If Americans spend most of their time not thinking about your country, does it matter if they spend a tiny fraction of their time thinking that people from your country hate Jews, sleep with their sisters and inappropriately hit on women at city council meetings? To the government of Kazakhstan, it does. The government purchased four-page ads in yesterday's New York Times and International Herald-Tribune in its latest effort to buy its way out from under the shadow of Sacha Baron Cohen's (aka Ali G) film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan, due out in November. Editor & Publisher reports:
The ad section in the newspapers today includes headlines like, "Bolstering ties with the United States" and "Growing economy attracts international hotel groups." But one article on the first page seems to target Borat's claims that Kazahtstan is heavy with anti-Jewish and anti-gypsy bias. "Religous tolerance," it opens, "is another one of the hallmarks of the nation … Kazakhstan is home to over 40 religions."
It quotes its president: "In the last 15 years, there has not been a single case of a newspaper or television station harassing the followers of any particular faith … there is an overall atmosphere of tolerance and understanding of all faiths in our society."
The ads come as Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev makes his first trip to the United States in five years. So far, there's no response to the ads on the Official Borat Homesite, which used to be at borat.kz before the Kazakh government deleted that domain name in December 2005. The government also protested heavily in November 2005, after Borat hosted the MTV Europe Music Awards. Borat posted a video response to those protests.