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A bill to help Kim Jong-un, backed by extremists

Why would any member of Congress make common cause with anti-American extremists, haters of Israel and defenders of North Korea?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vladivostok, Russia, on April 25, 2019. Credit: Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office via Wikimedia Commons.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vladivostok, Russia, on April 25, 2019. Credit: Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office via Wikimedia Commons.
Lawrence Peck
Lawrence Peck
Lawrence Peck is an adviser to the North Korea Freedom Coalition.

California Democrat Congressman Brad Sherman, like California Democrat Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Judy Chu, is a highly partisan politician. Unlike Lee and Chu, however, Sherman does not have a reputation as someone with a soft spot for radical groups and Communist tyrants, past and present. Sherman, although certainly a hypocrite when it comes to which Israeli politicians he criticizes and which he gives a pass, is generally known as a supporter of Israel, despite his distaste for Israeli conservatives.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vladivostok, Russia, on April 25, 2019. Credit: Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office via Wikimedia Commons.

Nevertheless, one would like to think that Lee and Chu, and certainly Sherman, would shun any involvement whatsoever with anti-American extremists, defenders of North Korea and haters of Israel. Unfortunately, these lawmakers, in their enthusiasm to support an unwise bill that would appease North Korea by yielding to Kim Jong-un’s wishes while seeking nothing in return, have made common cause with extremist groups and activists, and in some cases are participating in their events and openly supporting them. Sherman’s H.R. 1369, which is backed not only by Lee and Chu but also by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), is opposed by South Korea’s conservative, pro-U.S. government and runs counter to Biden-administration policy in its call for the United States to sign a peace treaty with North Korea, exchange diplomats and lift travel restrictions on the North. There has been dissembling from the bill’s supporters, with Sherman and New York Democrat Congressman Andy Kim not admitting to constituents that the bill is being backed, for the most part, by lobbyists who oppose U.S.-South Korean military drills, and in some cases support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea. Sherman and other supporters of the bill are “gaslighting” in insisting, against logic and common sense, that the bill is not a concession to North Korea. The bill does not contain anything about actions that the United States has been requesting from the North. It is a six-month late birthday present to Kim Jong-un, who gets his wish for a peace treaty without having to offer anything in return.

The Marxist-Leninist and openly pro-North Korean Workers World Party and Party for Socialism and Liberation naturally back the peace treaty idea. However, the key supporters of the bill, those who have been most devotedly lobbying Congress for years in support of the North’s position, include other pro-North Korean, anti-American, and anti-Israel groups and activists—the very people whom one would expect Sherman or most members of Congress to keep at arm’s length, denounce and openly reject as part of the coalition backing and lobbying for the bill. On July 27 and July 28, in Washington, D.C., a coalition of pro-North Korean, extremist and anti-Israel groups and activists, as well as some left-leaning pawns and attention-seekers, will hold a few events in support of the bill and the idea of a peace treaty with the North.

Consider, for example, the leader of Women Cross DMZ/Korea Peace Now, Christine Ahn, one of the most vocal and active supporters of the bill, who has stated that she backs the bill because she sees it leading to a withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea, which is her goal. Although Ahn denies being pro-North Korea, she has said “the U.S., so-called leader of human rights, freedom and democracy is showing its racist, colonial, genicidal [sic] history to the world. North Koreans have learned that history, most Americans haven’t.” Ahn has even opposed North Korea human-rights legislation. Ahn’s group libels Israel as an “apartheid” and “settler-colonial state,” and demands an end to U.S. support for Israel. She praises what she terms “Palestinian people fighting for freedom and liberation from brutal apartheid.”

Sherman has refused to disavow the support of Ahn and her group for his bill, or disassociate himself from them, or reject them as an essential part of the coalition backing the bill. He is well aware of their major role in lobbying for his bill, has held up their support as an example to others, and an official of Ahn’s group participated in Sherman’s Capitol Hill event announcing his re-introduction of the bill. Why would Congressman Sherman be in any way associated with or refuse to reject the support of extremists like this?

Another example of the extremists supporting the bill is Ann Wright, an official of Women Cross DMZ and Code Pink, who will speak at one of Ahn’s events in D.C. this week to promote the bill. Although she denies being anti-American, Wright has rhetorically asked “Why is [sic] Bin Laden and Al Qaeda intent on doing harm to [the] people of America? Is there a reason why they are after us? And if there are some reasons, should we consider perhaps evaluating whether or not they may have a point on a few things?” One co-founder of Wright’s group Code Pink spoke at a Holocaust-denial conference in Iran, and another co-founder protested outside Walter Reed Military Medical Center, calling our wounded troops being treated there “terrorists.” Code Pink is one of the sponsors and participants in Ahn’s events this week. Another sponsor and participant is the group Nodutdol, whose members are enthusiastic fans of North Korea and endorse terrorism against Israel. Why would Congresswomen Lee and Chu participate in an event with extremists like this?

This is not a case of a few isolated extremists coincidentally backing Sherman’s bill. Rather, it is a case of the idea behind the bill having been promoted by extremists for years. The question now, in light of the events which these extremists are organizing this week in D.C., is whether Sherman, Lee and Chu will have the courage and basic decency to condemn them.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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