So that’s two more things I don’t have in common with this Hezbollah member.
Again, it’s a commonplace that many people around the world who don’t like American foreign policy, wealth, or perceived arrogance, or the way we look, smell, or whatever, still respond favorably to American popular culture, particularly those aspects that seem to imply rebellion against authority, e.g. rock music, blue jeans (God knows why — how can it be rebellious if everybody wears them), and even NBA basketball. Hey, world, there’s a lot more where that came from! To know us, really know us, is to love us! We’re the country you’d most like to have a beer with! Even you, Mr. Hezbollah member, assuming that you drink alcohol! Come visit, don’t blow up any buildings, and maybe we can score you some Lakers tickets!
One of the saddest things to watch over the last few years has been the current administration’s clumsy attempts at this kind of cultural propaganda. Again, not to repeat another Thomas Friedman column, but it seems to me that the best people to get out the message that Americans are not actually rapacious oppressors, but instead are really cool dudes who value freedom, love children and dogs (as pets, not soup ingredients), and just want to get along with every one — really! — are not American flaks like Karen Hughes, but actual foreigners who’ve spent some time here, either as tourists, workers (as long as we don’t exploit them too badly) or students. By making it harder for such people to come here, we’re undermining our public diplomacy efforts. We ought to make it easier.