Thursday, March 3, 2011

High sounding vacuity vs. well-sourced information . . .an unabashed plea for support of the latter!

As I've mentioned before, my husband Charlie is always handing me books or magazines and saying, "You need to read this." And eventually I do because, usually, Charlie picks good stuff.

This morning's mandated read was a Greg Walter essay published in Philadelphia Magazine sometime in the 60s called "Snow Job at Valley Forge." It tells the story of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, which was founded in 1949 as the "overnight brainchild of an advertising genius named Don Belding." This foundation described itself at the time the essay was written as "the rallying ground for Americans to preserve those ideals and God-given rights against Communism ..."

"Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge," writes Mr. Walter, "has been enormously successful in propagating its version of the American Way of Life." He goes on to let us know that . . .
In case anyone is unclear as to just what the American Way is, the Credo is set forth on a giant monument just inside the cluster of neo-Colonial buildings on a hundred acres of land abutting Valley Forge State Park. Carved in marble are such articles of American faith as the "Right to bargain for goods and services in a free market" and the "Right to freedom from arbitrary government regulation and control." These are matters of deep concern to the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. As a matter of fact, one would be tempted to say that Big Government and the threat of socialism are the greatest concerns of the Foundation. The Credo, for example, does not concern itself with civil rights or other such mundane matters.
Remember this credo was written more than a half-century ago. But, is it just me, or do those tenets sound as though they came straight off the website of a contemporary conservative think tank -- say the now-defunct Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), founded in 1984 by reclusive billionaire David Koch, brother of billionaire Charles Koch, and son of Fred Koch (who was a founding member of the John Birch Society). In 2003 CSE merged with (the now-defunct) Empower America to form FreedomWorks, whose concerns are clearly laid out in its logo shown below.

Hmmmmm, how exactly do those concerns translate into policy, I wonder? Or does that not matter as long as somebody says something that makes us feel better during these troubling, baffling times?

So why am I writing about this particular topic at this particular time? Well, for very WMRA-centric reasons, which are exemplified by one small sentence in Greg Walter's excellent essay.

The Freedoms Foundation organization has, from its beginnings, given well publicized awards to folks and organizations that promote its vision of freedom.

One of those early awards went to  the Reverend Frederick M. Meek of Boston for constructing the following sentence:
There is a Mayflower waiting in this generation for the Pilgrim passengers who are willing to set forth on other perilous voyages of the spirit into the unknown. 
"High sounding vacuity will usually win hands down at Valley Forge," comments Greg Walter.

And increasingly, it seems to me, everywhere else as well, and that's what I really want to talk about. It seems to me that, these days, a lot of what passes for national debate on important issues isn't well-sourced opinion that asks us to think, but is instead "high sounding vacuity" that tries to manipulate our feelings.

To me, public radio in general (WMRA in particular) is one of the few remaining high sounding vacuity-free zones. And I so want WMRA, as Star Trek's Mr. Spock puts it, to "live long and prosper" as part of our community's conversation

As I'm willing to bet you've suspected, WMRA is climbing onto the "endangered organization" list -- think of us as the Giant Panda of your radio dial. Pending any change of heart - or wording - in Richmond, our state funding just got seriously whacked, and our Spring fundraiser fell $26,000-and-change short of its very necessary goal of $125,000. So we're going back on the air next Tuesday (for one day plus Wednesday's Morning Edition) to ask those of you who listen or read this blog or call in your questions to Virginia Insight or Facebook your opinions on the WMRA page -- for help.

The truth is, as government funding slips away, in order to survive in our current iteration we simply have to realize our spring fundraiser goal. So, my question is pretty direct: Can you please help? If you've not contributed, will you now?  If you have contributed already, but know someone who hasn't, would you suggest to them that they do what they can?

Call in (800-677-9672) or e-pledge your support any time and it will count towards the goal.

Let's hear it for well-sourced information over high-sounding vacuity!!!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting about the Freedoms Foundation. Please go to to see how they have treated the Medal of Honor Grove until a local state senator sponsored an "Army for Heroes".