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March 29, 2004 | by  | in Books |
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Dude, Where’s My Country?

As The Independent – compulsory reading for the peerless Robert Fisk’s superb reporting on the Middle East – writes, US ‘President’ George W Bush, furiously campaigning for $US200 million plus to buy November’s presidential elections, hasn’t attended even one of the funerals of the 567 American soldiers killed in Iraq. (Most of whom have been killed since W put on his jumpsuit and said that they’d won the war; that the forces of evil had been vanquished). I wouldn’t want to face the families of the soldiers whom I had told it was sweet, good and patriotic to die for a lie. If I presided over (and was directly responsible for) the most spectacular failure of American security in history (9/11), I’d want to go and hide in an underground bunker in Nebraska, too. Unfortunately, when you’re president you have to face the music; Moore fearlessly takes W to task.

Moore is probably the most famous American dissenter. Dude, Where’s My Country?, his essential polemic, has a simple mission: regime change in Washington. Who can object? W, the callous liar, justified his monumentally stupid invasion of Iraq on two outrageous lies. One was that Saddam Hussein had fearsome weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent threat to the world. (Like the UN weapons inspectors said, there’s zilch). The other laughable claim was that Saddam Hussein had proven links to al Qaeda. (A secular dictator would really have an alliance with an Islamic fundamentalist who declared jihad against him).

America’s mainstream media should be ashamed of themselves for their flaccid, mediocre reporting on Bush and Iraq, as John Pilger put it, “echoing and channelling propaganda,” particularly on the weapons of mass destruction. After the media’s years of puritanical witch-hunting and demands of impeachment for Clinton over Monica Lewinski, why aren’t they demanding W be impeached for his incomparably more serious lies? (Rupert Murdoch’s dominant Fox News is more positive about the Bush adminstration than W’s own Secretary of State Colin Powell. Fox News is all terror, all the time, with a ubiquitous terror rating on the screen being hyped constantly. George Orwell couldn’t have guessed better.)

Dude, Where’s My Country?, structured in eleven well-titled chapters, such as its Chomskyesque “How to Stop Terrorism? Stop Being Terrorists!”, convincingly argues why W should be impeached. Its purpose, however, is why no sane American should vote for W in the elections on November 2.
Moore is at his best when he gets passionately outraged as he does in the first chapter “7 Questions for George of Arabia,” which outlines the disgracefully dubious links between the Bushs and the bin Ladens and W’s terrible mishandling of 9/11. (Hollywood is supposedly chocker with psycho liberals, where were they on Oscar night?) Moore’s satire of the non-existent Coalition of the Willing is hilarious. “Greetings, fellow members of the Coalition of the Willing! Actually, that’s only if you’re a Brit or an Aussie.”

Part of “How to Talk to Your Conservative Brother-in-Law” chronicles that, yes, the left has made mistakes, too. Moore hooks into people like extremist animal rights activists, correctly arguing they don’t help the cause. “Yes, they [animals] should be treated “humanely”… [but] you just look like a dumbass if you go on national TV, like PETA does, to argue that beer is better for the body than milk.”

The book is weak in places, particularly in Moore’s dialogue from the future with great-granddaughter Anne Coulter Moore about oil. Someone needs to take the exclamation mark off his keyboard! Moore’s films and television programmers are better than his books. His populist, working-class man-from-Flint style has unsurprisingly grated with a few jealous, elitist, big-word-dropping academics who nobody reads. Moore, like Chomsky, does occasionally simplify, but this is a perfectly acceptable compromise given it helps his work reach and persuade the great, unwashed masses. These are minor quibbles.

Of course, the right spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to discredit Moore’s terrific film Bowling for Columbine. When the propaganda got too ridiculous, and started sucking in a few people who should have known better, Moore calmly and clearly outlined on his website (www.michaelmoore.com) why these claims were wrong. No doubt in reaction to this, Moore has comprehensively, meticulously footnoted Dude, Where’s My Country? with detailed notes and sources, including good suggestions for further reading.

W’s war is struggling in many ways; one being retaining and recruiting soldiers. Moore has plausibly mooted that, if W gets a second term, he may well have to reintroduce the draft. The administration is targeting the ghettos. One example: a big recruitment campaign in hip-hop bible The Source, enlisting many would-be gangstas. We didn’t see it on the news, but, reportedly, some of the tanks that ‘liberated’ Iraq rolled into Baghdad playing hip-hop. Now these tanks cruise the Baghdad hood at night. Some hip-hop has been written to glorify the war, however, now it’s increasingly anti-war hip-hop that’s being written. As the occupation drags on, soldiers, like everyone else, continue to find out that the war was based on lies, the Iraqi people are angry about their ‘liberation’, and see their friends pointlessly die.

The great work of the likes of Moore has no doubt messed with the message from W and his propaganda merchants and helped these soldiers (like many others) discover the awful truth. I can’t wait for this music to be released in New Zealand (even though there are no guarantees it will be any good). Even more exciting is Moore’s next movie Fahrenheit 911, due out a couple of months before the presidential election. It will further probe the links between the Bushs and the bin Ladens and Bush’s mishandling of 9/11. Moore concludes this book with a simple, spot-on thought. “Dude, where’s your country? It’s right outside your window, just waiting for you to bring it home.”

Michael Moore
Allen Lane

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