Using Bees To Effect Vengeance

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Saw the vaunted Farenheit 9/11 over the weekend, and as I expected, it really pissed me off. Not because it made me angry at George W.Bush, although occasionally it did that. But because:

a) I don't like watching propaganda, and this was an egregious example of it. Not just "an op/ed", as Moore tries to argue -- op/eds take positions supported by coherent arguments. This film was just a mass of undifferentiated innuendo, juxtaposing high impact images with de-contextualized facts and moving just fast enough to ensure you don't have time to analyze the plausibility of the implications Moore's asking you to draw. Some it was truly fatuous when you thought about it for more than even a split-second (c.f the happy Iraqi kids smiling and playing pre-invasion juxtaposed with a bomb hitting Baghdad. What are we supposed to conclude from that scene? That the US invaded a population perfectly happy with their government? How can anyone of conscience try to get away with that crap?)

Not to mention the cheap shots -- you show Kerry or Howard Dean or Moore himself having make up put on before a TV appearance and they'll look stupid too.

b) It wasn't very *good* propaganda. I don't think it's going to win any votes for Democrats, primarily because Moore focuses on the Bush/oil/Carlyle Group thing -- which requires viewers to accept that the Bush administration is not just incompetent (which it is) but that it makes momentous policy decisions purely to secure financial gains for itself and its friends. In other words, you have to believe Bush is *evil*. Voters like Bush, even when they dislike his administration, and only people too blinkered by their own hatred of him would take that tack in a movie so clearly aimed at affecting public opinion in an election year. Better to have focused on the ample evidence for rigid adherence to ideology despite opposition from experts and the facts on the ground; for the debasing of the U.S's good name among world governments, the Arab street, etc., which makes prosecuting the war on Terror harder; for focusing on Iraq in the first place, instead of al-Qaeda and the true terrorist threats. Ideology, not personal financial gain. Instead, the reasonably successful invasion of Afghanistan gets dismissed with "they mostly got away" and the legitimately-elected Hamid Karzai is implied to be a Bush stooge for signing a deal representing significant foreign investment in his devastated country a few days after taking power. If you can't even concede that there have been obvious successes, how can you have any credibility with an audience when attempting to point out failures?

The end does not justify the means. It doesn't when Defense authorizes torture in Iraqi jails, it doesn't when the office of the VP blows the cover of undercover CIA personnel, and it doesn't when Michael Moore insults our intelligence with this misleading pile of bad faith. I expect more from liberals.

That said, as my mother-in-law pointed out, Moore did a good job of showing how the poor inevitably bear the burden of fighting these wars (although that's true of the legitimate wars as as sad as seeing all that is, it doesn't really further the point Moore is ostensibly trying to make). He also did a good job of showing how threadbare our homeland security is, although I don't recall him making the obvious connection with Bush's economic policies and the bankrupting of states and municipalities.

Others who seem to have had similar takes, only with less spittle: Kevin @ Washington Monthly, and uggabugga. Kevin dismisses the cheap shots by essentially saying "turnabout is fair play", but that's not enough for me. We all deserve better.


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