Fahrenheit 9/11 heats up the kitchen of discontent

Controversy – what controversy? With the slew of conservative commentators lining up to take swings at filmmaker Michael Moore for his latest documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” one could surmise that some freshly minted conspiracy theory had just been curve-balled out of deepest, darkest left field into the unsuspecting right field of the White House War Room.

But, such is not the case – at least not in the part of the world where I spend most of my time. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court anointed an arguably unqualified George W. Bush commander-in-chief of the armed forces in 2000, a horrified hue and cry could be heard from left coast to right – which is precisely where “Fahrenheit 9/11” begins its thesis regarding the first (and hopefully last) term of our 43rd president.

The much maligned documentary, which grabbed the brass ring at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, examines the ties that bind President Bush and his corporate/cabinet cronies to the Saudi royals, the bin Ladens and, of course, the bubbling crude (oil, that is – black gold, Texas tea).

So, I ask once again, controversy – what controversy? It is hardly a secret that the Bushes, the Saudis and big business have been collaborating since Skull met Bones. And, with such esteemed conservative voices as former GOP strategist Kevin Phillips, in “American Dynasty,” chronicling how generations of greedy Bushies corrupted U.S. foreign policy, Yankees have been connecting the military/corporate dots without needing help from liberals and the left.

As for the misadventure dubbed “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” a transparent exploitation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, following a half-hearted attempt to capture Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, that is hardly breaking news, either – although the president’s vows to smoke bin Laden out like a snake were well worth hearing again in hindsight.

But, all kidding aside, knowing what we know today about the al Qaeda/Iraq connection, WMD’s, and other hawk hyperbole, was the capture of a dazed Saddam Hussein in a spider hole clutching a three-pack of underwear well worth the lives of hundreds of U.S. troops and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians? Chew on that as you enter the voting booth this November.

The documentary also explores the curious rescue by U.S. officials of dozens of bin Laden family members and other prominent Saudis immediately after 9/11, while all other flights had been grounded. It revisits the Bush military record, this time revealing previously blacked-out documents, which show a disturbing connection with another AWOL warrior. It illustrates an example of “the two Americas,” as children of the privileged once again escape the battlefield, while street kids are targeted by Marine recruiters.

Apparently, the R rating resulted from footage taped inside Iraq, such as gut-wrenching scenes of the victims of war, including U.S. troops; a Christmas Eve interrogation of a blameless Iraqi family; and other humiliations suffered at the hands of soldiers, who often seem confused about their mission. Personally, though, I believe the R rating is due to the Wolfowitz spit’n comb scene and would like to advise viewers to steer clear of hot buttered popcorn this time around.

Although Moore has been accused of taking cheap shots at Bush by focusing on his more buffoon-like qualities, PR blunders and seemingly endless vacations – particularly during “the summer of threat” – I think it’s fair game when one’s job description is to be “leader of the free world.” In fact, students of politics may wish to ponder how being a “vacation president” could lead to the title of “war president.”

Some have stated that “Fahrenheit 9/11” will not change any minds and is just preaching to the choir. As a card carrying, dyed-in-the-wool D-party voter, I am delighted to report that there is one whopping big choir out there. In its first weekend, alone, the film raked in $23.9 million, earning the top spot ever for a documentary.

As for changing minds – I strongly believe that hearts as well as minds were defined on Sept. 11, 2001. Those who wanted us to live lives based on fear and ignorance were given a once-in-a-lifetime free pass, while others, with loftier ideals, were blessed with a golden opportunity to heal the world.



C.F. Niles is a freelance writer living in New England. She can be reached at pww@pww.org.