John Kasich Wants To Create A Government Agency To Spread Religious Propaganda
Apparently realizing that his effort to portray himself as a moderate, reasonable conservative wasn’t helping his Presidential campaign, Ohio Governor John Kasich has decided to pander to the extreme religious wing of his party:
John Kasich would like to add a new federal agency if he becomes president: one to promote “Judeo-Christian Western values.”
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, the Ohio governor said the U.S. “must be more forceful in the battle of ideas.”
“U.S. public diplomacy and international broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation,” Kasich said. “I will consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core, Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association.”
He said the main areas of the world he would target would be Russia, China and the Middle East.
Later Tuesday in an interview with NBC he elaborated on what the job of the agency would be.
“Its job would be fundamentally to revive what we used to do when we beamed messages into the former Soviet Union. We need to beam messages around the world about what it means to have Western ethics … to be part of a Judeo-Christian society,” he said.
Given the fact that Kasich has spent most of the Presidential campaign trying to play the role of the moderate, reasonable conservative alternative to people like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz, it’s somewhat surprising to see something like this coming from him. As a practical matter, for example, an agency specifically dedicated to the idea of spreading what would seem to be largely religious propaganda, sort of a Voice of America for Christ if you will, would seem to be entirely counterproductive. One of the primary messages of the radicals in the Middle East has been their claim that the United States and the rest of the West that has spent the better part of the last fourteen years acting in the form of modern day “Crusaders” who are at war with all of Islam rather than trying to combat the very real threat of international terrorism, terrorism that quite often harms Muslims far more than it does Americans, Brits, French, or any other Westerner. This is one of the reasons why the Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, has avoided linking the radicals to Islam as a whole, something for which it has been routinely attacked by conservatives who seem to think that uttering the words “Radical Islamic Terrorism” will somehow accomplish anything. This kind of agency spreading “Judeo-Christian Values,” whatever that even means, would seem to be something that the radicals could point to as further evidence to support the arguments of the radicals, thus undercutting our efforts to build the kind of bridges t Muslims around the world that are needed in this battle. Both Ed Kilgore and Charles Pierce have addressed this particular point quite succinctly.
The other obvious problem with Kasich’s idea, of course, are the rather obvious First Amendment concerns that it raises. If the Establishment Clause of that Amendment means anything, it means that the Government cannot engage in the spreading of religious propaganda of any kind, even in the generic “Judeo-Christian” sense. These concerns hardly mean much of anything the religious right, of course, but they would likely be challenged in Court even in the increasingly unlikely event that Kasich became President and managed to get a program like this through Congress. Of course, this idea of Kasich’s is not meant to be taken seriously as a policy proposal, it is meant to pander to that wing of the Republican Party and given some kind of momentum to a Presidential campaign that seems stuck in neutral. That it is also both ill-advised as policy and unconstitutional just makes Kasich seem all the more desperate and cynical.
Update: The Columbus Dispatch reports that Kasich seems to be trying to distance himself from this idea:
A day after saying he wanted to create a new federal agency focused on spreading Judeo-Christian values to other countries, GOP presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich walked it back,Dispatch Washington bureau chief Jack Torry writes.
“One day after urging the creation of a federal agency to promote ‘core Judeo-Christian, Western values,'” Kasich said “he instead would upgrade the existing Voice of America to ‘engage in the war of ideas’ against Islamic State.”
“I don’t think you need a new agency, it’s really breathing life into something that kind of has become dormant,” Kasich said. “You don’t hear much about the Voice of America anymore.”
So, it’s not a new agency them, just turning VOA into a religious propaganda organ? Yea, still a bad idea, Governor.
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