Monday, July 5, 2010

Let Freedom Ring ... But Don't Answer

I've criticized Michael Moore several times here, mainly for his initial embrace of and ongoing reluctance to criticize Barack Obama, but I still think Moore is one of the more useful Americans. Being useful doesn't exempt you from criticism, but he has been more successful in putting alternative politics before a mass audience than almost anyone else, and the fact that American liberals have attacked him so strongly and dishonestly should be a warning signal to American leftists. We don't have to agree in every respect with people who are, basically and effectively, on our side.

I haven't been following Moore's career very closely for the past several years. I keep buying the DVDs of his films, but haven't gotten around to watching them. (Which is not much of a distinction -- there are many films I've really wanted to watch that I haven't gotten around to.) So I hadn't known about the aftermath of his denunciation of George W. Bush at the Oscars in 2003, just a few days after Bush's invasion of Iraq:

We got back to Michigan. Our house was vandalized, horse manure spread everywhere, signs on the trees telling us to move to Havana, and everything else, which, when you live in Michigan in the winter, that actually doesn’t sound so bad.

And then life got—you know, I decided to say just to hell with it, and I, fifteen months later—in those fifteen months, I made Fahrenheit 9/11. And it was made during this time of constant death threats, constantly being attacked physically—and I’ve told you some of this before. I don’t really like to talk about it publicly, because I don’t want to encourage, you know, nuts to—but eventually, they had to put—I had a total of—it got up to nine bodyguards on me, three per shift, twenty-four hours a day, living with us.

You know, I mean, there was the guy in Nashville that came, jumped up on the stage with a knife. There was a guy in Portland that had a metal pipe coming at me. There was the guy in Fort Lauderdale who was just walking out of Starbucks and saw me on the sidewalk and became livid and took the lid off his hot, scalding coffee and threw it in my face. The bodyguard was so—I mean, he was so fast, he put his face in front of mine to catch it and got second-degree—we had to take him to the hospital, but not before he took the guy down on the sidewalk and handcuffed him. And then, there was the guy who was going to blow up our house. And he was making his practice bombs in Illinois, and one night one went off accidentally. He wasn’t hurt. The neighbors heard it. They called the cops, and they came there, and they saw all the materials and the list of people whose homes he was going to blow up. And it was Janet Reno, Rosie O’Donnell, Hillary and me. And how I made it on the lesbian list, I don’t know, but I—But Girlfriends Magazine, the following year, named me "Man of the Year," so—that’s the lesbian magazine. So, no, all I can—I try to laugh about it, because—anyways, he was convicted and went to the federal penitentiary.

And as I’ve said to you privately, I’ve wondered at times if I had it all to do over again, whether I actually would, because I don’t know if it’s been worth it, personally. I don’t think it’s been good for my health. I don’t think it’s been fair to my family to have to live in fear, to my eighty-nine-year-old father, who lives alone, who has to live with that fear, and all the security apparatus that has to be put in place to protect them. And the honest answer—I’d like to give you the brave answer, but the honest answer is I’m not so sure I would do it again, having gone through what I went through at that time. And I say that only because I’m human, and I’m every bit as frightened of not being able to finish my life as any of you would be.
He also mentions that Keith Olbermann attacked him ("since apologized," though, as he should), as did Al Franken, because they were in favor of the war.

It seems to me that I've seen right-wing Republicans and their apologists complaining about liberal intolerance and even threats of violence against "conservatives," which often turn out to be fabrications. So I'm writing about this here to give people, including me, a handy rebuttal to anyone who claims that liberals are exempt from death threats, physical attacks, and bomb plots.