Friday, February 13, 2004

Hearts and minds 


CAIRO, Egypt - Even before its first broadcast, a satellite television station financed by the U.S. government and directed at Arab viewers is drawing fire in the Middle East as an American attempt to destroy Islamic values and brainwash the young.
And that kind of mindset is exactly why this station was created.

Here in Maine, I get a French-language channel with French, Belgian, Swiss, and Canadian programming. I get the CBC. I wish I got BBC America. When I lived in California I got several Mexican channels (although I don't speak Spanish so they weren't of much use) and some international channel that showed news broadcasts from all over the world.

Funny, but I never felt like they were attempts to destroy American values or brainwash me. In fact, I greatly enjoy the different perspective those foreign channels bring to my view of world events. The TV doesn't force me to believe whatever opinion is presented. Unfortunately, most of the target audience of this new station, Arabs, have lived in societies in which propaganda is literally all there is. Why shouldn't they expect a new station to be more of the same, especially when it's from a country they've been brainwashed to despise and distrust?

Which plays the larger role here? Fear of America, based on ignorance of what it is? Or an inferiority complex, by which Muslims feel that their society and values are too weak to withstand a mere television station?
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