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Fahrenheit 9/11 -- Reprise

I'm no Michael Moore worshiper. I'm a Libertarian, which means I have agreements and disagreements with both the left and the right. But I do lean a little to the left. I figure that if the government is going to steal money from all of us, I'd rather see them spend it on health care and education than on sending the military to die in sovereign countries, killing thousands of innocents along the way, so that certain U.S. corporations can profit.

So when I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 when it first opened, I went in with some positive biases. I had read a couple of reviews prior to seeing the film, but I was not prepared for the documentation of the depth of depravity of frat-boy Bush and his cronies. I left the theatre very angry.

In the days after I saw the film, I read every review of the movie I could find, both praising and critical. I paid special attention to the column in last Sunday's paper by Leonard Pitts, Jr., whom I respect a lot. He wrote about how the film can seduce us into feeling angry, and whether we want to sink to the level of the extreme right with their venom spewing. I see anger as one step from violence, which I abhor, so I told myself maybe I better calm down.


Another article I studied carefully this past week was one whose headline indicated that it would distinguish fiction from fact in the movie. This topic concerns me greatly because I value truth, and wondered about accusations of Moore critics who say the movie is riddled with innaccuracies. But when I read the article, the only bona fide fact they contested was the percentage of time Bush was on vacation between the time he took office and September 11th. Moore's film said (citing the Washington Post) 42% of the time. The newspaper article's own calculation was only 39%. Gasp.

In fact, every writer who has claimed that Moore's film is full of lies has failed to show me exactly where the film is inaccurate. Instead, they use blanket epithets such as "pack of lies." Hmm, not the most telling rejoinder. Maybe they can't single out inaccuracies because there are none?

When I saw the film again this week, I paid extra special attention to factual claims, and their basis for them, in the movie. I saw no factual claims without solid documentation. I think what Moore-haters are calling "lies" are actually Moore's innuendos, opinions, and questions--none of which are factual claims. Blinded by their loyalty to Bush, they have lost the capacity to distinguish a factual claim from an opinion. Or maybe they want to blur the distinction because they so badly want to discredit Moore.

I emerged from the film the second time still feeling angry. But it was a more resolute, calm anger. More of a determination to do whatever I can to make sure Bush is not re-elected. As a Libertarian, I have no problem with allowing some people to become richer than others through hard work, imagination, willingness to take risks, and intelligence. BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE LESS PRIVILEGED! I feel it is so wrong for the ruling class to profit on the deaths of underclass who have nowhere to go except the military. It is so wrong to kill thousands of innocent civilians for oil profits. I don't know if lying about the pretext (WMD) can make this any wronger. It is wrong, wrong, wrong. Leonard Pitt's anger is justifiable. All of us who are not in the ruling class should feel outraged.

I voted for Libertarian candidate Harry Browne in the last two presidential elections. Given what happened in Florida, I am not going to jeopardize Kerry's chances of beating Bush in Pennsylvania with a principled vote for a third-party candidate. It doesn't matter that I don't like him much or whether I am unsure if/how he will get us out of Iraq. He is not Bush, so he'll have my vote.

BTW, here is what Michael Moore says about the factual basis of his film (from his website, http://www.michaelmoore.com):

Every single fact I state in "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the absolute and irrefutable truth. This movie is perhaps the most thoroughly researched and vetted documentary of our time. No fewer than a dozen people, including three teams of lawyers and the venerable one-time fact-checkers from The New Yorker went through this movie with a fine-tooth comb so that we can make this guarantee to you. Do not let anyone say this or that isn't true. If they say that, they are lying. Let them know that the OPINIONS in the film are mine, and anyone certainly has a right to disagree with them. And the questions I pose in the movie, based on these irrefutable facts, are also mine. And I have a right to ask them. And I will continue to ask them until they are answered.