Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Moore the traitor

Amanda Marcotte speculates as to why liberals don't like Michael Moore:

But I do think liberals who dislike Moore so strongly are genuine in their distaste and not just trotting it out to appear fair’n'balanced. And I think that Ezra’s review points to why—the overarching theme of Moore’s career has been an attack on American exceptionalism, a disease that infects both the left and the right in this country. Granted, the right suffers from the disease far more, but the belief that America is somehow better or at least different and can’t be held up to the same standards as other countries is endemic. It’s why so many usually intelligent liberal types fell into the trap of supporting the invasion of Iraq, when it should have been clear from the beginning what a bad idea it was—they just believed, in their heart of hearts, that America could succeed at this task that would be impossible for anyone else. Maybe the Marshall Plan’s effectiveness has deluded us into believing we have powers we don’t, or maybe it’s just that exceptionalism is drilled into our heads from the first day we crack open a history book in school. But Moore’s repetitive refrain that Americans would overcome a lot of our problems by learning a little humility grates on a fundamental and widely shared belief, which goes a long way towards explaining why critics particularly don’t like the way Moore sandbags people and takes them down a few notches. It’s a representation of what he’s doing to our cherished belief in our superiority.

The problem is Moore’s right. American exceptionalism is our nation’s tragic flaw and until we set out to fix it, we’re going to continue to make one avoidable blunder (like the Iraq war) after another.

I think she's got it half right. Liberals don't like Moore because they think he threatens America the Idea, but Moore himself is a classic exceptionalist.

From my hazy memory of the three Moore movies I’ve seen, he drapes himself in the flag at every opportunity. His whole shtick is that he’s more of a down-home Midwestern, patriotic, gun-toting, overweight typical American than some blowdried asshole like Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter.

There’s some truth to the idea that liberals attack Moore because they think he is an anti-American anti-exceptionalist, but Moore himself believes he is as American as they come.

But maybe that’s not true in his new movie; I haven’t seen it yet.

1 comment:

Karla said...

I like Michael Moore, probably because I mostly agree with his politics, although it is sometimes excruciating to watch his movies. He uses the technique of persistently asking the dumb, obvious questions the rest of us have given up on as so simple there must be some problem with them. But often the blatantly obvious construal is likely to be the most accurate. Before the Iraq war I thought at least once "on the face of it, this invasion is so stupid that they MUST have information we don't." But no. They really are just that stupid and deluded. Especially lately, it seems that the blatantly obvious questions have blatantly obvious, accurate answers. It's in the interests of those with power and resources to keep the rest of us wondering. I think the gadfly is an important societal role and Moore fulfulls it well. He may wrap himself in the flag, but it doesn't bother me much. I've wondered (along with people on the right) why I and other lefties are more upset about American atrocities than Islamist atrocities (for example)--I don't think it is really a belief in American exceptionalism but a sense of responsibility and horror that MY government and MY country are behaving atrociously.