2010-12-09

Wikileaks: American Entertainment Better than the TSA

There's a new article (Brett Michael Dykes, The Lookout) about a leaked document posted on Wikileaks reporting that American TV shows and movies have been very effective at painting a positive portrait of the US in the eyes of Saudis (ever since American channels there have started showing actual American TV and movies and not just US-sanctioned propaganda). Of all the quotes in the article, this one stood out the most:
[...] even in the remote, highly conservative regions of Saudi Arabia where anti-Western thought typically proliferates. The cable quotes him saying that out in the Saudi hinterlands, "you no longer see Bedouins, but kids in western dress." [...]
I feel like this is along the lines of winning the people's "hearts and minds". The reason why this works is because as opposed to state-sponsored propaganda (which is pretty obvious when shown), this more subtly shows what's so great about the US.
Finally, I think this report is a great send-up of all the politicians who are equating Wikileaks with terrorism. Quite the contrary: while a lot of what it shows is what we've done wrong (and of course these politicians will hypocritically call for press freedom in other countries yet repress it here), it also shows a lot of what we've done right. Why not publicize that more? (I think it's because people will start demanding the incriminating information as well; really, politicians just call for press freedom when it suits them. So, what else do you have to hide, Senator Lieberman? After all, you do want to criminally prosecute them, don't you?)
Oh, and the title? It just goes to show that this entertainment is far better at converting potential terrorists into people positively curious about America than the TSA is at stopping terrorism.

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