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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student

North Korea is the worst

“North Korea is likely the most horrible country on this planet,” Denmark Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal said. 

But what about us?

Mass media speculates what North Korea’s nuke could do to San Francisco. Twitter blows up with macabre predictions and ironic jokes. Warmongering national leaders talk about escalating sanctions and violence in the name of self-defense.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea run high, and everyone’s favorite militaristic rhetoric is being tossed around like Oscar buzz.

Days after North Korea released propaganda depicting a U.S. city in flames while “We Are The World” plays in the background, the country’s foreign minister confirmed it has conducted a nuclear test.

The infamously unpredictable country conducted its third nuclear test — the first under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un — on the same day as President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

North Korea’s foreign minister  called the test an act of self-defense in response to U.S. “hostility” — likely referring to increased sanctions following a rocket launch in December. Further measures were threatened if the U.S. complicates the situation.

Lines are being drawn in the sand between the impoverished nation and the world superpower, and superlatives can be found in journalistic articles left and right.

The language in these news articles is doing something specific: fortifying the binary opposition of desperately evil North Korea and the good, civilized U.S.

What’s at stake when a country is represented as everything the U.S. is not?

I’m afraid of the answers.

Some articles lament that North Korea has continued the legacy of “military first” policies left by Kim Jong-il. It’s facetious at best to suggest the U.S. has not also operated on military first policies in the past decade.

America maintains a massive nuclear arms arsenal to this day, and it makes me nervous when a country committing terror in Pakistan talks big about taking adequate measures against North Korea.

Obama described the nuclear test as “highly provocative” and threatened international retaliation.
 
I don’t mean to downplay the significance of North Korea’s potential nuclear armament. I want to emphasize how the language we use dangerously dehumanizes
non-Americans.

I want to recognize that every time we talk about desperate, impoverished, evil North Korea, we overlook extreme poverty and militarism in the U.S.

Of all the international responses, I’m most comforted by China’s insistence that North Korea and global police alike “respond calmly” to the test. Those words suggest actual humans are being erased by all this nationalist posturing.

It’s a welcome relief from America’s exceptional pastime of big-stick-wielding.

— ptbeane@indiana.edu

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