Monday, June 13, 2005

Run for the hills

The Associated Press has reported that our beleaguered nation is about to face a new assault--a wave of politically correct, people-to-people, touchy-feely diplomacy.
"It starts with a good feeling," German Embassy spokeswoman Martina Nibbeling said of public diplomacy in general and a new German advertising campaign. It includes the "friendship bus" — a Washington city bus that German officials had painted with U.S. and German figures talking to each other from across the globe.
That's right, from across the globe. And let's keep it that way. Thank god for the Atlantic.
Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger rode the bus one day through central Washington, greeting startled commuters.
("Startled"? Skip the lederhosen next time, Wolfgang.)
Other countries also are reaching out.
Canada plans to use millions of its expatriates in the United States as an army of spokesmen. France has a new campaign to explain its economic reforms and promote business. The Chinese Embassy last month held a "bridge" language contest, asking American students to speak on the subject of the "Splendor of Chinese Culture."
Let me get this straight. An "army" of Canadian spokesmen? Yikes. So on my way to the corner deli I'll be buttonholed by some diphthong-raising yahoo who wants to tell me about curling? And with my morning croissant I'm to be treated to an explanation of French economic reforms? Perhaps France should try explaining them to the French first. And the Chinese Embassy thinks that building bridges means offering American kids prizes for praising China? What happens if my essay doesn't quite manage to convey the splendor? Off to a re-education camp?

Okay, okay. I see the splendor. Now can I go home?

Aside from the staggering egoism behind the Chinese contest, it's hardly diplomatic. (But then diplomacy in Asia is about as subtle as professional wrestling.) How would it be received if we ask schoolchildren in China to wax eloquent on "The Glory of America"?

The article goes on to suggest that the U.S. is wisely jumping into this gag-inducing group-hug. The author says the State Department already has in place a "campaign to sell the U.S. to the Muslim world." I'm not sure I like the way that's phrased, but I'm doubtful the Muslim world is buying, anyway. Sadly, it is true that the State Department is making this a priority, as if there's any lack of exposure to American culture anywhere on the planet. If you're not watching American television shows or at least sampling our fine cuisine every now and then, you're probably scrambling around on some mountainside in Waziristan trying to dodge a CIA hit squad. We're everywhere ... and I thought that was supposed to be one of the reasons for our unpopularity. So should we really spend our energy and money dropping copies of Hi magazine on Muslim doorsteps around the world? Each month, Hi chooses a series of images for its "America Moments" section. This is June's lead "American Moment":

Yeah ... that's the mental image we'd like Muslims to associate with America.

This might be useful if you're trying to ingratiate yourself with football hooligans or 18th-century Scottish warriors, but I don't think any PR person can accurately predict what the vast majority of Muslims would make of this picture. And the idiocy doesn't stop there. Hi drew some criticism last week for an article portraying American men as preening "metrosexuals." Now I have my share of moisturizers in my medicine cabinet, but you won't catch me bragging about it down in the souk. The author and columnist Mona Charen reported on the magazine's lunacy at, and her critique made the blog rounds until the offending article finally vanished from Hi's website.
So when the Canadians, French, and Germans try to chat us up with pick-up lines about their hair-care products or their economic reforms, let's give them a sensible response: "Sorry, but we're a little busy for that now."


Blogger Gateway Pundit said...

That is a great picture! So funny!

2:09 PM  

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