Mike Pence’s Failure

Kim Yong Nam, Kim Yo Jong, Mike Pence

AP photo

Mike Pence’s behavior last night at the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics raises a few questions.

In case you missed it, Pence was sitting in the same diplomatic box with Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.  Pence did not acknowledge the North Korean diplomat and refused to stand when the unified Korean team marched into the stadium.

I guess there might be good political reasons to avoid shaking hands and greeting the North Korean delegation.  Frankly, I don’t know how these diplomatic things are supposed to work.  But Pence is also a Christian–and likes to make a big deal about that fact.  I would think that an evangelical Christian would make every effort to make a real human connection with his enemy, especially if she was seated only a few feet away.

Pence dehumanized Kim Yo Jong and the North Korean delegation.  He placed his global politics over an acknowledgement of basic human dignity.

9 thoughts on “Mike Pence’s Failure

  1. Any relationship between Pence’s behavior and athletes taking a knee? My major issue with politicians and evangelicals is the lack of logical consistency between various positions and statements. Here seems to be another example.

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  2. Half agree and half disagree with you on this one, John. I think he should have stood for the unified team of athletes. I don’t think anyone’s under an obligation to play nice with representatives of a tyrannical, murderous regime, no more than anyone would be obliged to make friendly with Larry Nassar.

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    • Doesn’t our faith require always engaging the “other” (enemy) in a spirit of love? I don’t see why Pence could not have acknowledged the other’s humanity. Such a move would not be an endorsement of the regime. Did Jesus endorse the sins of the people he ate with? No. But he acknowledged their humanity. Is Pence a human being or is Pence a representative a rival state? I guess he is both. But in this case he let his political identity trump his human” (Imago Dei) identity.

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      • I think it’s a no-win situation for Pence. I agree with John Haas that he comes off as churlish. At the same time, if he does a handshake or such, he provides the North with a big propaganda coup. What matters a lot more than Pence’s behavior this week is North Korea’s longstanding repression of its own people. North Korea’s government does not recognize the humanity of its own people. That’s the real issue.

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  3. It is so frustrating reading your blog, especially since I find your books so helpful.

    Perhaps it is because of his acknowledgment of the basic human dignity of the people of North Korea that suffer under such an evil regime that he chose to act as he did.

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