Hughes concedes that the Muslim world mostly regards our freedom as licentiousness. They get their impressions of the U.S. through our media, which mostly consists of immodestly dressed women, violence and car chases. That's the "entertainment" and image we export, so why should they not conclude this is who we are?
Hughes is particularly fond of the exchange program that allows students and others to come to the U.S. to study and to observe Muslims and others able to dress, worship and associate as they please. Again, I wonder if this approach is a Cold War relic. The 9/11 hijackers lived, worked, worshiped and observed our way of life, and they killed 3,000 of us. Following the British bombings two summers ago, the British public expressed shock that "home grown" young Muslim men could turn on their fellow countrymen. The reason is that they did not see Britain as their country, but heaven as their destination and jihad as their vehicle for getting there.
Hughes also speaks of a coming "major Western Hemisphere initiative" to do more and communicate more with Latin American countries. She says the Bush administration has nearly doubled U.S. assistance to the region, but most don't know about it because their media don't tell them.
I wouldn't stop what Karen Hughes is doing, but I do wonder and worry whether this outreach to the Arab and Muslim world, in particular, will make a significant difference in a war between cultures that is fueled by religious zeal. Even Hughes acknowledges, "This is a long struggle."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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