Rupert Murdoch: U.S. Needs to Celebrate Its "Exceptionalism"

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Rupert Murdoch

The media mogul criticizes Secretary of State John Kerry, says there is "a deep distaste for the slow descent of our country," and also discusses fracking.

In a speech on Monday in New York, 21st Century Fox and News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch argued that American leaders must embrace the "exceptionalism" of the U.S., that the country needs a new sense of direction and that the presidential campaign has "articulated a deep distaste for the slow descent of our country."

Murdoch, who was born in Australia but is a naturalized U.S. citizen, spoke in accepting the Hudson Institute's Global Leadership Award from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

"Before I thank you, Henry, and before delivering my modest message, I feel obliged to alert college students, progressive academics and all other deeply sensitive souls that these words may contain phrases and ideas that challenge your prejudices -- in other words, I formally declare this room an 'unsafe space,' " Murdoch said, according to a copy of his speech.

He also thanked Kissinger for agreeing to make the introduction for him, quipping that "at the very least, I knew that you would be diplomatic."

Murdoch also lauded the Hudson Institute for supporting technology and free markets "as sources of positive transformation and prosperity" and for supporting "a strong national defense." That led him to address recent events. 

"Recent tragic events have highlighted the importance of a robust military and of leadership. Leaders sense when difficult decisions must be taken, and that is a rare quality in an age too often defined by narcissism," Murdoch said. "No leader will fight for values, for principles, if their government is a value-free vacuum. Moral relativism is morally wrong."

The media mogul referred to John Kerry’s recent comments on the differences between Charlie Hebdo and the most recent Paris attacks. "For a U.S. secretary of state to suggest that Islamic terrorists had a 'rationale' in slaughtering journalists is one of the low points of recent Western diplomacy, and it is indicative of a serious malaise," Murdoch said.

He also criticized the Obama administration without naming names. "For America to have a sense of direction, two conditions are essential: A U.S. leader must understand, be proud of and assert the American personality. An identity crisis is not a starting point for any journey. And secondly, there must be clear goals informed by values and by a realization of the extraordinary potential of its people." He also said: "For America to be embarrassed by its exceptionalism is itself exceptional and absolutely unacceptable.”

Murdoch said the second point requires that "individuals celebrate their independence and ingenuity whereas in recent years, there has been far too much institutionalization of grievance and victimhood. Reviving our sense of direction and celebrating America's exceptional nature -- that is my subject tonight."

Murdoch pointed to the presidential race so far as showing an appetite for change, "apart from an interesting cast of characters." He added: "Importantly, there is a yearning outside the country for American assertiveness and engagement. As we have seen in Syria and in the Ukraine and in the streets of Paris, without this country's self-confident championing of that 'human quest for freedom and humane values,' global affairs collapse into nightmare -- the policy wasteland becomes fertile territory for terror."

Murdoch quoted Martin Luther King's comments that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Said Murdoch: "For history to bend towards justice...and liberty...and humane values...the United States must lead in the bending of it. I was born in Australia and am proud of my Australian provenance, but I am now an American. Like so many naturalized citizens, I felt that I was an American before I formally became one."

He said that "if it were not for U.S. intervention in the Pacific, we Australians would not speak with our distinctive drawl but in the rather polite verb endings of Japanese."

Murdoch touted the U.S. for playing a key role in Korea, Vietnam and later in the showdown with the Soviet Union, chastizing the political left for criticizing such leaders as Ronald Reagan.

He also discussed the rise of China, saying that the "emancipation of the most populous nation on Earth is a modern miracle. Yet this fundamental, irrefutable truth must be denied by those who despise America and detest economic freedom." Added Murdoch: "The Chinese understand, and they appreciate, the undoubted efficacy of American influence. Yet the soft left cannot countenance that remarkable human success."

He also touched on fracking, a technology for extracting energy from rock formations, which has been criticized for its environmental effects. "Not hundreds of millions, but billions of people will benefit from fracking and the cheaper energy it provides," Murdoch said. "And yet a comfortable elite wants to deny their fellow humans the benefits of this technology. Fracking has become a litmus test of principle. Those governments that forbid fracking are the flat-Earth fraternity, yes, including New York state. They believe that the Earth revolves around them. Even the EPA in America has been unable to undermine fracking, despite its efforts – so now EPA perhaps stands for Environmentalists Punish America."

Added Murdoch: "Pollution must be reduced, whether in the water or air, or wherever, and we must evolve to more sustainable, cleaner forms of energy, but the platform for that future, for now, is an oil and gas platform. To deny that reality is to condemn the most vulnerable to the indignity of poverty for the sake of an ideology -- that being the ideology of self. The triumph of the me over the needs of the many."

Concluded the media mogul: "We are here not to apologize for America, but to celebrate America. We are here to reflect upon the world as it might have been without America, a much, much lesser world.... The world as we know it depends upon our great country."

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