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Glenn Greenwald Makes the Case for Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 11/9'

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Glenn Greenwald. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

In July of 2016, with Hillary Clinton narrowly leading in the polls, documentarian Michael Moore issued a dire prophecy. “I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president,” he wrote on his website. “And now I have even more awful, depressing news for you: Donald J. Trump is going to win in November.”

For that reason alone, his newest film, exploring an American democracy on the brink, likely demands a wide viewership. But as Glenn Greenwald argues in The Intercept, “Fahrenheit 11/9″—whose title is a play on Moore’s Bush-focused “Fahrenheit 9/11” and a reference to the date when Trump’s election victory was confirmed—offers much more than a facile #Resistance polemic. Instead, he writes, it pinpoints the social and political pathologies that have enabled a real-estate-mogul-cum-reality-show-host’s rise to power, even if the documentary’s director occasionally succumbs to gimmickry and lurid speculation. And while the administration bears the brunt of Moore’s invective, no institution or party goes unscathed. From Greenwald:

Grifters exploit fears of Trump to build massive social media followings that are easily converted into profit from well-meaning, manipulated dupes. One rickety, unhinged, rant-filled, speculation-driven Trump book after the next dominates the best-seller lists, enriching charlatans and publishing companies alike: the more conspiratorial, the better. Anti-Trump mania is big business, and – as the record-shattering first-week sales of Bob Woodward’s new Trump book demonstrates – there is no end in sight to this profiteering.

All of this is historical revisionism in its crudest and most malevolent form. It’s intended to heap most if not all blame for systemic, enduring, entrenched suffering across the country onto a single personality who wielded no political power until 18 months ago. In doing so, it averts everyone’s eyes away from the real culprits: the governors, both titled and untitled, of the establishment ruling class, who for decades have exercised largely unchecked power – immune even from election outcomes – and, in many senses, still do.

The message is as clear as the beneficial outcomes: Just look only at Trump. Keep your eyes fixated on him. Direct all your suffering, deprivations, fears, resentments, anger and energy to him and him alone. By doing so, you’ll forget about us – except that we’ll join you in your Trump-centered crusade, even lead you in it, and you will learn again to love us: the real authors of your misery. …

The overriding value of “Fahrenheit 9/11” is that it avoids – in fact, aggressively rejects – this ahistorical manipulation. Moore dutifully devotes a few minutes at the start of his film to Trump’s rise, and then asks the question that dominates the rest of it, the one the political and media establishment has steadfastly avoided examining except in the most superficial and self-protective ways: “how the fuck did this happen”?

Read the review in its entirety at The Intercept.

Jacob Sugarman
Jacob Sugarman is the acting managing editor at Truthdig. He is a graduate of the Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism whose writing has appeared in Salon, AlterNet and Tablet, among other…
Jacob Sugarman

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