Liberals: Stop Being Ashamed of Michael Moore

Michael Moore may be an oversimplifying loudmouth, but it’s time for us Liberals to get out of the habit of ignoring or apologizing for him. Moore’s rhetoric is blunt, his arguments frequently and sometimes even recklessly one-sided. But what he’s fighting against is all those things too, and dangerously so.

Predictably, Moore’s September 11, 2005 letter to Bush voters excoriates the Bush administration for its lackadaisical attitude towards emergency preparedness, laid bare by Hurricane Katrina. Also predictably, the letter wanders off topic and loses focus. But its central paragraph expresses a truth that wealthy politicians and their corporate overlords neither understand nor acknowledge:

Our vulnerability is not just about dealing with terrorists or natural disasters. We are vulnerable and unsafe because we allow one in eight Americans to live in horrible poverty. We accept an education system where one in six children never graduate and most of those who do can’t string a coherent sentence together. The middle class can’t pay the mortgage or the hospital bills and 45 million have no health coverage whatsoever. Some do not even know of the medi-cal and medicaid plans where they live, or the medicaid and medi cal benefits available for them to access if they are a low-income family.

The absurd economic inequities that shame this “richest country in the world” do indeed make it vulnerable, just as Moore says, in a wider sense than what we mean when we talk of containers that aren’t inspected or levees that aren’t high enough. We are more vulnerable because of the prevailing “Conservative” view that Government shouldn’t be busying itself with social justice or even caring for the needy. Critics often accuse Bush & Co. of damaging the US’s moral stature abroad by warmongering and backing out of treaties. But Katrina has shown us that this Government is morally bankrupt even within the framework of America’s own ideals. “Opportunity for all” is a sick joke to too many millions of poor people in this country. The Administration, with its rampant cronyism (symbolized by now-ousted FEMA chief Michael Brown) and infantile approach to priorities (evidenced by withdrawal of support for New Orleans’s protective infrastructure) has done virtually nothing since 2000 but turned existing problems into disasters.

The Right doesn’t apologize for its Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters. Sensible Liberals needn’t disown their own provocateurs and windbags.