President Trump's North Korea summit has engendered both praise and outcry from people around the world. Among the summit's critics is Meghan McCain, who condemned Trump's Kim Jong Un meeting as she hosted an episode of The View on Tuesday. McCain worried that, by meeting with North Korea, the American president was legitimizing the repressive regime and, most of all, seemingly ignoring its concerning human rights record.
As McCain described on the show, she initially supported the summit, but found aspects of its implementation disconcerting. McCain was particularly disturbed by the use of the American and North Korean flags alongside each other, worrying that the visual portrayed a message of equality. She also condemned the dearth of discussion on human rights issues. As McCain described:
The American flag and the North Korean flag sat next to each other ... We are not the same ... This is a totalitarian communist dictator in the same vein as Hitler — murder, enslavement, imprisonment, sexual violence, starvation, forced abortions, political, racial, religious persecution. It [North Korea] is completely and utterly the closest thing to Hitler’s Germany that exists in modern time. So, my problem was how far it went with the sort of 'buddy-buddy,' and there was no talk whatsoever of the human rights violations going on in that country ...
The human rights violations to which McCain was referring have been detailed for many years by a variety of organizations, including the United Nations and various human rights groups. As the New York Times described in an article on June 11, the United Nations found that, in 2014, over 100,000 North Koreans were held as political prisoners in abysmal conditions — and subject to repeated physical abuse. Moreover, prisoners were typically arrested and imprisoned without trial and their families were not usually informed of their location.
On the show, McCain did commend Trump for securing the meeting with Kim, saying, "We can't undersell how historic it is. Even getting him [Kim] to the table ... I mean, I never thought I would see this in my lifetime." However, she again reiterated that she felt that Trump's approach to the meeting was off base, particularly his discussion of potential future property development in North Korea. "It was the, 'oh, we can put real estate in North Korea,' ... people are being starved and tortured and raped and killed by machine guns ... and killed by wild dogs," McCain said. "You don't even have internet access, how are you going to have beachfront property?"
McCain was certainly not the only one to criticize Trump for failing to address North Korea's human rights record during his meeting. Indeed, after the summit, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted, "Kim’s gulags, public executions, planned starvation, are legitimized on the world stage ... What the hell?"
Moreover, as the Associated Press reported, in a statement former Vice President Joe Biden condemned the meeting for taking on too much of a jovial tone. As Biden put it:
While we should never refuse to speak with our adversaries, neither can we ignore the horrendous human rights abuses North Korea's leaders perpetrate against their own people ... Talking to dictators is one thing; embracing them is another.
Finally, as The Hill noted, former CIA chief of staff Jeremy Bash said on MSNBC on Monday that he was also perturbed by the presence of side-by-side North Korean and American flags at the summit, echoing McCain's earlier sentiments. As Bash noted, " ... the spectacle of seeing the American flags along with the [North Korean] flags as the backdrop for that handshake is really jarring, actually, to see, to witness. In fact, I would say it's somewhat disgusting. It is actually a debasement of the American flag."
Clearly, McCain is not the only one who took issue with how the president approached the North Korea summit — and with his failure to mention the regime's human rights record.