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Frequent hate 9/11

By Bernard Chapin
web posted November 15, 2004

Four months of hearing glossy politicos sweep aside every word spoken regarding the pathologies of Michael Moore with the simple phrase "but you haven't even seen the film" led me to engage in the masochist act of renting Fahrenheit 9/11. I watched it even though I have yet to hear one of his fans refute a single point raised by Christopher Hitchens or the other cultural pundits who witnessed the spectacle in June. The movie turned out to be far worse than expected with its two hours seeming to last for twelve.

With the pressing of the play button one becomes immediately aware that there is something drastically wrong with this documentary. No other one I've encountered included a disclaimer announcing that "the following interviews and commentary are for entertainment only." Such a warning is anathema to the goal of a documentary, which should be to educate. As far as entertainment value goes, however, you'd have to be a member of the tinfoil hat left (or those who think John Ashcroft's men interrogate librarians every other Monday) to get any meaningful information out of this film.

What is most surprising is that, even from a technical standpoint, Moore's skills are overrated. The film drags on and on. It is devoid of drama as Moore cannot be bothered to showcase any conflicting points of view. Had he merely interviewed a couple of people who were not partisan Democrats he might have succeeded in making the film digestible, but he's simply not interested. If the plot were outlined in equation form, it would read: 2000 Election=Republican Plot, Iraq=Vietnam, Bush=Oppressor, Emotion=Fact, and Individual Suffering=Needed Alteration of Foreign Policy.

By the end of the film one feels used and cheated. You may feel anger and indignation, but it's solely due to charlatans like Moore earning fortunes from the cobbling together of mendacious inuendos. It is rather depressing to watch such a cultural blockbuster and, with little concentration, think up five hundred responses which devastate Moore's positions. It's quite easy to do with Fahrenheit 9/11 as it relies chiefly on emotion. The director's emotophilia is even more pronounced in this film than it was in Bowling for Columbine. In the end we have only feeling. He spends over thirty minutes with a woman from Flint who tragically lost a son in Iraq. One feels sympathy for her until she abandons any sense of perspective by deciding that the result of her son's death will be for her to vent all of her rage and anguish in the direction of The White House and President George W. Bush. Moore couldn't be happier about her conclusion and hopes that you'll do the same.

Before I saw the movie, allegations by commentators that the film violated McCain-Feingold struck me as unfair, but the evidence is in the reels. We hear from an injured soldier who states (I'm not kidding) that once he gets home the first thing he is going to do is become very active in his local Democratic Party. Go leftist young man! We also see the dour and self-righteous filmmaker on Capitol Hill attempting to convince Congressmen that they should sign their kids up for Iraq. This is yet another of his many "emotional over all" segments, but one begins to wonder here about Moore's intelligence. Does he really think that parents can enlist their sons without their consent? Does he even know that children are not allowed in the military? I heard him repeat this same line of anti-reasoning during an interview with Bill O'Reilly over the summer. His confusion here may be based on a utopian's ignorance about the mechanics of the real world.

In retrospect, a more accurate title for this film would have been, The Eternal Bush, as its spirit and one-sidedness is remarkably similar to Goebbels' The Eternal Jew. All that is needed is a few shots of Republican legislators scampering into state houses like rats to complete the portrait. Obviously, it's quite fashionable to compare individuals to members of The Third Reich and I am loath to add my pen to the cultural totality of misapplied historical allusions, but Fahrenheit 9/11 is nothing more than an ideologue's checklist of propaganda.

In the beginning…there is nausea as Moore pretends the Florida election was clearly an Al Gore victory until Fox News nefariously called it for Bush. Their doing so was due to a Bush family relative working at their election desk. The fact that the outcome was excruciatingly close (537 votes) means nothing to Moore. The director intentionally misleads his audience by claiming that George H. W. Bush's friends on The Supreme Court "anointed" his son our king. CNN documents a different tale:

A comprehensive study of the 2000 presidential election in Florida suggests that if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed a statewide vote recount to proceed, Republican candidate George W. Bush would still have been elected president. The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago conducted the six-month study for a consortium of eight news media companies, including CNN. NORC dispatched an army of trained investigators to examine closely every rejected ballot in all 67 Florida counties, including handwritten and punch-card ballots.

In both the election sequence and later media footage of the Iraq invasion, we see clearly that Moore is a hardcore leftist and not your average Democrat. He is so extreme that he regards Dan Rather, Katie Couric, and Tom Daschle as being utter shills for the government's cause. Speaking of shills, in Fahrenheit 9/11, no bigger suckers are found than those in the United States military. We discover that nobody ever goes into the military by choice. No, they enlist due to economic necessity alone and never because they desire a life in the service. Moore cannot think outside of the blinker-covered box of Marxist theory. Economic eventualities drive all decisions. It is inconceivable that someone would join up due to free will. The director would never want to defend this nation in the first place so he regards anyone who would as a slave or a pawn. If every American man shared Moore's views, we would have become a northern Sandinista trading post long ago.

Yet, any discussion of this film is incomplete without the filmmaker's fascination with race. We are led to believe that the Bush Administration is really just one big conspiracy against people of color. The Florida recount is deconstructed with thick oily fingers and displayed as a conscious plot designed to keep blacks from voting. The race baiting begins in the prelude, about a minute into the film, when it is asserted that Republicans tried to keep blacks off the ballot. No justification is given as it never happened so no proof can exist, yet, who needs proof when you can spew empty emotional innuendo instead. Members of the Black Caucus are shown accusing Bush of election improprieties on the Senate floor as the director heavy-handedly asserts that "no Senator would come to the aid of the African-American Congressmen." Why wouldn't they? Perhaps because they had no grounds for their complaints. They weren't happy with the outcome so they protested. In this scene Moore wholly relies on audience ignorance as he makes the mistake of filming Representative Alcee Hastings first. It was Alcee Hastings, and not George W. Bush, who was impeached for committing improprieties after he took bribes while on the federal bench. Apparently, admitting that we had a close election would be sucking up to the man. Moore instead chooses to depict the Florida recount as a coup d'etat. If it were not for vile Caucasians like this filmmaker, we probably would all get along.

Then we get to see some members of the Bush Administration up close via an outtake reel. They are made to look vain and lazy across footage of vacations and primping sessions. Only the incredibly self-righteous would take issue with a politician applying makeup or a comb to their hair before a speech, but, to Michael Moore, this is evidence of a sordid character.

We discover that Bush was solely to blame for 9/11. The towers collapsed because Bush is a lay-about who was too busy cutting wood and playing golf to scrutinize internal security. Such beliefs are wholly fallacious and unsupported by fact. Osama bin Laden and his intense enmity towards our nation had been known for many years before Bush took office. Moore conveniently ignored what happened between 1992 and 2000 when Bill Clinton was president. The message that bin Laden received from our government during his administration was that we were a "weak horse" and that we would do nothing if we were attacked. No response came from Clinton after the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. He viewed it as a criminal matter. In 1996, not a finger was raised when the Khobar Towers and nineteen of our soldiers were blown to bits. Nothing was done after two of our African embassies were destroyed in 1998 and, in 2000, the blast on the USS Cole did not warrant any reaction from outgoing President William Jefferson Clinton. Given such a track record why would bin Laden have thought September 11th would be any different? Luckily, we had George W. Bush in office to defend us. As for Bush knowing bin Laden's tactics in advance, since 1995 we were aware that the terrorist master mind wanted to use commercial airliners as flying bombs after President Clinton was informed about al-Qaida's Operation Bojinka. [1]

With Moore, most of his arguments refute themselves. One cannot believe that the USA PATRIOT Act is turning us into a police state when the very existence and celebration of Fahrenheit 9/11 disproves it. This is the freest country in the world and nothing better exemplifies our liberty than somebody like Michael Moore making millions from the dissemination of his anti-American propaganda. Perhaps he might consider naming his next film, "Bush Made Me."


[1] Patterson, Robert. Dereliction of Duty: The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Endangered America's Long-Term National Security. New York: Regnery Publishing. 2003. p. 135

Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He can be reached at bchapafl@hotmail.com.

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