LACHLAN MURDOCH (NEWS CORP CO-CHAIRMAN AND FOX CORP. CEO): This past month, we've all been both horrified by the brutality of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and inspired by its leaders and its people in their courageous defense of their country.
The people of Ukraine were living in an emerging democracy, embracing their post-Soviet sovereignty, working hard to achieve their economic and political aspirations, when Russia decided to snatch that future away from them.
Ukrainians also know that their country is not perfect, and yet tonight, they continue to fight and to die for their sovereignty, their identity, and their most basic of freedoms.
It is heart-wrenching to watch, and we must continue to help them defend themselves. Most of us agree with this basic point.
And so I was shocked when a respected poll in the United States last week revealed that a bare majority of Americans would defend their country if invaded in a similar way. Could it really be that the America which fought not just a bloody war of independence from a foreign empire but also an even bloodier and more nationally defining civil war of emancipation not long after; could it be that this exceptional country is now so politically divided that barely half of its citizens care deeply enough for its values that they would fight for them?
The damage done to the American psyche through unrelenting attacks on its core values and via the destructive rewriting of history is very real.
It’s been widely reported that Russia’s attempts to influence recent American elections were designed to sow anger and discord on all sides. They were, and presumably remain, efforts to divide the country and undermine its faith in its core values and institutions.
The Russians found fertile ground. In 2019, the New York Times published the first of a series of essays called the 1619 Project, which recast American exceptionalism as racist from inception.
You couldn’t have picked a more polarizing and dividing thesis. The essays, criticized by many historians, are what they profess to be in their title: a project to recast American history and long excepted values through a radical and radically divisive lens.
It’s author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has said that, quote, “all journalism is activism.”
That’s wrong. And it has done great damage.
America is a great country, populated by an amazing and also resilient people. It will overcome these challenges.
But here, in Australia, let’s learn from this cautionary tale.