State of the union

Stupid White Men by Michael Moore was supposed to be published in October, but the copies printed in September were going to be shredded, since the publisher thought that humorous attacks on President Bush and his partners would not be welcome after 9-11. There was a quiet campaign to get it to readers, and HarperCollins eventually did the right thing: it has released the book unchanged and uncensored, and Moore has said he admires the courage it showed in doing so. You don’t have to be a fan of Moore’s famous anti-corporate, anti-racist, and anti-conservative views to appreciate that this is a real victory. You would be right to assume that “President” Bush will not be pleased by the book. Some of the chapters now have sort of a ring, like “A Very American Coup,” which explains what really happened to give Florida to Bush in the last election. Bush’s brother and his aids were able to fix the polls of black voters, who would have turned out for Gore. It took the BBC to uncover this story. There is plenty more sleaze to this story, which Moore obviously enjoys telling. It may no longer be unpatriotic to make fun at Bush, but Moore does not restrict himself to Bush bashing, being equally tough on Clinton and Gore. There are wonderful shots fired here, and a good laugh on almost every page. Bush’s inaugural parade came up against protesters armed with eggs and tomatoes and “Hail to the Thief” signs at the point in the parade when the brand new President usually gets out and walks. “Then, suddenly, the President’s car bolted and tore down the street. The decision had been made – hit the gas and get past this rabble as quickly as possible. The Secret Service agents running beside the limo were left behind, the car’s tires splashing dirty rain from the street onto the men who were there to protect its passenger. It might have been the finest thing I have ever witnessed in Washington, D.C. – a pretender to the American throne forced to turn tail and run from thousands of American citizens armed only with the Truth and the ingredients of a decent omelet.” A hilarious letter to President Arafat advises him to initiate mass nonviolent civil disobedience, rather than to keep drawing blood; if this advice had been taken, could the Palestinians be in any worse shape now? About the conflict in Northern Ireland, his advice takes on that of Swift’s “Modest Proposal”: “This nonsense has gone on long enough. I have a solution that will bring permanent peace to the area: Convert the Protestants of Northern Ireland to Catholicism…. Naturally, most of the Protestants won’t want to convert – but since when has that stopped the Catholic Church? All you need is a little water to pour over any Protestant’s forehead, and then repeat the following words: ‘I baptize thee in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.’ That’s it! It takes longer to join Weight Watchers!” This book is funny, but sometimes moore takes it a little to far. A 7/10