My Tuesday take: stand behind the yellow line

Sarah Shourd was released today from an Iranian prison after being held for 14 months on suspected espionage charges.  Her fiancé, Shane Bauer, and their friend Josh Fattal, who were hiking together with Shourd in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan when Iranian officials arrested them in July 2009, remain incarcerated.  Shourd suspects a breast lump she discovered while in jail may be cancerous.  Iran wants to have us all believe that her release was a humanitarian gesture.  Shourd’s family provided a bank guarantee of $500K bail to secure her release.

On August 8th, a South Korean fishing boat and its seven-man crew was seized by North Korea for allegedly drifting into the north-controlled waters.  They were released in early September after Seoul offered $8.5 million in emergency aid to Pyongyang.  North Korea called the release “a humanitarian gesture”.

After being sentenced to eight years hard labor for walking into North Korea from China last January, American Aijalon Gomes, 31, returned home to Boston August 27th with former President Jimmy Carter, after Carter secured his release and pardon from Pyongyang. The pardon “to set free the illegal entrant, is a manifestation of (North Korea’s) humanitarianism and peace-loving policy,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

Enough with the humanitarian gestures.  I’d like to encourage all chuckleheads and numbskulls (I guess they’re the same thing) who find themselves close to the borders of really bad countries to STAY BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE.  Who knows, maybe it’s a white line, or even an invisible line, but stay behind it, will ya?

According to the website, Shourd, Bauer and Fattel, who were living in the Middle East at the time, were really just vacationing when they decided to check out the Ahmed Awa waterfall near the Iraq/Iran border.  Fine.  But when their friend, Shon Meckfessel, who was with them on the trip but did not join them on the hike, explains the three didn’t know the waterfall was so close to Iran, they must be labeled knuckleheads.  I don’t, in theory, like labels, but there it is.

South Korean fishing boat crew?  Tough to see the yellow line on the water, but still, dummy dum dumb.

Aijalon Gomes?  Reports are that you wanted to make some kind of difference for the poor denizens of Kim Jong Il’s country.  Good for you.  What makes you think walking in from China by yourself is going to help you accomplish this?  Label: nitwit.

I don’t lack compassion for these people.  I really don’t.  I can only imagine how scary a prison would be in countries not exactly considered friendly.  But that’s the thing.  Iran and North Korea are so un-friendly.  They don’t like it when people visit without permission.  Why test that stance?  And if you’re going anywhere near their borders, ANYWHERE, you should know it.

I’m reminded of my children, hitting and punching each other much too often.  I’ll tell Goldie not to touch Bun Bun.  “Don’t get anywhere near her,” I warn.  Usually, I’m driving the swagger wagon and can’t see, but undoubtedly Goldie is moving the very tip-tip-tip of her index finger as close to Bun Bun’s arm as she can without touching her.  They’re testing me.  They’re being childish.  I’ll pull the car over and there will be consequences.  Do.  Not.  Test.  Me.

When I lived in New York, I was warned not to walk on the park side of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South and West at night – the streets that border Central Park – because muggings were commonplace there.  It made sense to me and so I never did.  Sadly, during my ten years in Manhattan, I knew several people who were mugged.  The majority of the crimes had taken place on the park side of Central Park at night.

Testing fate is immature.

Journalists who jeopardize themselves to infiltrate precarious situations and countries to bring the world a story that must be told are exempt from my scorn.  I honor their courage. (Although Laura Ling and Euna Lee’s escapade, in retrospect, appears somewhat ill conceived).  Daniel Pearl comes to mind.  But Pearl’s gruesome murder at the hands of Pakistani terrorists should serve as a reminder that there are places on this earth that are dangerous.  Pearl, as a Wall Street Journal reporter, risked his life to cover the news and, inadvertently, bring this fact to light.

Persons thinking about heading anywhere near an axis-of-evil country should honor Pearl’s memory by staying away from the borders.  Clinton and Carter have already made trips to North Korea.  Bush Jr. and Sr. are who’s left.  Does anything more need to be said?

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  1. says

    I very much agree, Jo. I think many Americans lack a sense of danger abroad and make bad decisions about their risks. It happens over and over and over again.

  2. Betsi says

    I agree with the common sense approach-do you really have to touch something when the sign says “Hot” or “Wet Paint”?
    But was it really necessary to put in the 2nd to last line about the Bush’s? Really, is it necessary to bash them?

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