Extremists in Korea and US
The two-party system, the contest between the conservative and the liberal, is necessary for maintaining sound democracy. In the United States, the system has been maintained successfully for 250 years as competing ideologies keep each other in check.
However, the process has not always been easy. Even in the U.S., a communist party thrived for a while, and these days there is the right-wing Tea Party group. Racial discrimination has been a problem for a long time, and recently, young people’s discontent with Wall Street has become a major issue.
How about Korea? In Korea, there is the so-called left. These people in the left do not seem to be into socialist ideology. I have heard that these people take an anti-American and pro-North Korean position ― they are displeased with the U.S., oppose the current Lee Myung-bak administration and follow North Korea.
I can fully understand why they oppose the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA), since they oppose and criticize the policies of the U.S. and Korea. Though their way of opposition may sometimes be violent, their protests are not a serious problem.
The actual problem is the people who heap insults on the president of their country, who were elected by the nation, using unspeakable profanities. This kind of behavior is just spitting into one’s own face, and furthermore spitting at the whole nation.
Another problem is the followers of North Korea, who showed support for Kim Jong-il. It is pathetic that they praise the only hereditary autocracy in the world, a country where the poor people who are caught escaping the country to avoid famine are either killed or forced to work under inhumane conditions until they die from exhaustion.
These followers of North Korea are the people whose judgment has been clouded by so much freedom in South Korea. These people are also trouble.
In the U.S., there is the Tea Party, a conservative political group; it is not a registered political party, and there is no clear leadership. Over 85 percent of Tea Partiers are white, and blacks and Asians make up 1 percent each.
However, these are not white supremacists. Over 80 percent of them oppose Obama, but their opposition is against his progressive policy and not a reflection of racial prejudice. They are often affluent upper middle class citizens, three out of four are around 45 years old, and 59 percent are male. And 92 percent of them believe that the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction.
They are concerned that Obama is too focused on the eradication of poverty by raising taxes to foster welfare, and that the U.S. is changing into a socialist country. They are worried that the tradition of hard work is disappearing and the U.S. is becoming a lazy country where the people just want welfare benefits from the government.
They are concerned that additional budget measures for so many welfare programs will only increase the number of unproductive government employees and the size of the government, as half of the welfare budget will be spent on the wages of government employees to operate these programs.
They believe that leaving everything except for the essential tasks of the government (national defense and public security) to private corporations will be more efficient and greatly save costs. All these thoughts are too extreme.
Tea Partiers oppose the Buffett tax. They believe that since the rich people are already paying a tremendous amount of taxes, it is not right to make them pay additional taxes as if they were fined. One of their mottoes is “Is being rich as a result of hard work a crime?”
They claim that eradicating poverty by bringing down the rich is a failed socialist economic policy. They opposed raising the debt ceiling last year. Without raising the debt ceiling, the government cannot pay its debts, and thus would have to close. However, the Tea Party also believes that the Obama administration should be closed.
By insisting that the government should be closed, they told the government to default on national debts, which is a declaration of national bankruptcy. If that happens, the total demise of everyone and the world economy follows. The extremism of these people puts the whole world in fear of such a catastrophe.
Whether in Korea or in the U.S., it is really a big problem that extremists recklessly run amok without considering the horrible consequences of their actions.
Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the KimChangJoon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com). The views expressed in the above article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of The Korea Times.