Roger Moore essay.......opinions???
|Roger Moore essay.......opinions???
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04-15-2002, 09:56 AM
Since: Jun 2000
This is an excerpt from the latest book from Michael Moore(The director of
the critically acclaimed Roger & Me and countless other documentaries) that
is on the New York Times Best seller list
The article below, taken from the British Guardian, is excerpted from
Michael Moore's new best-selling book (currently #1 on NY Times list),
Stupid White Men.
Saturday March 30, 2002
I don't know what it is, but every time I see a white guy walking towards
me, I tense up. My heart starts racing, and I immediately begin to look for
an escape route and a means to defend myself. I kick myself for even being
in this part of town after dark. Didn't I notice the suspicious gangs of
white people lurking on every street corner, drinking Starbucks and wearing
their gang colours of Gap turquoise or J Crew mauve? What an idiot! Now the
white person is coming closer, closer - and then - whew! He walks by without
harming me, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
White people scare the crap out of me. This may be hard for you to
understand - considering that I am white - but then again, my colour gives
me a certain insight. For instance, I find myself pretty scary a lot of the
time, so I know what I'm talking about. You can take my word for it: if you
find yourself suddenly surrounded by white people, you better watch out.
Anything can happen. As white people, we've been lulled into thinking it's
safe to be around other white people. We've been taught since birth that
it's the people of that other colour we need to fear. They're the ones
who'll slit your throat! Yet as I look back on my life, a strange but
unmistakable pattern seems to
emerge. Every person who has ever harmed me in my lifetime - the boss who
fired me, the teacher who flunked me, the principal who punished me, the kid
who hit me in the eye with a rock, the executive who didn't renew TV Nation,
the guy who was stalking me for three years, the accountant who double-paid
my taxes, the drunk who smashed into me, the burglar who stole my stereo,
the contractor who overcharged me, the girlfriend who left me, the next
girlfriend who left even sooner, the person in the office who stole cheques
from my chequebook and wrote them out to himself for a total of $16,000 -
every one of these individuals has been a white person. Coincidence? I think
I have never been attacked by a black person, never been evicted by a
black person, never had my security deposit ripped off by a black landlord,
never had a black landlord, never had a meeting at a Hollywood studio with a
black executive in charge, never had a black person deny my child the
college of her choice, never been puked on by a black teenager at a Mötley
Crüe concert, never been pulled over by a black cop, never been sold a lemon
by a black car salesman, never seen a black car salesman, never had a black
person deny me a bank loan, and I've never heard a black person say, "We're
going to eliminate 10,000 jobs here - have a nice day!" I don't think that
I'm the only white guy who can make these claims. Every
mean word, every cruel act, every bit of pain and suffering in my life has
had a Caucasian face attached to it.
So, um, why is it exactly that I should be afraid of black people?
I look around at the world I live in - and, I hate to tell tales out of
school, but it's not the African-Americans who have made this planet such a
pitiful, scary place. Recently, a headline on the front of the Science
section of the New York Times asked Who Built The H-Bomb? The article went
on to discuss a dispute between the men who claim credit for making the
first bomb. Frankly, I could have cared less - because I already know the
only pertinent answer: "It was a white guy!" No black guy ever built or used
a bomb designed to wipe out hordes of innocent people, whether in Oklahoma
City, Columbine or Hiroshima. No, friends, it's always the white guy. Let's
go to the tote board:
* Who gave us the black plague? A white guy.
* Who invented PBC, PVC, PBB, and a host of chemicals that are killing us?
* Who has started every war America has been in? White men.
* Who invented the punchcard ballot? A white man.
* Whose idea was it to pollute the world with the internal combustion
engine? Whitey, that's who.
* The Holocaust? That guy really gave white people a bad name.
* The genocide of Native Americans? White man.
* Slavery? Whitey!
* US companies laid off more than 700,000 people in 2001. Who ordered the
lay-offs? White CEOs.
You name the problem, the disease, the human suffering, or the abject
misery visited upon millions, and I'll bet you 10 bucks I can put a white
face on it faster than you can name the members of 'NSync.
And yet, when I turn on the news each night, what do I see again and
again? Black men alleged to be killing, raping, mugging, stabbing,
gangbanging, looting, rioting, selling drugs, pimping, ho-ing, having too
many babies, fatherless, motherless, Godless, penniless. "The suspect is
described as a black male... the suspect is described as a black male... THE
SUSPECT IS DESCRIBED AS A BLACK MALE..." No matter what city I'm in, the
news is always the same, the suspect always the same unidentified black
male. I'm in Atlanta tonight, and I swear the police sketch of the black
male suspect on TV looks just like the black male suspect I saw on the news
last night in Denver and the night before in LA. In every sketch he's
frowning, he's menacing - and he's wearing the same knit cap! Is it possible
that it's the same black guy committing every crime in America?
I believe we've become so used to this image of the black man as predator
that we are forever ruined by this brainwashing. In my first film, Roger &
Me, a white woman on social security clubs a rabbit to death so that she can
sell him as "meat" instead of as a pet. I wish I had a nickel for every
in the past 10 years that someone has come up to me and told me how
"horrified" they were when they saw that "poor little cute bunny" bonked on
the head. The scene, they say, made them physically sick. The Motion Picture
Association of America gave Roger & Me an R  rating in response to that
rabbit killing. Teachers write to me and say they have to edit that part out
of the film, if they want to show it to their students.
But less than two minutes after the bunny lady does her deed, I included
footage of a scene in which police in Flint, Michigan, shot a black man who
was wearing a Superman cape and holding a plastic toy gun. Not once - not
ever - has anyone said to me, "I can't believe you showed a black man being
shot in your movie! How horrible! How disgusting! I couldn't sleep for
weeks." After all, he was just a black man, not a cute, cuddly bunny. The
ratings board saw absolutely nothing wrong with that scene. Why? Because
it's normal, natural. We've become so accustomed to seeing black men killed
- in the movies and on the evening news - that we now accept it as standard
operating procedure. No big deal! That's what blacks do - kill and die.
Ho-hum. Pass the butter.
It's odd that, despite the fact that most crimes are committed by whites,
black faces are usually attached to what we think of as "crime". Ask any
white person who they fear might break into their home or harm them on the
street and, if they're honest, they'll admit that the person they have in
mind doesn't look much like them. The imaginary criminal in their heads
looks like Mookie or Hakim or Kareem, not little freckle-faced Jimmy.
No matter how many times their fellow whites make it clear that the white
man is the one to fear, it simply fails to register. Every time you turn on
the TV to news of another school shooting, it's always a white kid who's
conducting the massacre. Every time they catch a serial killer, it's a crazy
white guy. Every time a terrorist blows up a federal building, or a madman
gets 400 people to drink Kool-Aid, or a Beach Boys songwriter casts a spell
causing half a dozen nymphets to murder "all the piggies" in the Hollywood
Hills, you know it's a member of the white race up to his old tricks.
So why don't we run like hell when we see whitey coming toward us? Why
don't we ever greet the Caucasian job applicant with, "Gee, uh, I'm sorry,
there aren't any positions available right now"? Why aren't we worried sick
about our daughters marrying white guys? And why isn't Congress trying to
ban the scary and offensive lyrics of Johnny Cash ("I shot a man in
Reno/just to watch him die"), the Dixie Chicks ("Earl had to die"), or Bruce
Springsteen ("I killed everything in my path/I can't say that I'm sorry for
the things that we done"). Why the focus on rap lyrics? Why doesn't the
media print lyrics such as
the following, and tell the truth? "I sold bottles of sorrow, then chose
poems and novels" (Wu-Tang Clan); "People use yo' brain to gain" (Ice Cube);
"A poor single mother on welfare... tell me how ya did it" (Tupac Shakur);
"I'm trying to change my life, see I don't wanna die a sinner" (Master P).
African-Americans have been on the lowest rung of the economic ladder
since the day they were dragged here in chains. Every other immigrant group
has been able to advance from the bottom to the higher levels of our
society. Even Native Americans, who are among the poorest of the poor, have
fewer children living in poverty than African-Americans.
You probably thought things had got better for blacks in this country.
After all, considering the advances we've made eliminating racism in our
society, one would think our black citizens might have seen their standard
of living rise. A survey published in the Washington Post in July 2001
showed that 40%-60% of white people thought the average black person had it
as good or better than the average white person.
Think again. According to a study conducted by the economists Richard
Vedder, Lowell Gallaway and David C Clingaman, the average income for a
black American is 61% less per year than the average white income. That is
the same percentage difference as it was in 1880. Not a damned thing has
changed in more than 120 years.
Want more proof? Consider the following:
* Black heart attack patients are far less likely than whites to undergo
cardiac catheterisation, regardless of the race of their doctors.
* Whites are five times more likely than blacks to receive emergency
clot-busting treatment after suffering a stroke.
* Black women are four times more likely than white women to die while
* Black levels of unemployment have been roughly twice those of whites
So how have we white people been able to get away with this? Caucasian
ingenuity! You see, we used to be real dumb. Like idiots, we wore our racism
on our sleeve. We did really obvious things, like putting up signs on
rest-room doors that said WHITES ONLY. We made black people sit at the back
of the bus. We prevented them from attending our schools or living in our
neighbourhoods. They got the crappiest jobs (those advertised for NEGROES
ONLY), and we made it clear that, if you weren't white, you were going to be
paid a lower wage. Well, this overt, over-the-top segregation got us into a
heap of trouble. A
bunch of uppity lawyers went to court. They pointed out that the 14th
Amendment doesn't allow for anyone to be treated differently because of
their race. Eventually, after a long procession of court losses,
demonstrations and riots, we got the message: if you're going to be a
successful racist, better find a way to do it with a smile on your face.
We even got magnanimous enough to say, "Sure, you can live here in our
neighbourhood; your kids can go to our kids' school. Why the hell not? We
were just leaving, anyway." We smiled, gave black America a pat on the back
- and then ran like the devil to the suburbs.
At work, we whites still get the plum jobs, double the pay, and a seat in
the front of the bus to happiness and success. We've rigged the system from
birth, guaranteeing that black people will go to the worst schools, thus
preventing them from admission to the best colleges, and paving their way to
a fulfilling life making our caffe lattes, servicing our BMWs, and picking
up our trash. Oh, sure, a few slip by - but they pay an extra tariff for the
privilege: the black doctor driving his BMW gets pulled over continually by
the cops; the black Broadway actress can't get a cab after the standing
ovation; the black broker is the first to be laid off because of
"seniority". We whites really deserve some kind of genius award for this.
We talk the
talk of inclusion, we celebrate the birthday of Dr King, we frown upon
racist jokes. We never fail to drop a mention of "my friend - he's black..."
We make sure we put our lone black employee up at the front reception desk
so we can say, "See - we don't discriminate. We hire black people."
Yes, we are a very crafty, cagey race - and damn if we haven't got away
I wonder how long we will have to live with the legacy of slavery. That's
right. I brought it up. SLAVERY. You can almost hear the groans of white
America whenever you bring up the fact that we still suffer from the impact
of the slave system. Well, I'm sorry, but the roots of most of our social
ills can be traced straight back to this sick chapter of our history.
African-Americans never got a chance to have the same fair start that the
rest of us got. Their families were wilfully destroyed, their language and
culture and religion stripped from them. Their poverty was institutionalised
so that our cotton could get picked, our wars could be fought, our
convenience stores could remain open all night. The America we've come to
know would never have come to pass if not for the millions of slaves who
built it and created its booming economy - and for the millions of their
descendants who do the same dirty work for whites today.
It's not as if we're talking ancient Rome here. My grandfather was born
just three years after the Civil War. That's right, my grandfather. My
great-uncle was born before the Civil War. And I'm only in my 40s. Sure,
people in my family seem to marry late, but the truth remains: I'm just two
generations from slave times. That, my friends, is not a "long time ago". In
the vast breadth of human history, it was only yesterday. Until we realise
that, and accept that we do have a responsibility to correct an immoral act
that still has repercussions today, we will never remove the single greatest
stain on the soul of our country.
04-15-2002, 10:50 AM
Since: Feb 2002
* Who gave us the black plague? A white guy.
Funny, I always thought it was nature. How silly of me.
* Who has started every war America has been in? White men.
Yep, The Maine was blown up by Whitey. Whitey attacked Pearl Harbor. Whitey invaded Korea. Whitey invaded Kuwait.
* Who invented the punchcard ballot? A white man.
Still bitter, I see.
Roger & Me was a great documentary, & I really enjoyed TV Nation the few times I saw it. Moore somehow morphed from a quasi-populist & "champion of the little guy" into a hate-spewing bigot. It's like Susan Sontag Lite. I have absolutely no use for anyone who's sole purpose seems to be increasing the divisiveness in our society, and offers NOT ONE solution to any of the percieved problems he highlights.
One Moore stupid white man
With his factually challenged bestseller, Michael Moore becomes an unfortunate poster boy for dissent.
By Ben Fritz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
April 3, 2002
[First published on Salon.com]
Michael Moore's latest success might be his most remarkable. At a time when the public remains strongly supportive of the Bush administration -- and few dissenting voices have risen above the din -- his book "Stupid White Men" stands atop the New York Times bestseller list for a third week running.
And at a time when some Republican leaders are using Bush's popularity to equate any criticism of U.S. policy with treason, Moore's success should be a reason for any democracy-loving American to cheer.
It should be, but it isn't.
"Stupid White Men" is full of the biting satire Moore has honed on a large scale ever since the release of his 1989 documentary of General Motors' mistreatment of its workers in Flint, Mich., "Roger and Me," became a hit. He followed that up with a mid-'90s TV series, "TV Nation," the bestselling book "Downsize This!" and the 1998 documentary "The Big One," all of which employ his trademark defense of the little guy against the unchecked callousness of corporate America. [Disclosure: My co-editor Brendan Nyhan and I helped bring Moore to speak at Swarthmore College while we were students there. Moore was paid an honorarium by the college for his speech.]
With the success of "Roger and Me" also came a critical rap: That he took liberties with the truth, fiddling with the chronology, for greater dramatic effect. But that criticism doesn't seem to have made an impression on Moore, and that's nowhere more apparent than in "Stupid White Men." In it, readers are told that 10 million people left the welfare rolls during the '90s, brutally kicked off by Bill Clinton. He writes that five-sixths of the defense budget in 2001 went toward building a single type of plane and that the recent recession is nothing more than a fabrication by the wealthy to keep down the working classes. And readers who uncritically accept those "facts" -- along with a number of other egregious and sloppy distortions -- will be duped. Good satire also should be grounded in fact. Regrettably, Moore gets his facts wrong again and again and again, and a simple check of the sources he cites shows that lazy research is often to blame.
Consider, for instance, his claim that "two-thirds of [the over $190 million President Bush raised during the presidential campaign] came from just over seven hundred individuals." Given the $2,000 federal limit on individual donations, this claim is obviously false. To back it up, he cites the Center for Responsive Politics Web site (opensecrets.org) and an August 2000 article from the New York Times. As opensecrets.org clearly indicates, however, only 52.6 percent of Bush's total $193 million in campaign funds came from individuals. The Times article Moore references actually states that 739 people gave two-thirds of the soft money raised by the Republican Party (which uses its money for "party-building" activities that support all GOP candidates, not just Bush) in the 2000 election cycle as of June of that year. Whether out of malice or laziness, Moore conflates the party's soft money with Bush's campaign funds.
This pattern -- the very sources Moore cites proving him wrong -- continues throughout the book.
In a discussion of Pentagon spending, he refers to the "$250 billion the Pentagon plans to spend in 2001 to build 2800 new Joint Strike Fighter planes" and states that "the proposed increase in monies for the Pentagon over the next four years is $1.6 trillion." To back this up, he refers to the Web site of the peace activist group Council for a Livable World. CLW's own analysis of the 2001 budget, however, shows that $250 billion is the total multiyear cost of the Joint Strike Fighter program, not the amount spent in one year. $1.6 trillion, meanwhile, was the total amount of money requested by the Pentagon at the time for 2001-2005. It covers five years, not four, and is a total budget request, not a "proposed increase" over previously requested budget levels. It shouldn't even take this much research, however, to determine that out of the total defense budget request of $305.4 billion in 2001, $250 billion was never intended to go toward one type of plane, nor that an increase of $400 billion per year in military spending was never proposed.
Most baffling of Moore's misstatements may come in a listing of categories that the U.S. tops, such as per capita energy use and births to teenagers. In a blatant misrepresentation, he states: "We're number one in budget deficit (as a percentage of GDP)." When Moore wrote his book last year, the United States was running a budget surplus, as it had for the previous three years.
Just how did Moore get so many of his facts wrong? Lazy cribbing from media outlets and the Internet seems the most likely culprit, as evidenced by a four-page list of allegedly dubious policy accomplishments by President Bush, including cutting funds from libraries and appointing former business executives to regulatory posts. All but one of the 48 accusations appear in the same order and with very similar phrasing to a list that has been printed this winter (but before Moore's book came out) on liberal Web sites and, according to Dr. David A. Sprintzen (often wrongly cited, though not by Moore, as its author), was circulating via e-mail last summer. Belying a lack of original research, Moore even apes many of the negative characterizations of individuals, calling judicial appointee Terrence Boyle a "civil rights opponent," for example (the list refers to him as a "foe of civil rights"), with absolutely no context for why exactly Boyle deserves that moniker (one certainly has to wonder whether Moore himself knows).
Curiously, Moore cites no source for this list. He only notes that readers "can keep track of what Bush did and does during his administration" by reading Molly Ivins' syndicated column and the Web sites smirkingchimp.com and bushwatch.com. The latter two did print the list, but not until this winter, well after Moore wrote his book, though before it was published.
Just as worrisome as Moore's frequent mistakes is the distorted manner in which he presents some of his claims that have a factual basis. Consider, for example, this critique of Bill Clinton.
"[H]e has been able to kick ten million people off welfare," he writes in a list of attacks on the former president. While the welfare rolls did drop substantially while Clinton was in office (although the total number as of June 2000 was 8.3 million), many people left voluntarily to take jobs as the economy grew or for other reasons. Far fewer were booted from the rolls by the five-year limits Clinton signed into law in 1996 or by stricter state limits.
Grossly misrepresenting the facts to make Bill Clinton look bad is a pattern in his chapter "Democrats, DOA." Moore also derides Clinton's record on feminism, stating "Clinton learned that by talking a good feminist line, he could arrange it so that not one feminist leader would decry the order he signed in 1999 to deny federal funds to any foreign group that discussed abortion during consultations."
Moore is correct about the law here (although Gloria Feldt of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America did criticize the move). In framing Clinton as having a crafty antiabortion agenda, however, he blatantly ignores that Clinton eliminated the so-called "Mexico City Policy" banning U.S. funding of overseas clinics that perform or promote abortion in 1993 and only reluctantly signed it back into law in 1999 as part of a deal to pay nearly $1 billion in arrears to the United Nations. The funding was then restored in the next year's budget, albeit with concessions to delay its implementation, which Moore also fails to note.
To truly understand how absurdly Moore twists the truth to advance his agenda, consider his description of the economic downturn. After accurately describing the hard times that have hit the country in the past year, he offers this analysis to his readers:
"There is no recession, my friends. No downturn. No hard times. The rich are wallowing in the loot they've accumulated in the past two decades, and now they want to make sure you don't come a-lookin' for your piece of the pie."
Forget about overinvestment during the tech boom, a sharp drop in business spending or even the simple facts of the business cycle. Michael Moore has the real answer: "[The rich have] decided to perform a preemptive strike in the hope that you'll never even think of eyeing their piles of cash." Not content to simply berate the wealthy for their disproportionate advances in income and wealth during the '90s boom, Moore takes his aggressive jargon to extremes by concocting a conspiracy in which the elite simply created a downturn that he claims doesn't really exist. This isn't satire, it's paranoid propaganda.
For the bestselling nonfiction book in the country, "Stupid White Men" has received remarkably little scrutiny and few serious reviews. Moore is much beloved in Britain, and a review on a BBC show called his book "fantastic" with "loads of research." Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to have read much of it -- though the thousands of people who have bought his book surely don't know that.
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