Montag, Oktober 24, 2005

Expanding on a theme...

I came across this today and it underscores the last post.

The money quote, for me, is this:

The purpose of the visiting professorships, however, would not be simply to send American academics to Indonesia or to other Muslim countries to teach courses and advise local faculty members on curricula. Instead, just as the American government after World War II dispatched scholars to Europe to help establish university departments and institutes of American studies, so the State Department should define the role of the new professorships as training one or two generations of Indonesian and other Muslim Americanists, who could then transmit what they know about the United States to their own students.

That training should not be devoted merely to developing a cadre of indigenous academic specialists in American subjects. As in the case of postwar Europe, the ultimate objective would be to provide students who will some day enter business, law, politics, or the media with a greater knowledge of and sophistication about America's political and economic system and its cultural traditions.

In other words, it's not enough to toss some money at the problem, but rather you need to make the commitment to change how people outside the US view the US, not as a propaganda instrument, but rather to prevent disinformation becoming perceived reality.

And this is why the left is doing so much damage to the US outside of the US:

And since many Indonesians in my audiences had seen Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, they were convinced that students in American high schools were heavily armed, just waiting for the opportunity to open fire.

But it was their questions about Moore himself that left me truly befuddled. I was asked continually if the Bush administration had subsidized Moore's movies, including Fahrenheit 9/11. Eventually I realized that such a question revealed an entirely different set of ideas about the relationship between government and culture. Since Indonesians believed that movies, plays, and novels could scarcely exist without the political and financial support of the state, it was hard for them to imagine the existence of a "private" sector in the arts, or the absence of an American ministry of culture.

In other words, what we in the West accept (that in a free society the free discussion of opposing viewpoints is a good thing, enrichening the body politic) can and is poisonous to those whose society is not that of the West, but rather cannot concieve that someone like Moore cannot be anything but a government spokesman.

This is part of the challenge facing any US government. It is also the curse facing any US government: the left, especially the extreme left, in their blind pursuit of a specific goal - vilifying Bush - have, intentionally or not, vilified not Bush but the United States as a whole.

Deliberate? I'm willing to give some on the left the benefit of the doubt. But not Moore and the looney left with their Bush Derangement Syndrome.

What the left has lost, and lost quite some time ago, was a sense of perspective. Instead, it's agitprop and deceit that ultimatively is destructive. But given basic leftist goals, the destruction of the US is just fine and dandy for them. And you have the spectacle of US elites applauding and cheering people like Moore and his followers and fellow travellers on, ignoring the very real damage that such actions and films cause to US prestige abroad.

But when did that concern them? If anything, they view it as a very real and positive side benefit. Moore would've made a great propagandist in the Soviet Union. I'm not accusing him of being a Communist or some sort of KGB mole: but his very real dedication to deliberately misinforming world opinion about the US makes him  culpable of aiding and abetting the enemies of the US. And by deliberately misinforming I mean the use of hyperbole and the presentation of opinion as fact in order to make his opinions about the US appear to be documented facts, when in reality he has deliberately been frugal with the truth.

It's hard sometimes to reconcile those who abuse free speech with the defense of free speech: however, you have to. But there needs to be more articles like the one cited here that shows what the real costs are of free speech that borders increasingly on hate speech. I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but I do know enough of constitutional law to know that this is one of the trickiest areas to reconcile.

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