America has a problem of always interjecting their westernized opinion into the cultures of other civilizations. Whenever something is different from us, we essentially think that it is wrong. Two stories have been in the headlines of the news and both involve Asian societies. One directly concerns America because an American died, but the other? It does not concern Americans at all yet people seem to still think it is their place to interject.
Otto Warmbier, was an American university student who took a trip to North Korea. Upon being there, he allegedly stole a propaganda poster while in a hotel. The poster had a picture of North Korea’s leader on it: Kim Jong-Un. Partaking in this action is considered a very serious crime in North Korea. He was later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea. People were outraged and Human Rights groups said this was too much of a punishment. Eventually, Warmbier’s medical condition worsened and he was released in June, but died a couple of days after he was released and taken to a medical facility following a coma. There is a video of someone stealing the poster, but the thief’s face is never revealed.
What is important to note is that if Warmbier did actually steal the poster, one can not truly be surprised by North Korea’s action. If stealing a poster with the leader’s image or name on it is considered a high crime, then why would someone try to steal it, especially knowing the history and political climate of North Korea? Yes, people can be upset about his death, which is a sad thing to happen because he died so young, but if he truly did steal it, why?
It is well known that North Korea currently has one of the strictest rulers in the world, and one would think if you were going to visit this country that is notorious for its rules, leader, and punishments, that you would obey all of them for a safe return. Even if you ignore the part about the poster having the leader’s image/name on it, why would he steal something to begin with, if he truly did steal it? My only question is this: If he truly did steal the poster, why did he think he could get away with it? Because he was American?
More sociologically speaking, China is celebrating its annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, and a lot of Americans are outraged by it. This festival is held in Yulin during the summer solstice where festival goers eat dog meat between June 21 and June 30. Of course people have a problem with this festival because in western culture, dogs are considered domesticated animals and not animals for consumption. This is why you will see several American (or any western) celebrities and animals rights activist groups expressing distaste for this festival. Yes, there are Chinese celebrities who have expressed distaste for these festivals but let’s focus solely on Americans here for a second.
Who are we to tell another country what is and is not okay to celebrate in their culture? Dogs may be this “sacred animal” by Americans, but guess what America: the cow is considered a sacred animal by India. In regions of India, the slaughter of cattle is prohibited. In certain Islamic cultures it is considered unclean or taboo to eat pork.
What if these cultures were to come to America and interject their opinions, like America always seems to do, and say that we were the wrong ones? Let’s not act like America is so innocent with their animals. We have a long history of disrespect to our animals in factory farms. There are dozens and dozens of documentaries and exposes on the mistreatment of animals in factory farms.
Rolling Stones published an article called, “Animal Cruelty is the Price we Pay for Cheap Meat.” And besides the factory farms, let’s talk about how we abuse the environment of animals in America by keeping them in captivity, hunting them for sport, wearing their fur as clothing, littering their habitats with our trash which physically harm them, and best of all, forcing them to fight one another for money.
Americans should learn that just because a culture is different, does not mean that it is wrong. There are different reports on how the dogs were treated in the festival, some said they were killed humanely while others said they were not. If they were killed humanely, then what is the problem? This is neither our country, nor our culture. Hasn’t America learned by now that we don’t need to interject our opinions whenever we disagree because sometimes it’s not our place to say what is right and what is wrong?