Hitchens on Moore

My favorite obese Leftist takes on one of my least favorites in Slate. Christopher Hitchens’ “Unfairenheit 9/11: The lies of Michael Moore,” as one might guess from the title, is less than laudatory.

One of the many problems with the American left, and indeed of the American left, has been its image and self-image as something rather too solemn, mirthless, herbivorous, dull, monochrome, righteous, and boring. How many times, in my old days at The Nation magazine, did I hear wistful and semienvious ruminations? Where was the radical Firing Line show? Who will be our Rush Limbaugh? I used privately to hope that the emphasis, if the comrades ever got around to it, would be on the first of those and not the second. But the meetings themselves were so mind-numbing and lugubrious that I thought the danger of success on either front was infinitely slight.

Nonetheless, it seems that an answer to this long-felt need is finally beginning to emerge. I exempt Al Franken’s unintentionally funny Air America network, to which I gave a couple of interviews in its early days. There, one could hear the reassuring noise of collapsing scenery and tripped-over wires and be reminded once again that correct politics and smooth media presentation are not even distant cousins. With Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, however, an entirely new note has been struck. Here we glimpse a possible fusion between the turgid routines of MoveOn.org and the filmic standards, if not exactly the filmic skills, of Sergei Eisenstein or Leni Riefenstahl.

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.

His analysis of the logical elements of Moore’s treatise are less delicious but equally devastating. A taste:

It must be evident to anyone, despite the rapid-fire way in which Moore’s direction eases the audience hastily past the contradictions, that these discrepant scatter shots do not cohere at any point. Either the Saudis run U.S. policy (through family ties or overwhelming economic interest), or they do not. As allies and patrons of the Taliban regime, they either opposed Bush’s removal of it, or they did not. (They opposed the removal, all right: They wouldn’t even let Tony Blair land his own plane on their soil at the time of the operation.) Either we sent too many troops, or were wrong to send any at all—the latter was Moore’s view as late as 2002—or we sent too few. If we were going to make sure no Taliban or al-Qaida forces survived or escaped, we would have had to be more ruthless than I suspect that Mr. Moore is really recommending.

The piece is worth reading in its entirety.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. mark says:

    My favorite obese leftist is Congressman Jerrold Nadler – albeit less obese since the surgery.

  2. BA says:

    So, which quote do you think will go on the DVD cover: “crowd-pleasing” or “a demonstration of dissenting bravery”?

  3. Wizbang says:

    The Lies Of Michael Moore
    In what may be the definitive treatment on Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, liberal columnist Christopher Hitchens shreds Moore and his movie to pieces.In a long and paranoid (and tedious) section at the opening of the film, he makes heavy innuendoes…

  4. PoliBlog says:

    Hitchens on Moore
    I’m not certain, but I am fairly certain that Hitchens didn’t enjoy Fahrenheit 9/11: 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…

  5. Opinions on Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11?
    Is it worth seeing? I might check it out sometime next week if it sounds like it is. I’m no big Michael Moore fan – I saw Bowling for Columbine and didn’t really see the point. I did find the style entertaining enough, though not quite up to the Supers…