by NOAH ROTHMAN, Commentary Magazine
Otto Warmbier passed away on Monday. He was 22. The University of Virginia student’s last days were anything but peaceful.
He was released just last week by the North Korean regime, where he was held in captivity for 17 months for the alleged “crime” of trying to bring home a propaganda poster as a souvenir from his ill-considered trip to the hermit kingdom. In captivity, Warmbier was apparently beaten. When the DPRK released him to the surprise of American authorities, it was likely because his captors had taken Warmbier’s corporal punishments too far. He was unresponsive to commands, and his family described him as appearing “uncomfortable” and “anguished.” He soon succumbed to his injuries.
Warmbier’s death at the hands of a criminal regime is perhaps the most vicious crime directed against an American citizen by DPRK authorities since two U.S. officers were murdered by an axe-wielding mob on the de-militarized zone between South and North Korea in 1976. This is an offense to American dignity and sovereignty—and it is proving a revealing moment in American politics. Warmbier’s capture and his fate have exposed again the utter moral perversion of the social justice left.
It wasn’t the extrajudicial nature of Warmbier’s capture that caught the attention of the liberal commentary class. Nor was it the triviality of his supposed “crime.” In fact, the only thing that appeared to intrigue some influential members of the identity-obsessed left was Warmbier’s background.
“It’s just tough for me to have much sympathy for this guy and his crocodile tears,” said former Comedy Central host Larry Wilmore amid what was billed as a comedic monologue on his now-cancelled show in March 2016. He noted that, according to reporting, Warmbier had committed the “international crime” of poster stealing as part of an initiation into his UVA fraternity. “You’ve got to read the fine print on your American frat bro warranty,” Wilmore noted mockingly. “It says, ‘Frat Bro Privilege not valid in totalitarian dystopias.’”