Now that the nation of Japan has laid to rest its longest-serving prime minister, it’s worth reflecting on the reprehensible conduct of America’s elite in the immediate aftermath of his assassination.
Few spectacles have done as much to damage what little dignity the United States currently possesses on the world stage as the reaction of our presumed best and brightest to the death of Shinzo Abe. From start to finish, both the establishment media and the Biden administration seemed intent on insulting the Japanese people in their moment of mourning.
First, there was the offensive coverage from the cream of our journalistic crop.
On the same day as Abe’s shooting, NPR, ostensibly the most sophisticated of the legacy outlets, seemed entirely unfamiliar with art of diplomacy or even the most basic etiquette rule that cautions us against speaking ill of the dead. After describing him as a “divisive arch-conservative” sparked outrage, the publicly funded outlet replaced that social media post with another that labeled him an “ultra-nationalist.” One wonders what scary sounding superlatives they might have turned to if that announcement, too, had drawn sufficient ire to require memory holing.
The AP and ABC seemed to crib NPR’s work, respectively deeming Abe an “arch-conservative” and “divisive archconservative.” One almost has to give CBS credit for at least finding their own way to offend, calling the most beloved Japanese politician of the modern era a “controversial” and “polarizing…right-wing nationalist.”
Compared to these intentional slights, NBC’s bumbling in showing a Korean rather than Japanese flag in a Today Show segment devoted to Abe’s death seemed like a tribute.
Had the media treated the passing of other world leaders to similarly harsh judgment, their descriptions of Abe might be somewhat forgivable. But they have no such excuse. A quick glance through the annals of international obituaries yields something that reads close to admiration for terrorists and oppressors, with The Washington Post describing terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as an “austere cleric” and NPR labeling communist dictator Fidel Castor a “prominent international figure” and Yasser Arafat a “peacemaker.” Despot Hugo Chavez’s socialist policies might have resulted in famine and disease, yet the AP nevertheless commemorated him as a “fiery Venezuelan leader.”
While the Biden Administration managed to avoid the media’s outright insults, the President behaved only slightly less boorishly, using his condolences as an opportunity to sneak in a plug for Democrats’ domestic cause-du-jour: gun control. “We know that violent attacks are never acceptable and that gun violence always leaves a deep scar on the communities that are affected by it,” he said.
Whether it is person to person or nation to nation, the keys to providing comfort after the loss of a loved one are to not make the moment about yourself and to focus on the life and legacy of the one who is gone. On both counts, Biden and the media failed spectacularly.
Instead of memorializing Abe as they should — as a staunch defender of democracy, whose diplomatic skill proved to be his own nation and Taiwan’s best defense against their imperialist superpower neighbor — the White House and the press used him as cipher for their political grievances. Words like nationalist, right-wing, and archconservative seemed intended to turn him into a sort of Trumpian specter that could not be less connected to the persuasive, elegant, and, most of all, well-liked figure he was among his ruling peers.
It is a testament to Abe’s unerring social acumen that Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump have, in the last few days, remembered him with what seems genuine warmth and esteem. Obama recalled him as a man “devoted to both the country he served and the extraordinary alliance between the United States and Japan.” Trump commented, “Few people know what a great man and leader Shinzo Abe was, but history will teach them.” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared his death a national day of mourning.
And yet, unlike so many Western leaders, Abe’s appeal to his contemporaries did not come at the expense of his nation’s interests. He was a tireless advocate on behalf of his country. The mastermind of the Quad alliance — a four-nation security coalition that also included India, Australia, and the U.S. — his accomplishment in bolstering the region’s security blunted China’s economic and military aggression. The cheers of Chinese nationalists at his death stand as a testimony to his effectiveness in leveraging the power of his friends to fend off the CCP’s advances in the Indo-Pacific.
Domestically Abe’s record was much spottier, with his “Abenomics” failing to revive Japan’s stagnating economy or boost its flagging labor market. But it certainly deserved more focus than a Second Amendment swipe that had nothing whatsoever to do with his failures or accomplishments.
Now that Japan and the world have said their final farewells to Shinzo Abe, the time has come to take the administration and the media to account for their appalling slights against one of our nation’s longest-serving and most-reliable allies. Abe deserved better. Japan deserved better. We, the American people, deserved better.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.