In Defense of Propaganda: An essay on "Fahrenheit 9/11"

by Eric Melin on June 30, 2004

in Print Reviews

Following the release of his incendiary new movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” this past weekend, Oscar-winning filmmaker and best-selling author Michael Moore has recieved both glowing reviews and angry, heated criticism. In a country where the actions of our President have sharply divided the nation, a movie that takes one side of the argument in such a fearless and shocking way, is, of course, bound to do the same.

The loudest and most popular criticism of a film that absolutely cannot be reviewed without reviewing its politics, is this:

“Fahrenheit 9/11” is not a real documentary, but instead, merely leftist propaganda!

Let’s go to the dictionary.

n. propaganda

1.The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause. 2.Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause

GW looks up “propaganda” in his picture dictionary..

That sounds like somebody with a point-of-view and something to gain. Propaganda is most closely associated these days with Nazi Germany. The word itself is not looked favorably upon by free-thinkers. We don’t like to be told what to think And we especially don’t want some trouble-making liberal hoisting his conspiracy theories on us while we struggle to understand why the rest of the world sees our country so differently. What most of us don’t realize is that we’ve been flooded with propaganda since the horrible attacks of Sept.11, by the Bush administration themselves.

At the time, it wasn’t easy to see. Watching the television in disbelief the month following 9/11, we realized that our world view was radically changing. We didn’t feel safe or secure anymore. We immediately raced out to the gas pumps, we stocked up on duct tape like they told us to. We even thought the Patriot Act was a good idea, giving up our freedoms willingly as long it helped our government apprehend those terrorists! The media happily gobbled up whatever press release the President fed them, and we ate it up, fearful of what may happen next.

The only thing that happened was, in the midst of our fear of being attacked again, the Bush administration ignored the objections of the United Nations and launched a pre-emptive war, invading a country that had never killed even one American. It has now been proven that the Weapons of Mass Destruction didn’t exist. Last week, the 9/11 commission concluded there were no ties between Al-Queda (the people who attacked us) and Iraq (the people who didn’t). None. And it’s been established that Vice President Cheney’s former associates at Halliburton stand to make millions from contracts to rebuild Iraq, and that he will make money from those gains.

These are all facts. After being lulled into complacency by Bush’s propaganda, isn’t about time to give someone else’s interpretation a chance? Everyone talks about how Moore’s movie is one-sided. Is that such a bad thing? We’ve certainly heard more than our fair share of Bush’s side since 9/11. I don’t think anyone could ever accuse the U.S. broadcast news media of actually behaving objectively.

…and finds a picture of himself & his friends…

You know what else are proven facts? Everything in the movie that Moore states are facts! After carefully separating Moore’s opinions in the film from the stated facts, the New York Times’ Philip Shenon (who spent the past year covering the 9/11 commission’s investigation) concluded in an article written on June 20 that the “central assertions of fact in ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ are supported by the public record.”

What is truly thought-provoking about the movie is how Moore connects his arguments. The one single point that supporters of the war now desperately cling to, their badge of honor (after all other reasons for the war have been exposed as lies), is the liberation of Iraq. Saddam, the madman, is no longer in power!

However, Moore asserts, and rightfully so, that if the U.S. was really so concerned with Iraq’s civil liberties, why does the Bush family do millions of dollars of business and give loads of special treatment to the Saudi royal family, whose monarchy sponsors such barbaric behavior as public beheadings?

And why were members of unyielding rights violaters and Osama bin Laden supporters the Taliban flown to Houston to meet with then-Governor G.W. Bush about building an oil pipeline in the Middle East?

That’s easy. Money.

And all this time we thought Bush had the best interests of the country at heart.

…right next to his buddy, Michael Moore.

n. documentary

1. A work, such as a film or television program, presenting political, social, or historical subject matter in a factual and informative manner and often consisting of actual news films or interviews accompanied by narration.

That pretty much desribes “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Except that, unlike most documentaries, it is both scathingly funny and horribly tragic. In fact, it is the huge amount of actual footage that truly makes Moore’s movie a convincing piece of work. He is the narrator, but wisely has chosen to rarely appear on screen, letting the images hit on an emotional level.

Wax on about the intellectual ideologies of the U.S.’s first-ever pre-emptive war doctrine all you want, but you can’t ignore the reality of our actions. It is important to realize how our being in Iraq affects the lives of real people on both sides. If it takes another piece of propaganda, this one coming from Michael Moore rather than our own government, to remind us of that, then bring it on!

And come Election Day this November, we’ll see where the hearts and minds of this country truly lie.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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