Friday, March 18, 2005

Hairstyles and Autocracy

There's an interesting story in the New York Times about how illicit sales of VCR players and other tech into North Korea are starting some counterrevolutionary cultural trends:
The construction of cellular relay stations last fall along the Chinese side of the border has allowed some North Koreans in border towns to use prepaid Chinese cellphones to call relatives and reporters in South Korea, defectors from North Korea say. And after DVD players swept northern China two years ago, entrepreneurs collected castoff videocassette recorders and peddled them in North Korea. Now tapes of South Korean soap operas are so popular that state television in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, is campaigning against South Korean hairstyles, clothing and slang, visitors and defectors have said.

"In the 1960's in the Soviet Union, it was cool to wear blue jeans and listen to rock and roll," said Andrei Lankov, a Russian exchange student in the North at Kim Il Sung University in 1985, who now teaches about North Korea at Kookmin University here in the South. "Today, it is cool for North Koreans to look and behave South Korean, as they do in the television serials. That does not bode well for the long-term survival of the regime."
Perhaps North Korea's Hairstylist-in-Chief should consider adjusting his own puffy coif to match the times. When hairstyles threaten a regime, it's just a matter of time before its reign is finished.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bitter Pill

Spain's government helped to obtain the release of an Iraqi-born Spanish businessman, who was kidnapped in Baghdad a few weeks ago. Presumably, his ransom was generous, adding more millions into the coffers of civilization's deconstructionists.

What Spain and other European countries ignore at their peril is that paying ransom to their sworn enemies is a prelude to larger, more unfortunate events. The ultimate hostage will be Western civilization itself. Could there be a time when a nuclear mullah will demand the installation of an Islamic theocracy in Spain, lest European cities randomly vaporize? How many Euros will that ransom be?

Europe is a fateful place. Fifty years of an American defense umbrella and coddling has made Europeans 'aggressively docile' -- it's almost an oxymoron, but there it is. They seek post-Cold War independence from the United States at the cost of slicing open their guts to the antithesis of their very existence -- Islamic terrorists. How very strange.

Europe's suicide might be acceptable if they weren't becoming accessories to civilization's demise. Americans and Europeans have much in common; it's difficult to see the rift between them grow to such grotesque proportions. Indulging terrorists and dictators, selling arms to China, wrapping themselves in nuanced multiple layers of plausible deniability regarding deals with A. Q. Khan's nuclear black market -- Europe is no peacenik, in spite of its harmonious bromides. It's pretense that it stands for goodwill and peace is a hair's breath away from an outright lie.

What a bitter pill it is to swallow.