On the homepage today, we have Part II of my series on Myroslava Gongadze — our woman on the Ukrainian desk at the Voice of America. She is a remarkable person, and a remarkable story. You will want to get to know her, and it.
The VOA, too, is a remarkable place. As a conservative and Reaganite, I’ve always looked askance at the VOA. What we’re apt to like is Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. As we see it, these are the radios that deliver the goods (if anyone does). They are spicy and pointed. The VOA is tame and bland.
Incidentally, Myroslava Gongadze worked at RFE/RL before going to the VOA. She can speak with authority on it all.
Whatever the case, the VOA has a valuable mission: the broadcast of news around the world. Simple, basic, fundamental news. And the explanation of the United States to people who are often lied to about the United States.
As I said in an earlier post, I believe, I paid a visit to the VOA, for the first time, last year. On the walls, you find what I’ll call New Deal art: social-realist murals, à la Diego Rivera. Gag me with a spoon.
But that’s taste (and politics). The people who work in the building tend to be inspiring. They came from somewhere else — usually a very unpleasant somewhere else. They found refuge in the United States. And now they’re working for their government — the American government — transmitting the news back to their native lands, in their native tongues. Therefore, they serve two birds with one stone. They serve America and that original somewhere else.
The VOA is shot through with problems, don’t get me wrong. Employees will be the first to tell you about them. Show me a happy government bureaucracy, and political football, and you’ve shown me something rare indeed. But the VOA is an asset not sufficiently appreciated by us Americans, I think. We’re not the ones hearing it (or watching it, in the case of the TV programs). Others are.
A few months ago, Venezuela held parliamentary elections, in which opponents of the chavistas won big. Some said, “Thank heaven for the VOA” — because the chavistas have made a free press impossible.
Anyway, I recommend getting to know Myroslava Gongadze, whose husband was murdered when they were young, and their twin girls were three, and who, instead of slinking off forever, as anyone could have understood, dedicated herself to overcoming error with truth.