June 22, 2004


Unfairenheit 9/11: The lies of Michael Moore. (Christopher Hitchens, Slate, June 21st, 2004)

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.

In late 2002, almost a year after the al-Qaida assault on American society, I had an onstage debate with Michael Moore at the Telluride Film Festival. In the course of this exchange, he stated his view that Osama Bin Laden should be considered innocent until proven guilty. This was, he said, the American way. The intervention in Afghanistan, he maintained, had been at least to that extent unjustified. Something---I cannot guess what, since we knew as much then as we do now---has since apparently persuaded Moore that Osama Bin Laden is as guilty as hell. Indeed, Osama is suddenly so guilty and so all-powerful that any other discussion of any other topic is a dangerous "distraction" from the fight against him. I believe that I understand the convenience of this late conversion. [...]

Moore has announced that he won't even appear on TV shows where he might face hostile questioning. I notice from the New York Times of June 20 that he has pompously established a rapid response team, and a fact-checking staff, and some tough lawyers, to bulwark himself against attack. He'll sue, Moore says, if anyone insults him or his pet. Some right-wing hack groups, I gather, are planning to bring pressure on their local movie theaters to drop the film. How dumb or thuggish do you have to be in order to counter one form of stupidity and cowardice with another? By all means go and see this terrible film, and take your friends, and if the fools in the audience strike up one cry, in favor of surrender or defeat, feel free to join in the conversation.

However, I think we can agree that the film is so flat-out phony that "fact-checking" is beside the point. And as for the scary lawyers——get a life, or maybe see me in court. But I offer this, to Moore and to his rapid response rabble. Any time, Michael my boy. Let's redo Telluride. Any show. Any place. Any platform. Let's see what you're made of.

Put your feet up, grab a glass of your favourite refreshment, and enjoy...

Posted by Peter Burnet at June 22, 2004 3:16 PM

He didn't just fisk it... Instead he fisked it, flamed it, ripped it to shreds, and then stomped on it a few times for good measure!

I love it!! :)

Posted by: rps at June 22, 2004 3:49 PM

One suspects Michael Moore would hide in Baghdad or Fallujah before appearing onstage with Hitchens.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 22, 2004 4:21 PM

This is as good a literary ass-whupping as I've ever seen.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at June 22, 2004 4:29 PM

Holy greedy, seditious gas bag!

This whuppin' makes the scourging scene in "The Passion of the Christ" look like Homer spanking Bart.

He won't be able to show his face. After Hitch's review, Moore won't be able to attend another Lefty cocktail party. Everybody will be snickering at him behind his back. The greatest fear of all good Lefty Libs: to be considered stupid, or not-intellectual, not sophisticated, not nuanced, will prevent a huge majority of wannabe intellects to be ashamed to say "Yes - I saw it." Because of who Hitch is (mostly loved and unassailable by the Left), one review has done more damage to Moore than all the conservative condemnations ever aimed at him. BEAUTIFUL! (and spot on).

Posted by: at June 22, 2004 11:50 PM

Hitchens is no longer revered by the Left, but is hated as only a turncoat can be. Which makes him the perfect weapon against them. He knows how to hit them where it really hurts. To be called evil and immoral by a right winger is just water off the duck's back. To be called stupid, by a European no less, is just too much to bear.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 23, 2004 1:06 AM

Holy smokes, Hitch picks up his machine gun of righteousness and goes to work!

Later on, Hitchens quite rightly calls down imprecations on Moore for having the nerve to mention Orwell, whose quoted passage is illuminated in the light of current events to leave the impression that America's opponents are morally equivalent to it, if not superior. Big mistake, Blimpie Boy: You don't want to use Orwell to argue for moral equivalence unless you're awfully sure that your opponent doesn't know who the hell he is. Hitchens is, ahem, not the sort of guy you want to dicker with on a matter like this.

Posted by: Matt at June 23, 2004 2:07 AM