A conversation over dinner with a few of my Korean colleagues a couple of nights ago. In and of itself a little odd, that, conversing over dinner. Koreans tend to get the business of nourishment fully completed before chewing the fat, but a couple of these folks were Korean-Americans, and a couple others well-versed in the oddball ways of us hairy barbarians, and cut the requisite slack, as it was a ‘western’ meal : massive slabs of pizza and long styrofoam trays of gleaming, oily chicken thighs.
Predictably, it was about America, and the outrage upon outrage that the American government is perceived to be heaping on Korea and the rest of the world. The talk turned to the latest : North Korea as one of countries on the List, one of the countries where contingency plans to use nuclear weapons – in case of ‘surprising military developments’ – were being discussed.
A sense of outrage is building in this country. One of my colleagues said “They are talking about using nukes against North Korea, if necessary. I have family there. My father came from Pyongyang during the war.” Another nodded and said “Mine too. I have family in North Korea, a lot of family.” Heads nodded around the table. Almost everyone at the table, it seemed, had some relatives north of the border, close or distant, most of whom they’d never met. “We’re an occupied country,” said one of the men at the table, a Korean-American in his forties, “we have been for 50 years!”
I had to agree with him. It’s quite clear that the presence of US Forces may have staved off another invasion by the North, but the fact remains that South Korea has been a puppet for all these years, willing or otherwise, and the pumped-up, football field cheerleading that Pretzelboy and his cronies are spewing is doing nothing to ease the anger, the fear, and the rage that is bubbling to the surface. Quite the opposite, in fact. Anti-US sentiment is crystallizing everywhere – and this in a country that is ostensibly a ‘staunch ally’ of America. Set aside f–king Olympic medals, we have ‘axis of evil’ rhetoric, threats of nuclear strikes on family members, unilateral, illegal steel tariffs, Jay Leno making lame jokes about dog-eating, and Nogun-f–king-Ri, to name a few things that have pissed people off in the last month alone. Even my new freshman students, uncomfortable and standoffish in the early days of this semester, have warmed to me visibly when they found out that I’m not American.
America is making itself many, many enemies around the world recently. Far more, far more widespread, and far angrier, perhaps, than the scattered few that took down the Twin Towers in New York. Shrub and his cohort are stoking the fires of resentment and hatred all around the planet, and it’s the ordinary goddamn American on the street, in New York or in Paris, in Washington or Manila, that will lose their lives as a result, when next the next bomb goes off, the next airplane crashes into a building.
It astonishes and saddens me daily, with each new outrage delivered deadpan by the Resident and his handlers, that the American people are allowing their government – a leadership not even clearly mandated by an election – destroy what good is left there, and throttle what goodwill still remains in pockets amongst the peoples of the nations of the world. Dark days, my friends. Dark days.