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A fair look at Fahrenheit 9/11: leftist Michael Moore's controversial documentary has weaknesses and omissions, yet it also gives an incomplete glimpse of the truth. And that's where we come in!

Michael Moore is an unabashed leftist. A former editor of the radical journal Mother Jones, Moore has made a handsome fortune peddling pseudo-populism of a distinctively socialist flavor. His previous work includes the execrable Bowling for Columbine, a largely fact-free cinematic harangue against the fight to armed serf-defense and those of us who defend it. His literary output--which includes such titles as Stupid White Men and Dude, Where's My Country?--is similarly indigestible.

The prologue of Moore's new film Fahrenheit 9/11 retails, unpersuasively, stock Democratic Party complaints about George W. Bush "stealing" the election with the help of the Supreme Court--a protest that is often heard, and utterly without merit. Much of the first section of the film is devoted to tracing President Bush's ascent, which relied heavily on family political connections, some of them involving murky but unsettling ties to Saudi Arabia.

Curiously, Moore--who gathered a great deal of material about Mr. Bush's failure-strewn business career--didn't mention the fact that Bush, like John Kerry, is a member of the immensely influential order of Skull & Bones. Nor did Moore mention the fact that Bonesmen provided crucial financial aid and business connections at key points in George W. Bush's career. Moore provides a remarkable clip of the president addressing a white-tie gathering: "This is an impressive crowd--the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base." This provocative remark offers a certain titillation, but does nothing to inform the untutored viewer as to the nature and purposes of the real Power Elite.

Moore misses another opportunity when he charges the Bush administration with allowing several members of the bin Laden family to leave the country immediately after 9-11 without being interviewed by the FBI. He then asks the audience to imagine what would have happened to Bill Clinton had he let people implicated in the Oklahoma City Bombing get off scot-free.

As the articles on pages 21 and 25 document, this is hardly a hypothetical question: Many of the "others unknown" mentioned in the original OKC federal indictment--and who may have also played a role in the 9/11 plot--remain at large. In his eagerness to compile a case against the Bush administration, Moore either ignored or deliberately omitted these crucial facts, which are a damning indictment of both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

The most serious weakness in Moore's film, notes libertarian economist Dr. Thomas Woods, is that "Moore focuses so much on Bush himself and his various connections that he leaves the impression that the problem centers around this single person." This is a mirror image of the mindset displayed by the partisan Right, which during the 1990s focused on the similarly unsavory connections of Bill Clinton, and fixates today on the radical background, and unhealthy associations, of John Kerry. People on both sides of the partisan divide are relentlessly encouraged to believe that the key to solving our nation's problems is to elect the "right" president--or at least, to prevent the "wrong" candidate from assuming the office. Michael Moore's well-publicized desire that his film provide the impetus to defeat George W. Bush certainly fits into that familiar, and fallacious, equation.

Ironically, one of the documentary's most compelling and convincing elements is the video footage of George W. Bush's appearance at an elementary school on the morning of 9-11, when an aide (on camera) whispers to him that a second plane had slammed into the World Trade Center, and that our nation was "under attack." Instead of immediately excusing himself from the classroom, Mr. Bush stared blankly, lingering for minute after endless minute while holding the children's book being read to the class. Showing segments of this footage as the seven minutes tick by, Moore speculates as to what thoughts might have been going through Mr. Bush's mind.

The speculation is reasonable, but the real significance of the footage, in our view, is that it provides an indication as to how dependent Mr. Bush is on his handlers. Without their intervention, Mr. Bush was, for all practical purposes, paralyzed. The scene seemingly contradicts Moore's thesis that George W. Bush is the problem. The problem is the people behind Mr. Bush--the people in the shadows of power, who exercise control regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. And that problem will not be solved by voting Mr. Bush out of office.

Yet despite Fahrenheit 9/11's many weaknesses and oversights, and despite the admittedly disagreeable background of its director, the documentary admirably summarizes the case against the Iraq War, and provides a compelling indictment of both our political elite and the media for manipulating our nation into that conflict.

The fact that Moore's film has pulverized box office records for a documentary indicates that a sizeable portion of the public is vaguely aware that the war was based on deception, and eager to find out why. Moore, to his credit, does a spectacular job demonstrating the deception. But his explanation of the rationale for the war--a desire on the part of the elite to seize Iraq's oil reserves, and enrich politically favored corporate interests, such as Halliburton--is woefully inadequate.

As THE NEW AMERICAN has demonstrated repeatedly, citing official presidential statements and administration documents, the war in Iraq has been carried out for the express purpose of enforcing UN disarmament decrees. Yes, well-entrenched political and corporate interests have benefited immensely through war profiteering--witness, for example, Halliburton's infamous "no-bid" reconstruction contracts. Yes, political control over Iraq's oil reserves plays a vital role in the plans of the global Power Elite, particularly international banking interests who seek to recover loans issued to Iraq during the Saddam era.

But the single unambiguous winner in the Iraq War is the United Nations. Just as the war has depleted our military and accelerated our descent into national bankruptcy, it has enhanced the UN's power and prestige.

Which brings us to a fascinating paradox. Michael Moore, who supports the UN in theory, strongly opposes its most important present undertaking, the Iraq War. By way of contrast, the GOP-line conservative movement, particularly talk radio demagogues such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, opposes the UN in theory, while supporting its most important present undertaking, the Iraq War. In fact, Limbaugh and Hannity frequently invoke UN Security Council resolutions to justify the war and defend the Bush administration's Iraq policy in general.

The Bush administration and its media allies have sought, with extraordinary success, to clot the airwaves with "thought-stoppers"--slogans and talking points intended to deter the public from asking necessary questions. Moore's film, its flaws notwithstanding, should prompt people to ask serious questions about our predicament. As this magazine frequently observes, education is the key, and education begins with a pupil who's willing to ask questions. Where apologists for the Bush administration seek to sow complacent incuriosity, Moore at least challenges his audience to think critically about what our government is doing in our name, purportedly for our protection.

Viewers of Fahrenheit 9/11--already numbering in the millions--will come face to face with the fact that we've been deliberately deceived. They will experience the unspeakable human cost of government power emancipated from constitutional restraints. They will be given a glimpse--imperfect and incomplete though it may be--of some aspects of the Power Elite's conspiracy to destroy our Republic. They will emerge from theaters angry and motivated to do something to bring our government to heel.

And that's where we come in. While Moore's film has been avidly promoted by Democratic partisans and leftists of various stripes, it has also appealed to genuinely conservative mainstream Americans. It reportedly played to packed theaters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of Ft. Bragg. Racing star Dale Earnhardt, Jr., an icon of the "NASCAR demographic," took his entire crew to see the film. And it's also worth noting that leading elements of the establishment media cartel--Newsweek, Disney, the Washington Post, and various "moderate" liberal columnists--have savaged the film for pandering to "extremists" and "conspiracy kooks."

Whatever else Moore may have intended to do, the reaction to his film confirms that there is a large sector of the American public who love our country but fear big government and distrust our "mainstream" media. His film may be co-opted to sell the public on a false "solution" to the war on terror--such as a more visible role for the United Nations. But a similar opportunity is now available to those of us who understand the real solution: restoring constitutional government at home and disentangling our nation from the UN and its affiliates abroad.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Freedom Of Speech
Author:Grigg, William Norman
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Jul 26, 2004
Words:1427
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