Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Stupid White Men: and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!, by Michael Moore

Say what you will about Michael Moore, the man knows how to get people riled up. I've heard rumblings about his suspect research and misreadings of facts, and that isn't something to take lightly. But there's something wrong in this country--actually, there are a hell of a lot of things wrong in this country--and Moore has been able to inspire grass-roots action and political involvement. I can forgive a lot of things for that.

One of the best things about Moore is that he's an equal-opportunity pol-basher. Much like Tom Tomorrow, he recognizes that the hypocrisy of the Democrats is in many ways worse than the straightforward pro-big business stance of the Republicans. Clinton and Gore come in for a fair amount of criticism here, and although the biggest targets are Bush and his big money pals, much of what Moore decries is not politicians but the systemic corruption and inefficiency which they maintain. Schools, prisons (take a moment to appreciate the juxtaposition), the EPA and race are launching points for these essays, in which Moore points up, often with alarming statistics, the institutional absurdities of America.

But Moore is most angry, if I may be so bold as to read into this tract, at the American voter. At bottom this book is not reportage, it's a call to action, a cattle prod up the ass of the working class. (Rhyme stolen from The Returnables--hey fellas!) Moore wants people to get involved, to vote, to protest, to run for office. He's evangelizing the best aspects of our political system, namely the fact that every citizen has (in theory; economics tend to get in the way) the same rights and privileges in voting and running. It doesn't get any more American than that. This book will piss you off, but these days that's a good way to be. I recommend it.


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