Issue 98- July 8, 2004

 

Freedom Rider

Fahrenheit 9/11: Less From Moore

by Margaret Kimberley


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New Jersey was the perfect place to see the twin towers of the World Trade Center. On the morning of September 11, 2001, a New Jersey resident saw a group of men standing on the roof of a van as they posed for photos with the burning World Trade Center towers in the background. She was stunned not only because they were taking pictures, but because they appeared to be in a celebratory mood.

The men, all Israelis, were arrested later that afternoon. The FBI concluded that two of them were Israeli intelligence operatives. The extraordinary tale raises a series of questions about Israeli intelligence activity in the United States at the time of the 9/11 terror attacks. Were the hijackers under surveillance by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service? If Israel had suspicions that an attack would take place, what if anything did that government do with the information?

Not surprisingly, the mainstream media has not posed any of these questions. Apparently even some liberals are afraid to as well, liberals like Michael Moore. Michael Moore has been elevated to demigod status because of the vitriolic right wing attacks on his new film, Fahrenheit 9/11. Fahrenheit 9/11 asks serious questions about Bush family connections to Saudi Arabia, possible Saudi connections to the terror attacks, and the use of September 11th as a rationale for war.

The film punctures the American bubble of ignorance that prevents only the most intrepid news junkie from knowing anything about our country’s dealings with the rest of the world. Curiously, the crusading Michael Moore has nothing to say about the role played by Israel and its allies in pushing for the war in Iraq or about the Israeli intelligence activity that took place in the United States at the time of the terror attacks.

While it is true that, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” right wing antipathy is not the sole reason for Moore’s appeal. Fahrenheit 9/11 opens with the story of the stolen presidential election of 2000. It is riveting and heart breaking to see Jesse Jackson, Jr., Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus pleading for at least one Senator to step forward and invalidate the Electoral College decision that gave Bush the presidency.

Roger and Me portrayed the devastation brought upon Flint, Michigan, Moore’s hometown, when General Motors closed auto plants there and moved them to Mexico. In Bowling for Columbine he raised questions about gun violence in a culture that thrives on fear and resentments that are often inspired by racism. As Moore pointed out, even bees labeled “Africanized” evoke more fear than their equally dangerous counterparts.

Fahrenheit 9/11 does a good job of skewering Bush and his team. Moore shows pre-9/11 footage from 2001 of both Condi Rice and Colin Powell affirming that Iraq was no threat to the United States. It isn’t hard to make fun of Bush himself because his skills are so obviously lacking. It was particularly chilling to see the frightened, vacant look on his face after he was told that planes had struck the towers. As he sat and read My Pet Goat in a classroom full of elementary school students even the most cynical viewer had to have been shocked.

Ultimately, the omission of the pro-Israeli rationale for war compromises the film’s artistic and political integrity. Are the Saudis singled out for scrutiny because they are Arabs?  Evidently it is more acceptable to make Arabs in traditional dress the bad guys, especially if you throw in footage of a beheading.

Moore could have mentioned the name of just one neo-conservative hawk, Richard Perle. Perle, former Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, has the president’s ear and used his access to make the case for the occupation of Iraq. When he worked for the late Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson in 1970 Perle gave classified intelligence information to the Israeli government. If Saudi connections arouse questions of loyalty, shouldn’t Israeli connections do the same thing?

It is only fair to point out that unlike his brethren on television news, Moore shows in sickening detail the suffering of the Iraqi people caused by American bombs and bullets. It is a sad day when we have to pay at the box office to see children killed and maimed in a war being fought by our own government. Few news outlets were willing to do the right thing and show the humanity of Iraqis and other Arabs. Ironically, the selective finger pointing at Saudi Arabia while letting Israel off the hook gives credence to the anti-Arab sentiments that Moore would no doubt recoil against.

The same so-called reporters who led the cheer for war are suddenly interested in checking Moore’s facts. It is too bad that they felt no such need when George, Condi, Colin and company were playing fast and loose with facts so that thousands of people could be killed. Michael Moore hasn’t killed anyone and yet powerful media and political interests vilify him more than any man in America right now. He will also continue to get kudos for what may be his least effective film. That is what happens when the “soft bigotry of low expectations” is felt in the newsroom.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in .  Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City.  She can be reached via e-Mail at margaret.kimberley@blackcommentator.com. You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com/

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