A disturbing trend in the US House of Representatives is the alarming lack of foresight in lawmaking. One of the most recent and frightening examples is HR 2278, To direct the President to transmit to Congress a report on anti-American incitement to violence in the Middle East, and for other purposes. On the surface, this Resolution’s focus and purpose seems to be wonderful, however upon further reflection we can see that this could put us on a dangerous slope. Part of the reason that this could put us on a slippery slope to outlawing one of our basic freedoms is clear because the text is so poorly written.
Marc Lynch at Foreign Policy points out that, “The definition of anti-American incitement is impossibly broad … Almost any critical discussion of American foreign policy on Arab TV could conceivably fit into that definition — and given the realities of Arab views of U.S. foreign policy, any remotely free and independent Arab media will include plenty of such criticism.”1 The consequence of this would be that we will both provide fuel to the fire of anti-Americanism and retard the development of responsible journalism in the very countries where we would like to encourage it.
What we ought to do is promote responsible journalism, the sort that would provide Arab audiences the function of a responsible media. Through such “charm” campaigns these new responsible entities would shine light on the gaping holes of the extremist logic. Of course, particularly with our allies we must be prepared to face hard truths about ourselves and our policies, after all, no country is perfect.
We should not look at our detractors as enemies, but rather those who can help us better ourselves. To be the best we must all constantly improve, and it is difficult to see your own imperfections. HR 2278 is unlikely to pass through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, however, it should never have made it to the Senate. It’s poorly thought and written and is counter to American principles.