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Why we fight! Using government to sell America
By Bruce Walker
During the New Deal, Franklin Roosevelt shamelessly supported "art" and "literature" projects which supported his political agenda, and liberals have continued this use of public funds - you know, the "bottomless pit of dollars"? - to produce cultural propaganda against the values of free people and a free, safe, strong nation.
During the Second World War, the federal government produced a large number of films, posters, and other direct and subtle messages for "Why We Fight." This was, of course, a key component in sustaining within our nation the resolve to continue a global war in which our "allies" were often really rotten people, like Stalin, and in which our "enemies" were often the peoples of nations like Italy and Finland, who were often good people.
The stranglehold which the Left has on Hollywood is almost complete. How many motion pictures or prime time television programs actually portray our nation and its patriotic leaders or its core values sympathetically? How many savage all that America stands for in ways much more effective and subtle than crude propaganda of bin Ladin?
The President must expend political capital, and there is no good reason to delay. He should ask for a large budget to produce movies, books, television programs, radio programs, art, music, and posters that explain "Why We Fight." Use the model of FDR and the Second World War, which will make it very difficult for Democrats to oppose.
Then he should use the vast resources of the federal government to produce films, programs, national radio and television broadcasts, books, magazines, songs, and art that celebrate our freedoms and our goodness in the world. Some of this should be for foreign consumption, but much of it - like the federal efforts during the Second World War - should be overtly intended for American audiences (which, of course, would also include the many foreign nationals who live in America, but who have never heard the positive message of America presented).
This work should be dramatic and fictional, to a large degree. They should not only fill the mind but also warm the heart. Why do people from all over the world come here? Why do persecuted faiths, including quarreling branches of Islam, choose freely to live in America? Why are the peoples of America the most diverse in the world? Why do Americans contribute more true charity as a cultural norm than other peoples do as a theological injunction?
Many liberals actors, writers, and producers will protest this "propaganda." Great! Precisely what we should hope! Have a new generation of articulate, thoughtful, tough conservative writers, photographers, composers, actors, singers, and directors receive modest compensation from the federal government for joyfully producing messages about the true glory of America. Let this new generation of cutting edge entertainment and information talents be committed conservatives who believe in America!
There is, of course, a grave danger. We do not want the federal government to overwhelm private sector activities. All too often conservatives have seen the practical destruction of options by government operations performing work that the private sector can do better (public education and public health are excellent examples).
This may be a danger, however, that we must accept. The insinuation of Leftist dogma into the institutions of corporate America, particularly in areas like news and entertainment, is so pervasive that conservatives have long been little more than pathetic Jim Crow jokes. The very real intolerance of anything but Leftist orthodoxy in these areas of public life, which has been profoundly assisted by government support for "education" and federal control of broadcast licenses, has created a condition in which the triumphant of a conservative film maker is about as likely as an educated black man being elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi in 1900.
The danger is also less serious because the federal government need not discriminate against liberals, but only insist that the purpose of the funding and resources is to show how good America and its values really are in the world. True intellectual talents on the Left have longed since secretly understood their folly for years. It is fear and helplessness that moderates and limits their work for the truth.
How could we be sure that the President would use resources the way we want? First, he would have the power. He executes the laws and appoints (even if it is a recess appointment) people to make the decisions on what to produce and how to produce it. Second, President Bush has demonstrated an inner toughness and an understanding of how bad our enemies within truly can be.
There is one final reason why President Bush should make this pitch and make it now. Most conservatives would be content is government at all levels was truly neutral and passive. What can liberals say to oppose the President using federal resources to make a case for our nation and its ideals? Nothing much, unless they are willing to say that government should simply stay completely out of this area.
No Public Broadcasting System, no National Public Radio, no National Endowment for the Arts, no federal funds for mushy social science courses in schools and colleges. If ideas and presentation of those ideas must compete purely in the private market with government utterly neutral in every way, so be it - we conservatives will be better off!
Opposing the President in mustering the creative genius of America to win back the hearts and minds of peoples in our nation and around the world would place Leftists in the worst possible situation. First, the overwhelming majority of Americans believe in fighting this war with every weapon we can, including entertainment, information, and ideas. Second, the Left leans heavily on tax dollars to fund their vile and unpopular portrayals of America as Amerika.
There is no outcome for conservatives except to make it easier for our ideas to prevail. If the President can use government for the purpose of propagating the good ideas of conservatism and build up an experienced group of conservative talent, then that is very good for us and for America. If the only result is that Leftist who have used our own tax dollars to wage ideological war on everything we value, well that is pretty good too. Win - win for conservatives.
Bruce 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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