Human rights NGO Freedom House sharply criticized basketball star Dennis Rodman in a statement today for his expedition to North Korea.
“History is cluttered with the examples of academics, philosophers, renowned writers, and eminent advocates of humane ideals who have aligned themselves with or apologized for the world’s most despicable tyrants,” said Arch Puddington, vice president of research. “Given this context, Dennis Rodman’s choice to pal around with a leader who oversees one massive, countrywide concentration camp is very much in the minor leagues of dictator worship.”
“At minimum, however, Rodman should ponder the fact that he is the product of a free society which allowed him to develop his athletic skills, earn millions of dollars, travel the world, and articulate his often very quirky opinions,” Puddington said. “Those freedoms, and especially the last one, are totally absent under the regime of the man he calls his ‘friend for life.’”
Rodman is on a tour of North Korea with the Harlem Globetrotters and with a Vice crew who are filming a documentary about the trip. According to the AP, Rodman told North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that “You have a friend for life” before watching a basketball game between North Koreans and Americans with him in Pyongyang.
A spokesperson for the State Department didn’t return a request for comment about Rodman.