Thursday, August 12, 2004

Hindustan Times : Undisciplined Dissent: Michael Moore's America

by Binay Kumar
California, August 12

Amidst the din of campaigning, propaganda and electoral politics, one name that has resounded across the political spectrum in the United States in recent days is that of Michael Moore whose latest work, Fahrenheit 9/11, has captured the imagination of millions across the world. Familiar though I have been with his name, I had not seen any of his controversial films. I, therefore, decided to sample it for myself before getting drawn into any argument over Moore or his method. I have many disagreements to write about but you have to give the devil his due: there is method in Moore’s madness!

The zealous righteousness that colours American discourse of every hue is perhaps the most enduring spectacle in this land of the free; and the logic used to justify arguments and validate allegations on the political left, right and even on the center is very often the first victim of this fanaticism. Every side stakes its claim upon ‘freedom’, sometimes breaching the limits of reason to secure their own version of the star spangled banner.

The theatrics of this American style freedom aside, what really interests me as an ‘outsider’ is the currency that is garnered by even the most fantastic of these political zealots. More often than not, there is always a fringe of fanatics on every side in every country. However, the particular wonder of America is the missionary ardor that afflicts everyone, and the authority that accompanies it. Lunacy and authority, it seems, are the strange bedfellows in America’s public conversation.

The Democrats are often considered more central of the two main political parties here. And one political activist who carries the authority of the Democratic Party (or at least the sympathies of its vast majority, including former President Carter who welcomed him to the convention last week), is Michael Moore. His intention might very well be laudable. However, his method is somewhat more questionable. Before I come to him, let me lay my own cards on the table. Like Moore, I disagreed with the America’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and I do agree with more vigorous gun control (I would actually prefer that guns be entirely removed from the hands of ordinary citizens). Nevertheless, I disagree with the way he goes about making his point.

(click on the title for the whole article)


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