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Monday, May 01, 2006

Harvard Alumni Association is Jong at heart*

Join the Harvard Alumni Association, travel the world, meet interesting people, and bow down to the dictators who enslave them?

According to New York Post Washington Bureau Chief and Harvard grad Deborah Orin, this golden opportunity awaits you as a member of the Harvard Alumni Association.

It's the ultimate in radical Stalinist chic - the Harvard Alumni Association's $636-a-night totalitarian luxury tour of a rogue nation where thousands are deliberately starved to death.

"Demonstrations of respect for the country's late leader, Kim Il Sung, and for the current leader, Kim Jong Il, are important," instructs the Harvard Alumni Association's tour memo.

"You will be expected to bow as a gesture of respect at the statue of Kim Il Sung and at his mausoleum."

Harvard even tries to pretend that bowing down to thugs is perfectly normal - explaining that it's because "North Korea, like every country, has its own unique protocols."

"Unique protocols" is my new favorite multi-culti euphemism. Here's why it's great: it can mean anything from methods of greetings, to sartorial preferences, to proper gestures of respect, to planned famines, to imprisonment and/or torture and/or murder of political dissidents, to "re-education" camps. "Unique protocols" is the new "Who are we to judge." For elitist members of the multicult (i.e., all of them), unique protocols paints a picture of quaint (and possibly exotic!) customs: "Oooh, aren't the natives simply adorable?!?"

I encourage anyone going on this trip to please, just once, violate one of North Korea's unique protocols. Maybe don't bow to Kim pere's statue, and see how adorable the reaction of this misundertood country's internal security agency, the Ministry of Public Security and the State Security Department, is. Because you're American (I know, I know, you're not proud of it) you probably won't be able to enjoy the same rich experience that a North Korean citizen would, but it might be the closest you'll ever get.

Not surprisingly, the Harvard alums are also instructed to carefully censor their reading matter because "certain types of literature may not be allowed into North Korea."

I wouldn't really worry about this one. I'm sure Chomsky is on the "Allow" list.

The reason the rooms are so expensive is that North Korea controls all costs - and is in desperate need of foreign currency. The visits effectively subsidize Kim Jong Il's rule.

Congratulations, graduates!

At High Country Passage, a tourist agency handling Harvard bookings, agent Tamara Starkes said the alums will stay in "very nice four-star hotels that are tourist-only. The locals cannot go."

Hey, I support unique protocols as much as the next guy, but I need my jacuzzi and gin and tonic. Besides, these people seem completely unappreciative of the richness of their ancient culture, and, quite franky, I don't care for the way they smell.

High Country's chief, Chris Springer, says he's also packaging North Korea tours for Columbia, Princeton, Duke, the National Trust, MIT, and the University of California-Berkeley.

Shocking. Between this and it's predilection for "Radical Chic and Muammaring democracy," I really have to start looking into how you return a diploma to Columbia.

*If you think this title is bad, you should know that it replaced "Harvard Alumni Association be Il-in'." So you're welcome.

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