Regarding your Jan. 15 article "US: a bigger stick - and no longer speaking softly": The United States is quickly alienating former allies in the mistaken belief that technology will give us the kind of dominance that the Roman legions or the British navy could not give to their respective empires. The article points out that our global air supremacy could bring instant devastation to potential foes. But I contend it's precisely because of technology that this perception of invincibility is illusory.
We live in an age when one man with a bomb-laden suitcase can destroy a city, in a world where even a small nuclear state can effectively resist a superpower. Technology will allow much lesser potentates to challenge the new empire. I hope that our would-be empire builders take that into consideration and rely more on goodwill instead of brute force in order to create a true Pax Americana.
Regarding your Jan. 15 article "In 2,000 years, will the world remember Disney or Plato?": If you look at past cultural hegemonies, whether Athens or Renaissance Florence, their greatest pervasiveness and influence came when the states that produced them were on the verge of having to give up political spheres of influence or empires. With China gradually replacing the US as the world's dominant economic power, this is probably true now as well.
It's true enough that the Internet improves the reach of the big guys - including US organizations like Disney. But it has a far larger effect on the reach of the little guys. On the Internet, anybody who wants to can have a worldwide audience for whatever products or content they want.
Individuals or organizations who never dreamed of reaching a worldwide audience can now contemplate finding clientele or associates in the far-flung reaches of the globe. The Internet doesn't just increase the advantages of American culture, it levels the playing field by orders of magnitude.
Regarding the Jan. 15 article "Activist Rabbi faces trial in Israel": Rabbi Ascherman, seeing what he regards as injustice in Israel's treatment of Palestinians, has resisted, just as Jews did in the US who protested our own unjust racially discriminatory laws in the 1960s. It seems sad that more Americans, including many US Jews, who need break no law to protest US support for Israel's human rights violations, have largely been silent.
Regarding the Jan. 16 article "We still need help, NPR tells its listeners": About three years ago, many activists tried to get the Federal Communications Commission to open unused FM channels for local nonprofits to use for low-power radio, which would provide local news, entertainment, and information. But National Public Radio locked arms with the National Association of Broadcasters and opposed this service.
Although NPR produces more diverse, responsible, and intelligent content than many other radio stations, they are still only one viewpoint. But democracy is better served by more than one view. Because they tried to block low-power radio stations, this moves NPR from the side of the angels and puts them among the Philistines. Until NPR supports localism in media just as much as their bottom line, they'll need to do without my locally earned dollars.
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