Thursday, August 4, 2011

A few quibbles with Michael Moore

Following to my post about the Mike’s Surprise event at the Traverse City Film Festival (below) and Michael Moore’s revelation of his new book Here Comes Trouble, I found much to relate to in his ensuing read from the book and related comments. We are both the same age (57), grew up with a Catholic education, listened to the same music, and were influenced by the politics of the time (i.e., the Vietnam War protests). We even were taken to the New York World’s Fair by family members in the mid-1960s!.....But I have some bones to pick with some of the things he said.....M. M. remarked that he came from a family where his mother was Republican and a grandparent quite influential in local Republican circles. He seemed to hold out some respect for the Republican Party of that era as opposed to the current edition of Republicans, suggesting they had more integrity in terms of their appeal to “conserve” things including presumably wanting smaller responsible government. But how does that differ, say, from the Tea Party wing of Republicanism, whose entire raison d’être is smaller and more accountable government mainly with respect to affordable public spending?.....Then, when speaking about some buddies and him wanting to avoid the Vietnam draft, he reads about how they attempted to use one of their parents’ boats to escape across the St. Clair River to Canada. He joked that they were “boat people.” But this was ironic, given that the outcome of the Vietnam War was the Communist domination of that Southeast Asian country and the creation of thousands of boat people who fled in fear for their lives. Much of the anti-war movement at the time – and presumably or perhaps Moore – were sympathetic to the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, which took over the United States’ ally South Vietnam.....From the same chapter Moore mentioned that one of his friends was Mexican, with a knowing emphasis to the fact that expatriate Mexicans living in the United States (“undocumented aliens” or “illegal immigrants”) is a huge political issue today. He just left this thought hanging while the audience laughed. Nothing wrong with that. But it would be interesting to see him in a debate on the subject presumably defending these “undocumented” aliens. ...And finally, he talked about his role as a filmmaker and political activist in removing a couple of Republican politicians and the wider liberal/Left’s victory in electing Barack Obama in 2008. Yet what has Obama really done that has been different from the despised George W. Bush before him? The only major policy item that I can see that Obama initiated was a greater role for public health. Yet even on this issue his political base thinks it was half a loaf. Moreover Obama has been denounced by many of his supporters for continuing the previous president’s policies - from keeping open Guantanamo to continuing the “War on Terror.” I’d like to have known how M. M. really felt about this.

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