The Passion of Michael Moore

George W. Bush, Fahrenheit 9/11

The first flash point for most people seems to be the footage of Bush in the grade-school classroom, when he is informed of the planes hitting the towers on 9/11. You are essentially imagining what Bush is thinking then. That's pretty audacious.
It's in a satirical voice. ''Which one of them screwed me?'' Clearly he's not thinking that, but yeah, I'm imagining that in a satirical voice.

How'd you get the tape?
We called up [the school] and they said, ''Sure we made some tapes!'' Because parents wanted a tape of the President there. That's a home-video VHS that the teacher set on a tripod. And I'm telling you, we're being kind to Bush. You should see the longer version where I let it run for, like, three of the seven minutes. It is painful. PAINFUL!

People have problems with your portrayal of kids playing in Baghdad before the bombings. I get what you're going for there, that those positive images were never seen, but Saddam was a bad guy and there's nothing to that effect in the film.
Who doesn't know that Saddam was a bad guy? The media did a wonderful job hammering that home every day in order to convince the public that they should support the war. For 20 seconds in this film, I become essentially the only person to say, I want you to take a look at the human beings that were living in Iraq in 2003. The ones that we were going to bomb indiscriminately. In those 20 seconds I show a child in a barbershop, a young boy flying a kite, a couple getting married. People having lunch at a café. Anyone who takes that and says that I'm trying to say that Saddam's Iraq was some utopia is just a crackpot. The New York Times reports that our air strikes that week were zero for 50 in terms of hitting the targets. We killed a lot of civilians, and I think that we're going to have to answer for that -- whether it's now or in the hereafter. If you pay taxes and you're an American your name is on those bombs. They were human beings who were just trying to get on with their daily lives.

But if you'd just taken a second to show that they weren't exactly living under the best circumstances, that would have defused this criticism from the beginning. Right?

I refuse to participate in the brainwashing that the media was doing to the American public. I didn't need to state the obvious. Kurt Vonnegut in ''Slaughterhouse-Five'' isn't criticized for not showing the horrors of the Nazi regime even though he shows that the people who we firebombed in Dresden were essentially old men, women, and children. Is he doing something dishonest or wrong? I know it upsets a lot of people in the media that I'm not playing ball, that I'm not showing the images that they showed. I know it's embarrassing to them because anybody who sees my film now knows that you were only presented with one side.


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