The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

59° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Apropos of Nothing: Mr. Rodman doesn’t go to Washington

    Former NBA star Dennis Rodman recently took his talents to an unlikely location: the nation of North Korea, better known for its totalitarian dictatorship than its basketball. Most people probably wouldn’t consider North Korea a good vacation spot, but Rodman has always marched to the beat of a different drummer — apparently, the same drummer as the more than 1 million active members of the North Korean army.

    In the 1990s, Rodman was well-known by basketball fans for being one of the best rebounders in the NBA. But he was also well-known by non-basketball fans for having crazy multi-colored hairstyles, dating Madonna and getting suspended from games for antics like head-butting a referee.

    Rodman loved drawing attention to himself, but since retiring in 2000, the media has been ignoring him despite his classy attempts at breaking into acting, reality TV and professional wrestling.

    Then Rodman schemed up another way to shock people — becoming besties with one of the most infamous dictators in the world.

    In his most recent trip to North Korea in January, Rodman paid tribute to dictator Kim Jong Un at a government-sponsored birthday party (you don’t want to know what happens to you if you fail to show up to that party). Rodman has even described Kim as a “very good guy” and “my friend” in interviews with American journalists.

    Rodman has always reveled in his rebellious image, even calling his autobiography “Bad As I Wanna Be.” But Kim Jong Un is so bad, he makes everything Rodman’s done seem like innocent mischief.

    Kim’s regime is known for torture, executions and forced labor camps for political prisoners. Kim had his own uncle executed as a potential threat to his power in December 2013. Rodman may have been known as a dirty player, but it’s not like he ever tried to assassinate Scottie Pippen in order to get more playing time.

    I usually avoid making controversial political statements in this column, but I’m going to go out on a limb and just say it: I’m not a huge fan of the government of North Korea. It’s just not doing an awesome job for its people.

    North Koreans don’t get to vote, but many are probably too busy worrying about the food shortages to complain much. People who do criticize the government can unite with over 100,000 other concerned citizens — in prison.

    I don’t think anything Rodman does will change the fact that North Korea is a messed-up place right now. But maybe I’m wrong about all this. Maybe Rodman is right in trying to blaze a trail of “basketball diplomacy.” Sports can change the world and tear down iron curtains. If you don’t believe me, just watch one of my favorite documentaries: “Rocky IV.” Ken Burns did a great job with that one.

    Maybe Rodman’s efforts will eventually lead Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear programs, release political prisoners, hold free elections and peacefully transfer power. Maybe Kim will give a tearful speech about the greatness of democracy and human rights, apologize for his oppressive government and step down as leader of North Korea. Maybe Rodman will win the Nobel Peace Prize.

    It’s theoretically possible … but it’s less likely to happen than Tucson getting 10 feet of snow next week. Dictators like Kim almost never step down unless they’re forced to. Is it possible that Kim knows once people stop being afraid of him, they will be free to express their annoyances?

    Kim has given millions of people great reasons to be very, very annoyed.

    Many Americans have criticized Rodman for going to North Korea, but Rodman and Kim have given each other a lot of great publicity. North Korea seems to be working out well for Rodman — maybe he should stay there for good.

    Then again, a story broke that Rodman has checked into an alcohol rehabilitation center. So maybe professional help is what he really needs, because excessive drinking can lead to questionable decisions. Like, to name a random example, leading a crowd of North Koreans in singing “Happy Birthday” to the dictator who oppresses them.

    Disclaimer: As a general rule, nothing in Logan Rogers’s columns should be taken seriously. But the government of North Korea is a serious human rights violator, and there’s nothing funny about that.

    Logan Rogers is a second year law student. Follow him @DailyWildcat.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search