Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Public Perceptions

It is interesting to me how many discussions I've had with foreigners who think that only they get the truth from the press. Generally, they argue that our press (American) lies to us and tells us only what the President wants us to hear, while their press shows the real truth. This from people in countries like Brazil, whose President Da Silva recently suggested censorship of the press and the Middle East where the press are virtually arms of the local government and heavily controlled. We think we have press bias!

Anyone who looks at the facts can see that the press in America is biased today. They report stories negative to people they favor and barely touch on the positives. There are numerous examples. During the recent Presidential campaign, they were very quick to downplay positive aspects of the Iraq War than the negative stories of prison scandal and death tolls. This negatively impacted the President. There are other examples. Stories even get promoted more because they negatively impact the competition -- repeated stories about Fox News' conservative bias from all other more liberal news organizations. The slamming of the Dan Rather story by everyone but CBS News, where he works. Tell me that doesn't show bias of its own! The sad thing is it wasn't always this way.

As recently as the 1970s, Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America. He served CBS News for decades! He was renowned for his fairness and impartiality. Newspapers went out of their way to edit out biases in reporters' stories and to assure the public got both sides, well presented, of every issue. So what happened? My opinion is that this is the result of a general watering down of our values. I think that is something European countries went through several decades ago. But now it is happening here.

The election of John Kerry would have brought support for a number of policies that would change the American identity, because they would negate long standing morals and beliefs on which this country was founded, and on which our traditional American character has been built. The artistic community and press have cried out about Bush's reelection because he has the opposite agenda. Somehow artists and press today have become smitten with their own knowledge and influence. They have bought into the old lie that they are better or higher beings and therefore deserve to tell other lesser beings how to vote and how to think. By way of contrast, when you study history and look at people like William Shakespeare, Rembrandt, George F. Handel, J.S. Bach, Leonardo Da Vinci and others, they have one common strain -- respect for their own human limitations and expectation that there remain things all around us that were created by a being higher than ourselves. It is evident all over their work. Yet it is not so evident in the work of arrogant artists like Michael Moore or Tim Robbins today.

This is sad for all of us. Because this nation was founded on Christian principles "under God, indivisible." Yet now there is a growing divide. And at the root of it is a lack of respect for those of other ideologies and beliefs than our own. It is disturbing that the nation of freedom is becoming a nation of freedom to only be honest with those who agree with you. If we continue in this direction, America will lose its world influence and solidarity with drastic consequences. How can we stand up as examples to the whole world of liberty and compassion, when we can't stand to let our neighbor speak his mind? How can we stand up as example to the world of unity despite differences, when those who don't get their way would rather immigrate to Canada than stay and examine how we got to a place where this land might not be the place we want to live? I think now, more than ever, America needs self-examination. We need to figure out what we've lost and discover how to bring it back. It begins with reexamining our own biases and demanding of ourselves that we not force our opinions on those around us. But the problem is, far too many Americans could never even agree on that.

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