Frontpage Interview’s guests today are David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke, the authors of the new book Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man.
FP: Mr. Hardy and Mr. Clarke, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Hardy: Glad to be here.
Clarke: Thanks very much.
FP: First things first, what made you write this book?
Hardy: I got started on Moore when an Oscar-nominated documentary producer mentioned to me that there was a film coming out, called Bowling for Columbine, which he had seen and knew needed serious debunking. I saw it, was particularly angered by the hatchet job on Heston, and got down to work.
Clarke: For me, it was a couple of things. One, the motivation to write the book was fueled in part by a desire to pay back the media for the 15-year free pass they've given to Moore's trickery and deceit. A more important motivator for me though has been the desire to subvert the media's complicity and to take our substantive case against Moore directly to the American people. While the web-based, grassroots movement we've been a part of has done an outstanding job of tracking and exposing Moore's true nature over the past few years, the next logical step was to bring those efforts to a wider audience. Just as Moore is himself brazenly targeting young and middle America with Fahrenheit 9/11, this book is here to counter his unchecked publicity machine and allow people a chance to understand his true motivations as they consider his message.
FP: When you listen to Moore’s language, it is hard to decipher the difference between his ideology and that of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Castro. What would you say motivates Moore? What is the impulse that lingers behind his vision?
Hardy: Let's be fair to totalitarians! Moore is just a wannabe fan. In our book we explore the parallels between his behavior and an emotional illness known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder -- an illness which also features in totalitarian leaders. It combines an apparent, and I stress apparent, overblown ego with an inner self-loathing. Look at what Moore most loathes -- and he IS it. A very wealthy, white, American male. He is what he hates.
I don't think his vision goes beyond that. He talks of ideals far on the left end of the spectrum, but I doubt he understands much of them, and from recent reports hasn't even bothered to vote in recent years. He only praises Cuba (in his "Letter to Elian") because it's, shall we say, "not American." For some reason he hasn't moved to Havana, but prefers to live in a million dollar apartment in Manhattan and suffer under capitalism.
FP: I don’t think that you need a vision “beyond that” to be put into the same category as the mass murderers of the 20th century. I am not saying that Moore is a murderer; what I am saying is that the ideas, impulses and characteristics that motivate him are the same ones that led to the socialist killing fields of the last century. Yes, he loathes himself. In this way, he rejects his own society and he dreams of a revolution. These ingredients of self-hate were the foundations to the ideologies that led Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro to begin building a world where they dreamed of not hating themselves, which necessitated building a different world. . . .which, in turn, necessitated building a different human race. And we all know where that led.
Mr. Clarke, what are your insights here in connection to Moore’s philosophy and character and how it relates to the longing for totalitarianism?
Clarke: I would have to concur with David on this point and suggest again that Moore is at best only tangentially aware of the larger sociological implications of his ideas and impulses. I think of Moore as an "accidental intellectual": He's a person who creates and produces in a vacuum so encompassing, so thoroughly concerned with the almost violent confirmation of assumption, and so completely devoid of any historical frame of reference, that any similarity in his works to any pre-existing political ideology can only be considered a coincidence of potentially dangerous, but nonetheless random, proportions.
Frankly, I think it's giving Moore far too much consideration to even suggest in hindsight view that his theories are equivalent to those of the most violent political theorists of the past. Fortunately, I also believe that the effects of his worldviews on his followers are to date, in most cases, equally inconsequential. Although we make a strong case in the book that the potential exists for his sermons to inspire violence as it has with thinkers and leaders from the past, I would offer that the biggest difference between Moore and those we compare him to is that a majority of Moore's followers exist in the same vacuum he creates from. With the notable exception of the defense attorney for one of the Bali nightclub bombers, who quoted from Moore's Stupid White Men during the trial, we've fortunately documented no other meaningful examples of Moore's ideology relating to any tangible acts of violence.
FP: I don’t think we are in disagreement gentlemen. What I am basically getting at is that Moore does not have to be a great intellectual or to even understand what he is talking about to be related to the species that spawned the communist killing fields. All you really need is some self-contempt combined with the ignorant belief that there are no limits to human hope. Then when you start your social engineering experiment to purify the environment around you. . . .we know the end result.
So help us out here gentlemen. Could you kindly expand a bit on the Narcissistic Personality Disorder and how you find it in Moore?
Hardy: Jason and I have the advantage here in that we are completely unbiased, since we have neither a background in psychiatry nor an opportunity to interview the patient. That said, Moore has a number of traits which parallel the classic symptoms of NPD.
First, a grandioise ego. Enough said.
Second, a feeling of immense, even godlike power. Before the 2000 elections, he was writing letters to Al Gore, claiming that Demos were begging him to come in and save Gore from his own failings.
Third, immense jealousy and an assumption that others are driven by the same force. He cannot abide an equal or a rival. He can back only candidates that lack a snowball's chance in the infernal regions (i.e., Nader) so they cannot win and become a rival. He must prove he is the only source of all good.
Fourth, an explosive and vicious response to the least criticism. We've seen that in interviews again and again. It is seen again in his announcement that he has hired Chris Lehane (whom he describes as the "worst mother____er of them all" to attack critics.
Fifth, a feeling that he is "above the law." Moore declaims on the evils of capitalism and wealth -- while himself grabbing wealth at every turn, and selling his lectures for what the market
Perhaps most tellingly, an inability to understand when he has fouled up. It's not that he is too stubborn to back down: he simply cannot understand that he has erred, because his feelings ARE universal reality (apart from a few evil or idiotic types who do not understand).
The traditional understanding of NPD is that the person fails to make the transition that normal people make in infancy, the transition from the infant's belief that he is the universe and others are mere instruments that serve him (cry enough and they feed you, etc.).
The product is a strange combination. Outwardly, the person is a malignant egotist. But inside the ball of egotism is a burning mass of self-loathing, so serious it can lead to self-destructive traits. Stop and think--Moore IS what he hates. He is a very wealthy, white, American, male. In his heart, it may well be that Moore's opinion of himself is far worse than anything his critics have ever said. Even his girth -- as an Irish Catholic, he can hardly contemplate suicide. But he can engage in actions which will clearly shorten his lifespan. What advice is he getting from his doctor? Given his size, his blood pressure must be astronomical, and diabetes is a big risk, yet he seems to continue on his course. If this is true, then Moore's career is one of acting out a form of mental illness...a most interesting understanding.
FP: Hearing these descriptions, I get shudders just thinking about being this guy. He strikes me as the kind of pathetic soul who was picked on all his life in school and dealt with it by drowning 24 cans of coca-cola a day while plotting revenge in his basement. Now he is getting back at the world by hating his own country.
So Mr. Clarke, could you kindly add to what Mr. Hardy has said?
Clarke: David has eloquently covered the worst examples of Moore's narcissism as we discuss at length in the book. But I would offer that Moore's narcissism isn't just scary and pathetic- it's also good for bouts of unintentional humor (check that- subconscious humor is probably a better assessment). What other self-hating polemicist would produce a rambling indictment of corporate America's abandonment of a city, yet manage to title it not GM vs. Flint, or some other more accurate title, but rather Roger & Me? Who else but Moore would put a picture of himself on the cover of a book titled Downsize This!? Or how about the concert film he made about his book tour for Downsize This!, aptly titled The Big One. Not surprisingly, Moore's picture appears on the video jacket and the posters for that film as well, directly under the title. Then there's Stupid White Men, a book whose hardcover jacket features the title, emblazoned in big letters, with a graphic directly beneath it depicting Moore lumbering over a table of other white men.
FP: The self-contempt that motivates Moore appears undeniable.
Before we wrap up, tell us what you think about how terrorist organizations have come out praising Moore and his movie. This is yet another ominous reminder of the romance we see between the Left and militant Islam in the War on Terror. Give us some of your wisdom on this phenomenon please.
Hardy: That IS one strange romance. Stop to think about it: what was so "left" about the Taliban? Or about Hussein? The only link seems to be
the left's inexplicable anti-American reflex.
Moore is a brilliant propagandist. His message is essentially that the U.S. is an invasive, aggressive bully, apt to kill third-worlders for profit or out of paranoia. If you believe that -- can you criticize the terrorist attack on 9/11? Isn't the movie at some level a propaganda piece for the other side?
The other side certainly thinks so. The Guardian recently reported that Hezbollah-linked groups have offered to help distribute the film -- and Moore's distributor plans to accept the offer, since they have such good connections in Lebanon!
FP: Mr. Clarke, your insight on this theme and how Moore’s people are now planning to help terrorist groups distribute the film?
Clarke: It's a strange romance indeed- but not a surprising one given Moore's track record. Though he strains in national interviews to present himself to the general public as a goofy but noble patriot, the truth about his convictions -- or lack thereof -- can be easily discerned from Moore's own writings, international interviews, and lower-wattage public appearances.
At a recent press conference, an enterprising 17-year-old reporter asked Moore what he thought about his film getting a hand from Hezbollah. When Moore denied the relationship even existed, the reporter responded by providing Moore with proof via confirmation of the rumor from the Middle Eastern distribution company. According to one blogger's account, Moore then returned fire by stonewalling the question and finally "changed the subject."
Given Fahrenheit 911's unique ownership structure -- Moore has nearly unprecedented control of the film, either directly or indirectly via his friends at Mirimax -- it wouldn't require much more effort from him than a simple phone call to distance the film for good from its terrorist supporters. But again, predictability reigns with Moore, as it appears he's apparently unwilling to let principle stand in the way of his box office receipts.
A representative of the film's Middle Eastern distribution company summed it up: “We can’t go against these organizations...Having the support of such an entity in Lebanon is quite significant for the market...” Meaning, of course, that distributors of Moore's film have accepted the support of a known terrorist organization because not doing so would negatively affect the bottom line. A giant heaping of shameful behavior, anybody?
FP: Ok gentlemen, our time is up. Could each of you kindly tell us, briefly, the feedback your book is getting and also what you hope it will accomplish.
Hardy: As far as the general population: our book just made the New York Times bestseller list, No. 9, first week it was available.
It will never, of course, sway the cult of Moore. Their emails are stunning in their intellectual depth. Here's a few samples: "You suck, Fascist Republican Looser (sic) !!!!!" "Do you really think there is ONE American stupid enough to believe your pathetic misrepresentations of Michael Moore?" "How much have you been paid to try and manipulate the minds or an already confused public?" and "It's rather obvious to me and a lot of other people that you sir and aRE right wing idiot just like Bush."
As far as our hopes: in a democracy, the cure for abuse of freedom of speech is EVEN MORE freedom of speech, and that is the cure Jason and I have applied. It is falsity that cannot stand the light of the sun. If Mike really wants to stand in that light, we'll debate him on the follow proposition: Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 mislead their viewers and draw them to false conclusions. That's the offer, a fair and open debate, equal time, pick your time and place.
Clarke: To date, feedback on the book has been amazing. The blogosphere has responded beyond my expectations, pushing the book first up to #3 on Amazon.com, and then playing a significant role in the book landing on The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Publisher's Weekly bestseller lists. And reaction from the book's audience has been overwhelming, as well. Prior to the debut of the book, negative mail in response to my website, moorelies.com, was running high. Since the debut of the book, positive mail has now drowned out the noise of negative mail by at least a 3-1 margin.
I hope the book will reach all corners of America, serving to offer an alternate view to any person skeptical, or just plain curious, about Moore's vision of our country and our world. The old adage suggests that we heed the message, not the messenger, but in Moore's case -- given his free ride in the media and his largely unchecked fame machine -- I think the early success of the book suggests that people are interesting in learning the truth not just about Moore's message, but also about his true motives as a messenger.
FP: Thank you gentlemen.
Hardy: Thank you Jamie.
Clarke: It was our pleasure.
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