Here's a sample of headline news from around the globe this past week:
BBC News: "Talking Movies: How Chuck Norris changed Romania."
Fox News: "'Chuck Norris vs. Communism': How American movies helped overthrow Romanian regime."
WorldNetDaily: "Chuck Norris now credited for cracking communism."
National Post: "Cold War hot takes: Chuck Norris and other secret weapons for tackling Russia onscreen."
New York Post: "How Chuck Norris 'defeated' Communism."
Daily Herald: "Sundance Notebook: Communism can't handle Chuck Norris."
Indiewire: "'Chuck Norris vs. Communism' Shows How the American Dream Toppled a Communist Regime."
All the recent media hoopla stems from the Sundance Film Festival premiere of the documentary "Chuck Norris vs. Communism," which utilizes my action films and me as a metaphor for heroism and strength.
The documentarian who made the film, Ilinca Calugareanu, told Fox 411 at its premiere: "We wanted to shine a light into a more serious decade in Romanian history. Movies gave people a picture of the world they wanted to have but never could have dreamed about. People could also see normal interaction between people without the fear that comes with living under a dictatorship."
Calugareanu went on to honor and humble me by explaining, "(Chuck Norris) was one of the most popular action stars in the VHS films smuggled into Romania. He was a good icon for the American films. His films gave a clear concept between good and bad, and that fascinated people."
As the New York Post further noted, many movies, including my movies "Mission in Action" and "Lone Wolf McQuade," were "forbidden by (Romanian) law and impossible to come by except in bootlegged versions." Nevertheless, pirates would smuggle bootleg copies of my movies into the country, and neighborhood viewings would embolden and inspire people. The ultimate effect, as the Post reported, was that "the films were more effective than CIA propaganda."
The truth is, as one film participant explained, "movies planted the seeds of freedom. Videotapes set the Communist regime off balance."
That's why I explained in the beginning of this column that the most important thing was the people's rebellion. The movies may have stoked some democratic fires or blew on the flames of freedom, but the people's passions enflamed liberty into an inferno that led to the overthrowing of a dictator.
As Drew Zahn of WorldNetDaily explained, Ceausescu's regime had been rocked only a few years before by the defection of its intelligence chief, the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official ever to defect to the West, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa. Not only did Pacepa take with him information devastating to Ceausescu's Stalinist government but also Pacepa's subsequent book, "Red Horizons," exposed the dictator's massive crimes and corruption against his own people.
Ceausescu's iron grip on Romania began to crumble after Pacepa's revelations, and the dictator himself suffered a nervous breakdown under the strain. Across Romania, the people rose up against their oppressor. On Christmas Day 1989, Ceausescu was executed at the end of a trial, wherein accusations came almost word for word out of "Red Horizons."
As powerful as Pacepa's defecting heroics were, however, my friend Joseph Farah, the CEO of WND, explained that something else also fueled the power of the people. In his column titled "How Chuck Norris helped free Romania," Farah asked: "Where did the horribly oppressed and beaten-down Romanian people get the courage and spirit to revolt in the first place? Where did they get the idea that people can fight and beat communism? What inspiration of freedom and guts might have strengthened their resolve?"
Seeing as there was only one television channel permitted in Romania during Ceausescu's reign, Farah posited the answer: "What I am telling you, according to all I can gather, is that Chuck Norris movies of the 1980s helped prepare the 'hearts and minds' of the population to eventually overthrow Ceausescu, according to documentarian Ilinca Calugareanu."
That might also explain why I heard about my films' positive influences among Iraqis while visiting U.S. troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006 and 2007. I'll never forget meeting Iraqi officers who were overly complimentary about my movies. The whole time, I thought, "I didn't even know Saddam Hussein's regime allowed my films into his country!" Now I understand they were very likely smuggled in. I can only hope they offered similar encouragement to the oppressed people under Saddam's brutal dictatorship.
Even though I haven't had an opportunity to see the movie "Chuck Norris vs. Communism," I'm truly gratified to learn that some of my action movies of the 1980s played a role in the undermining of the vicious and brutal Ceausescu regime in Romania. It illustrates, once again, the importance of cracking closed societies and giving people in horribly oppressed nations something positive and uplifting to think about, especially with regard to man's eternal quest for liberty.
If my action movies have the power to help liberate people, maybe it's time for our amazing military to covertly airdrop, smuggle and spread via computer more of them into such countries as North Korea, Syria and Iran. It can call the mission Operation Digital Delta Force!