Accuracy in Media

The media occasionally feature stories or polls about how other countries, especially in Europe or the Muslim world, view America. Less attention has been paid to how the Chinese Communists view the United States. A report prepared for an official body investigating U.S.-China relations says one of the main themes in the Chinese media is that the U.S. is in inevitable decline.

The report, prepared by Dr. Michael Pillsbury, says that social issues are frequently cited by Chinese analysts as an area where the U.S. has “serious troubles.” It focuses on the drug problem in America, and one book in China highlights America as the “Drug Superpower.” While Chinese media say the U.S. is in economic decline, Pillsbury says the Chinese tend to believe that our most severe problems are social in nature. The book, entitled “American Social Diseases,” highlights problems such as crime and drug use, and a “spiritual and moral crisis.” The book says the U.S. suffers from a “spiritual deficit” and faces “moral extinction.” It also cites “excessive sexual indulgence” as a problem.

That problem was in the mind of Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich when she was widely quoted as jokingly remarking, “If I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would.” The media were horrified, noting that was speaking at a domestic violence prevention conference. Ehrlich’s spokeswoman explained, “As a working mother raising a 4-year-old son, the first lady has concerns about the negative influences that the entertainment industry can have on young children and teenagers.”

Institutions such as the NFL embrace Spears, featuring her as one of the entertainers at the music festival that kicked off the football season on September 4 at the National Mall in Washington D.C. Her performance included the removal of her pants in the middle of a song on national TV. One week before that, Spears was in the news for her lesbian kiss of aging rock star Madonna at the MTV Video Music Awards. She also posed topless for Rolling Stone magazine.

President Bush leads the war on terrorism while remaining largely silent on the cultural war within. That could be a critical mistake. In an article predicting that America will lose its war against terrorism, a radical Islamic activist says that the U.S. will lose in part because of its “decadent, materialistic, infidel way of life?” Already, he said, “the signs of this decline are evident in America,” citing the growing problem of drug abuse and addiction, and even corruption in political life.

Discussing Iraq, this anti-American activist said, “In many ways?as some cynical American officials know?America needs this war, for it serves to make the American people forget their own dire social and political problems, their own slow social decline. But this war cannot solve these problems, only hide them, for a while.” This activist predicts an American collapse in about 30-40 years. The solution is not to shoot Britney Spears but to stop presenting people like her as role models, and to insist on moral behavior from our leaders and people.

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