I’ve been working on two final papers for my grad school classes that are due this week, and tonight is crunch time for both of ’em. One of the papers has to do with the challenges posed by the USA Patriot Act to the admission of students from overseas, as well as the challenges posed by privacy acts with regard to the records of students who are admitted to U.S. colleges and universities. Fun, no?

Anyhow, I was taking a break from research and went to Boing Boing to see what was new, and found a link to the online journal of David Byrne. I’ve always enjoyed Byrne’s music and writing, and his journal is a welcome addition to my weekly trawls.

In this week’s entry, Byrne writes about the difficulties many foreign musicians and artists have encountered when trying to enter the U.S. (emphasis is my own doing):

It amounts to a kind of cultural censorship. Call me paranoid, but given all the manipulative tricks the Republicans have gotten up to recently, I am prepared to believe that this has less to do with Homeland security and more to do with keeping the American public ignorant and free of foreign influence and inspiration. An ill-informed, isolated, ignorant populace is a populace easily manipulated. Fed a diet of reality shows coupled with faith-based reasoning (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and you have a perfect recipe for a country in which the government that can do more or less whatever it wants. Democracy becomes a farce without access to information. And culture — music, theater, dance, etc. — is information for the heart. Yes, we can still obtain news reports and recordings online, but without live performance there is a hole where there should be face to face “news” about how others live, how they love and why and what their passions are. If we are not allowed to feel the rest of the world then we can be told anything about it and not know what those people are really like. If the Other is hidden from you, then you don’t even know to ask or inquire about what it is you’re not getting — because you don’t even know it exists.

Any government that can cynically manufacture fake news reports, install fake reporters, create fake media outlets and then simply shrug it off when caught is capable of doing this as well.

The fact that this dovetails nicely into my paper, adding some non-academic support to one of my conclusions, is just plain cool. Yeah, I’m a little star-struck, but I’ll take Byrne’s conclusion as a bit of validation. After all, he’s no academic slouch (even though he dropped out after a year), and is well-traveled and well-versed in world cultures.