Former Arkansas governor, and current Fox News contributor, Mike Huckabee told a conservative gathering this weekend that he is “beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States.”
Huckabee was speaking on Saturday at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, a confab of conservatives — such right-wing luminaries as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) — in the first primary state of 2016. Huckabee ran through a panoply of “threats and affronts to our freedom today,” riling his audience up about the ongoing stand-off between the federal government and a cattle rancher in Nevada, along with the supposed Benghazi scandal and Brandeis University’s revocation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s offer for an honorary degree.
“Freedom of speech in this country, that for which the men grabbed their muskets off the mantel, did never mean that we’re to have fewer voices, but more voices,” Huckabee said. “My gosh, I’m beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States,” he continued. “When I go to the airport, I have to get in the surrender position while people put hands all over me,” Huckabee lamented. He did not mention that the Transportation Security Administration came into being under a Republican president.
While Huckabee’s comparison of the U.S. under Obama to North Korea got a warm reception in New Hampshire at the Koch brothers-sponsored event, it would likely be less welcome to American citizen Kenneth Bae. Bae, who is currently being held in North Korea, is suspected of proselytizing Christianity while conducting tours in the closed off country. He is serving a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. Despite his failing health, North Korea has refused to meet with U.S. officials to discuss his release. That Huckabee would make such a comparison while Bae is still imprisoned did not sit well with conservatives watching the events from afar.
Additionally, checking into flights would be the least of Huckabee’s concerns if he were actually a citizen of North Korea. Among the issues the former governor would face would be boarding a plane leaving the country in the first place. Members of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry conducted interviews with North Korean refugees and defectors for the past year and determined that crimes against humanity were almost certainly being committed within the country’s borders. “Women and men who exercised their human right to leave the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] and were forcibly repatriated spoke about their experiences of torture, sexual violence, inhumane treatment and arbitrary detention,” the commission’s leader said previously. The same commission member alsocompared the atrocities within North Korea to those seen during Nazi Germany and the reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
North Korea’s state new agency, KCNA, has not issued a statement referring to Huckabee’s comments as of publication, but the agency is known for spinning any positive mention it receives in the Western press into high praise for the leadership of Kim Jong Un.