I am making a point of attending (and modestly sponsoring) the Moroccan International Media Forum at the National Press Club Building this September 28, 2016. The event, featuring a diverse list of speakers from both the United States and Morocco, promises a window on cross cultural communication between the United States and a key ally in the Arab world.
At a time when immigrants, especially Muslims and Arabs, are being publicly vilified across the United States, an examination of intercultural communications at home and abroad is important to our understanding of the role of immigrants in our own country. As the Washington Post reports, people "who are most skeptical about immigration . . . are also the least likely to actually encounter an immigrant in their neighborhood." Just as we need to better understand the world, we need to better understand ourselves, especially the role of our minority and immigrant communities.
Owing to my personal history as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, I tend to be particularly interested in outreach to the Moroccan community. As Professor Brian Edwards documents in a recent book, Morocco (our oldest treaty partner) is both historically friendly to the United Statesand and increasingly alienated by recent American political trends. In examining communications strategies in and between the two countries, the forum seeks both to strengthen the bond and avert the potential rift between the two countries.
Morocco is a country of fascinating contrasts. For example, although Morocco has its own history of antisemitism and discrimination against its formerly numerous Jewish population (as do many other countries), it is also noteworthy that the government has attempted to take a constructive role in resolving conflict in the Middle East and has generally tried to protect the rights of the Jewish community. With respect to communications within Morocco, the country has expressed a commitment to increased press freedom since the accession of the current king, but this commitment has been severely undermined by recent politically-motivated criminal trials of a number of journalists. A forum on international and domestic communication within and between our countries promises to address issues important to our understanding of ourselves and the world at large, especially an area of the world in which Americans currently have a heightened interest, both positive and negative.