In his article “Michael Moore: Patriot or Treasoness”, staff writer Matt Van Dam makes some interesting points regarding Michael Moore and his actions as a writer, filmmaker and self proclaimed patriot. Given the release of his new film “Fahrenheit 9/11” this is a hot topic sparking some heated debate and I think it is deserving of BP’s first follow up article. It is suggested that you read Matt’s piece before reading this one because it is essentially a rebuttal, though I still feel it can stand on it’s own, so it is not required.
Not to offend anyone from the start with this article but the definitions Van Dam cites for a Patriot and a “Treasoness” are not only outdated, but also based on a monarchial system. These definitions are still based on when England’s government previously believed itself to be divinely appointed and therefore without fail. Keep that in mind, the definitions don’t really hold true in the US or in this day in age at all.
Now I feel I can safely say that anyone interested enough in politics can tell you that Moore does have his own slant to things. It is undeniable; while he might not be a liar he is masterfully manipulative of the facts and often leaves out details and tweaks things to fit his views. Despite that, I for one still view him as a patriot, I truly believe in most of Moore’s causes.
Most educated Americans, liberal or conservative, will admit our government has it faults and could always use improvement. Unfortunately though there will always be a lot of people that just don’t see it that way. Some have a bizarre denial that we can do no wrong; others have no idea of what’s going on, because previously they’ve simply been apathetic to such a thing. Moore’s target audience for Bowling For Columbine is these people. He tries to sort of “shock” people into realization of these disturbing situations. Regardless of my appreciation for Moore I’ll be the first to admit parts of it are very deceptive in their methods, but mean well, shock is a commonly used practice and a powerful one if used well. Matt’s claim that it gave him a very bad impression of the United States, while interesting and still relevant is mostly because he’s not the kind of person intended for the viewing of the film, he is not a disillusioned member of American society, therefore not the person Moore is trying to change the perspective of.
I enjoy Moore and I admire him greatly for his ability to pull things together beautifully, stand up for what he believes in and create such a convincing piece; written or visual. I honestly think his heart is in the right place but I won’t deny he does himself a disservice with his small twists and skewed facts in some regards. However, one could argue that his slant to things is really no better than the slant the United States government puts on things themselves, and I don’t think Moore is any better or worse for it in that respect.
That being said, there is one thing that makes me like, admire and trust Moore much more than anyone in our government: he’s really not doing this for himself. Sure he makes a hefty profit, but he gives the money back to his community, back to charities and into ongoing projects. He is consistently raising his target on more and more people he feels are hurting society, hurting the people of this nation and doing our forefathers a disservice. I’m not saying he’s not making a sweet profit doing this, because he does, and he’s the first person to admit it, but if all he was about was making money he wouldn’t devote so much time himself into things, running his website michaelmoore.com with daily updates and stressing himself with project after project, often admitting his faults and taking on more causes. You cannot say Moore is hardly resting on his laurels and just sitting back to collect a check. Moore is someone who works for his money, and at the same time he is doing something he loves and doing it for other people.
Now, I’m not saying Moore can do no wrong, because I feel he has a lot of faults both in his person and in his work, but that’s due to the fact that he is merely human like us all and we cannot hold him to any higher standard than we’d hold ourselves.
Let me get back on point. Matt makes the argument that under the definition of patriot that Moore is no patriot. According to Dictionary.com a Patriot is defined as: “One who loves, supports, and defends one’s country.” Matt claims that because Moore makes the United States look bad and points out it’s faults he is doing it a disservice and definitely not supporting or defending it. I disagree entirely; I feel Moore by pointing out the faults of our nation is helping strengthen it. His criticisms of its actions are in defense of it, of the true values of this nation’s foundation. To assume otherwise is to try and say our government is without fault and should not be questioned. Such a belief is pompous, ignorant and flat out wrong. As I so much love to point out our great (Republican) President Theodore Roosevelt even stated:
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
Society can only learn from its mistakes, history shows this clearly, so criticism should be welcomed and embraced. When you start trying to squash dissenting opinions you start to encroach on people’s liberties, and therefore lose sight of the original goals of this nation, the values it was built on and committing treason yourself, just because it is people in the government doing so (coughJohnAshcroftcough) doesn’t mean that it should be accepted as correct.
I know I’m going to be stretching here but much as the Declaration of Independence criticized the king of England for the good of the American people, Michael Moore’s attacks on the President, wrong or right, is done out of love for this nation, for the people, because he wants to see it improve. Moore, like you and I don’t want to see the US fall like many other systems before it. He is defending the United States in a way many don’t think to and therefore at least in my mind, a patriot.