Obama Takes Hope Away from Chinese in Need of VOA

With an equal measure of audacity and malice President Obama has proposed a budget for 2012 that ends the Voice of America's shortwave broadcasting in China. The plan also includes the elimination of the VOA'S Cantonese and Croatian language services.

At the same time Obama has essentially tilted his chin and thumbed his nose at those calling for a defunding of NPR since October and proposed an increase of $6 million to total $451 million for 2012. Obama's loyalty to one of his media lifelines, the Soros- backed NPR, has triumphed over a conduit of real hope for millions, past and present.

Even VOA's critics cannot discount the role this agency has played on the world stage since WW II:

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is an international multimedia broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of 123 million people.

Of the 123 million there was Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng imprisoned for 15 years in the 1980's. He stated that "It is not possible to get the truth from domestic Chinese sources. In order to get the truth in China, one has no choice but to become a faithful listener to the Voice of America.

And then there's Polish émigré and proud American patriot Lidia Epps, whom I met at a 9/12 project seminar last January. Lidia spoke for 15 minutes on her experiences growing up under a communist regime cut off from outside news sources.

Lidia's father was a political prisoner during the Stalin era. He was arrested and sentenced to death for speaking his mind and then accused of being an American spy. The sentence was later commuted to life without parole and he was finally released after Stalin's death. Lidia sought political asylum in the U.S. and became a citizen in the early 1990's.

A soft-spoken woman Ms. Epps believes that talking to freedom-loving Americans about life under communism evokes an ‘it can't happen here' response so she prefers to work behind the scenes. However, after reading about potential funding cuts to VOA's Mandarin Service she emailed me and related her own experiences and thoughts about this symbol of American exceptionalism:

I remember my parents and I listening to Voice of America station and Radio Free Europe! That was strictly against the law, if our neighbors overheard you listening to those stations and reported you-you would be in jail for life! I'm not kidding. We listened to it nerveless [sic]. The signal was scrambled (by polish KGB) but it was the only source of real information and was giving us hope that the world does [sic] know what is really going on in U.S.S.R. satellite countries.
I cannot tell you just how important was VOA in Poland in seventies! At the time of evening broadcast, which I believe was at 8PM, the streets would be empty-people were rushing home to listen to the "real news." Next morning-those who were not brave enough to listen themselves (your neighbor can hear you tuning in to VOA and report that)-they were filled in on the news by those who listened-at work, school, or during long hours waiting in line in empty grocery stores. That was such a big part of the anti-communist culture!

I don't know how it is in China now days -- and other parts of the world where VOA is the only credible source of news, if it's anything like back then in Poland, cutting off those broadcasts would be a really big blow to a fight for the freedom of speech.

Beijing is spending billions
"to expand its own international broadcasting abilities" and with its internet censoring capabilities known as the Great Firewall hidden, short-waves might once again become a "big part of the anti-communist culture." Too bad we have a president more interested in appeasing communist dictators than freedom of speech.

Read more M.Catharine Evans at www.potterwilliamsreport.com
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