I get it. I don’t agree with what was done, but I get it. The unidentified incident I am referring to is when the Korean hip-hop performer, PSY, performed anti-American songs in 2002 and 2004. The revelation of his past actions made his recent performance at the White House controversial.
In context, I understand PSY’s anger. Apparently an American military vehicle had just killed two school girls in South Korea. I can imagine a time when a more patriotic and nationalist America would have reacted the same way. Consider the American to response the USS Maine explosion in 1898. Look no further than the way the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was used by LBJ. Also, 2004 was a time that much of the democratic world became appalled with the conduct of the American-Iraqi conflict.
I was an undergraduate at the time. But now, nearly a decade later, I have to consider how the Iraq conflict looked to people outside the United States. No WMDs were found, thousands of civilian deaths and the installation of a government in Baghdad that is very friendly to Iran. Seen from the outside, the U.S. political elite can appear to be uncaring and dangerous bumblers. I also understand PSY because I can remember how angry I was when an illegal alien – aka a border violator – killed a nun in Virginia. I remember thinking that if the law was enforced, that nun would still be alive.
When you love your country, you are angered when it is hurt by foreigners. It is natural. And to an extent the public – and peaceful – demonstration of outrage by the citizenry of an aggrieved country is a sign of a healthy and vibrant democracy. It means the country is united with a democratic “we” mentality. Democracies that lose the “we” mentality begin to breakdown.
South Korea is a brilliant, dynamic first-world democracy that should serve as a peaceful example to the communist North Korean state. In fact, the world’s lone superpower could take a chair and learn something.
Americans are tough. We can take the criticism.
But are we aware of how we often we tolerate slights, insults and crimes against our citizens by others? Does civilization mean that we do not protest on behalf our fellow American who has been aggrieved?
A government that purports to be at war with international jihad but does not secure its border, nor adequately protect its citizens within those borders, is unlikely to deter aggressors. Neither will such a state strike fear into determined foes. Further, citizens who are not sufficiently roused by their government’s failures to force the issue politically will not inspire awe or respect in those who wish them harm. Unfortunately, we have allowed the political elite to split Americans into niches and affect an artificial tribalism of American against American.
The HBO series John Adams brought to life the courage of the Boston patriot. In one scene, he pleaded with the delegates in Philadelphia: “But while I do live, let me have a country, and that a free country.”
When will the American people assert that they have a country and intend to keep it? The world is watching.