The UN mourns the death of Kim Jong-Il

Their decision to mourn one of the world’s worst dictators represents a new low for the UN.

Kim Jong il 1941 - 2011 (photo credit: REUTERS/Reuters TV)
Kim Jong il 1941 - 2011
(photo credit: REUTERS/Reuters TV)

The decision by the United Nations to lower their flags to half-mast for the death of former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il is a vulgar and all-too-predictable display of the global body’s immorality.

That an organization ostensibly dedicated to peace and human rights can mourn the death of a brutal dictator who starved an estimated one million of his own people is an offense to common decency and disgraces the standards the UN claims to defend, as well as the diplomats who ordered the public display of mourning.

“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth,” scripture says.

I’m not calling for parades to celebrate Kim’s death. His death cannot be considered good because it would have been better that the tyrant had never lived. His death cannot bring back all the innocent victims of his brutality and disregard for human life. But to mourn the death of a mass murderer is to inflict the final indignity on his innocent victims by trivializing their deaths. If anything, the flags of the UN should be lowered for the victims of his regime rather than the crazed, megalomaniacal, bouffant-haired, movie-obsessed maniac who robbed them of their lives, dignity and freedom.

Unfortunately, the UN’s reverence for tyrants has become so commonplace that the public display of mourning barely made the news.

I just completed biographer Edmund Morris’ masterful third and last installment of the life of former US president Theodore Roosevelt, in which the creation of a League of Nations – much discussed by the political leaders of the early twentieth century and finally brought into being by 28th US president Woodrow Wilson at the conclusion of the First World War – was the culmination of centuries of human longing for a world body to  uphold human dignity and freedom.

The weakness of the League ultimately led to its dissolution, the outbreak of the Second World War and the creation, at its end, of the United Nations. But even the toothless League of Nations never publicly mourned mass-murderers or put people like former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi on its council for human rights.

These and so many other actions have led a majority of American citizens to wonder why our hard-earned tax money is funding a full fifth of the UN’s budget. And, if these are its morals, should it continue to be headquartered on US soil? What New Yorker wants to drive on First Avenue by the East River and see a global tribute to one of the world’s most evil men?

How would we Americans feel if, after the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, random nations around the world lowered their flags to mourn his loss? Surely that is the way every Korean who continues to suffer under the world’s most brutal regime–including South Korea, which continues to live under constant nuclear threats from the North–must feel when they see the United Nations lamenting the fall of their greatest nightmare.

The UN has long been compromised by its inability to identify, rally against and defeat evil. That is bad enough, but celebrating that evil has brought even this suspect international organization to a shameful new low.

Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” was the London Times Preacher of the Year at the Millennium and is the author, most recently, of Ten Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself. In January he will publish Kosher Jesus. Follow him on Twitter @Rabbi Shmuley.