Many American fans of “Gangnam Style,” the huge hit this year by the Korean singer PSY, are reeling from the recent revelation that earlier in his career, PSY sang a vitriolically anti-American song called “Dear America,” in which he rapped about killing Americans “slowly and painfully.”
The song, which PSY performed in 2004 at the height of anti-Iraq War sentiment in South Korea, was juvenile and offensive. He has rightfully apologized. Yet however hurtful the lyrics, they’re a reminder of something Americans would be wise to remember more often: the fact that, no, the rest of the world does not always love us.
The suggestion that America either is or should be uncritically beloved abroad as a beacon of freedom is a common refrain among politicians, and it has a real and negative impact on the way many Americans approach our foreign policy choices. That was never more true than during the Iraq war, when polls showed many voters believed the world supported American actions, despite ample evidence to the contrary.
The anger that PSY tapped into wasn’t pretty, and the way he expressed it was inflammatory. But if it exposes his new American fans to different ways of thinking about American power, it might have a silver lining.