A South Korean rapper called PSY (his name is Park Jae-sang) is scheduled to perform for President Obama and his family at the “Christmas in Washington” concert this month. In 2004, PSY rapped the following lyrics:
Kill those f****** Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives;
Kill those f****** Yankees who ordered them to torture;
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers;
Kill them all slowly and painfully.
PSY has apologized for “for any pain I have caused anyone by those words.” He claims that the words were the product of his hatred of the Iraq war “that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time.”
This apology is weak. Following, the all-too-familiar modern approach, he apologizes not for his grotesquely inhumane words, but for “any pain I have caused anyone.” And he offers as a mitigating circumstance “the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world.”
But most “others around the world” managed to express their antiwar sentiment without wishing for the slow and painful death of people who had no involvement in the Iraq war. Even the rabid American left largely confined its revenge fantasies to those directly responsible for the war or, at least, to Republicans.
Many South Koreans, to be sure, became enraged against American in 2002, when an American military vehicle accidentally ran over two middle school girls who were walking along the roadside just outside of Seoul. But this incident had nothing to do with the war in Iraq, and it occurred two years before PSY delivered his hateful rant.
Shortly before that rant, a South Korean had been killed in Iraq. But the beheading of the South Korean, a Christian missionary, was at the hands of Islamic extremists, not Americans. Many South Koreans rallied against the extremists. But only anti-American radicals seized the moment to unleash vitriol against the U.S. And it’s unlikely that, even among this crew, the vitriol reached the point of wishing death to innocent Americans.
Given these facts, PSV’s apology doesn’t cut it. But even if he had made a proper apology for his vicious rant, PSY should not be performing for President Obama. The rapper may well be sorry for his words (and not just the negative impact they conceivably may have on his career), and his apology should be accepted. But egregious actions should have consequences even when an apology follows. A consequence of wishing painful deaths for innocent Americans should be exclusion from performing at a gala event before the American president.
Let’s see whether Obama agrees.
JOHN adds: So, wait–this guy is supposed to be performing for the president and his family at a Christmas concert? What am I missing here? Is there some world in which a guy who “raps” about “f******” is an appropriate person to perform at a White House Christmas concert? I realize the world is sliding rapidly downhill, but still…have we really declined that far? I certainly hope not.