MICHAEL MOORE ISN’T YOUR AVERAGE MILLIONAIRE CELEBRITY. His oafish, disheveled appearance is both physically and intellectually disengaging, so much so that you might not take him very seriously. You should. Ostensibly, Moore exposes the hypocrisy and misconduct of establishment figures through his films, TV shows and books. In reality, Moore, whose political stance is uncommonly demented, obtuse and juvenile, uses kamikaze journalism to further a clear and precarious agenda.
To distinguish himself from the flock of privileged leftist gadflies that litter the progressive causes, Moore likes to emphasize his working class Michigan upbringing. (Though from all accounts he never labored very hard himself, save one day on a Buick assembly line.) Despite his open hatred of the rich, Moore has few qualms about aping an authentic capitalist, peddling his new book, Stupid White Men... and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation, on seemingly all news, entertainment and radio show running. His efforts have paid off substantially, as Stupid White Men sits at the number one spot on Amazon.com.
Moore first established his celebrity as the director of Roger and Me, a tedious documentary, endlessly glorified by critics for its populist ethos and stark honesty. In it, Moore trails former General Motors CEO Roger Smith after the executive closed down a GM plant in Moore’s hometown of Flint. The film, which ended up exploiting the suffering of Flint’s blue-collar population, made Moore a rich man and an instant celebrity after years of political activism. Subsequently, Moore has directed a feature film, produced two TV series of faux investigative journalism and written best selling books.
What is most curious regarding Moore’s recent popularity is the lack of pointed questions being asked by the media regarding his radical political posture. Teeming with bizarre conspiracy theories, Moore freely assails free markets values and other capitalist institutions, employing an extreme political position that feeds off racial tensions, class jealousy and a distorted perspective of history. Any competent journalist would handle Moore as political commando, rather than an entertainer with a book to sell. That, however, has not been the case. Moore has been affectionately received by the press; his lecturing seldom obstructed by a question of substance from fawning peers.
Particularly gruesome has been Moore’s character assassination of President Bush. The day after September 11, for instance he wrote: "Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes' destination of California -- these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!” Blaming the president, who had been in office for less than a year, for an act that took considerable time to plan, while never once mentioning Bush’s predecessor as complicit, took impressive dexterity. Apparently if the terrorists would have targeted Americans in any of the ‘red colored’ states, they would have been justified in doing so. One can only imagine the outrage if this comment would have been reversed. I suppose the indignation would be appropriately deafening if someone had entitled a book “Stupid black men.”
“In just eight months,” Moore writes, “Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race -- you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all.” It’s hard to believe that a waitress in London hates Americans because we didn’t sign on for the suicidal Kyoto Protocol. Or, that a Spanish textile worker is upset that the US did not attend the racist conference at Durban, which featured rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.
Mr. Moore, deluded into believing his fan base “is made up of working stiffs,” is an advocate of a 70 percent tax rate, infinite governmental expansion and regulations, rivaling Ralph Nader -- whom he vigilantly campaigned for in 2000. From the privileged confines of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, this guilt-ridden progressive with a six-figure deal book deal proposes to double the tax burden on American working class without a hint of sarcasm.
In his ‘Letter to Elián González,’ Moore further illustrates his allegiance to the working class, this time the Cuban Americans of Miami, by defending Castro’s communist regime. Cuba, Moore writes, is a haven where children are only in jeopardy “of receiving free health …an excellent education in one of the few countries that has 100% literacy, and a better chance of your baby sister being born and making it to her first birthday than if she had been born in Washington, D.C.”
Moore’s enthusiasm with communism extends into popular culture. He directed a video for the now defunct-communist band, Rage Against the Machine. Rage -- who must have set aside their left-wing values long enough to ink a multi-million dollar deal with Sony records – feature a reading list on their website that includes some of counterculture’s recent champions: Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Susan Faludi. The site also features some more noteworthy ‘readings’ like Lenin’s ‘State and the Revolution,’ Che Guevera’s ‘Guerilla Warfare,’ and Karl Marx’s ‘Capital, Volume One.
Now, five pages of Marx’s Capital may be sufficient enough reading to turn anyone away from communism, certainly the ‘working stiffs’ that Moore believes constitute his fan base. However, most media outlets have failed to properly define the nature of Moore’s agenda. Glowing reviews from a sycophantic press should instead be turned into an earnest reevaluation of a figure more fittingly slotted between David Duke and Lyndon Larouche on the Jerry Springer show than on the pages and panels of serious media.