In Defense of Michael Moore
by Walter Lippmann
On August 14, 2004, IKE NAHEM wrote:
[Below is an] alternative view of Fahrenheit 9/11
and an antidote to so much of the knee-jerk praise
that has been so thoroughly circulated on our list-
serves. I think we should print another point of view
that will resonate with many, including myself, who
forked over our money and were caught up in the hype.
Dear Ike -
your note. When I saw the article you
I sent the link out on two lists where I post. I thought others should read The Militant's
Some discussion about this can be helpful. So I'm sharing your note, the article you shared, and some other materials and links to other articles about Michael Moore's movie. This picture has done more to generate political discussion than any other in memory since Bowling for Columbine, all to the good in this information-starved country.
Moore's movie, had it been made by you, me, or by someone else, might have said
more, or expressed itself differently, but then it wouldn't
have been his movie. None of us is Michael
Moore. Fahrenheit 9/11 is the largest-drawing
documentary of all time, quite an achievement, don't you
What makes Michael Moore's work so important is this: he has taken information which is widely known to activists, and on the Internet, such as Bush's theft of the Presidency, his close families ties to the Saudi monarchy and so much more, and found a way to put this information into the hands and minds of MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. For this we owe him gratitude, though that doesn't mean we can't discuss, argue or criticize Moore if we don't agree with some of his ideas.
discussing works of art, especially political ones which have been so successful, we'd
do better by beginning with something
positive, as other left
critics have done. Starting from that, one
can make whatever comment, criticism or suggestion on the movie that one likes.
That way one can get a hearing from those who've seen and enjoyed the film, and
encourage their further thinking. Others have written to suggest more or different points the movie
could have made, but they start by recognizing something good in it. The
Militant simply trashed the movie, 100%.
The Militant's unique perspective.
The Militant calls Fahrenheit 9/11 "a pro-war film" !?!? It repeats its peculiar notion that Bush's elevation to the presidency in November 2000 was NOT illegitimate. They seem to think its main problem was that Fahrenheit 9/11 wasn't the cinematic equivalent of The Militant. Then there's the weird suggestion that Fahrenheit 9/11 is racist. That poisons the atmosphere and seems designed to insulate the reader's mind against even going to see it. The Militant makes Moore's film sound something more like The Birth of a Nation or Triumph of the Will. Wasn't there even one single redeeming thing in it?
Oddly, The Militant, which publishes useful news from and about Cuba from time to time, didn't mention how the film was received on the island.
Its first-hand reports from there are always worth reading. The Cubans really loved it. On this, however, they seem to be "missing in action..."
Cubans Flock to See Fahrenheit 9/11
it was shown on television three times, and
Ricardo Alarcon, a Cuban leader with considerable experience in and knowledge of
the United States? An entire Mesa Redonda, the daily news
magazine, was devoted to discussing it. It was also seen by audiences in 120 theaters around the island?
Maybe the Cubans missed what The Militant so clearly sees?
Millions of Cubans see Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11
(By the way, and to completely clear: just because Cubans liked Moore's film, doesn't mean anyone else has to like it. But perhaps a less shrill and condemning tone about the movie would be better?)
In addition, Fidel Castro, also an influential Cuban leader, quoted from Michael Moore in his July 26th speech. Fidel called Michael Moore, Richard Clarke, and Bob Woodward "outstanding Americans"? Did Fidel miss something? Not to worry, The Militant is read in Cuba, so perhaps they will reconsider on Michael Moore once they read The Militant's analysis. You can always hope...
Fidel Castro quoting Michael Moore:
In his book "Stupid White Men", Michael Moore points out that Bush exhibits obvious symptoms of not being able to read at an adult level and writes the following as part of an open letter to Bush:
"1. George, are you able to read and write on an adult level?
"It appears to me and many others that, sadly, you may be a functional illiterate. This is nothing to be ashamed of… Millions of Americans cannot read and write above a fourth grade level.
"But let me ask you this: if you have trouble comprehending the complex position papers you are handed as the Leader of the Mostly-Free World, how can we entrust something like our nuclear secrets to you?
"All the signs of illiteracy area there —and apparently no one has challenged you about them. The first clue was what you named as your favourite childhood book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", you said.
"Unfortunately, that book wasn’t even published until a year after you graduated from college."
"One thing is clear to everyone —you can’t speak the English language in sentences we can comprehend.
"If you are going to be Commander-in-Chief, you have to be able to communicate your orders. What if these little slip-ups keep happening? Do you know how easy it would be to turn a little faux pas into a national-security nightmare?
"Your aides say that you don’t (can’t?) read the briefing papers they give you, and that you ask them to read them for you or to you."
"Please , don’t take any of this personally. Perhaps it’s a learning disability. Some sixty million Americans have learning disabilities".
you think Cuba's Commander-in-Chief was wasting the time of the hundreds of thousands present,
analyzing the psychological and emotional condition of the Commander-in-Chief of
the other side? I don't think so, but perhaps you do. The Militant's
tender concern for poor George W. Bush, defending Bush against the charge that
Bush is "stupid", was touching.
FIDEL CASTRO'S FULL July 26, 2004 SPEECH:
One last point.
It would have been
better had The Militant taken note of, and protested, the vicious campaign against Michael Moore by
those right-wing Cuban extremists in Miami regarding Fahrenheit 9/11
support for returning Elian to his father in Cuba. Check this out:
The Militant should have defended Moore against the Miami right,
instead of defending George W. Bush against Michael Moore.
As with Elian, The Militant ended up on the other side.
Anyway, here are a few of
thoughtful and better-argued commentaries about Fahrenheit 9/11. There are many
others, of course. Some of the
comments are good, some not, but they all contribute in one way or another to
helping people to reflect on the movie. They take up things which both were and
weren't in the movie, but in a
more constructive, and less clumsy way, in my opinion. Check them out.
p.s., since this was written, the Cuban media has run even
more stories by and about Michael Moore. For example:
Michael Moore: "Don't Send More Kids To Die"
Granma International, September 2, 2004
STUPID WHITE MOVIE
What Michael Moore Misses About Empire
by Robert Jensen, Counterpunch
The Phenomenon of Fahrenheit 9/11
by Deirdre Griswold, Workers World
A powerful eye-opener, short on answers
By Sarah Sloan, Socialism and Liberation
Fahrenheit 9/11: A Marxist Review
by Aman Singh, Workers Vanguard, July 9, 2004
A Viewer's Guide to Fahrenheit 9/11
Revolutionary Worker, July 18, 2004
ÓRGANO OFICIAL DEL COMITÉ
CENTRAL DEL PARTIDO
COMUNISTA DE CUBA
August 9, 2004
Miami and Michael Moore
by NICANOR LEON COTAYO
In Miami, they are fiercely attacking Michael Moore, the famous movie director of Fahrenheit 9/11.
The issue came to light last Friday and Saturday in three articles published in the newspaper El Nuevo Herald written by right wing Cubans. Groups from that tendency have mobilized themselves in Miami and are using radio, internet and email to launch a barrage of insults against Moore.
Why such boisterous rhetoric? It stems from articles written by Moore in 1997 and 2000, where he characterized elements of the political criminal underground in Florida who, in the supposed name of freedom for Cuba, have committed atrocities against that country for the last 45 years.
In those articles, the North American film director and writer denounced the nutty bunch of people who have controlled the U.S. foreign policy regarding the island, "many of them Batista supporters".
He added that "One of the big bonuses to come out of our funding of these Cuban exiles was the help they gave us in bringing illegal drugs into the States, destroying families and whole sections of our cities." Moore adds: "these Cuban exiles, for all their chest-thumping and terrorism, are really just a bunch of wimps," always present and involved in events like "Kennedy assassination, Watergate, IranContra, and our drug abuse epidemic".
Two examples suffice to show the fragility of their attempts to rebut Moore. Let's see:
One of the commentators of the El Nuevo Herald, Arming González, tries to respond to the above quotes and asks in an offended tone what Moore would say on the subject of "the honorable veterans of Brigade 2506". As everyone knows, in April 1961, Brigade 2506 carried out the invasion of Girón where it was defeated in less than 72 hours after being totally supported by the U.S. Government, as President Kennedy later admitted.
Another journalist who attempts to respond is Alexander Armengol, who says that Moore "has lied" when judging the actions of the extreme right-wing factions.
Thus they continue losing credibility in public opinion regarding Moore. Armengol himself once explained that the "exiles" certainly do not represent the community of Cuban origin as a whole.
That is what he wrote in an article published in the El Nuevo Herald on October 14, 1998 under the title "Independent Journalists: Recipe for publishing in Miami". According to what Armengol said in that article, when they receive writings from Havana "it does not matter that the articles are of quality or that what they describe is true or false", because they will always find "their defenders in Miami".
He characterized this activity as "writing pages of propaganda with the illusion of pleasing the eyes and ears of Miami, and that neither reflect the reality of Cuba nor comply with the basic rules of journalism". He added that the information fabricated in the Island by these so-called reporters "tries to flatter us, to validate our positions", and at the same time offers "distorted visions of the past, as well as the future of Cuba".
In the middle of such a mess, very well described by Alexander Armengol, can someone rebut the comments made by Michael Moore with respect to the behavior of those bands?
Nobody. And much less when one remembers the enormous electoral fraud committed in Florida in 2000 with the active and enthusiastic participation of those who the film director describes, or the ample involvement of and their ties to drug trafficking scandals.
For that reason, now that they are being exposed by the author of Fahrenheit 9/11, they prefer to use their favorite methods, a noisy campaign to try to diminish his prestige and above all, blackmail and threats.
"And we must be very clear with both members of the Democratic presidential ticket that only when Michael Moore is expelled" from the campaign will the wound opened in the heart of the Cuban exile begin to heal, says one of the articles in El Nuevo Herald.
the language of that gangsterish world. How well they show once again that they
are people who are alienated from the thought and actions of the clear majority
of the community of Cuban origin living in the United States.
Agencia Cubana de Noticias (AIN)
9/11 to be Mass Marketed
on Video and DVD
Havana, August 20 (AIN) The campaign to re-elect George W. Bush was dealt a new blow with the announcement that Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 will be sold on video and DVD formats in October, the month before the US presidential elections.
The new edition of the documentary that reveals close connections between the Bush and Bin Laden families is a continuation of Michael Moore’s battle to get voters to learn the truth about the current US administration.
The film shows the atrocities committed by US troops in Iraq and gives viewers an inside look at Bush as president, including his untreated alcohol problem.
The renowned US filmmaker publicly stated his intentions to help dethrone Bush by showing his unfitness to govern the country with his prejudice, inconsistency, and loyalty to corporations that contribute to financing his political campaign.
Fahrenheit 9/11 has already brought in a record 115 million dollars for a documentary, despite having been placed with free Internet access.
The video and DVD edition for home viewing will include dramatic footage that had to be edited as a condition for the film’s exhibition at movie theatres. It includes scenes at the entrance to the Abu Ghraib prison, which led to seven US soldiers being accused of abuses and torturing prisoners.
The documentary includes a glimpse of the reality of US society and the political and economic conditions generated by the huge social injustices in the most powerful country in the world.
Moore’s film Bowling for Columbine, which denounces the arms race, violence and commercial interests that promote the lifestyle in the United States, received an Oscar for best documentary in 2003.
Earlier this year, Fahrenheit 9/11 won the top award during the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival and many believe that he will obtain his second Oscar for the film.
at which Freedom Burns
Paris, May 18 (Prensa Latina) When American science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury wrote his masterpiece "Fahrenheit 451", he never suspected his title was to be borrowed by a film director to analyze the outcomes of one the most influential events in US contemporary history.
Now Michael Moore, who won an Oscar Award for his historical "Bowling for Columbine", unveiled at Cannes Film Festival another masterpiece, no less than Bradbury´s: "Fahrenheit 9/11".
Controversial, infuriating and decidedly anti-war, the film portraits Moore´s vision of post 9/11 world, received a sustained applause at Cannes and gave the Festival the first whiff of genuine scandal, welcomed as a juicy dish for the 4000 journalists covering the Festival, most of them scrabbling to claim seats at the press screening.
According to reviewers like Hugh Jeffries, from UK Herald, the audience chortled seeing the images of the Bushites at the US government portrayed as cowboys, riding into Iraq to the theme tune from the TV show "Bonanza."
Tony Blair is portrayed as their Stetson-wearing sidekick, bowlegged and clad in full Western gear with six-guns at his hip, jumping up and down like a puppet. But Moore confessed that he let Blair off lightly as he was mainly aiming "to fix" what was happening in Washington. "The problem is in the White House, and not at No.10 Downing Street."
However, the director admitted that "what has always depressed me about Tony Blair is that he knows better. At least, one thing you can say about Blair is that he's smart. What's he doing hanging out with a guy like George W. Bush?"
Perhaps the answer is not in the film, but in contemporary history, which shows that during the last decades, Anglo-American interests have entangled so much around the world, converting the once "Queen of the Seas" British Empire in a follower and supporter of Washington policies. It happened at the Gulf War, at Afghanistan and now again at Iraq.
Maybe that's why Moore used Bradbury´s title -- Fahrenheit 451, the temperature at which paper burns in an anti-utopian future society where TV has substituted writing and firefighters had reversed their role, pursuing and burning forbidden books, instead of extinguishing fires.
The plot of the film takes the temperature from another patient: the post-September 11 America, as well as revealing the extensive business links between the families of George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden, and seeking out the connections between the 2001 terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.
According to reviews, Fahrenheit 9/11 is a "baggy, eccentric partisan animal, which makes its many points with broad strokes and even broader humor, an audacious, angry moving piece of work, the boldness and relevance of which few could deny."
Moore structured his film with information, statistics, interviews, news clips and harrowing unseen footage from inside Iraq, beginning by querying, in Moore's trademark style, the virtual coup d'etat whereby the current American president took power. Then he moves into more subversive territory, the friendly relationship between the oil-rich Saudi Arabian elite and the Bush clan, and questioning how much effort has really gone into the search for Osama Bin Laden.
His humor is infectious, but deadly - says Hannah McGill, from the Herald (UK) - he never misses an opportunity to mock Bush's buffoonish public persona, but his concerns are real, as becomes painfully evident when he shows graphic footage of Iraqi civilian casualties, as well as the first video material showing the humiliation and abuse of Iraqis by American soldiers.
Furthermore, Moore's extended interview with the innocently patriotic but wholly betrayed mother of a dead American soldier, concludes noting that it is America's have-nots who are most ready to step into the line of fire in its defense. "All that they ask in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it's absolutely necessary," he states. "Will they ever trust us again?"
Maybe this provocative approach has won the film lots of distribution problems, since Mel Gibson's Icon pictures, the original financiers, had dropped the project, suggesting that the actor was pressured by the White House, which Icon denies. The financing was taken over by Harvey Weinstein's Miramax, owned by Disney, but now the studio is refusing to handle the distribution, fearing that the film, with its liberal focus and negative portrayal of Bush might affect his re-election run in November.
On account of these obstacles, it may be that one of the most provocative pieces of documentary film of this new millennium could be hidden from the public, until the American election race will be finished. But if Bush wins, it is unlikely that it ever hits America's screens.
The case explains better than the film itself why Fahrenheit 9/11 is - in Moore's own words -- about the temperature at which freedom burns.
ÓRGANO OFICIAL DEL COMITÉ
CENTRAL DEL PARTIDO
COMUNISTA DE CUBA
July 27, 2004
Chronicle of a Spectator
by Rolando Perez Betancourt
[The author is the regular art and movie
critic for Granma daily in Havana.]
Alter widely covering the political importance of the film by Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11, and since it is being shown in the main movie and video theaters in Havana, there are some points still to be mentioned about its artistic conception.
Perhaps you have followed this work and the writings of Michael Moore and have no doubts as to the political convictions and theories of the filmmaker, extolled in the documentary and that do not differ with the millions of honest human beings in our world. The White House is run by a mediocre individual who does not waver to lie and manipulate to keep himself in his job and promote his interests.
This is clear but it is also an artistic endeavor that has to be analyzed, not so much for those already convinced of its value but for those on the opposite side, or who doubt, or are confused by the TV-directed information that they receive daily.
"Propaganda!" the neo-conservatives shout with the same hatred they use when they say "nigger". It is true that Moore's film doesn't hold back any punches and tries to demonstrate without slipping on a false objectivity proposed by those writers who do not want to seem committed (at least once in a while) as if being committed is a greater sin.
Moore has explained his intentions clearly from the beginning, his intentions to help dethrone the illegal president of his country. But his battlefield relies on an artistic expression, free from demagoguery. Proving the guilt of a president and the men and women around him Fahrenheit 9/11 deals with them, one by one, through a skilful structure towards a dramatic climax that soon becomes an interest and challenge for the spectator.
Moore relies on a reflexive manner using the most diverse mechanisms of communication: irony, humor, shattering exclamations, propositions to follow lines of analysis from the political investigation he reveals, exposes and demonstrates a field mined with contradictions of the present administration. He achieves this through a skilful combination of words and images. When he speculates, he does so very reasonably, as if trying to get into the mind of President Bush when he receives the news of the attacks of September 11 and is obviously dumbfounded for a long while. There are neither high sounding nor offending adjectives by Moore in trying to demonstrate the limitations and undertones of the man he has in the bull's eye. There, on the screen, are the words and images of the almighty President in his capacity of muddling.
The election of 2000 and the back-slap by Florida (that US films will one day treat after the President is just a bad memory), the business of Daddy Bush with the Bin Laden family, the political benefits obtained after September 11, 2001, the social backgrounds of the US soldiers who die in Iraq and topped by the sinister maneuvers that are still to come.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is as important for what it reveals as the ghosts it implants in the minds of the unbelievers.
Judging by the figures reported last week, the film has reached 100 million dollars in the United States, an unimaginable sum for a documentary. It has also been widely viewed and applauded in Europe.
But perhaps the most stimulating news for the artist, Michael Moore, is that, contrary to what was expected and at the beginning, advocated by his followers, Republican leaders have publicly acknowledged that many of their party followers did not stay at home in answer to the "provocative propaganda" but are paying to view the film and not only to boo at it.
Click here to see the movie poster
Another slap by Michael Moore
By Rolando Perez Betancourt
On Tuesday the Cuban TV showed images in which the audience of the Cannes Festival appeared standing and cheering a smiling Michael Moore, after the presentation of his last film, Fahrenheit 9/11. The director could also be seen outside receiving cheering from many people, one of them held a placard where it read: "Michael Moore for US president".
MICHAEL MOORE IN CANNES
Cannes is considered the most glamorous of all International Cinema Festivals and the most famous movie stars go to it, always chased by hundreds of photographers and journalists ready to speak about the quality of films, the new affairs or the designers more represented in the clothes of the luminaries. It is a wide range of interests that goes from the most serious topics to the frivolities that nourish the magazines of the heart. This year, how ever, and according to the present times, Cannes has given a spectacular back up to an artist that has nothing to do with glamour and a topic that is hard to take away from any table.
A day before the premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11, already, when it was presented for the press and received an unusual general back up, a journalist wondered if the enthusiasm, the cheering -disregarding the indubitable quality of the film- were not due also to the fact that most of professionals present there shared Moore's aversion for president George Bush and his imperialist policy.
After seeing Fahrenheit 9/11, the keyboards have not hesitated in praising it. Here is an example: "Moore made the Festival burst with the two hours of a documentary-pamphlet-reportage film against 'George from Arabia', whom he turns into dust with an irresistible mix of irony, investigation and a huge and intelligent capacity of communication."
9/11, constitutes a critique to
Washington's decision to go to a war against Iraq after September 11th, 2001. As
always, Moore was outspoken and he accused the White House of trying to hinder
the realization of his film. "Fahrenheit 9/11 - he said - is the temperature
to which freedom and democracy melt". Not few agree on the strength of the
images taken in Iraq, among which there are children murdered by the invaders.
And, of course, an esthetical device that has become an unappealable truth in the hands of this film maker could not be missing, the contrast: From a scene of a family sad for the sorrow of a child "dead in combat", it goes to hall where several executives speak about the investments they will make in Iraq. And from Bush's words promising revenge, it goes to the revelations on the business between the president's family and Osama bin Laden's family.
From the beginning to the end, Bush and his journey of dullness, in the gibbet.
When some days ago Disney House refused to
distribute Fahrenheit 9/11 alleging they intended to keep impartial in view of
the presidential elections of November, Moore accused them publicly of boycott
and of violating a contract. But now in Cannes, the winner of an Oscar for
Bowling for Columbine, did not hesitate in agreeing with them some how and
making evident his intentions as an artist identified with his historical time:
"It is very likely that, after seeing it, North Americans will know whom
not to vote on the elections".
Fahrenheit 9/11 Success
set Social Agendas as Well
New York, Jun 30 (Prensa Latina) Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11" has already set a box-office record, and on Monday night, it set a few social agendas as well, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
According to the US publication, the political action committee MoveOn.org organized thousands of parties linked to the release of the film. The polemic film has aroused heated arguments throughout the country on Bush administration's Iraq and terrorism policies.
As of Monday evening, according to online registrations provided by MoveOn, that organization had recruited more than 4,000 supporters to give parties, with at least one in all 50 states and Washington.
The highlight was an 8 p.m. conference call and question-and-answer session with Mr. Moore.
"These parties are to celebrate the film's success," said Eli Pariser, 23, the executive director of MoveOn, a liberal organization that advocates grass-roots involvement in politics.
"But they are also to take the momentum gathered around the movie and direct it towards activities that will have a concrete effect on the election," Pariser stated.
During Mr. Moore's promised Q&A session, broadcast on the Internet, he asked everyone to "adopt five nonvoters and bring them to the polls."
The MoveOn parties took place throughout Monday evening in almost every conceivable manner and function across the United States, including at exclusive celebrity events, clubs, bars and homes.
About 20 celebrities, including the actresses Edie Falco and Rose McGowan, and the comedian David Cross were engulfed by a news media feeding frenzy, as television and film crews mingled in the crowd and notebooks were as common an accessory as plastic cups of wine.
"Going to a party?" Mr. Cross said. "That's the weakest political statement you can make." Still, he added, "These parties might foster some discourse and some passion, and that would be really great."
Eric Demby, 32, the speechwriter for the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, is beginning a newsletter called Involver, at involver04.org, to alert subscribers to what he called "politically relevant cultural events."
He met Jennifer Harmer, 26, who belongs to a group called Axis of Eve, which seeks to end the Bush presidency with a pro-sex message. For fund-raising purposes it sells women's underwear marked with raunchy slogans using the president's surname.
Now Mr. Demby says he will promote Ms. Harmer's efforts through Involver.
At another party at the Bubble Lounge bar in TriBeCa, two friends, Paula Rogovin, 56, and Susanne Markan, 61, said they had protested against the Vietnam War.
"There was a turning point back then, where you could just feel the country had had enough," Ms. Markan said. "That's what these parties are about to me, is seeing that turning point today," she concluded.
Offensive applause (Granma, Sept. 13, 2004, Spanish)
THE ORIGINAL NOTE FROM IKE NAHEM
From: Ike Nahem [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Saturday, August 14, 2004 4:32 AM
To: LaborExchange@aol.com; NNOC; Karen Lee Wald; email@example.com
Cc: Jaime Mendieta; Wellington Echegaray; Camilo Matos; Graciano Matos
Subject: The Militant - August 31, 2004 --
˜Fahrenheit 9/11: a pro-imperialist screed aimed at electing Kerry
An alternative view of
Fahrenheit 9/11and an
antidote to so much of the knee-jerk praise that has been so thoroughly
circulated on our listserves. I think we should print another point of view that
will resonate with many, including myself, who forked over our money and were
caught up in the hype.
Vol. 68/No. 31 August 31, 2004
‘Fahrenheit 9/11’: a pro-imperialist screed
aimed at electing Kerry
(Film Review column)
BY MARTÍN KOPPEL
Liberals and radicals have touted Fahrenheit 9/11, the latest film by Michael Moore, as an effective exposé of the “truth” about the Bush administration, from the outcome of the 2000 elections to its role in the U.S.-led war against Iraq. On his web site, michaelmoore.com, the filmmaker makes the modest claim that it is “perhaps the most thoroughly researched and vetted documentary of our time.”
Telling the truth, however, is not what guided Moore. The so-called documentary is simply a propaganda piece aimed at getting out the vote to “dump Bush” and to push the Democrats into the White House. It is not “antiwar” but a chauvinist, pro-American imperialist screed.
Moore has been fervently hustling votes for the Democrats in the 2004 race, and his film is part of that campaign. Asked by USA Today whether his anti-Bush movie is aimed at galvanizing the “choir” of faithful Democrats, Moore replied, “The choir needs a wake-up call. A large part of the choir isn’t energized by John Kerry and is not voting.”
On the opening night of the Democratic Party national convention, Moore spoke at a Boston forum with ex-presidential contender Howard Dean. Proclaiming himself a “patriot” and the Republicans as “hatriots,” he promised that “Kerry will not invade a country like George W. Bush did.” Why did the senator vote for the war on Iraq? “John Kerry did what 70-80 percent of our fellow Americans did. He believed” the White House’s arguments for going to war, but “now” he knows they were lies, Moore unabashedly asserted. Kerry just demolished this argument, saying he would have voted for the invasion anyway. The filmmaker also denounced Ralph Nader for running, saying that “the Republicans do love Ralph.”
The main argument in Fahrenheit 9/11 is that the Bush White House has been incompetent in using the FBI and other cop agencies to “fight terrorism,” failing to prevent the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It claims the administration diverted attention to a war against Iraq instead of going after the real danger to “America”: Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. This is also the main theme of the Kerry campaign.
The movie’s “documentation” relies heavily on statements made by former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, the architect of the Clinton administration’s 1998 bombing attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan.
In the film, narrator Moore complains that prior
to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, “Bush cut antiterrorist funding for the
FBI.” He interviews a state trooper in Oregon who says that, because of
federal budget cuts, he is the only one protecting the coast of that state
against any terrorist threat.
Moore reaches rock bottom in scenes on ‘Coalition of the Willing’
The film reaches rock bottom with its mocking portrayal of several nations whose governments were part of the “Coalition of the Willing” in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Apart from falsifying by omission—it leaves out three imperialist powers in the coalition: the British, Italian, and Australian governments—the film makes fun of Costa Rica and Palau (people in “quaint” costumes), Rumania (portrayed as Dracula), Iceland (depicted as Vikings) and the Netherlands (smokers in a hashish den). As Morocco is mentioned, the film flashes a shot of running monkeys, as the narrator says that the Moroccan government offered 2,000 monkeys for detonating land mines. The viewers are supposed to howl with laughter at this pro-American chauvinist “humor.” While some do, I noticed that not everyone in the theater I was in found it funny.
Equally grotesque is Moore’s anti-Saudi chauvinism. In arguing that Bush decided to invade Iraq to deflect attention from a “Saudi connection” in 9/11, he quotes “experts” alleging that wealthy Saudi businessmen “own 7 percent of America.” The film indignantly “reveals” that U.S. officials supposedly allowed 142 Saudi citizens to leave the United States after Sept. 11, 2001, while airports were shut down, and quotes a retired FBI agent insisting that the political police should have thoroughly interrogated Saudi immigrants. According to Moore, all members of the Bin Laden family should have been regarded as “terrorist suspects.” In fact, the film has not a word of criticism of the U.S. government’s post-9/11 dragnets against immigrants from the Middle East, South Asia, and elsewhere—only of the FBI spying on a middle-class pacifist group in California.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is a pro-war film. It approves of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and boosts the arguments of those calling for aggressive U.S. measures against Saudi Arabia. The last section focuses on the plight of U.S. soldiers sent to Iraq—but not to oppose sending U.S. troops into imperialist wars: just this one. Moore says, “Don’t send them into harm’s way unless it’s absolutely necessary”—the position of all Democratic and Republican politicians, whose disagreements are simply tactical ones about which wars are necessary and how they should be conducted to protect and advance the interests of U.S. imperialism.
To bolster the case for replacing Bush with a Democrat, Moore resorts to various conspiracy theories, that is, to the view that certain major events in U.S. politics were determined not by the normal functioning of bourgeois politics but by secret plots by a few individuals or groups. One is the fraudulent argument that Bush “stole” the elections. The film makes the absurd claim that decisive factors in the outcome were that 1) on election night, Bush’s cousin John Ellis was in charge of the decision desk at Fox News, the first network that called Florida for Bush, and 2) his brother Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida.
Fahrenheit 9/11 also peddles the crank view that U.S. imperialism’s foreign policy in the Middle East has been determined by a special business relationship between the Bush family and a “foreign power,” in this case the Saudi royal family. The film draws heavily on a book by Craig Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties. The title of that book, like the movie, conveniently elevates the role of the wealthy Bush family above the other dynasties that make up the U.S. ruling class, such as the Rockefeller, Dupont, Forbes, and Heinz families.
Moore’s movie also relies on low-level
personalized attacks on Bush, including the false assertion that Bush is
“stupid.” His crude tone is of a piece with the coarsening discourse of
bourgeois politics, which was seen most recently around the edges of the
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Havana. September 2, 2004
Don't send more kids to die
By Michael Moore
NEW YORK — Tonight, it's show time for George W. Bush, and I can't wait to hear what he has to tell the Republican convention.
It has been a pretty thrilling week so far, my favorite moment by far being the rebellious Bush twins who, in just a few short minutes, delivered on their promise to issue "payback" to their parents and all authority in general.
They revealed their parents' pet name for each other: "Bushie" or "Bushy" — no spelling was provided. They seemed to have embarrassed their grandmother with a joke about the TV show Sex and the City as a place to have sex. And they claimed to have seen their boogieing parents "shake it like a Polaroid picture." That's one picture that took the rest of the night for me to shake out of my head.
Nonetheless, I loved the Bush daughters: They were funny, sassy and free spirits. Back in 1999, they told their father in no uncertain terms that they did not want him to run for president. They wanted their dad at home, they wanted their privacy, and they wanted to go to college in peace. He chose to ignore their pleas — and I guess Tuesday night was their way of saying, "Thanks, Dad."
And thank him they should. He and Laura have obviously done a good job raising two bright, independent women. He made their privacy a top priority and did what he could to protect them. They clearly love their parents and, when you see that happen, you know the Bushes did something right in their home. For that, they should be commended.
Other fathers and mothers who loved their daughters and sons across America can no longer celebrate with them. That's because their children are dead on the streets and roads of Iraq, sent there by Mr. Bush to "defend" America.
This week, in an appearance leading up to his arrival here Wednesday night, Bush acknowledged he had miscalculated what would happen in Iraq after he invaded it. He had thought it was going to be much easier. It turned out to be much, much worse.
That must be some comfort to the parents of nearly 1,000 brave soldiers now dead because of his "miscalculation." If I made a miscalculation and ran over a child on the street, what do you think would happen to me? Do you think the cops would simply say, "Hey, Mr. Moore, you did your best driving down this street, you made a miscalculation, the kid is dead, but you are trying to save the world, so be on your way?" Something tells me this is not what would happen. What I don't get is that Mr. Bush makes his mistake and thinks he has a right to continue in his job.
Let's hope he isn't getting his inspiration from Richard Nixon, the same man Arnold Schwarzenegger hailed Tuesday night as his reason for becoming a Republican. You have to give Arnold an award for guts. He must be the first Republican convention speaker to mention Nixon since he resigned. Nixon snuck into office in 1968 with his secret plan to end the Vietnam War. Another miscalculation: The war continued for years, and thousands more died.
I would love to hear Bush apologize tonight to the parents and loved ones of those who have died in Iraq. I would like to hear him say he knows what it means to love your children and that he, in good conscience, cannot send any more children to their deaths.
I would like to hear him say tonight, "I'm sorry. There never were weapons of mass destruction and there never was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. There was no imminent threat, our lives were not in danger, no missiles were going to hit Cleveland. Because of our desire to get our hands on the second largest supply of oil in the world, we sacrificed a thousand of your sons and daughters. For this, we are greatly sorry."
I guess a boy can dream.
The other thing I would like to hear tonight is: Why haven't you caught Osama bin Laden? You've had three years to find him. The man killed nearly 3,000 people here on our soil.
Maybe Bush has no worse explanation than he just hasn't been able to do it. Well, if your town's dogcatcher couldn't catch a wild dog that has been on the loose biting people for three years, what would be the dogcatcher's chances for re-election? Not good.
And so it should be for Bush.
Unless he has the answers tonight. Perhaps he has a reason or can accept responsibility for his actions and promise to send no one else's child off to die for a cause that has nothing to do with the defense of this country.
If he takes a moment to look into his daughters' eyes tonight, he will know the answer and give the greatest speech of his life.
Political conventions have become predictable rituals, four-day cheerleading sessions for both parties. So USA TODAY is offering readers an alternative perspective. Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, director of Fahrenheit 9/11, is writing daily from the Republican convention in New York. A month ago, conservative National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg weighed in from the Democratic convention.
OFICIAL DEL COMITÉ
CENTRAL DEL PARTIDO
COMUNISTA DE CUBA
by Rolando Pérez Betancourt
It is already known that Michael Moore has made a strong hit with Fahrenheit 9/11. But a film festival where the image of the voluminous filmmaker becomes a target instead of the central figure to applaud, is unthinkable.
Four words introduce you to the roots of this American Film Renaissance in Dallas: "To rescue traditional values in the United States." On qualifying the 21 works in the Festival, two more words by the organizers shamelessly bring out the nature of these roots, all films are "conservative and patriotic."
Without clarifying where the money is coming from to celebrate this neo-conservative event, a few weeks before the presidential elections, and just one day before the vote's in about Farenheit 9/11 being shown on television, Jim Hubbard, which is in the film festival organizing committee, states that the films in this festival will show "pride, humbleness, appreciation for this great nation." Since Griffith's "Birth of a Nation," these attributes represent what's most rotten and ultra-conservative in U.S. filmmaking.
But Jim Hubbard, and all those behind him, are insulted by films like Farenheit 911. Big Brain Bush and others have lately shown that ruling a powerful country does not necessarily mean that intelligence is kicking doors down. "For a long time - Hubbard angrily says - the film industry has used its influence to make films showing the world laughing at patriotism, faith and traditional U.S. values."
And to erase any doubts about the goals of the American Film Renaissance, he shoots a cannon ball to the most popular target: "United States is a home and not a nation of idiots, as Michael Moore says!"
Among the films trying to prove the bad intentions of filmmakers criticizing the system and its President, we find "Michael Moore Hates America," and "Michael and Me." The first one tries to respond to "Farenheit 9/11," it does not disclaim the evidence, which is hard to do, but it rather talks about the "evil" and "anti-patriotic" mind of the filmmaker, morally defending at the same time Bush's "war on terror."
And "Michael and Me," after Moore's "Roger and Me," goes back to an old pretext, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The right to bear arms is interpreted by the powerful National Rifle Association- also attacked by "Bowling for Columbine" - as it behooves them, who profit from violence and death. (Starting Monday, after shaking off a bothersome legal problem, U.S. stores can sell the most attractive assault weapons - semi-automatic weapons - for any citizen needing to defend himself, (which has already made crime reporters get their typewriters ready).
You can think about the applause, among flags and popcorn, from an audience supporting this so-called Renaissance Festival in Dallas. A festival that is interested in affirming, from the financial shadows, values which are pro-war, macho, racist and pseudo-patriotic.
It is hard to see, though, that they would see the ethical value for those who are rational, of an insulted applause.
regreso de Michael Moore (January 16, 2004)
Fahrenheit Scale Broken (English)
By Maria Elena Pacheco Rodriguez, Havana Tribune July 31, 2004