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The Conscience of America

George Foster - April 11th, 2002
Michael Moore makes me proud to be from Flint. Not because I agree with him on every issue (I don‘t). What I admire is his guts - the gumption to speak his conscience no matter what the conventional wisdom might be.
Some probably think Moore is just a lucky, working-class stiff from Buick Town who happened to strike a cord lately with his outrageous attacks on politicians and corporate America. His casual attire, profane tirades directed against CEO‘s of large corporations, and the ever-present baseball cap all seem to reinforce his image as just another disgruntled factory worker. Why should we listen to him?
Over 25 years ago I curiously attended several benefit movies at the Flint campus of U of M where Dr. Spock, Harry Chapin, and other celebrities served as keynote speakers for progressive causes. The master of ceremonies and student organizer behind these fundraisers was a jarringly, huge young man with long, straight hair hanging down near his waist. The other vivid memory I have of this conspicuous rebel was his utter lack of any sense of humor. He seemed so deadly serious about his causes. His name: Michael Moore.
How times have changed. Moore cut his hair, slimmed down, and has suddenly become the funniest political commentator on the national stage by far. He comes out swinging with a sledgehammer of scathing humor through his books and movies, railing against corporations, politicians, and anyone else he sees oppressing ordinary Americans. Michael Moore has never been a stereotypical blue-collar worker though he probably fights for them every day of his life. His obsession has always been as an activist for the underdog.
In Moore‘s latest book Stupid White Men he has written a chapter titled Kill Whitey. In this section, he confesses that every time he sees a white guy walking toward him he tenses up (though Moore, himself, is white). He points out that while no black person has ever hurt him, anyone who ever harmed him was white. The list includes the boss who fired him, the persons who stole his checkbook and stereo, the kid who shot him with a BB gun, and the girlfriends who dumped him. He goes on to say that he‘s never been sold a lemon by a black car salesman, never been pulled over by a black cop, or never heard a black CEO say that 10,000 jobs are going to be eliminated, have a good day.
Moore has been swimming upstream against public opinion most of his life. Before graduating from high school he won a seat on his local school board, campaigning to fire the principal if elected. In his twenties he launched his own newspaper, The Flint Voice (succeeded by The Michigan Voice). The Voice angered the Flint establishment when it blistered every politician in sight and had the audacity to criticize Flint‘s lifeline, General Motors. Moore‘s newspaper eventually made national headlines when local authorities raided its offices after hours. Gestapo tactics against The Voice only seemed to reinforce his criticism of the same city officials who authorized unlawful entry into the building.
Later, of course, he became internationally famous for his award-winning documentary Roger and Me and a succession of books, TV shows, and documentaries.
When Moore spoke in Traverse City on April 1st to a largely supportive audience he made this point several times, “Don‘t let anyone tell you otherwise - the other side (alluding to conservatives) is in a minority, not us.“ His conclusion is debatable but it is indisputable that there are a disproportionately high number of right-wing commentators in the media shaking their fists at us, compared to the left.
Hard-hitting conservatives Rush Limbaugh, Bill O‘Reilly, Shaun Hannity, Michael Medved, G. Gordon Liddy, Oliver North, etc. dominate the airwaves. What‘s going on here? Didn‘t Al Gore get 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush? Even the black talking heads are mostly conservatives though less than 10% of African-Americans voted for Bush in 2000.
It is impossible to get used to the supposedly objective news anchors on the number one rated news show in America, Fox TV News, expressing partisan commentary from the Republican platform on the heels of Fox interviews or newscasts. Where is the liberal media bias that we hear so much about? Can you name even one prominent liberal whose compelling arguments are being aired on a regular basis?
Fellow Americans, Michael Moore is it - and he isn‘t heard often enough. Whether you agree with his views or not, Michael Moore‘s voice is desperately needed to balance the others in these troubled times.






 
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