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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Please, No Moore

Talking to a friend last night, she asked if I had taken the time (and money) to view Michael Moore's new film, Farenheit 9/11. I responded, "No, nor do I plan to."

A couple of articles do a good job of putting my feelings into words.

First there is a op-ed from Ed Koch (Moore's Film Is Shocking Propaganda) which does a pretty good job of describing why even liberals like Mr. New York are uncomfortable with the rhetoric. In that, he refers to a second article, this one by New York Times writer, David Brooks (All Hail Moore).

In Brooks' article, he details some of Mr. Moore's rants as he travels the world, bashing America, before coming home to his multi-million dollar home(s), built on the money (capitalistic money, mind you) made off of the poor shleps who actually view his "movies" and read his books. Even those among us who are infected with a "redistribution of wealth" semi-socialist mindset should be leary of anyone who calls capitalism a sin while using the money he makes around the world to buy a $1.9 million apartment in NYC to go along with his $1 million plus lakefront summer villa.

Like Hemingway, Moore does his boldest thinking while abroad. For example, it was during an interview with the British paper The Mirror that Moore unfurled what is perhaps the central insight of his oeuvre, that Americans are kind of crappy.

"They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet . . . in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy]," Moore intoned. "We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing."

Ah, yes. We are dumb if we fund this guy's "artistic" lunacy. Perhaps Moore is, himself, the proof that we ARE, in fact, dumb. But lets read on...

It transpires that Europeans are quite excited to hear this supple description of the American mind. And Moore has been kind enough to crisscross the continent, speaking to packed lecture halls, explicating the general vapidity and crassness of his countrymen. "That's why we're smiling all the time," he told a rapturous throng in Munich. "You can see us coming down the street. You know, `Hey! Hi! How's it going?' We've got that big [expletive] grin on our face all the time because our brains aren't loaded down."

Naturally, the people from the continent that brought us Descartes, Kant and Goethe are fascinated by these insights. Moore's books have sold faster there than at home. No American intellectual is taken so seriously in Europe, save perhaps the great Chomsky.

Before a delighted Cambridge crowd, Moore reflected on the tragedy of human existence: "You're stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe." In Liverpool, he paused to contemplate the epicenters of evil in the modern world: "It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton."

One can imagine that not only are Europeans "excited" to hear such news, but I would venture to say that folks like Bin Ladden and other terrorists are as well. And this is what sticks in Mr. Koch's substantial craw:

Disagreeing with America’s foreign policy and seeking to change it, responsibly or irresponsibly, is a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment. Shaming those who do it irresponsibly is our only lawful recourse and rightly so.

Senator John Kerry in criticizing United States’ foreign policy and the incumbent president is acting responsibly, albeit I disagree with many of his views.

On the other hand, Michael Moore, writer and director of the film “Fahrenheit 9/11,” crosses that line regularly. The line is not set forth in the criminal statutes, but it is determined by Americans who know instinctively what actions and statements taken and uttered violate the obligations of responsibility and citizenship they deem applicable in time of war

I would also take issue with the idea that the United States is known for "bringing sadness and misery" to the world. What a load of BS. There is no country more generous and giving to the rest of the world than the United States. There are thousands upon thousands of American's buried on foreign soil who gave the most valuable and precious gift they could give to the French and other European countries who were either already conquered by an evil dictator, or soon would have been. There is a thriving, cutting-edge society in Japan because of the benevolence of the U.S. in rebuilding it after the Second World War. There are thousands upon thousands of poor, starving, homeless individuals, all over the entire world who are fed, clothed, and housed because of US humanitarian aid, from the US government itself, from religious-based missions, and secular humanitarian organizations. There is no country more generous to others around the world than the United States. Mr. Moore's comments above should cause one to pause and consider the source of such hogwash.

But, back to the Brooks column:

In the days after Sept. 11, while others were disoriented, Moore was able to see clearly: "We, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we had better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants."

This leads to Michael Moore's global plan of action. "Don't be like us," he told a crowd in Berlin. "You've got to stand up, right? You've got to be brave."

In an open letter to the German people in Die Zeit, Moore asked, "Should such an ignorant people lead the world?" Then he began to reflect on things economic. His central insight here is that the American economy, like its people, is pretty crappy, too: "Don't go the American way when it comes to economics, jobs and services for the poor and immigrants. It is the wrong way."

In an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Moore helped citizens of that country understand why the United States went to war in Iraq: "The motivation for war is simple. The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich."

But venality doesn't come up when he writes about those who are killing Americans in Iraq: "The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not `insurgents' or `terrorists' or `The Enemy.' They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win." Until then, few social observers had made the connection between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Paul Revere.

Odd isn't it, Mr. Moore, that the attacks continued (and grew stronger) as the hand-over of power grew near? I mean, such patriots as you describe above should have rejoiced in the news that the government was now back in the hands of native Iraqis, and soon an election would take place so that every Iraqi would have to opportunity to voice an opinion. So noble, these Minutemen.

Mr. Koch goes on to say:

In World Wars I and II, the U.S., suffering great casualties to its military personnel, saved the world, particularly in WWII, from occupation by the German Nazi Reich and Japanese empire.

We currently are fighting the battle against a minority of fundamentalist Islamists whose objective is to destroy Western civilization. They are willing to use every act of terrorism from suicide bombers to hacking off heads to destroy and terrorize us into surrender.

And Michael Moore weakens us before that enemy.

How should we respond? With scorn, catcalls, the Bronx cheer and the truth.

But what about the movie calls up such a response from a New York liberal like Mayor Koch?

It is not a documentary which seeks to present the facts truthfully.

The most significant offense that movie commits is to cheapen the political debate by dehumanizing the President and presenting him as a cartoon.

Newsday reported some of Moore’s misstatements as follows: “At the start of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ filmmaker Michael Moore shows a clip of CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin saying that if ballots had been recounted in Florida after the 2000 presidential vote, ‘under every scenario Gore won the election.’

“What Moore doesn't show is that a six-month study in 2001 by news organizations including The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN found just the opposite. Even if the Supreme Court had not stopped a statewide recount, or if a more limited recount of four heavily Democratic counties had taken place, Bush still would have won Florida and the election . . .

Moore suggests Bush's conflict of interest was manifest shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks when the White House ‘approved planes to pick up the bin Ladens and numerous other Saudis’ who, fearing reprisals, were flown out of the United States. Embellishing the well-known scenario, Moore interviews a retired FBI agent who says authorities should have first questioned the bin Ladens.

“But the bin Ladens were questioned. The commission investigating the attacks reported in April that the FBI interviewed 30 passengers: ‘Nobody was allowed to depart on these six flights who the FBI wanted to interview in connection with the 9/11 attacks or who the FBI later concluded had any involvement in those attacks.’”

Mr. Moore has the right to make his propoganda films, filled with misinformation and "creative" editing to bend the truth, but we also have a right (and, I would argue, the responsibility) to avoid providing him with any more money or other resources.

Another defense is to make sure the truth which rebuts much of Moore's work is circulated. While his current movie is being debated, it continues to be important to demonstrate that he has, throughout his career, been dishonest with his movies and books. In a new book (Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, which parodies Moore's own book title) The authors conclude:

"Bowling for Columbine has less documentary value than the average Bugs Bunny cartoon. You see Heston giving a speech – but it's doctored. You see history – but unconnected facts are given a particular Moorewellian spin. You hear that a factory is making weapons of mass destruction – actually, it's building satellite launch platforms. You're led to believe that a rally was a response to a shooting, but it turns out it was eight months later, in anticipation of an election. You watch a Bush-Quayle campaign ad, but in reality it was an ad Moore himself assembled."

Mr. Moore wants to see if the old axiom is true: If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

Heaven help us if HIS truth becomes ours.


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