May 02, 2002
That Saudi ad campaign

Virginia Postrel, who has a snappy new self portrait up (note to Max Power: Your demand has been met), points to this Happy Fun Pundit post which lauds the cable networks for turning down the Saudi advertising money. While I appreciate anyone who can work "ululate" into his writing, I must respectfully disagree with this sentiment. I think this misguided effort on the Saudis' part would backfire on them. I think that Americans would recognize the lies and that there would be a backlash that would greatly embarrass the House of Saud. Turning them down lets them paint themselves as aggreived victims: Those oppressive American broadcasters, too afraid to let the people hear the truth about Our Friends the Saudis, blah blah blah.

Well, hey, as Penn Jillette says, the cure for bad speech isn't no speech, it's more speech. I say bring it on. Let's get all of America talking about Saudi Arabia. Let's talk about those 15 of Saudi's finest who pioneered new aviation techniques on September 11. Let's talk about their love of poetry. Let's talk about their fundraising efforts on behalf of the families of suicide bombers. The cable networks who refused the Saudis' money have done them a favor by not forcing all of us to think and talk about these and many similar charming little quirks of the Saudi personality. And, as Virginia rightly notes, they can take that $10 million which was earmarked for our economy and spend it instead on things like more Wahabi schools. I'm not seeing the upside here.

The beauty of America is that as a free and open society, we can directly counter this kind of propaganda. We don't need to be shielded from it. I'm sorry that we won't get the chance to demonstrate that to these warm, close friends of ours.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 02, 2002 to Around the world