The Mighty Wurlitzer
Despite all the talk about how conservatives are pulling ideologically even with the Left, the "activism" infrastructure gap between them is immense. Perhaps the gap is even growing. Here's how it looks from the Philippines, which I am currently passing through. Item: a US Marine Lance Corporal named Daniel Smith was convicted of rape by a Philippine judge, and three of his co-accused acquitted under a status of forces agreement. The judge himself seemed fair, though idiosyncratic, but the entire trial was attended by race baiting by the Philippine Left, which bayed for the "blood of the Americans". If Smith were under the protection of the Left, he would be a "martyr" by now -- there would be "Free Smith" t-shirts everywhere -- and the entire trial invalidated under charges of racism. The reason it is not going to happen is because conservatives lack the infrastructure: the legal aid groups, sympathetic UN institutions and tribunals which can bring charges of "prejudice" or "bias" against any court in any country.
Item: a cursory survey of the local high-end newspapers reveal an almost exclusive reliance upon syndicated New York Times op-ed writers like Paul Krugman. Readers are told by those op-ed writers that George Bush will soon be talking to the walls, just like Richard Nixon because Iraq is just like Vietnam and both are Republicans. Why do newspapers feature NYT op-ed writers and why do members of the local elite prefer to read them? For the same reason that the children of Third World millionaires are sent to Harvard. Both the NYT and Harvard are status institutions in societies which crave status. And in later life, when these graduates return to run local TV networks and newspapers, they cling to some vestige of their college habits, and that usually includes wearing boxer shorts, reading the Boston Globe and worshipping the New York Times.
Item: In my anecdotal experience the local "intelligensia" get a far larger proportion of their information from books and TV news than the Internet, at least in comparison to Americans. Many upper-crust Filipinos will have no trouble following a reference to a Bob Woodward book but will be absolutely ignorant about Rathergate, fauxtography or "Captain Jamil Hussein". Again, this advantage is due to the immense logistical superiority of the Left in the book publishing industry. Many conservatives congratulate themselves on matching the Left post for post on the blogs. But in books there is no contest. It takes from one to six years to write a first-rate book. And the only institutions which can commission them are publishers and academic institutions, who can support faculty while they write. Conservatives have no equivalent. And when Mark Steyn writes a book, many bookstores simply don't stock him. The result is that the Left gradually comes to own the contents of a bookstore and by extension, history. Churchill once said, "history will be kind to me because I intend to write it". He was speaking for himself. As for the rest of us, the Left which will write our -- and Corporal Smith's -- epitaph.
One of the saddest of today's news stories comes from the New York Times. It describes the belated efforts of the Israeli defense force to shop around satellite imagery, photos and intelligence reports to prove that Hezbollah used Lebanese neighborhoods as human shields.
Jerusalem, Dec. 4 — Israel’s military, which has been accused of abuses in its war against Hezbollah this summer, has declassified photographs, video images and prisoner interrogations to buttress its accusation that Hezbollah systematically fired from civilian neighborhoods in southern Lebanon and took cover in those areas to shield itself from attack. Lebanon and international human rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes in the 34 days of fighting in July and August, saying that Israel fired into populated areas and that civilians accounted for a vast majority of the more than 1,000 Lebanese killed. ...
In a new report, an Israeli research group says Hezbollah stored weapons in mosques, battled Israelis from inside empty schools, flew white flags while transporting missiles and launched rockets near United Nations monitoring posts. The detailed report on the war was produced by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, a private research group headed by Reuven Erlich, a retired colonel in military intelligence, who worked closely with the Israeli military.
It's a story of too little and too late. The Left had no difficulty in painting a portrait of a New Guernica with digitally altered pictures, fake sources, unsupported accusations, racist charges and whatever else they could think up even as the bombs were falling. Now Israel produces the grainy, real pictures to show that it was the Hezbollah which committed the war crimes. That's a serious accusation supported by serious proof. But how can these low-resolution UAV images compete with the full color, staged photographs of New York Times cameraman Tyler Hicks? No, the IDF has been beaten in the propaganda war and it will be beaten again in the next few months if Lebanon turns hot. Beaten because it did not have the infrastructure -- the "concerned" committees, speakers bureaus, media houses, legal aid shops, international organizations and an army of writers -- to compete with the lie.