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Propagating American values
By Bruce Walker
The primary problem with global politics today is that no one is making the case for American values except for an indigenous group of articulate conservatives, who are largely preaching to the choir. The absence of a voice on our behalf is the reason why most of the world appears to hate us.
We on the political right assume that the rest of the world knows what we know so well: Hollywood, academia, public schools, and most of corporate America are pathologically unpatriotic. But the rest of the world does not know that. Why should they?
Would the government of Sweden tolerate an overwhelmingly free market university curriculum, that consistently critiqued Swedish government policy as an unworkable failure? Would movie stars in India be popular if they consistently spoke in favor of America and against India in their public utterances? Every other society on Earth propagates its own values; America, however, does not.
Sometimes this propagation reaches dangerous extremes, even within democracies. French school children receive almost no instruction about the great sacrifices made by Anglo-America to liberate their homeland. Japanese school children hear much about Hiroshima, but almost nothing about Nanking, Pearl Harbor or Bataan.
German students, during President Reagan's administration, did not even know that the Soviet Union had made common cause with Hitler and Nazism for the first two years of the Second World War (these young Germans did not consider siding with Communism a disgrace for Nazism, but rather could not believe that noble Communists would ever side with vile Nazis).
The argument for America is the most compelling in human history. The movement of mankind has always been into America and never out of America. The poor who come to America become rich. The persecuted who come to America become free. Perhaps Americans, particularly normal (i.e. conservative) Americans assume that the rest of mankind will see and grasp the obvious.
It is time to understand that this will never happen unless America - the good and decent America of flyover country - makes its case to the world. This is a proper function of government, and it is high time that those Americans whose sons and daughters may die because of lies spewed about America assert that right of rhetorical self-defense.
What does this mean? It means as a part of our national security effort, that America can - indeed, must - begin propagating the virtues of America. Once we recognized the critical importance of getting the American message to the world. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were critically important to our victory over communism. BBC radio broadcasts (back when BBC cared about truth) were powerful tools in defeating Nazism.
These messengers of truth were particularly useful because American and British radio broadcasts not only provided our side of the Second World War and the Cold War, but also provided honest information about what was happening in the enslaved lands of Nazi Germany and the Soviet empire.
Today, perversely, most foreigners who hear about America from our television programs, news reports, college professors, motion pictures and entertainment industry actually hear America described less sympathetically than these non-Americans might have adduced on their own. Hollywood, academia, establishment media and these other sources oppose America and disparage American achievements.
Conservatives like me have an instinctive distrust of government programs, particularly federal programs. The value of making sure that America is perceived accurately in the rest of the world, however, has become perhaps the single greatest national security need of our nation. The public and private sources of information and entertainment in the Muslim world, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe reflexively oppose America and its values.
Once Hollywood dispelled this disinformation. Studio bosses like Louie B. Mayer had a profound love and respect for America, and American films played in Berlin, Tokyo, Rome and Paris - sending a strong signal of the moral greatness of this land of the free and home of the brave. Musical geniuses like Irving Berlin and Glenn Miller celebrated the joyfulness of America.
Now all these industries of entertainment stink of disloyalty to America. The sniveling crybabies of Hollywood are an embarrassment, rather than an inspiration, to America and to the world. Dishonest journalism that actually skews against its own nation understandably confirms the deepest resentments of America haters.
The disconnect between reality and the perception in much of the world has reached a crisis point. The slanders and lies about America have invented serious national security problems that would not have existed had a real picture of America been presented to the world.
When a sociopath with only ephemeral allegiance to Islam is perceived as the champion of world Muslims as he protects his torture chambers from American soldiers who honor the principles of Islam much more scrupulously than Saddam Hussein, then it is time for the American government to act.
The federal government should begin to produce films, radio and television programs, periodicals, art, music and everything else that can snare an audience and the federal government should begin to inundate the world with these artistic and rhetorical proofs of American nobility.
Moreover, the thin veneer of ideological neutrality in the largely socialist governments of Europe is supported by indigenous left wing information and entertainment industries, so that wherever a European looks the portrayal of American society is invariably bad.
Beyond that, the slant that a Frenchman or German gets - Clinton was a wonderful American president and Bush "stole" the 2000 election - creates a strong impression that it is not just Americans, but conservative Americans, that are the problem.
What could our government do? What should our government do? Invest billions of dollars in producing news, entertainment, documentaries, broadcasts and music sufficient to insure that the picture of America most of us see is shown to the rest of the planet. Most of the world has developed into a closed system of information and ideas.
The natural envy of people in less successful nations combines with the message that these people receive from public and private outlets in their lands and with the message that the liberal establishment in America sends to them about America.
The result is Orwellian darkness. The consequences of the ongoing campaign against American values - waged as fiercely by elitist liberal Americans as by any smug Frenchman - is that the battle for hearts and minds of the world is lost by default to those who hate America. This unilateral surrender means that much more treasure, as well as the blood of Americans and the blood of other peoples, must ultimately be shed to protect our lives and our liberties.
This alone would justify the propagation of American values and the depiction of America honestly among the highest priorities of any government. But the cost is even greater than the losses to America.
Our nation is a working model of how other peoples can live happy, ethical and peaceful lives. Once the world admired America for its moral greatness and its noble principles. Peoples and political parties made tentative steps toward reforming their governments and laws. Now America has allowed the world to believe something else - and something false - about America.
The ultimate goal of American foreign policy should be to create a world of free peoples living independent lives without violence, threats or mendacity corrupting those lives. America should begin working on that long term goal right now, because tomorrow is already here.
Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent
contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.
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