Today I want to state my opinion about the activities of four Americans; Peter Erlinder, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal. These four American citizens opted to go to dangerous foreign countries; Erlinder went to Rwanda and the other three happened to “hike” from Iraq into Iran by mistake. Erlinder was released from a Rwandan prison last week and the three others have been held in an Iranian jail for nearly 11 months. While their reasons for leaving the United States are different, these individuals have acted both dangerously and stupidly, which has cost the US State Department (US Taxpayers) incredible money and resources.
Erlinder, a Minnesota Law Professor was put in a Rwandan prison for defending an opposition presidential candidate who had issue with the Rwandan government’s official version of the genocide that took place in that country. Erlinder was arrested on May 28 in Rwanda and held there until his release last week on medical grounds. He has agreed to return to Rwanda to face any charges that are brought against him.
If Erlinder was stupid enough to go to Rwanda in the first place to stir up a political fight, he is probably gullible enough to return to Rwanda to face charges. He loves the publicity that his case has generated, partially because he wants to straighten out the record of Rwandan genocide but probably more because he loves the personal attention. When Erlinder was finally returned back to the US he criticized government officials for being so slow to act on his behalf. The US State Department might want to send Erlinder a note telling him our government will no longer spend time and money to assist him on any future trips out of the country.
Erlinder claims that several world leaders said that Rwanda had changed for the better, and that he “made the mistake of believing them.” Erlinder…this is RWANDA, not Luxemburg. You’re a law Professor, aren’t you? Once you leave the borders of the United States you are subject to the laws, corruption, and unfairness of the country you enter….period. You knew it going in. You did it knowing the risks and you got in trouble. There is absolutely no excuse for you, Erlinder; you’re a publicity hound that got more press than you deserved and captured more of the resources of the US government than should have been spent on you. Shame on you.
What about Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal? These twenty-somethings decided to go hiking around northern Iraq and ended up crossing into Iran, where they are still being detained as “spies”. They’re not spies, but that begs the larger question; “Why the hell would anyone want to go hiking around Iraq?” Didn’t they listen to their Mammas, who recently donned Muslim head gear to travel to Iran to unsuccessfully beg for their release?
Like the fool Erlinder, Shourd, Bauer, and Fattal are thrill seekers who just had to travel to places where American citizens should never stray. The hikers might use the excuse that they didn’t know any better, but even that would be hard to accept. Everybody that travels abroad should understand that there is little the American government can do for you if you don’t keep your nose clean in another country.
I’ll bet that all four of these people voted for Obama. I’ll wager that they are all “political progressives” who want all people in the world to live in justice and harmony, with all of the world’s citizens receiving their deserved amount of human rights and dignity. Their idealism, while admirable, doesn’t stack up with reality. Most of the people in this world live in countries where there is little dignity, human rights, freedom of expression, or economic freedom. Nothing that liberal politicians or Hollywood actors say or do will change this.
Some day the three young hikers will be returned to the United States, undoubtedly in exchange for radical prisoners who will released to do further damage to the freedom that these young folks supposedly treasure. Their families and hundreds of their friends will be at a huge press conference welcoming back the three “brave hikers.” Baloney. Let them sit a while longer in Iran. When they return, it should be not as heroes, but as youngsters who acted stupidly and paid the price.