Saturday, July 10, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 in Bowling Green, Ohio

My Faithful Correspondent went to see Fahrenheit 9/11:

Our Wood County Democratic Party threw a fund-raiser last night at the Cla-Zel Theater in Bowling Green on very short notice – like 6 days. Al Baldwin, the chairman for nearly 20 years, e-mailed his list that a special showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 would be shown at 7:00, tickets costing $20/ea with the profits going to the party. The funds would be used to open a storefront party headquarters for the balance of the campaign year 2 months ahead of schedule – funds being so short they were going to wait until after Labor Day. To Al’s amazement and everyones absolute delight, over 200 people bought tickets – the theater was packed. Elected officials from both Lucas and Wood County showed up to be recognized and candidates for offices, local and national, were there to shine in the spotlight before the movie.

If you haven’t seen it, read the reviews in The New Yorker and New York Magazine before you go. It’s interesting how each reviewer came away with different bruises inflicted by Michael Moore. Denby thought the movie “over the top” with radical and paranoid claims and accusations, but he was moved by the Flint, Michigan mother who takes herself to Washington to rail outside the White House security barrier at those inside who took her son for no reason. Our audience was, too. We were all in tears, apparently, being red-eyed when the lights turned up at the end. But for me, although extremely moving, the lasting jolt was somewhere else. The critic from New York Magazine, whose name escapes me, also characterized Moore as angry, but he was horrified and moved by the previously unreleased shots of dead and wounded, both Iraqi and American soldiers. There was an Iraqi mother screaming in anquish at what we’ve done to her family; there were shots of a raid on an Iraqi home where soldiers drag away a college-student son; there were shots in an Army hospital of armless and legless GI’s with hideous wounds, both mental and physical. None of the people in this country have been made to face up to what we’ve done in Iraq, wounds that will last forever and animosity that will only grow in fervor. We take hopeless and unemployed young me in places like Flint, sign them up for the Army or Marines and turn them into killers. Abu Ghraib should have come as no surprise.

I’m still thinking about what we saw. It seems to me that, whether one wants to or not, we should all make ourselves see what Moore shows us if only to force us to reflect on the results of our actions. The movie is attended by, mostly, the converted. but it will animate our anger and our desire to see this administration gone in four months. I’m hoping other rural districts will do what ours did and fill their theaters with crowds of voters. It’s not possible to dismiss this movie whether it’s agitprop or not; it’s important.