"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose." ~ C. Wright Mills
Deconstructing Michael Moore
Michael Moore has made quite a name for himself as well as a nice chunk of change with pseudo documentaries like 'Bowling for Columbine' and 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' In his latest release Mr. Moore rightly points to some very troubling aspects of the Bush administration and its many shortcomings in both its foreign and domestic policies. Where Mr. Moore begins to loose most of his credibility is when he implies that by electing Mr. Gore (or Mr. Kerry) our problems as a nation would be improved upon or placated.
Recently Mr. Moore has pointed his criticism at Miami 's large Cuban Exile Community. Statements like, 'It is [in Miami ] that a nutty bunch of Cuban exiles have controlled U.S. foreign policy regarding this insignificant island nation. These Cubans, many of whom were Batista supporters and lived high on the hog while that crook ran the country, seem not to have slept a wink since they grabbed their assets and headed to Florida ' only serve to show that Mr. Moore is a slave to sensationalism and has little regard for facts. In reality, Batista supporters comprise a minute part of Miami 's Cuban exile community (few exiles would argue that Batista was not a crook, amongst other things). The truth is that it's composed of a wide array of groups ranging from extreme right wing factions to socialist and pseudo communist. But the truth is not always sensational nor profitable, so Mr. Moore chooses to ignore it.
Mr. Moore correctly points out that 'U.S.-based Cuban terrorist organizations have been responsible for more than 200 bombings and at least 100 murders since Castro's revolution.' Unfortunately, this is not the whole story. Mr. Moore chooses to turn a blind eye to the fact that his 'amigo' ( as well as Oliver Stone's and Steven Spielberg's) Fidel Castro's tyrannical government in Havana is directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of human beings all over the globe as well as the enslavement of the island's entire population.
The flamboyant producer adds, "I am, after all, one of the few unarmed Americans." It is Mr. Moore's right to choose to be unarmed, but he makes it obvious that if he had things his way, all the citizens (other than the police and the military) would be forced to disarm. A sentiment shared by Fidel Castro, who as soon as he took power proceeded to disarm the Cuban populace with his famous "armas para que" (Weapons, what for?) speech.
Mr. Moore attempts to show his own bravado with declarations like, 'Because these Cuban exiles, for all their chest-thumping and terrorism, are really just a bunch of wimps. That's right. Wimps. Need proof? For starters, when you don't like the oppressor in your country, you stay there and try to overthrow him . . . . But you don't just turn tail and run like these Cubans.' Perhaps Mr. Moore is not aware of the existence of thousands of men like Jorge Villalta (my wife's uncle) who paid the ultimate price at the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, or Colonel (US Air Force, Retired) Matias Farias who was seriously injured when his propeller-powered B-26 bomber was shot down over Cuban skies by Castro's jet-powered MIGs. The word "wimp" does not seem to describe these Cubans correctly, but reality is something Michael Moore is only concerned with when it supports his version of the "facts."
Even Elian Gonzalez's deceased mother was the recipient of criticism from the plump producer. In an open letter to the young Cuban rafter, Moore writes, 'You are being told that your mother died trying to bring you to freedom. I am so sorry to have to tell you, that's not true. The Cuban court granted your father custody of you, and your mother decided to kidnap you.' Defending a decision by the current Cuban legal system is the equivalent of arguing in favor of the legitimacy and integrity of the German court system under the Nazis.
But Mr. Moore's most revealing statement is, 'She placed your life in horrible jeopardy by putting you in a leaky, overcrowded raft that eventually sank, killing everyone except you and two others . . . . The worst that could be said is that, in Cuba , you were in jeopardy of receiving free health care whenever you needed it, an excellent education in one of the few countries that has 100% literacy, and a better chance of your baby brother being born and making it to his first birthday than if he had been born in Washington , D.C. ' This shows that Mr. Moore is not only a good propagandist but believes others' good propaganda as well. The reason hundreds of thousands of Cuban's have risked their lives to leave the communist gulag is because the very system that Mr. Moore defends robs every individual of his humanity and denies them any possibility of any worthwhile existence. Elian's mother had been raised in this environment, so she decided to take the ultimate risk rather than have her child endure what she had up to that point in her life. Cuba 's educational system is one of indoctrination where any spirit of individual freedom a child may have is obliterated and destroyed. The most distinguishing fact about Cuba 's health care system that the Twinkie-loving Moore so ardently defends is that most of its doctors are driving cabs or busing tables.
Mr. Moore's logic, like that of many of his critics on the right, is slanted and flawed. He complains (and rightly so) about abuses of power by the Bush administration, yet if he had it his way, we would also be denied many freedoms that are the cornerstone of individual rights and freedom. In the end, a dissection of Mr. Moore's thought process does not reveal a freedom-loving and concerned individual, but rather an opportunistic, calorically challenged, razor phobic and frustrated tyrant in waiting.