The incongruity of it seemed to be nothing short of a betrayal. After lightheartedly dancing his way into the hearts of Americans and gaining entrance to the inner sanctum of their cherished cult of celebrity, the Korean rapper, Psy, whose song “Gangam Style” became the most watched video in the history of YouTube and made him a pop culture sensation, has been revealed to have a politically active past which places him directly at odds with the American mainstream worldview and which violently decries its most basic articles of faith.
The man whom they enjoyed as an unthreatening, comically light-hearted foreigner dancing for their enjoyment was revealed to have only years earlier been a vociferous public critic of American policies and the country’s role in the world.
In a 2004 performance, the rapper famous for his “invisible horse dance” denounced the United States in a song called “Hey American”:
“Kill those f—-ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives
Kill those f—-ing Yankees who ordered them to torture
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers
Kill them all slowly and painfully”
For an American public conditioned to the type of unquestionable worship of the military embodied in the phrase “Support the Troops”, Psy’s words represent nothing less than sacrilege. This song however was not his only offence.
In a previous performance, he had come on stage to protest the presence of 37,000 US troops in South Korea and smashed a miniature American tank in protest over the killing of two South Korean schoolgirls by American forces stationed in the country.
As it turned out, the Asian pop-star whom Americans had enthusiastically embraced, arguably the first entertainer to bridge the continental divide so successfully, brought with him not just a culturally unique style of song and dance, but also a worldview which is threateningly alien to most Americans.
If even an innocuous pop singer from a country perceived as benign could espouse views the typical American would attribute to menacing terrorists such as al-Qaeda, it begs serious questions about the pervasiveness of global anti-Americanism as well as to what informs it.
A legacy of violence
While the stories of American brutality in places such as Korea are unknown or ignored by the overwhelming majority of Americans, they are less quickly forgotten by the citizens of the countries which have suffered and continue to suffer horrific atrocities at the hands of US troops.
During the Korean War, American troops were believed to have been responsible for hundreds of instances of mass-killings of civilians, including the infamous No Gun Ri massacre in which members of the US 7th Cavalry Regiment massacred hundreds of Korean civilians under a railway underpass over the course of three days.
A 2009 investigative film revisiting the massacre documented the words of one Korean survivor who recalled how US troops had indiscriminately murdered men, women and children:
“Children were screaming in fear and the adults were praying for their lives… they never stopped shooting.”
Another Korean War survivor described the common American tactic of firebombing villages with napalm in a scorched-earth campaign which killed countless civilians:
“When the napalm hit our village, many people were still sleeping in their homes…. Those who survived the flames ran…. We were trying to show the American pilots that we were civilians. But they strafed us, women and children.”
The wanton disregard to Korean lives during America’s global campaign against Communism continues to extend to the present day in the form of rape and murder directed towards Korean civilians by US soldiers stationed at bases throughout the country.
In one 2011 incident, emblematic of long-documented practices by US troops in the country, a 21-year-old soldier, Kevin Flippin, broke into a Korean woman’s hotel room and raped and tortured her for several hours before robbing her of the equivalent of roughly US $5 and fleeing back to his base.
Sexual violence and murder has been a recurrent theme throughout the decades of American military presence in Korea and reflects longstanding behaviour in countless other countries across the world subject to US military basing and occupation.
… For Americans who are commonly feted with reassurances of their country’s benevolent role in the world, it may come as a surprise that half of all refugees on the planet today are running from American wars.
The wanton, industrial-scale violence, which the US has unleashed upon the civilians of countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia has naturally generated a tidal wave of negative feeling within these countries which many Americans utterly fail to grasp.