Thursday, July 08, 2004

More Moore

Not long ago, I offered a "respectful critique" of Fahrenheit 911, in which I asserted that the movie did not go far enough, particularly in its refusal to address the phenomenon of neoconservatism.

Of course, there have been no shortage of non-respectful criticisms of the film. For insight into the many lies and absurdities offered by the anti-Moore squawkers, you can do no better than to consider the points raised by Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler. He has been lambasting some cheap shots taken by purported liberal Ellen Goodman.

The anti-Moore effort has all the earmarks of what I call a "scratch and sniff" campaign. That is my term for a propaganda offensive designed to create the odor of something that isn't really there. In the case of Whitewater, for example, the intention was to create the stink of scandal where no scandal existed. In the case of this film, the propagandists hope to evoke the fragrance of deception, even where no deceit exists.

This has happened before. Remember the campaign against JFK? Back in the early 1990s, I distinctly recall meeting people who told me that they were furious, furious at all the "lies" in Stone's movie.

"Okay," I replied. "Name a lie. Be specific."

They couldn't. They didn't know the case well enough to have an intelligent opinion one way or the other. But the media had screamed "Liar! Liar!" so often and so loudly, many felt obliged to scream along.

Granted, there were and are a number of people who do know the case and who don't like Stone's film; those individuals represent a separate phenomenon. I'm talking here about those who put great emotion into expressing an opinion without being able to articulate why they feel that way. The creation of such inchoate opinion is the very purpose of a "scratch and sniff" propaganda campaign.

And that's what's happening in the case of Fahrenheit 9/11.

The film has been called anti-troops, when in fact Moore bends over backwards to hail the bravery of American soldiers. Joe Scarborough claimed that Moore compared Al Qaeda to our founding fathers; Moore said no such thing. Moore has been accused of saying that no member of Congress has a child serving in the military in Iraq; in fact, Moore's narration names the one congressman who does. Moore is accused of claiming falsely that Saudi nationals were transported by jet before September 14; Craig Unger has proven that just such a flight did indeed take place. Moore's critics have argued that Richard Clarke bears sole responsibility for this flight; those critics never note that Clarke had been misinformed about FBI vetting of Bin Laden's relatives and the other Saudi nationals.

Again and again, the conservative critics -- not Moore -- are the ones who cannot pass the truth test.

One of the most widely-noted critiques comes from Brendan Nyhan of the allegedly objective Spinsanity site. Nyhan's "objectivity" is such that he sees fit to quote Michael Isikoff without qualification. (Yeesh. That's almost as bad as taking a statement from Chris Vlasto at face value!) The afore-mentioned Craig Unger has sufficiently countered Isikoff on his site and elsewhere.

Nyhan then hits us with this doozy of a paragraph:

Finally, Moore drops a big number - $1.4 billion - claiming "That's how much the Saudi royals and their associates have given the Bush family, their friends and their related businesses in the past three decades," adding that "$1.4 billion doesn't just buy a lot of flights out of the country. It buys a lot of love." But Isikoff and Hosenball show that nearly 90% of that total comes from contracts awarded by the Saudi government to BDM, a defense contractor owned by Carlyle. But when the contracts were awarded and BDM received the Saudi funds, Bush Sr. had no official involvement with the firm, though he made one paid speech and took an overseas trip on its behalf. He didn't actually join Carlyle's Asian advisory board until after the firm had sold BDM. And though George W. Bush had previously served on the board of another Carlyle company, he left it before BDM received the first Saudi contract. As usual, the connections are loose and circumstantial at best.
Nyhan deftly steers us away from the important point: Did the elder Bush benefit financially from investment in Carlyle?

Indeed he did, according the New York Times of March 5, 2001. Speeches are one thing; parking your money at the firm quite another. Everything I've read on this subject -- and you can find an excellent summary at Bush Watch -- indicates close-n-cozy financial links between Carlyle, the Bush family, and allied Republicans.

"Loose and circumstantial"? My ass!

The purveyors of this tripe often compare Moore to Leni Reifenstahl, director of Triumph of the Will. I know Reifenstahl's work well, and I never could understand why people consider her the propagandist par excellence, since her films probably never swayed anyone toward Hitler whose affections did not already lean that way. Triumph is mostly parade coverage. Most television networks covering a similar event would take similar shots. The imagery from that film has proven quite useful to anti-Hitler documentarians, who use the footage to portray the Third Reich as a robot factory.

Most of the people who make careless references to Reifenstahl don't know that Goebbels didn't get along with her. She was allowed to direct films only because she had Hitler's patronage. (She always denied sleeping with Hitler, although nearly everyone believes that she did.) Goebbels didn't like her triumphalist approach: Even after the invasion of France, he felt that the most effective propaganda portrayed the Nazis as the eternal underdog. If you've seen the film-within-the-film in Kiss of the Spider Woman, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Now fast-forward to the present day. Despite the G.O.P. takeover of all three branches of government, right-wing propagandists perpetually bleat about the awe-inspiring power of the Great Liberal Conspiracy. In other words, they always portray themselves as the underdog, despite copious evidence that they have no valid claim to underdog status.

Looks like someone has been following Goebbels' advice. And the name of that "someone" is Murdoch, not Moore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I call saudi arabia, sado arabia, it is a nation of cowardly vermin. THey imposed the nazi sharia regime in sudan via use of foreign aid, which has caused 3million dead. They also helped impose the taleban, and gave millions to fund a islamist Party in algeria which caused thje civil war there in 1993, and invaded yemen, and paid somalia to invade ethiopia in 1979, which caused ethiopia's famine in 1985. They also support islamist terror in Nigeria. and 70% of suicide bombers in iraq are saudi, and after all this, what do they say about their own demon looking corrupt king, they support this lump of slave buying filth, in this land of 250,000 slaves, the saudi arabian cheer at suicide bombs blowing up in Iraq, and are angry when people who beat and oppress theri women, who buy theri women as harem dwellers are attacked, trhey love to be oppressed, i say we invade and impose gulags, then the scumbag sado women will start to adore communism, and stop funding suiocide bombing, did you know women are banned from dribving in sado arabia, but most women say this does not mean women have less rights than men, i say we ban sado women from driving in britain gee i bet they claim they are being discriminated against then, the scumbags.