Thursday, July 08, 2004

New Link on the Moore Film

To pick up on the Parsley link:

Hitchens can be, at his best, both felicitous and penetratrating, but this:

    "Fahrenheit 9/11 makes the following points ... 6) The American lives lost in Afghanistan have been wasted. (This I divine from the fact that this supposedly "antiwar" film is dedicated ruefully to all those killed there, as well as in Iraq.)"
Thus a gesture of inclusiveness is smacked away by Hitchens's highly personal (and hostile) interpretation.

Weird that Hitchens goes on to say Moore's movie is based on "a big lie," but doesn't bring the same level of analysis to the war against Iraq, which was based on a series of big, backpedaling lies (WMDs, or not, Nuclear secrets from Niger, or not, Connection with Al Qaeda, or not, Rape rooms, or turns out that's okay if done by Americans"). When official sources lie, what is the common citizen to do?

Hitchens chides Moore's quotation of 1984, a seminal text for those troubled by the controlling power of nation-states. Hitchens says:
    In general, it's highly unwise to quote Orwell if you are already way out of your depth on the question of moral equivalence.
Okay, majarajah of moral equivalence: is a lie to launch a movie the equivalent of a lie to launch a war?

Strangely, Hitchens does know this problem. He is a man who wrote an excellent book on George Orwell. Orwell warned about the threatening limits of journalistic truth and accuracy (in the Spanish Civil War):
    This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world.... The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, 'It never happened' - well it never happened." [pp. 69-70, Hitchens, Orwell].
When the Leader says it did happen, how to escape from the nightmare?

Moore's answer is not to accept the Leader's lies, but to try to balance them with emotional arguments. If you must, call them emotional stories. But that doesn't make them lies - it makes them something higher - a class of fiction. Orwell would have recognized the difference.


Blogger Nick O'Rette said...

This just in: Kerry suggests he and Edwards are a team with a "better dream, better vision, and better hair."

The dig is obviously at Cheney's expense: one look at the Dick proves both vision & hair.

July 8, 2004 at 4:41 AM  
Blogger Nick O'Rette said...

Btw, speaking of Hitchens & dirty deeds done dirt cheap, I just saw The Trials of Henry Kissinger, now out on video. Hitchens wrote the book that the documentary uses as a jumping-off point, and it's a terrifically troubling look at the extension of American power into Vietnam, Cambodia, and Chile, and more briefly, East Timor.

East Tmor alone is startling: 200,000 out of 700,000 Timorese dead at the hands of the Indonesians with the connivance and explicit permission of Jerry Ford & Kissinger. In pot-smoking or staring-at-the-stars discussions, we wonder how the average midcentury German turned a blind eye to death camps (& ignored the smell). But Kissinger is the Jewish Hitler, and he advises presidents. Troubling, boyos.

July 10, 2004 at 5:08 AM  

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