Fahrenheit 9/11 Turns Up the Heat
Revolutionary Worker #1245, July 4, 2004, posted
The RW received the following correspondence.
I went to Fahrenheit 9/11with a bunch of people who knew each other
from work--and there was some real excitement in the air. People had been
looking forward to this, talking about it, wondering what they would see, and
more: hoping that this film would really help change the direction of things.
And when we got to the theater, that feeling was in the long lines waiting to
get in. It was a real event.
As I sat down, the guy next to me said, "glad to meet you, glad to see
all of us, here, together, on this thing."
"This thing" is exposing the government--and the Bush crew that
runs it. Exposing the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, the stealing of the 2000
election, the worship of the rich, the corruption in high places, and the
lies-- above all the LIES, that have now been used to conquer countries,
send young men and women to kill and die, and cynically keep millions of people
in a manipulated "state of alert."
Fahrenheit 9/11 is hilarious, and savage, and (despite the howls of rightwing
attack dogs) overwhelmingly factual. People are sick--to death!--of being
muzzled, stifled and gagged. And in this onscreen rush of images and sound,
there is a feeling that the cork has been popped. It's like an opening shot to
this heated, politicized, dangerous and oh-so-crucial summer.
If you saw Bowling for Columbine you know Michael Moore's scattergun
film-making technique--the video snips, the ambush interviews with powerful
people, the heart-to-heart with working people in Flint, the sudden comic
animation, and the raw satirical juxtaposition of words and images--it is all
here. And it is refreshing to see.
Here you get Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell and Cheney swearing (over and over) that
there are Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq--and that they know just where
they are. And then you get the ugly war and occupation.
You get soldiers describing how ugly rock anthems are piped through their
tank's CD player, hyping them to "let the muthafukka burn." And then
you get the young confused faces of soldiers saying later that they just can't
understand why they are still in Iraq, and why the people hate them so bitterly.
And then it cuts to GIs at Christmas, kicking in doors, terrifying families in
the dark, dragging off the young men, and then gathering around an officer
dressed as Santa Claus.
In one unforgettable sequence, Moore introduces us to Lila Lipscomb--a woman
who worked her way from poverty into a stable middle class job, who urged her
son to join the army, and patriotically raised the flag over her home every
morning. And then we see her, with her family, describing how her 26-year-old
son died in Iraq, and she reads his last letter that says: "What's wrong
with Bush? He got us out here for nothing whatsoever. I'm so furious right now,
Mama." And she talks about how she once thought anti-war protesters were
insulting her and her soldier-son, and all those who "sacrificed for their
country"--and then you see her intense agony and anger as she describes her
realization that her son, and so many others, have died in an ugly war that has
no lofty purpose.
It is a painful, revealing journey. And it is all the more powerful because,
in America today, such stories of war- time loss are rarely being told. In fact,
even photographing the arrival of soldiers' caskets is officially
Michael Moore has his own peculiar slant on things--I think he misses the
whole strategic reason the U.S. conquered Iraq. He views the
"corporate" role very narrowly as profit-making and corruption (and
really doesn't "get" how controlling the Persian Gulf strategically
gives empire builders a grip on the whole world.) He hints like the Bush family
may be traitors to the U.S.--because of the closeness and lucrativeness of their
intimate ties to Saudi princes--when in reality these Bushes
are the emperors, and the Saudi princes (in reality and ultimately) are
subordinate and dependent on the empire.
The Revolutionary Worker (http://rwor.org/resistance/)
has been going deeply from a revolutionary communist perspective into the
underlying motives and operations of these war makers and their whole
planet-threatening agenda. And, after seeing Fahrenheit 9/11, millions of
people are going to be debating and looking for the truth and looking for
answers to big questions, and they need to connect with the kind of scientific
and thoroughly radical worldview that has some real answers.
Here we were, laughing together--here were OUTRAGEOUS government actions
onscreen, being called out in ways that they are far too rarely called out. Here
together millions are affirming (and reminding each other and perhaps
understanding for the first time) that this was not "intelligence
failure" but cynical, deliberate LIES and MANIPULATION that led to an
unjust war of conquest in Iraq. Here is a rare moment in the popular culture
where someone shows how this so-called "War on Terrorism" is being
dishonestly manipulated, channeled, and hyped--to serve a calculated and
But, at the same time, I had a deep sense of where I think this conversation
has to go--how we all have to grapple much more deeply with the scope of
these crimes and deceits --to
uncover the true nature of these rulers, their motives, their goals, and to get
at the reality of how deep the rot goes, and how serious this moment really is.
Bush is, of course, the frontman for these operations--but there is a larger
agenda (a global campaign and master plan of war and repression) that has been
steamrollering all through Official U.S. Politics (including Democratic Party
politics) and stampeding over much of the world. It has the kind of ruthlessness
and momentum that only an imperialist superpower can build up.
People came to this movie excited because they haven't been able to
see their deepest gut sentiments and political feelings expressed on the
official political canvas of this society. It is considered extreme,
unpatriotic, even lunatic to hate the "war-time president" this much.
It is considered "outside the scope of permittable debate."
Moore supports Kerry in these elections (and he supported General Wesley
Clark in the primaries)--but the elephant sitting in a lot of living rooms is
this: While millions of people want to oppose the Iraq War and all the domestic
Ashcroftian madness, that is not what John Kerry and his campaign
represents. The promise of the
Democratic ticket (like the Bush White House) is to pursue "the
mission" in Iraq to victory.
To stop this aggressive global offensive, we will all have to be part of a
great upheaval--something that challenges, defies and derails the designs of a
Fahrenheit 9/11 was getting at something very deep when it showed
then-Vice President Al Gore personally gaveling down Black congresspeople who
were protesting the disenfranchisement of Black voters in Florida. You got a
glimmer there of how the Democratic Party betrays the hopes of people over and
over, and how it serves the system not the people (even if it means rallying
behind the illegitimate presidency of Bush or rubberstamping the fascist Patriot
Act without even reading it).
There is a raging offensive underway to discredit and suppress this movie Fahrenheit
9/11. A rightwing attack group, "Citizens United," has demanded
that the federal government forbid TV commercials advertising Moore's movie!
Another rightwing front group, "Move America Forward," is trying to
pressure movie-house chains to stop screening the movie, claiming that Moore is
traitorously "profiting in his attacks on America and our military."
Some all-too-familiar rightwing zillionaires have financed anti-Moore
"documentaries" and organized a "film festival" in Texas
where their anti-Moore infomercials would get publicity. And it is not just the rightwing
forces who are out to discredit the movie--the very mainstream media and news
have been saying (a thousand ways) that Moore is biased and untrustworthy, and
that this movie is probably only interesting to committed
In short, Moore is accused of being a liar, a propagandist, a traitor and
character assassin. And these accusations are made by the rightwing thugs of
official politics who (day after day) fill the airwaves and Fox News with their
sleezy lies and reactionary ranting.
There is political conflict breaking out at close quarters in the USA--and
powerful, high-placed forces truly think they should be able to shout down or
legally suppress voices that speak out against them.
Michael Moore has found his own creative way to say "NO!" to
this Bush agenda, to its juggernaut of war and repression. He has said it with
his satirical, impish and provocateurish riffs--from his own, social democratic
point of view.
And it comes at this moment, when
millions of people need to find powerful ways to say NO!--to fight to
de-legitimize this government crew and their project, to deny their vicious
crusade a manufactured appearance of popular mandate, to reach those millions
that they are seeking to befuddle and corrupt, to rip away the ridiculous lies
that these imperialist warmakers are the "good guys" and their cause
Let's take it higher. Let's dig in deeper. Let's press forward to create a
river of human resistance of more than a million in those streets of NYC as the
Republicans try to proclaim Bush as a "liberator of Iraq," a
"wartime defender of the American people," and a champion of worldwide
"freedom and democracy." And let's pursue the debate over what we must
do--now, and in the larger sense with the future of our world and society