Celsius 488.33

Is Fahrenheit 911 a rascist movie? One critic on the far left, Robert Jensen, thinks it just might be.

How dare I describe as racist a movie that highlights the disenfranchisement of black voters and goes after the way in which military recruiters chase low-income minority youth? My claim is not that Moore is an overt racist, but that the movie unconsciously replicates a more subtle racism, one that we all have to struggle to resist. -CounterPunch.org

Moore apparently portrays people of color in stereotypical fashion.

...when he lists the countries in the so-called coalition, he uses images that have racist undertones. To depict the Republic of Palau (a small Pacific island nation), Moore chooses an image of stereotypical "native" dancers, while a man riding on an animal-drawn cart represents Costa Rica. Pictures of monkeys running are on the screen during a discussion of Morocco's apparent offer to send monkeys to clear landmines. To ridicule the Bush propaganda on this issue, Moore uses these images and an exaggerated voice-over in a fashion that says, in essence, "What kind of coalition is it that has these backward countries?"

Is Moore merely pandering to all of us stupid white Americans?

When I made this point to a friend, he defended Moore by saying the filmmaker was trying to reach a wide audience that likely is mostly white and probably wanted to use examples that those people could connect with. So, it's acceptable to pander to the white audience members and over-dramatize their limited risks while ignoring the actual serious harm done to non-white people?

I have not yet seen the movie, but I plan too. I did however have a chat with a liberal friend this weekend about the movie and he had some good things to say about it... and some bad things. Mainly he said it probably wouldn't change any minds that weren't already made up and that the movie 'bordered' on being too obvious as propaganda to do so.

It also seems to ask a lot of questions without pointing to any answers. As Robert Jensen points out.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" is strong on tapping into emotions and raising questions about why the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11, but it is extremely weak on answering those questions in even marginally coherent fashion. To the degree the film has a thesis, it appears to be that the wars were a product of the personal politics of a corrupt Bush dynasty. I agree the Bush dynasty is corrupt, but the analysis the film offers is both internally inconsistent, extremely limited in historical understanding and, hence, misguided.

The film also seems to be disengenous in that Moore opposed the invasion of Afghanistan but leaves the impression that Bush didn't invade quickly enough or with enough force.

Look first at Moore's treatment of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He uses a clip of former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke complaining that the Bush administration's response to 9/11 in Afghanistan was "slow and small," implying that we should have attacked faster and bigger. The film does nothing to question that assessment, leaving viewers to assume that Moore agrees.

According to Christopher Hitchens Moore expressed the opposite view in 2002.

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. Unfairenheit 9/11
Posted by Eric Simonson at July 5, 2004 12:25 PM