Vice Pres­ident Mike Pence (photo: Wiki­media Commons)

Vice Pres­ident Mike Pence took a hard stance against the coop­er­ation between North Korea and South Korea during the 2018 Winter Olympics. Two weeks ago, Pence attended the opening cer­emony and caused a stir in the American press. He did not stand or applaud for the joint Korean team when they entered during the Parade of Nations. Indeed, he only applauded for the United States.

“We will not allow North Korean pro­pa­ganda to hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games. We will not allow North Korea to hide behind the Olympic banner the reality that they enslave their people and threaten the wider region,” Pence said.

Some news outlets such as USA Today called Pence an embar­rassment to the nation and dis­re­spectful to the host country.

“As a vis­iting American, it was an embar­rassment,” USA Today sports reporter David Meeks wrote. “If Pence had stood to rec­ognize the Korean ath­letes at this global event, it would be pre­pos­terous to portray it as an endorsement of the regime in North Korea. It was not political until Pence made it political.”

Pence’s actions, however, were correct. He follows in a his­toric line of Amer­icans standing strong on prin­ciple in the face of morally corrupt regimes at the Olympic Games.

In the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Adolf Hitler presided over the cer­e­monies three years before Germany invaded Czecho­slo­vakia, but ten­sions sur­rounded Hitler and his inter­na­tional rela­tions. During the Parade of Nations, each country’s ath­letes saluted Hitler in their own cus­tomary fashion. That is, all except the Amer­icans.

In an article titled “100,000 Hail Hitler; U.S. Ath­letes Avoid Nazi Salute to Him,” reporter Fred­erick Bir­chall recorded the events of the opening cer­emony for the New York Times.

“The greeting to the American team was mostly enthu­si­astic but not com­pa­rable with the welcome to some of the other teams, which gave the Olympic or Nazi salute,” he wrote.

American ath­letes took a stance against Hitler. Under the watchful eyes of the world, the ath­letes did not bow to the pressure. And the world noticed.

Pence, likewise, did not conform to the world’s pres­sures to applaud the joint Korean team. Again, the world watched. Through his actions, he directly informed the global pop­u­lation that the current admin­is­tration will not show any sign of cama­raderie with North Korea.

Forty four years after the ‘36 Olympic Games, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to support the socialist regime bat­tling Islamic rebels. This sparked the Soviet-Afghan War, a con­flict lasting nine years. The rebel groups, known as the Mujahideen, fought against the Soviet forces and the Afghan gov­ernment, backed by the United States. At this point, Cold War ten­sions existed between the U.S. and Russia, ever since the end of World War II. America took the oppor­tunity to support Russia’s enemies in the Middle East. Whether this was a wise decision or not is debatable, but Pres­ident Jimmy Carter gave the Rus­sians a deadline of Feb. 20, 1980 to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. When the Soviet Union con­tinued their invasion, Carter announced on March 21 that the United States would boycott the Olympics in Moscow.

West Germany and Canada both fol­lowed the U.S. in the boycott, as well as 63 other nations, including China. Again, America led the charge in sol­i­darity against the oppressive com­munist regime. America is not without its faults, cer­tainly, but at the Olympic Games, it has his­tor­i­cally been a voice of oppo­sition to deadly gov­ern­ments.

Pence has become the next icon of the American spirit at the Olympics. CNN and the Tele­graph reported that Pence said he delib­er­ately ignored Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“I didn’t believe it was proper for the United States of America to give any attention in that form to someone who is not merely the sister of a dic­tator but the leader of a pro­pa­ganda unit,” he said.

The day after the opening cer­emony, CNN pub­lished an article titled “Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics.” The reporters were honest about the despi­cable lack of human rights in North Korea and Kim Yo-Jong’s hand in the trav­esties, but the media’s response glam­orized Kim Jong-Un’s dynasty. Pence’s silence and refusal to applaud the joint Korean team is the proper response when facing a tyran­nical, destructive gov­ernment.

Pence received crit­icism from the main­stream media, but the American people need to regard him for what he is: a his­toric icon standing face to face with a mon­strous regime, who, like past Amer­icans, refuses to buckle under the world’s pressure.

Nolan Ryan is a sophomore studying English.

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    I have a lot of respect for VP Pence. He’s loyal to a fault and not afraid to pub­licly take on the elites for things that res­onate with him. He’s a cut above most political figures in Wash­ington DC.