Dave Winer Misses The Point With Fahrenheit 9/11

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ThermometerDave Winer the founder of RSS and a popular member of the so-called blogosphere writes:

Yesterday on NPR they played an excerpt where he confronts members of Congress and asks if they would send their children to fight in Iraq. What a ridiculous question. No parent will say yes to that question. You could have asked that question on the Capitol steps during World War II and they still wouldn’t say yes. See how this cheapens the question of whether we should be in Iraq? In a smart world, we wouldn’t be there, but it isn’t because Congress people won’t say yes when confronted by a camera crew. \ \ Moore is the worst of American politics, an opportunist, an anti-intellectual. \ \ Vote no on Moore.

With all due respect, I think Dave misses the point of Moore’s questioning. Of course it’s a ridiculous question and no parent would say yes. That’s the whole point. We’re sending children (primarily of the poorer sections of society) to fight and die based on conspicuously absent evidence. Where are the WMDs? Where is the tie to Al Queda? Yet our Congress and the President so cavalierly send these troops to Iraq. Would they be so cavalier if their own children were in any danger of being sent to Iraq? The point of the question is to emphasize that these aren’t faceless people we’re sending. We’re sending the sons of daughters of fellow Americans. The point is to get these Congress members to consider the pain they would feel if their own sons and daughters were sent.

As for WWII, I don’t believe comparing the Iraq conflict to World War II is a useful comparison. First of all, we were attacked by the enemy we engaged. Iraq did not attack us, Al Queda did. In that effort, kids under 18 faked documents in order to join the effort. People were proud to serve or have their kids serve. It was widely seen as a just and necessary war.

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30 responses

  1. Avatar for Richard Fromage
    Richard Fromage June 30th, 2004

    Michael Moore is an intellectually dishonsest, treasonous, sociopath.

    Terror is the tactics of cowards, fighting for freedom in the world is right and just and takes courage.

    Dave is exactly right!

  2. Avatar for Kevin Miller
    Kevin Miller June 30th, 2004

    And, the premise that leaders kept their children out of WWII (although some did) is substantially mistaken. Most famously, Lyndon Johnson, later to be elected president, felt compelled to resign his seat in Congress and join the Navy. Not that he was happy about it.

  3. Avatar for ~bc
    ~bc June 30th, 2004

    "fighting for freedom in the world is right and just and takes courage."

    Then by all means, sign up and bring your first born, too. I understand they need some more manpower. What are you waiting for?

    E Pluribus Unum; From Many, One means "From many diverse people (opinions), one Nation." That would make MM a patriot. Different doesn't equal bad, despite your assertions.

  4. Avatar for Randy Charles Morin
    Randy Charles Morin June 30th, 2004

    Unfortunately, it is you that misses the point. One of the Senators (Rep. Kennedy) actually said he already had a nephew on the way to Afghanistan. Moore chose not to include that footage, as it would have made the whole scene look pointless. I guess if you only include the footage that promotes your view and exclude the footage that make your view pointless, then you can always get the yahoos to buy your lies.

  5. Avatar for Jim Roepcke
    Jim Roepcke June 30th, 2004

    Randy, "Afghanistan" does not equal "Iraq".

    I haven't seen the movie yet but I don't think he is questioning the justification of the US campaign in Afghanistan, he's questioning the justification of the campaign in Iraq.

    And "nephew" does not equal "son or daughter".

  6. Avatar for Kris Krause
    Kris Krause June 30th, 2004

    Germany attacked the United States in WW2? No, but Imperial Japan did... and Japan was in cahoots with Germany.

    One enemy in cahoots with another sounds familiar.

    A person living in a free and democratic society who attacks its leader is not courageous. Try doing that in China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, etc. That would be courage.

  7. Avatar for Chris Chapman
    Chris Chapman June 30th, 2004

    Regarding the comment by Mr. Cheese: Those are rather strong statements. Treasonous sociopath? C'mon. Moore is many things but certainly not 'One who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior' as the dictionary definition states. He's a film maker with a definite opinion for sure. He also supports an opponant of the incumbant president in an upcoming election. I certainly don't think he has committed treason by any stretch. That's what makes this country great - you can say whatever you want about whomever you want and they WON'T throw you in jail. That's a feature, not a bug.

    I just find it interesting how republicans are so quick to put negatively connotative lables on people just because they do not believe in the same things you or your political party do. Sociopath, indeed. If that's the case, it looks like you're living in a big glass house my friend.

    The world is not all black and white - there's a lot of grey mixed in. And no matter how much you pour bleech on all that you do not like, you're never going to turn everything white. Diversity is what drives this country and makes it successful; accept it.

    Thomas Jefferson said it best: "Dissent is the highest form of Patriotism." Republican was he, I might add. Of course things were a lot different then, I suppose.

  8. Avatar for Anon.penet.fi
    Anon.penet.fi June 30th, 2004

    We were attacked by Germany prior to entering world war II? Really?

    Were we attacked by North Korea prior to invasion?

    Were we attacked by Germany prior to entering world war I?

    How about Spain in the 1890's?

    Seems like your grasp of history is pretty selective...

  9. Avatar for Kris Krause
    Kris Krause June 30th, 2004

    "primarily of the poorer sections of society" ... spoken like a true college graduate. What about the pro football player Pat Tillman?

  10. Avatar for Richard
    Richard June 30th, 2004

    > Iraq did not attack us, Al Queda did.

    Pearl Harbor had a return address. 9/11 didn't. I live in a country that has experienced "jehadi" terrorism first-hand for 20 years, and I know that these guys don't respect the nation-state. They use the advantages nation-states confer (freedom from extradition, etc) in order to subvert them.

    > Where is the tie to Al Queda?

    Funnily enough, Putin warned the US about possible Iraqi terror attacks right around the time Farenheit 9/11 got onto the media radar. The ultimate irony is that if it had actually carried some out, the same people who are criticising the Iraq war today would have accused the administration of "not doing anything". IMO preemption as a doctrine is painful but it works. Today (based on feedback from friends in the middle-east) the Arabs are scrared sh*tless of America (and despising it too). Sure, it's nice to be loved, but even nicer not to be taken as a wuss and bombed around because someone thinks you're the great satan.

    On another note, I don't know why Saddam and his regime gathered so much sympathy. Do you really think life for most Iraqis was a bed of roses under that man? Compared to some of the crap the US has done (Vietnam, Nicaragua) this was positively *easy* to support.

  11. Avatar for Gabs
    Gabs June 30th, 2004

    "Terror is the tactics of cowards, fighting for freedom in the world is right and just and takes courage"

    If this is freedom, you can have it.

    In February of 2003 there were 411 people killed by terrorist activities in Iraq - and the numbers since they have been "freed"? In May 2004 there were over 1,200 innocent casualties in that country.

    These were not soldiers - these were people going to work or walking their dogs.

    Apparently freedom tastes like blood.

    I am so glad that the US has decided that Canada doesn't need "freedom".

    I am tired of listening to the diehard "patriots" in your country trashing one of the only men in the US who actually takes your Constitution to heart. Freedom of Speech is not just a paragraph on a musty piece of paper, Freedom of Speech is a right and a duty. Apparently Moore is one of the only filmakers in the US that takes his duty seriously.

    Honestly, I think that Moore has the right to his opinion. He has the right to broadcast that opinion over the airwaves 24/7. You have the right to ignore him.

    You have the right to say to yourself "That's what Micheal Moore believes, but I don't think the same way." It doesn't warrant an all out attack on his beliefs or his opinions. Unlike the US government's opinions about Iraq - his views aren't occupying your cities and waving a gun in your face as they try to "free" you

    And really people, its a documentary - not a bomb.

    Most people will come out of that movie and not have their views changed one bit.

    I know mine won't.

  12. Avatar for Michael Bernstein
    Michael Bernstein June 30th, 2004

    "A person living in a free and democratic society who attacks its leader is not courageous. Try doing that in China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, etc. That would be courage."

    Erm, so you're saying that fear of death is the only legitimate fear, so unless a person lives in a totalitarian dictatorship, they have no right criticise the leader, because it's too *safe*, rendering outspokenness *cowardly*?


    I guess we can now add 'criticism is cowardice' to other famous sayings, such as 'ignorance is strength' and 'freedom is slavery'.

  13. Avatar for bennett_berke@bio-rad.com
    bennett_berke@bio-rad.com June 30th, 2004

    The movie is a collage, a shotgun blast, a Rorschach test. We see what we want to see, and what we are prepared to recognize.

    His obvious bias (he is very biased) protects him from the charge that he is lying. The viewer knows already that Moore is sculpting the truth.

    Of course, he throws out stuff that doesn't support his view: haven't we heard enough of that already?

  14. Avatar for TQ White II
    TQ White II June 30th, 2004

    Dave is usually pretty sanctimonios about this stuff. I don't pay much attention to his ideas of intellectual, ethical or moral purity. He's rarely all the way wrong about politics and culture but usually misses the point. I like his technology though.

    I thought the congressional kids in Iraq part was especially interesting when viewed in relation to that Lilenfeld (sp?) lady, the one whose kid was killed in Iraq.

    It is true that neither Congress people nor George Bush is able to command their child to military service. However, if they weren't hypocrits, they might have brought their children up to resemble those of Ms Lilenfeld.

    She says that she taught them from an early age that military service was a valuable and important occupation. When they grew up, they were proud to enter the service.

    I am betting that Bush's daughters did not get that message. I'll bet few Congress people's children did either.

    The point is that these people are making decisions and taking viewpoints that they only believe in application to others. Michael Moore's guerilla theater dramatizes this fact.

    One other thing.

    F 9/11 is a work of art. Like Picasso's Guernica, it doesn't have to show literal truth to be useful. It needs to communicate a viewpoint that resonates with people and their understanding of reality. Although I believe that the facts of the bin Laden family connections to Bush are accurate, whether or not Bush himself is their servant need not be true to make the completely valid point that Bush has a lot of weird skeletons in his closet, has friends whose influence should worry us, and that there is plenty of reason to think he is corrupt.

    The artistic viewpoint is that war is bad, the Iraq war is bad and hypocrits that are friends with the bin Laden family are worrisome. These are real, emotional truths that Moore has found a way to illustrate. Disagree if you want. Call him an artist, not a treasoner. He has brutally criticized George Bush. In America, the phrase "Etat, C'est Moi," doesn't apply.

  15. Avatar for Darryl
    Darryl June 30th, 2004

    Something that is often missed in discussions about congress people sending their children to fight in the war (any war) is that you can't SEND your kid. They have to sign up for themselves as an adult. So suggesting that someone "sign up" their child is an obvious ploy in my opinion.

  16. Avatar for Akahige Tadashi
    Akahige Tadashi June 30th, 2004

    F9/11 is pure propaganda. Sometimes the way to get people to take notice and ask questions is to pose your own questions in an utterly ridiculous manner.

    MM is to the Loony Left what Rush Limbaugh is to the Wacko Right. Those who take MM seriously are as guilty of sheep-like mentality as those who take Rush so. America is in the middle of these two polars, and most, without the benefit of megaphone-mouths, are bemused by how much noise and energy is wasted by the two and their followers.

    For Gabs, the Canadian: Yes, MM has the right to his opinion. Yes, others are free to tune out. But, others are also free to criticize him in as loud a voice as he uses to broadcast his own messages. Yes, some are a little shrill but that's probably due to the fact that they don't have the multi-million dollar platform that he has.

  17. Avatar for Winter
    Winter June 30th, 2004

    From the AP story "Al-Qaeda spells out Iraq attack strategy in handbook: report"


    'It said the US plan was "to build an Iraqi state as conceived by the United States...and enslave Saudi Arabia politically, fight against Islamic proselytism as a salafist and jihadic movement."

    "This would be (for the US) the first step toward the eradication of hardline Islam in the entire world," it said.'

    While the first paragraph is about enslaving Suadi Arabia is bunk, al-Qaeda understands better than many on the left what the real fight if for: eliminating jihadist Islam.

    That precisely why the war has been worth it and why we should continue to support Iraq and its people.

  18. Avatar for Gabs
    Gabs June 30th, 2004

    Absolutely Akahige! I totally agree with everything you just said! Everyone can tell MM to F**K off for all I care. They can point out every little inconsistancy and half-truth in his movie all they want and broadcast it to the world. And MM is definitely the loony left.

    But its when they have the audacity to call his opinions wrong that really gets me. Its an opinion - by definition it cannot be wrong. That's like calling Christianity incorrect - it may not be what you believe in but it certainly is not wrong.

    (just an example, not trying to start a religious discussion)

    If that was how the government was run it would be akin to a political Jihad - you're wrong and I'm right and I'm going to censor/kill/imprison you for it and in my opinion that is an awful thing to think of.

    I don't agree with him, 'but I will fight to the death to defend his right to say it'

    And thats what freedom is all about.

  19. Avatar for ahem
    ahem June 30th, 2004

    Dave Winer making judgements on a movie based upon the clips released for publicity... is rather like making judgements on the war itself based upon the scraps of edited intelligence released by the White House.

    Someone should ask Dave whether he'd like to be judged by someone based upon selected clips of his site.

  20. Avatar for Bill
    Bill June 30th, 2004

    We went to war in WWI and WWII because citizens were being killed just for visiting Europe. We did not go into the WWII for high moral reasons. In fact, the president at the time was an antisemite. As with then, only now do we acknowledge the higher moral purpose (both WWII and Iraq). Our war in Iraq was based on a number of things, the primary being that Cheney wanted it since he was ousted back during Sr.'s reign.

    How about having the Right show a little restraint and ability to listen to the other side? God knows, the Left has had endure it for four years.

  21. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked June 30th, 2004

    Thanks for the comments and discussion. I appreciate that despite the obvious passion, the discussion has remained quite intelligent. My responses are in a follow-up post:


  22. Avatar for Will Cate
    Will Cate June 30th, 2004

    Although I frequently disagree with Mr. Winer, he is right on target in his critique of Michael Moore. Gabs - you are wrong when you say "it's a documentary." The movie is clearly propaganda, not a documentary; look up the meanings of the words in a dictionary if you don't believe me. No less than NBC News and The New York Times have documented the falsehoods and manipulative editing techniques Moore uses to make his point.

    In fact, the premise from which this whole discussion sprang (i.e. "sending" my kids to war) is absurd: as if I'd say to my 18 year-old son "Well, junior, it's been a great 18 years, but I'm sending you off to the war now. Remember to duck." There is no draft; young men and women volunteer to serve because they want to.

  23. Avatar for Ilya Baimetov
    Ilya Baimetov June 30th, 2004

    By the way, in 1941-1945, Russian parents were crying but sending their children to the WWII (better known in Russia as a Great Patriotic War). Why? Because they knew it's a life or death question for all of them and the country. Russia lost 30 million people in that war, but it survived itself and made the whole world survive.

    I think the question is perfectly fine - if it's not life or death question, it probably can be negotiated and settled, and there's no need to send your kids in.

  24. Avatar for Richard Fromage
    Richard Fromage June 30th, 2004

    "And really people, its a documentary - not a bomb. "

    There is a difference between a documentary and leftist propoganda just as there is a difference between the truth an opinion.

    MM is a sad, angry man who has found his voice through a camera. He generates high-voltage opinions, so does Rush, Teddy Kennedy, Dennis Miller, Ann Colter, Alan Colmbs, etc. All of these people attempt to distill truth and opinion to sound bites and clever reparte.

    The real truth is that there is a ideological struggle going on and blood is being shed. Which side are you on - the side of cowardly terrorist ( the poor, oppressed victims, freedom fighters, holy jihadists) or the side of freedom (imperialsts, opressors, conservativies, capitalists)? Pick your lables!

    Remember however, there is a basic philosophy behind each side and you MUST choose. Is it a clean choice - no, nothing ever is but the philiosphy is clear and the decision is not hard.

    If you understand this below, the chioce is automatic.


  25. Avatar for Richard Fromage
    Richard Fromage June 30th, 2004

    Oh, BTW ~bc - I did serve - 6 years and I was honorably discharged. Have you served?

  26. Avatar for Niels Hansen
    Niels Hansen June 30th, 2004

    HOLY SHIT! That is more than a comment, that's a book! :)

  27. Avatar for Richard Fromage
    Richard Fromage June 30th, 2004

    It's part of a book - really it's a meme

  28. Avatar for Brian
    Brian June 30th, 2004

    Literally. I wonder about fair usage rights at that length. Great book though, well worth the read.

  29. Avatar for doctorwes
    doctorwes July 1st, 2004

    Yes; <a href=http://www.mclemee.com/id39.html>according</a> to Scott McLemee, "at least one dozen <i>Playboy</i> models have named <i>The Fountainhead</i> or <i>Atlas Shrugged</i> as their favorite book".

  30. Avatar for Jasmine Weiland
    Jasmine Weiland April 6th, 2005

    Atlas Shrugged is amazing. I just finished reading it for the second time. Simply amazing.