Joel Edge

December 19th, 2011
5:29 am

Kim Jong Il died of bugly.

Aquagirl

December 19th, 2011
6:10 am

Joel, if that was true he’d have been dead long ago.

Karl Marx

December 19th, 2011
6:20 am

The occasion seams to be a proper time for the use of the saying Good Bye and Good Riddance.

Good Bye to Vaclav Havel who will be greatly missed and Good Riddance to Kim Jong II who will not be missed at all.

Joel Edge

December 19th, 2011
6:23 am

Aquagirl@6:10
True. Thanks for the correction.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

December 19th, 2011
6:30 am

Havel is unappreciated here in the U.S. because he said things the lamestream media and other Democrats simply couldn’t countenance, like this:

“There can be no talk of democracy as long as the leaders of the state insult the dignity of citizens, control the judiciary, the mass media and manipulate election results.”

Talk like that won’t make you any friends among the Obozo receptacles, or win you any Nobel peace prizes.

Sister Sarah

December 19th, 2011
6:53 am

I see one of our frequent bitter b@$$tards are already up and spewing their usual drivel this morning. Rotten morning LBB!! I see you still haven’t figured out that your entire argument is undermined and nullified as soon as you attach adhominems like ‘Obozo’ to your posts. I also take it you cannot see enough through the RED to realize that this is just ANOTHER major occurrence that SWEETENS the air of winds of the 2012 election season for “Obozo”. He sends his thanks! :O)

RedNeck Rick

December 19th, 2011
7:06 am

Kim Jong Un has the chubbiest cheeks; dontcha just want to pinch them???

Havel

December 19th, 2011
7:08 am

had the great pleasure of shaking hands with Mr Havel back in 1991. he was a man of letters, but more importantly, of principles! Havel possessed a strong, unwavering commitment to justice and freedom that filtered his every action.

Who among the current slate of GOP candidates is most like Mr Havel? That’s the candidate for whom I will vote. I know who he is, do you?

Michael H. Smith

December 19th, 2011
7:21 am

The comrades weep, Kyle. Perhaps you should have put a black ribbon of morning at top on this blog for the resident MARXIST-SOCIALIST comrades as they morn their loss of a comrade. Just think how badly they are going feel in Nov. 2012 after election night… ah but this is just a foretaste for the lefties.

One dear leader gone, one to go. :)

southpaw

December 19th, 2011
7:27 am

Good morning to you too, Sarah (6:53). Relax, and try not to have a stroke today.

Well said, Kyle.

jimmy

December 19th, 2011
7:31 am

poor sister Sarah……seems as though she has let the media fill her head. What a grumpy way to start the day

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
7:33 am

Havel”: I’ll bite…Huntsman?

LBB, MHS, and others: Why don’t you just write your own thoughts versus making a fool of yourself as to what you contrive as other person’s thoughts? Insults just prove you don’t have a clue!

independent thinker

December 19th, 2011
7:39 am

You can always tell the true tyrants of the world when they guaranty succession by their offspring.We have seen how that worked out for the US with the Bush dynasty. I wonder if his Kim’s son will have the same hairdo?

Michael H. Smith

December 19th, 2011
7:40 am

Road Scholar, your thoughts, if they can be called thoughts, coming from leftist trash like you proves I can get under your skin far too easily simply by stating the truth about “obumer” and his worshiper like you. :lol:

Michael H. Smith

December 19th, 2011
7:48 am

Be gentle with the comrades, lil barry.

Just saying mm,mm,mm…

Later, Y’all

Jefferson

December 19th, 2011
7:49 am

Michael H. Sissy, Merry Christmas to you.

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
7:58 am

I’d rather be “leftist trash” (your words)then a rude a$$hole like you. By the way do you have hemmoroids? I think not since you are a “perfect” a$$hole! You must be a joy around the dinner table!

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
8:01 am

Sorry Kyle, but how can you put up with his crap every day? By the way, good article. I wish I knew more about Havel when he was alive. Based on what you wrote, we need a dozen or so people like him.

jconservative

December 19th, 2011
8:02 am

“There can be no talk of democracy as long as the leaders of the state insult the dignity of citizens, control the judiciary, the mass media and manipulate election results.”

Actually I would think the Obama administration would agree 100% with each of the four points. The Obama administrations mouth pieces have spoken out against each of the points.

HDB

December 19th, 2011
8:03 am

Lil’ Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

December 19th, 2011
6:30 am
“There can be no talk of democracy as long as the leaders of the state insult the dignity of citizens, control the judiciary, the mass media and manipulate election results.”

Sounds like more of what REPUBLICANS are doing…..trying to disenfranchise voters, stonewalling legislation, stacking the judiciary, dissiminating propaganda via Fox News…..and denying recall efforts!! Can’t just look at one side, LBB!!

JKL2

December 19th, 2011
8:07 am

obama overthrows another dictator. Kim Jong-il is gone. Something Bush couldn’t do. Good job of making it look like natural causes.

obama is the greatest. Let the riots and bombing begin!

JKL2

December 19th, 2011
8:11 am

HDB- dissiminating propaganda via Fox News

The right wing has one station out of hundreds and you call it a propaganda machine? Take a moment to smell what you are shoveling…

Bill

December 19th, 2011
8:14 am

“There can be no talk of democracy as long as the leaders of the state insult the dignity of citizens, control the judiciary, the mass media and manipulate election results.”

Gingrich has said he would send US marshals to escort judges and require them to explain themselves before congress. Does this sound a little like an effort to control the judiciary. Although Gingrich is a historian, his ideology blinds him. He would dismantle the constitution to meet his ends.

JKL2

December 19th, 2011
8:15 am

Sister Sarah- I see you still haven’t figured out that your entire argument is undermined and nullified as soon as you attach adhominems like ‘Obozo’ to your posts

Since you’re typing I’ll assume you were alive during the Bush years. Pot meet kettle.

@@

December 19th, 2011
8:17 am

Little Kim has left the building?

Kewl!

HDB

December 19th, 2011
8:18 am

JKL2

December 19th, 2011
8:11 am
I know that the right wing has MORE propanganda outlets than you think…FOX, Dallas Morning New, Harford Courant…talk radio……

….and remember: media is primarily a CORPORATE entity…a mostly CONSERVATIVE idea……

Whatever you’re shoveling….you can keep it……..

Uncle Billy

December 19th, 2011
8:18 am

Seems that there are several regular commenters whose only visible talent is for vituperation. They never make any actual rational arguments.

Chris

December 19th, 2011
8:19 am

We have another dictator in the works in this country. His name is Barrack Hussein Obama who is modeling himself among Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Mussolini.

JKL2

December 19th, 2011
8:30 am

HDB- media is primarily a CORPORATE entity…a mostly CONSERVATIVE idea……

I think you mean it’s something you shouldn’t forget. obama is jealous he doesn’t have full media control like his hero Hugo Chaves. The FCC is working hard to bring back the fairness doctrine so they can get rid of talk radio. Once that happens, you will have your DNC propaganda monopoly. That’s what the left calls fair, right?

Bill

December 19th, 2011
8:34 am

Uncle Billy,
The primary purpose of these discussion board seems to be the attempt to provoke an emotional response from those you disagree with. Rational argument doesn’t seem to do the trick.

Not Blind

December 19th, 2011
8:34 am

Kim Ill Sung and North Korea, brought to you by our great trading partner, Communist China.

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
8:54 am

Chris: Pleeeeeze! Does your mother know you are on the computer? Can you even define those words?

Chip

December 19th, 2011
8:58 am

Dear Leader gone today… Dear Ruler gone in November… and good riddance to two of a kind, separated only by degree…

HDB

December 19th, 2011
9:04 am

JKL2

December 19th, 2011
8:30 am
The Fairness Doctrine won’t get rid of talk radio….IF you believe in the free market support of talk radio! If talk radio has such a popular market share…..one doctrine shouldn’t affect that support…….or is it that you DON’T believe in the free market as it now exists????

ElephantWhip

December 19th, 2011
9:21 am

“There can be no talk of democracy as long as the leaders of the state insult the dignity of citizens [pressing hot buttons of abortion and gay marriage to distract from corporate welfare and bankrupting the government], control the judiciary [Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and usually Kennedy...see Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm.], the mass media [FOX, Rush, etc....nevermind commercials sugar coating pharma and big oil] and manipulate election results {DIEBOLD, Bush v. Gore…that goes to the judiciary, too].”

JDW

December 19th, 2011
9:23 am

Well I see LBB and MHS et. al. have soiled the pool yet again…all we need now is for UGA 1999 to show up and the blog will be contaminated as usual.

As for the “Dear Leader’s” timely demise, it will be interesting to watch how it plays out. I heard that China seems to be supporting the status quo but I for one would not be surprised to see the Army in charge. Kim Jong Un is young and likely quite unprepared for the challenges of keeping them in line.

JDW

December 19th, 2011
9:25 am

“We have another dictator in the works in this country. His name is Barrack Hussein Obama who is modeling himself among Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Mussolini.”

O’ Dear what child is this?

JF McNamara

December 19th, 2011
9:30 am

Kim Jong Il was crazy, but he was stable politically and made rational moves. We now have a country with nukes controlled by a twenty something year old.

To be fair, I read the article on mass starvation. He didn’t purposely starve them. It was extremely poor management of resources. They don’t have much arable land to start with. He’s done a lot of crazy, sadistic things, but that doesn’t appear to be purposeful.

Don't you mean Rhodes Scholar?

December 19th, 2011
9:33 am

I can only assume that you are not a Rhodes Scholar. Unless this is some strange play on words to try and paint yourself as street educated?

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
9:40 am

Don’t: Yes it is a play on words… 37 years in transportation design and planning! No I am not a Rhodes Scholar, and never will be! And I don’t mean to pass myself off as one!

Cosby

December 19th, 2011
9:42 am

Amd the hityw just keep on coming.. Will be interesting how the DC Government handles the situation. My guess is, they will blow it

Darwin

December 19th, 2011
9:48 am

North Korea never would have happened if the U.S. and the Soviets didn’t use satellite countries as collateral for their cold war.

Not Blind

December 19th, 2011
9:49 am

McNamara, he had plenty of money to spend on the military and other toys [ nukes ]. People dying in huge numbers as a direct result of government policy has never been much of a concern for any communist regime or dictatorship.

carlosgvv

December 19th, 2011
9:53 am

We boldly went into Iraq to rid them of a brutal dictator and introduce them to truth, justice and the American way. Funny how we don’t seem to have the same inclinations for North Korea. Looks like our crusade to save the world dosen’t apply to everyone.

ragnar danneskjold

December 19th, 2011
9:53 am

Well written, fully agree.

JKL2

December 19th, 2011
9:55 am

HDB- one doctrine shouldn’t affect that support

When it changes your entire format it has a massive effect. With the fairness doctrine their were 7 talk radio stations in the country. Without it, we now have over 2,000. obama wants to get rid of talk radio since it is largely conservative (that’s the only way you can hear a conservative viewpoint outside of Fox news and the occasional NPR story)

Free market has nothing to do with it. If you put out a product nobody so boring nobody can stand to listen to it, it will go broke. Google Air America if you don’t believe me..

JoeFann

December 19th, 2011
10:07 am

Obviously an article unappreciated by the mass shovelers. RIP Mr. Havel. Well done. (And well done is how I believe Mr. Kim is cooked about now.) While I’m no presidential apologist, I fail to see any but the most absurd and outlandish comparisons between the Dear Leader and the Dear President. While the DP may be more left than I’m comfortable with, Mr. Kim was so far left, he was actually right on the circular continuum. And voters would do well to remember that continuum in November. What goes around usually winds up somewhere other than you’d hoped. I, for one, hope to see an R-dominated House and Senate in January, but if so, I don’t mind having the current occupant remain on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Rs have proven they’re no more in touch with the American people when they control both houses and the Oval Office, than the Ds have shown. And frankly, I think the Clinton administration was one of the more successful in recents decades when he didn’t control congress. It seems to be the only way they can keep each other in check.

td

December 19th, 2011
10:07 am

Democratic party of today = Socialism. Everyone knows it but you leftest seem to want to deny it for some reason. Why are all of you to afraid to come out and own up to you philosophy and be proud of your ideology and defend it?

JDW

December 19th, 2011
10:20 am

@TD…”Democratic party of today = Socialism. Everyone knows it but you leftest seem to want to deny it for some reason. Why are all of you to afraid to come out and own up to you philosophy and be proud of your ideology and defend it?”

o you have a coherent statement or do you just prefer to spout blatant lies and assumptions…psst you have heard the old saw regarding ASSumption’s haven’t you? In your case I am sure that the U part is not relevant.

☺☻

December 19th, 2011
10:22 am

Obama sucks.

That is all.

Carry on.