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U.S. CULTURAL IMPERIALISM: STEAMROLLER OR BLESSING? (int'l edition)

I congratulate you on the most informed article I have ever read by an American on this subject: Jeffrey E. Garten's '''Cultural imperialism' is no joke'' (Economic Viewpoint, Nov. 30). We touchy Canadians--citizens of the Invisible Country--long ago gave up expecting Americans to abandon the fantasy that the whole world revolves around America.

I hope somebody in the White House is listening. If not, they will one day find that steamrollering other people's cultures in their own countries will--by provoking cultural, political, and economic backlash--cost the U.S. more than the profits of 1,000 movies peddling mind-numbing violence in the name of free trade.

Keith Spicer
Paris


Garten states that ''America's lifestyle and ideas...are often destabilizing abroad.'' The contrary is happening: U.S. TV channels abroad (from CNN to Nickelodeon) carry a wealth of free information. For many countries, this coming generation will be the most educated ever (and I don't mean only in the formal schoolbook sense). Dictatorships can't flourish for any length of time in countries with high levels of education.

What's more, producers of national culture who have seen the successful U.S. model have improved themselves. Veja, in Brazil, is the fifth-largest weekly in the world. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, from Argentina, was named foreign group of the year by MTV. There are more examples. After being involved with Latin America for 17 years, I have seen more personal freedom flow from the wealth of information.

Marcelo Salup
Miami


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Updated Dec. 10, 1998 by bwwebmaster
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