Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fahrenheit 9/11

It's a long time coming, but I finally have something to say about Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. There are a few reasons why I watched it now. The first is due to a lucky break at the local movie store. They called me this week and told me it had been a while since I had been in, so they gave me a free movie (which will actually only motivate me to not rent another movie for a few months). When I went to get the movie I had another free one on my account and as I wandered the store looking for free movie #2 I realized I had my chance. One of the reasons I hadn't watched Fahrenheit 9/11 was because I didn't want Michael Moore to reap any financial benefit from me. The free movies gave a me a great excuse to watch it for nothing.

The second reason for watching it was again the idea that I shouldn't comment on a movie or article without seeing it myself. A colleague of mine had brought it up and told me I just had to watch it. Without being able to answer the question to whether I had seen it myself I decided it was time to be able to counter these worshipers of Michael Moore's documentary with information from the source.

Before I began the movie I again did some research on some items to look for. I had done this originally years ago, but I decided to get a fresh look at what critics had said. I ran across this document of 59 deceits within the movie. While some are vague and maybe even bogus themselves, it gave me a context of things to look for. If I only knew how much more I was to find...

The Debunking
To begin with, I wish to say that Moore's documentary is not actually a documentary at all. Our friendly describes a documentary as:

Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is no documentary, it is actually a manifesto of Michael Moore's political bias and opinions. It is no more objective than this website. It is actually partly brilliant and partly idiotic, and is overall one of the most unintelligent and yet influential pieces of propaganda ever made. Now, on to the story...

1) The movie begins with the infamous film of Bush sitting in that small school classroom on 9/11. Moore shows the scene when Bush's advisor whispers in his ear that the US is under attack. Bush sat in the room for another 6 1/2 or so minutes both looking blankly in the distance and glancing at the children's book that was being read. Moore shows this scene to portray Bush as both an idiot and as incompetent.

I disagree with this assertion for a number of reasons. First, this scene shows the actual reaction of one of the few Presidents in US history to be told that the nation is under attack. Do you think FDR jumped into his wheelchair and started planning strategies in the Oval Office the second he was told of Pearl Harbor? Unlikely. He probably sat and pondered, as Bush did, for five or six minutes the fact that the nation was under attack for one of the few times in it's history. I take no fault in Bush sitting for an extra five minutes contemplating the gravity of the situation. Further, Moore does a voice over (as he does frequently in the movie) and hypothesizes various things that Bush might have been thinking about - all of which are of course derogatory. It was quite stupid.

2) The next part of the movie is a broad conspiracy theory about Saudi Royal family - Bush family ties. Moore begins this through one of the many times when he does not actually utter a lie but implies a blatant falsehood. He claims both that Bush stood to benefit from a gas pipeline through Afghanistan that was somehow made possible by the Afghan war and his connection to the Saudis (which is ridiculously false) and that the US Secret Service protects the Saudi embassy in DC (actually the Secret Service protects dozen of embassies in the US as is their mandate). Two falsities - one blatant and one implied, but both begin this documentary with it's inherent dishonesty.

3) Next Moore attacks former attorney general John Ashcroft. He points to documents that claim the attorney general received information from the FBI about the 9/11 terrorists that were in the US at the time and ignored it. This is false due to what we know now about how the intelligence services functioned under the Clinton administration (in which Janet Reno created firewalls between the NSA, FBI and CIA so that the agencies could not share information. Why did Clinton want that? You can make that guess yourself...). The attorney general could hardly be the stopgap between FBI intelligence and stopping a terrorist attack. One of Moore's first bizarre non sequiturs.

Thankfully the Patriot Act broke down these Clinton-era firewalls and allows the intelligence agencies to communicate quicker and more effectively. However, Michael Moore soon went on another false tirade. He mentioned the Patriot Act (which makes any true liberals shudder) and went on to describe instances of national security mistakes and/or bungles. However, these cases have absolutely nothing to do with the Patriot Act. Moore only wants you to believe in this strange connection.

He first describes how a group called Peace Fresno was infiltrated by a local Sheriff's department. Bizarre and needless - yes. Related to the Patriot act - no.

Next he describes how a mother was forced to prove breast milk in a bottle was really breast milk as she went through airport security. She describes touching the milk to her lips, and then finally drinking half of it to satisfy the security officers at the airport. She complains that after it touched her lips it "wasn't any good" and she "had to throw it out anyway." Not to mention that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the Patriot Act the whole scene makes no sense anyway. If the milk was no good after it touched her lips then why the heck did she drink half of it knowing she would have to throw it away anyway?! This is Michael Moore's logic at work (and a good few minutes of the movie).

Finally Moore interviews a shocked Democratic congressman that sadly voted for the evil Patriot Act. When asked how it got by him, John Conyers replies that congressmen don't actually read "most" of the bills that they vote on.


Rep. Conyers claims that it would be too time-consuming to read them all. Maybe I'm naive, but 1) not reading the Patriot Act is no excuse for why you ignorantly voted for it (if you now oppose it) and 2) it's very difficult and nearly impossible to believe that any competent congressman would have failed to read the Patriot Act before it came to a vote. This wasn't any run-of-the-mill spending bill - this was a massive change in the US government structure and policy. If Conyers really didn't read it he's an idiot and that's still no excuse.

4) Moore lies when he describes the President's daily brief that described an imminent attack by Bin Laden. He says that the title included a reference to hijacked airplanes. It did not.

5) Finally Moore moves into his real target - the Iraq war. The "documentary" continues with a glowing video of life in Iraq. Never mind the torture, murder, and chemical weapons used on the people of Iraq by its tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein - Moore wants you to believe all that happened in pre-war Iraq was children playing and happy people walking around. Is he trying to argue that Iraq would have been better off with Saddam? Even Hillary Clinton isn't stupid enough to say that.

He continues with the regularly-repeated tirade about weapons of mass destruction. Bush lied, etc, etc. As we know now Saddam did have WMD's, and where they are now is the only mystery (Syria?). Michael Moore continues by mocking Bush's "coalition of the willing." He lists some of the countries in the coalition mocking each with their supposed ethnic music and borderline racist stereotypes. He, of course, ignores such allies as the UK and Australia.

6) The rest of the "documentary" is representative of the common liberal disconnect with reality when it comes to our troops. Michael Moore wants you to believe that the US soldiers are evil bloodthirsty monsters who torture Iraqis and listen to rock music while they kill innocent Iraqi children as if they were playing a video game, yet feel bad for them and their parents when these same soldiers are killed. Specifically Moore shows a Christmas Eve patrol by soldiers (you're supposed to feel bad they're out on Christmas Eve) and then shows those same soldiers entering an Iraqi house and arresting a man inside. Only one or two sentences from the over five minute scene is subscripted so that you can understand what the family is saying (for obvious anti-war editing reasons). Moore obviously wants the views of his "documentary" to show what liberals believe about our soldiers. Support the troops, yet oppose their work and the policies they operate by. In my opinion (and also in other's) this is quite impossible.

7) Michael Moore also follows some Marine recruiters in Flint Michigan (which he lies is his hometown) as they recruit soldiers. The whole point of this section is to make us believe that recruiters only go after poor black kids in run-down cities. This is blatantly false as the military demographic is similar to the nation's. Ironically enough Moore interviews at least a dozen other soldiers throughout the movie and none of them were black.

8) Moore also reports on big businesses and conferences that comment on the money to be made by rebuilding Iraq. The basis for this is that Iraq's oil money will come to the US. Moore wants us to believe, as most liberals do, that the US and Bush are somehow "Stealing" Iraqi oil. This assertion is also mindless and stupid as the one place Iraqi oil profits will not go is to the US.

9) In addition to the other impressions about soldiers Michael Moore tries to give his audience, he includes input from only soldiers that oppose the war and Bush. The military is mainly in support of Bush and his policies in general, so Moore including only these comments is clearly intentionally misleading.

The Finale
I apologize for the enormous post but I felt as if I needed to say something. To sum up my Fahrenheit 9/11 experience I would say this:

Fahrenheit 9/11 is one of the most blatantly misleading and false "documentaries" ever made. Moore's random voice-overs and obvious untruths are so prevalent as he tries to make his points that the entire movie loses any shred of believability. It seems as if the whole thing is a weak attempt to rewrite history for those too lazy or uninformed to easily fact check its falsities. Anyone with 15 minutes and a Google search page could debunk half of it. In my opinion nearly 75% of it is purely false or intentionally misleading. The rest as a mockery of people and policies Moore dislikes, with just enough real facts sprinkled in to call it a "documentary."

Fahrenheit 9/11. I wouldn't pay money to rent it, but if you want to shatter your liberal friend's and professor's outlooks on recent history you had better see it to believe it.


radar said...

Feel free to comment on the movie. I would love to talk more about it.

Anonymous said...

Conyers voted against the Patriot Act. Look it up.

radar said...

If Conyers voted against the Patriot Act then his stated reason for it passing is even more stupid. If he voted against it yet still claims it passed because congressmen don't read "most" of the bills that go across their desk his argument makes no sense at all - besides to insinuate that the Republicans that voted for it didn't read it. However, this argument would only strengthen the idea that Republicans would oppose the Patriot Act if they knew what it said - surely not a position any Democrat would want to be true (and a position that isn't true).

In the end whether he voted for it or against it is irrelevant to the idiotic excuse that the Patriot Act passed because people didn't read it. If he didn't read it and voted against it he's just as stupid as if he had not read it and voted for it.