Get ready for the Fahrenheit 9/11 onslaught and, I safely predict, unprecedented levels of sycophancy for Michael Moore's newest agitprop. No Niger uranium WMD lies here! Moore's "documentary" will be gushed over regardless of how crazy the claims or how distorted the "facts".
Moore has cleverly set the stage for the propaganda offensive by suggesting that the distribution of his "documentary" has been sabotaged by Disney – a blatant lie uncritically now picked up by our local media. Moore has been one of the most prominent beneficiaries of what Roger Simon – the Hollywood screenwriter, novelist and blogger – has coined "the politics of the last five minutes".
Moore's Academy Award-winning Bowling for Columbine has, by definition, dropped off the radar of the "politics of the last five minutes" – but those of us with some memory left still recall those ominous pictures of the US bombers taking off in the Kosovo war in 1999. The dark implication was that the Boeing corporation – spookily nearby the Columbine massacre school – was, as the destructive representatives of US imperialism, all of a piece with those schoolboy mass murderers.
Moore's "documentary" didn't show that the Boeing factory near Columbine made weather satellites, not missiles. Nor did he take the trouble to explain that the Kosovo intervention was concerned with the rather more grown-up task of the prevention of genocide in the former Yugoslavia. Tony Blair and Bill Clinton courageously pre-empted the UN Security Council which was paralysed in the face of genocide – a familiar pose for that body. Does Moore stop to explain any of this? This was the awful truth that would have exposed Moore's message for the fraud that it was.
But why should thousands of slaughtered Kosovars spoil Moore's box office? What was even more breathtaking was Moore's presidential endorsement of General Wesley Clark – the military commander whom Clinton placed in charge of the Kosovo campaign. Once again, any regrets? Not a bit.
Moore's "documentary" claims may not be true but, to use John Pilger's formulation explaining the left-wing tabloid Daily Mirror's fabricated pictures of British soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners: "They may not be true, but what they represent is true." If the objective is anti-Americanism at all costs, it's a small price to pay to overlook inconvenient "facts".
Last week, Christopher Hitchens nailed Moore and the European intellectual climate which gave rise to this fawning phenomenon. "Speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well," Hitchens said, "it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities."
In a world where "representations" trump reality, however, it's no wonder that Moore's "documentary" was awarded the top prize at Cannes. This is the same mindset that regards the disgraceful treatment of Iraqi prisoners as the moral equivalent of the act of Islamist fanatics in hacking off the head of a non-combatant in Iraq. Moore's indignant "anti-imperialism" over Iraq makes a convenient existential leap right over Saddam's republic of fear and the 200,000 mass graves, just as he silently omitted the Kosovo genocide, so as not to blunt the drama of his "documentary" sequence.
Moore is on record as hailing the already grotesquely misdescribed "resistance" as the equivalent of the minute men – the American revolutionaries – a statement so lacking in seriousness as to border on the unhinged. But don't hold your breath for Moore to be pressed on this.
Nor will watching Moore give anyone the slightest inkling that the real agenda of the Islamo-fascists is to make the wretched of the earth more wretched. Better to ignore the awful truth of this medieval reactionary force – even out of their own mouths – in the interests of a warm and fuzzy trip down memory lane.
Those tempted by Moore's latest flick would be better served by treating themselves to the latest movie from another old leftie – Canadian Denys Arcand's brilliant Barbarian Invasions. Arcand's characters – not all that unlike Moore – warmly remember the intellectual fashions of their enjoyable, if somewhat misspent, baby boomer youth as their friend, Remy, the philosopher and self-described "sensual socialist", waits to die. Remy recounts a meeting in the early 1970s with a beautiful young woman from China who he tried to chat up with fawning praise for Mao and the Red Guards. The woman, who had lived the nightmare that was the Cultural Revolution and was all too familiar with the genuine article, recoils in horror at Remy's disconnected pitch. As he recalls these follies, Remy at least has the insight and humour to suggest that the Chinese woman's horror was perfectly intelligible. He and his pals laugh over the fact there was only one self-loathing "ism" they didn't embrace in the '60s and '70s – "cretinism". Pity we can't say the same for Michael Moore.
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