June 22, 2004,
The publicity blitz has begun in earnest for Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, opening at theaters across the country Friday (June 25). The documentary, which won Best Picture at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, received a 70-second standing ovation when it was screened for a star-studded audience earlier this month in Los Angeles. Afterwards, Rob Reiner the noted actor, director, and former Meathead gushed: "I think this is one of the most important films ever made. It has the potential of actually affecting the election, and if it does, it will change the world." That potential, according to Reiner, ranks the film alongside Uncle Tom's Cabin and I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang.
That Moore has become a key player in Democratic political circles can no longer be denied. MoveOn.org, the far-left organization which has ties to Al Gore and John Kerry, has launched a major campaign in support of Fahrenheit 9/11, asking visitors to its website to pledge to see the film the weekend it opens.
Even though Moore's current status ultimately says more about the impoverished state of liberal thought than it does about Moore himself, it's nevertheless worth spending a moment tracing the way his mind actually works. This involves a kind of cognitive spelunking, a slow, steady descent into a dark, dank, drafty abyss. It cannot be that the man is an idiot, in the clinical sense; his conspiracy theorizing demonstrates genuine inventiveness, his previous films exhibit a rudimentary sense of irony, and the nervous laughter that punctuates his interviews indicates a marginal awareness that he might be making an a** of himself.
If we rule out idiocy as an explanatory factor, however, how do we account for Moore's theory, first described in his book Dude, Where's My Country?, that George Bush was somehow implicated in the attacks of September 11, 2001? As evidence, he cites the fact that Bush took off in Air Force One after he received word that a second plane had struck the World Trade Center? "Any dunderhead knew," Moore writes, "that if hijacked planes are being used as missiles, the last place you wanna be is up there flying around."
What exactly is he suggesting? That American fighter pilots might accidentally shoot down Air Force One? That a hijacked airliner was likely to be used to ram the president's plane?
Elsewhere in the book, Moore blithely states that average Israelis, "know they are wrong, and...would be doing just what the Palestinians are doing if the sandal were on the other foot." Missing from Dude, however, is Moore's notorious remark during a London stage performance that the 9/11 hijackers would not have succeeded in taking over the planes with mere knives and box-cutters if only more black passengers had been on board to confront them.
I juxtapose the two assertions not only because there's not a shred of evidence to support either of them, but also because they're logically irreconcilable. If Moore is certain that Israelis, under conditions of equal stress, would respond with acts of animalistic bloodlust to match those perpetrated by Palestinians, he must be relying on the premise that, deep down, people of different cultures and ethnicities react to desperate situations in the roughly comparable ways. But if that's true, then how can Moore also believe that black passengers would fight back against terrorist hijackers with greater courage and greater success than white passengers a conclusion premised on the idea of innate racial differences?
As Moore is hailed by the liberal press in the coming weeks as a champion of the effort to unseat President Bush, and as he's embraced by mainstream figures within the Democratic party, he will inadvertently provide evidence of the intellectual depths to which the political Left has sunk.