I have been browsing some of the weblog reaction to the BBC programme on attitudes to the USA the other day and the results of their poll and once again the blogosphere manages to create a world of its own.
I can’t be bothered linking to all the sites but they are the usual suspects and you can get a taste from Jeff Jarvis whose considered view is that “The BBC is anti-American in all sense of the word, not only because it is hostile to us but also because it is anti-matter to our matter; it is the great snot factory.”
So what is so upsetting about the BBC (along with a dozen other broadcasters) asking people what they think of the USA?
The poll asks a whole range of question and gets roughly the kind of results you might expect: People like the USA a lot more then they like George Bush, there is broad support for the fight against terrorism but widespread opposition to the US attitude to global warming, we like American movies and music more than American food etc etc.
As well as the tv programme, the debate and the poll, the BBC also gave up some space on its website for a collection of emailed views. As always with these random opinions there is mixture of intelligent comment and utter stupidity (rather like weblogs perhaps?).
All of this is proof of some BBC bias against America. Yet all the BBC did of course was provide the questions – not the answers.
The reaction of American bloggers to all of this gives me an answer that is far more worrying than the predictably silly and ill-informed comments of anti-Americans:
It is a waste of time asking the world what they think about the USA if Americans really don’t want to know.
I want to see America be successful in the war against terror, I want to see them intervene in humanitarian crisis and I want to see them play an important role in helping solve the many problems of the world. But to do that successfully as well as being strong and active, Americans needs to listen to what people think about their government and their approach – even when they disagree.
After all freedom of speech means little if no-one is listening.