Sunday, January 23, 2005


Fahrenheit 9/11

Long after it came out, I saw Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 on DVD. I feel pretty ambivalent about it. Moore certainly has filmmaking talent, I have to admit. Some of the scenes and interviews with ordinary citizens and soldiers are well juxtaposed with Bush, giving the distinct impression that he is, well, a liar. Moore expertly accentuates Bush's smugness, arrogance, insincerity, and stupidity. His lens also does a fabulous job of capturing the helpless anger and rancorous frustration of a mother who realizes her son died in the desert for corporate profit. And I have to admit that, as a person who served in the US military (and showed up for duty), I enjoyed watching Moore asking members of Congress to have their children enlist in the armed forces.

On the other hand, Moore peddles the tired old bromide about 19 Arab hijackers and their boxcutters, never questioning that highly dubious scenario in the least. I would guess he’s actively trying to promote it, especially considering the endless in-your-face scenes of Arabs cavorting with the Bushes. Of course they have been in bed with each other for years, and their relationship certainly deserves inspection, but Moore appears to be using that to make us think that we need look no further to find the perpetrators of 9/11. Indeed, he tells us that US citizens filed a lawsuit against the Saudis for 9/11, but there’s no mention of, for example, the Ellen Mariani lawsuit against Bush, et al. That complaint was filed on September 12, 2003, but F9/11 wasn’t released until June 25, 2004, giving Moore plenty of time to include mention of it.

Also conspicuously absent from the film is any mention of Israel. Not a word! One would expect that the potent influence of Israel on America’s Middle East policy deserves at least a few minutes. And also no mention of Pakistan. As the attacks were happening, Pakistan’s ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed was having breakfast at the Capitol with the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Senator Bob Graham and Representative Porter Goss. Wouldn’t you like to know what they were talking about? I sure would, but Moore doesn’t seem interested in this, either. Further, there is not a word about the very powerful motives of US elites to perpetrate or at least facilitate 9/11. This is particularly disappointing because putting the US power structure under the microscope is the shortcut to finding out what really happened on that fateful day.

If, as the title suggests, this film was about getting to the bottom of 9/11, Moore has indeed failed. All the stuff about Arabs Arabs Arabs and more Arabs looks increasingly like disinformation as the film progresses. Even watching statements by brainwashed American soldiers about protecting freedom by killing Iraqis is comic relief from the relentless hard-sell about the nasty Saudis.

Only Moore knows if he really believes his own scenario or if he’s spreading disinformation, but this exclusive focus on one aspect to the exclusion of other, equally important angles virtually disarms what might have been a powerful weapon in the arsenal of the 9/11 truth movement. Instead, it becomes a mere cinematic exercise in Bush-bashing that seemingly had no purpose but to influence the 2004 election, which it also failed to do.

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