Back in 2004, while America was decimating Iraq, sending a million refugees fleeing for their lives, torturing and raping in Saddam’s dungeons, melting people with white phosphorus, and arming contractors who shot civilians for sport, an offensive thing happened. Psy, “Gangnam Style” not yet a glimmer in his eye, had a rap about the U.S.
Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives
Kill those fucking Yankees who ordered them to torture
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers
Kill them all slowly and painfully
Sons were off the hook, apparently.
Most people were taken aback by such things being said about American soldiers. But believing Muslims should be killed, raped, humiliated, and tortured – actively and without regard for whether they are even terrorists – was uncontroversially expressed by pundits every day during this time. They were merely a bit more articulate. Thomas Friedman, you’ll remember, said soldiers should go “door to door” threatening Iraqis, a country we only invaded “because we could.” Expressing opinions opposite to that was actually a bad career move for a while.
Psy is looking at performing “Gangnam Style” for the rest of his life, for smaller and older crowds, until he’s doing cruise ships with Lou Bega and the Baha Men. In order for America to continue embracing this annoying song and dance, he had to mend fences by doing one of the most American things of all: apologizing for being offensive. (Everyone’s doing it – can’t wait til my turn!)
While he fully walked back his very specific kill list, part of his statement read: “While it’s important that we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so.” My reading of that sentence is, “While I believe your relatives should die slow and painful deaths by torture, I made some poor language choices in expressing it.” I like the idea of him truly believing daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers of torturers should die horrifically and using weasel words to preserve his position. That’s really what most Americans do when they apologize anyway.
In a long piece for Wired, Quinn Norton reflects on Occupy
No one walked away from Occupy the same person. The occupiers will always say “we learned so much,” and the simplicity of the words belie how deep the change runs. We all learned so much in the season of Occupy. We learned there is a hostile army threaded through our nation. We learned that children can be casually brutalized, just to keep traffic from being inconvenienced.
We learned that Americans can come together and care for one another. We learned there is a great and terrible spirit in this land, the sleeping giant of our spirits summed together.