Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Explaining Desperate Housewives to Disparate Arabs


Among the many who have given advice to public diplomacy undersecretary-designate Karen Hughes is Arnaud de Borchgrave, whose April 16 Washington Times column laments an American entertainment landscape that definitely does not have Ms. Hughes' back:

Islam's clerics have had a field day convincing their congregations that "Desperate Housewives" and "Sex in the City" are true reflections of U.S. secret weapons to destroy Islam. Military might to impose depravity is how the Bush doctrine and its crusade for democracy are explained in countless mosques throughout the Middle East.

Try explaining to sophisticated Arab audiences, let alone the uneducated masses, that New York is not truly representative of the United States. For most foreign visitors, New York is America. If television is not an accurate reflection of manners and mores in the United States, then how does one explain the Olympian ratings of sleaze?
Mr. de Borchgrave continues into a standard denunciation of "smut and muck" on the airwaves, but to riff from his main point: Ms. Hughes once ran a 24/7 White House war room that counteracted Taliban and Iraqi propaganda. Should she develop a similar operation that explains to Arab audiences that the U.S. isn't amoral, it just plays one on TV?

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