Your Dec. 26 "Brand America" editorial wrongly devoted all attention to the State Department's goal of "changing Muslim views of America" -- and none at all to the even more urgent need for changing Muslim views of al Qaeda.
Unfortunately, the State Department and the Voice of America share this same blind spot. Even if their heavy-on-music, light-on-news initiatives prove effective in the long run, these tactics fall short in the immediate war against the "Death to America" likes of Osama bin Laden.
In that real-and-present-danger venue, America is condemned thousands of times daily as "the Great Satan," while al Qaeda's genocidal killing of innocents is labeled with equal frequency -- even by ourselves, sad to say -- as "jihad" (holy war) by "mujaheddin" (holy warriors) and "shahiddin" (martyrs destined for paradise).
The only music that might provide an immediate antidote to this pseudo-Islamic poison -- and begin to turn anti-Americanism into anti-bin Ladenism -- would be truth-in-Islam lyrics condemning what is actually going on: "hirabah" (unholy war) by "mufsidoon" (evildoers) destined for "jahannam" (eternal hellfire).
Only when "the information culture of the street," as you call it, begins to understand that al Qaeda's "jihad" is in fact al Qaeda's blasphemy will our public diplomacy posture in the Muslim world begin to improve. In Islam the sin of blasphemy is punishable by death -- in this case, death to "Osama Abdul Shaitan" (Osama, servant of Satan).
-- Jim Guirard