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Michael Moore, The Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader (New York: Penguin Books, 2004, $20.00, 360 pages, ISBN 0-141-02138-1)Gerardo Del Guercio, Independent Researcher



The September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York has been defined as the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil. Thousands of innocent civilians were brutally murdered simply because they were punctual for their work shift. Michael Moore’s The Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader implores the American working class to view the Bush administration as being too irresponsible to stay in office. Moore structures his argument around George Orwell’s contention that


It’s not a matter of whether the war is not real or if it is. Victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle, the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. [130]


According to Moore and Orwell, governments are self-serving propagandists that utilize war to gain wealth and power over their populace. Arguably, the Bush administration exploits the American working class to gain access to the Middle East oil trade.


Michael Moore’s The Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader questions George W. Bush’s victory in the 2000 Presidential election. Mainstream newsgroups NBC, CBS, and CNN predicted that Al Gore would be the winner in Florida and the new President of the United States. FOX News instead projected George W. Bush as the winner. A major newsgroup like FOX forecasting Bush the winner of an important key swing state like Florida most certainly shifted the election in favor of the Republican Party. Moore discovers that the reason why FOX announced Bush the winner in Florida was because “the man who called it for Bush, was none other that Bush’s first cousin John Ellis” [4-5]. Such a “coincidence” demonstrates that political campaigns are highly contingent on the type of coverage the media gives to one party.  


In the days following the 2000 Presidential election a re-count was demanded based upon complaints that certain poll stations refused black voters the right to vote. Congresswoman Barbra Lee, for one, stated that “the Supreme Court—not the people of the United States—decided this election” [8]. George W. Bush’s narrow victory generated such tension that during his inauguration parade tens of thousands of angry protestors “pelted Bush’s limo with eggs” [10] chanting “[h]ail to the thief! Hail to the thief!” Never was an American President greeted into office with such violent outrage. Moore continues his critique of Bush’s presidency by outlining that Bush chose to take a vacation during forty-two percent of his presidential tenure prior to the 9/11 attacks instead of investigating reports by the department of counterterrorism that Osama bin Laden planned to attack America. The bombing of the World Trade Center gave the Bush administration ample motive to enter and exploit the Middle East’s oil market.


A disturbing relationship exists between the Bush family, Saudi Arabia and the Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is an American-based company with large investments in Middle Eastern oil excursions and mass manufacturers of military weapons. During the 1980s, George H.W. Bush was the president of the Carlyle Group, bringing millions of dollars from Saudi Arabian investors into American banks. Oil barrens from Middle Eastern countries bought shares of Citibank and several other financial institutions. The 9/11 bombings made the Carlyle Group “a one-day profit of $237 million” [34]. An especially intriguing dilemma is that the bin Laden family were major investors of the Carlyle Group. Although Michael Moore proposes a conspiracy theory that Bush purposely allowed Saudi Arabian investors into the United States knowing that a possible terrorist assault could ensue, no empirical evidence exists to support Moore’s claim.  


Members of the bin Laden family were the only individuals who were allowed to fly out of the United States after the 9/11 bombings. Whereas the relatives of other mass murderers in American history were detained for police questioning, Osama bin Laden’s family was allowed to leave the country. Michael Moore argues that the bin Ladens received special protection for the reason that the Bush administration did not want to upset the ties it had with Saudi Arabia. A more dedicated president would have followed normal legal procedure by cross-examining the bin Laden family for the acts of terrorism committed by their kin. What Bush had in mind instead was the idea that Saudi Arabia had invested $1.4 billion in the United States [36]. I propose he would be a much more respected leader if he had acted responsibly and performed his presidential duties to their fullest.


George W. Bush’s response to the al Quada bombings was to launch an immediate attack on Iraq with suspicions that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was harboring Osama bin Laden. Thousands of Iraqi citizens lost their homes because the US Army alleged that they were storing military arms in their houses. After losing her home, a distraught Iraqi woman was recorded yelling, “They have no conscious! They know nothing! They slaughtered us! They destroyed our houses! God will destroy their houses! God is great! God destroy their houses! Victory to Iraq!” [76]. The irate Iraqi woman cannot comprehend why soldiers who had no business entering Iraq demolished her village. Microsoft, DHL, and Halliburton soon discussed “how much money could be made in Iraq” [118] if they were to infiltrate America’s mass media industry. Large corporations gained exposure by paying large sums of advertising dollars to cable networks to broadcast company commercials during primetime news hours. The American general public must be viewed separately from the mass media and Bush administration, as the latter profit while their citizens watch innocent human beings die in warfare.  


Lila Lipscomb is the prototypical parent wronged by American warfare. Many American soldiers have been encouraged by their relatives to escape poverty and earn an education by enlisting in the army. The American Army sent hundreds of recruits to Flint, Michigan, one of America’s poorest regions, to advocate to men and women that “[t]he military is a good option” [92] if “[f]inancial aid will not help you.” Michael Pederson, son of Lila Lipscomb, died in the Iraq war. Michael Moore documents Lila Lipscomb’s antiwar protest at the White House. Unfortunately, Lila Lipscomb was not allowed inside the White House, so her actions went unreported. Michael Moore suggests that mainstream media often censors popular opinion.


American politicians were dumfounded when Michael Moore asked Congress to enlist their children to fight in the Iraq war. Michael Moore stresses how “out of 535 members of Congress, only one had a son stationed in Iraq” [125]. Congressional representative after congressional representative shunned Michael Moore’s proposal that politicians should encourage their children to fight in Iraq. The vast majority of American military personnel are “the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest” [129]. Moore’s stark correlation between military service and economic class implies that governments purposely refuse funding to particular regions in order to have lower-class citizens remain available for armed conflict.


Film viewers and readers of alternative news will enjoy Michael Moore’s The Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader for its “intuitive” investigative analysis of the Bush administration and American war policy. I suggest that those intending to read Moore’s book watch the 2003 film first, to visualize Moore’s argument. Three supplementary sections entitled “The Backup and Evidence,” “What the public thought of Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Essays and Critiques of Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Beyond Fahrenheit 9/11—More Writings on the issues from the Film,” and “Various Cartoons and Photographs” follow Moore’s screenplay. The accompanying sections of Moore’s text solidify his thesis that the Bush administration manipulates the American working class to create a motive for entering and exploiting the Middle East oil trade.


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