"Fahrenheit 9/11" is making mega-bucks in American theaters and -- with some help from terrorists who also are Michael Moore fans -- it could prove a blockbuster in the Middle East too.
The film industry publication Screendaily.com reports that the movie will soon debut in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
“In terms of marketing,” Screendaily.com announces, Mr. Moore “is getting a boost from organizations related to Hezbollah.”
Yes, that Hezbollah: the Syrian- and Iranian-backed terrorist group that pioneered suicide bombings against Americans more than 20 years ago in Beirut, the terrorist group second only to al Qaeda in number of Americans murdered, the terrorist group that now operates against the US in Iraq, the terrorist group Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state, dubbed the "A-Team of terrorists" -- more skilled and cunning than almost any other.
“We can't go against these organizations,” explains Gianluca Chacra, the managing director of Front Row Entertainment, the UAE-based firm releasing Moore's flick in the Middle East.
Mr. Chacra added: “Having the support of such an entity in Lebanon is quite significant for that market and not at all controversial. I think it's quite natural.”
Yes, of course. And it's not as if Mr. Moore's views of America differ dramatically from those of Hezbollah. If you think I exaggerate, look at the two statements below. One is from Mr. Moore, the other from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Guess which belongs to the Hollywood celebrity and which to the mass murderer. (The answer is at the end of this column*.)
“The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich.”
“This is the war of a despotic, arrogant, and cruel country against the nations of the world.”
Mr. Moore is becoming as famous in Beirut as he is in Beverly Hills. “He is considered an Arab supporter,” notes Mr. Chacra. Perhaps that's because Mr. Moore fuels the fires of suspicion, prejudice and hatred that burn in the fabled “Arab street.” For example, Mr. Moore says that the U.S. “is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe. …It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton."
I have not seen Mr. Moore's new film, but I've read that it shows images of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners and, to provide contrast, images of the good old days when Saddam Hussein was in his palaces, children were flying kites in Mesopotamian breezes, and all was well with the world. Now, that's entertainment – at least to Mr. Moore and al Jazeera.
Mr. Moore wants Middle Easterners to know that Americans are “possibly the dumbest people on the planet… in thrall to conniving, thieving, smug pricks. We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance.”
A communique from Hezbollah might express similar views about Americans – though probably in more eloquent language.
Like his Radical Islamist admirers, Mr. Moore disapproves not only of the ouster of Saddam but even of the toppling of the Taliban, al Qaeda's Afghan host. “To bomb Afghanistan,” he mused to NBC's Tim Russert, “I mean, I've never understood this, Tim. I mean, the -- the simple math to me is that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Now I have to ask, if 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Cuba, would we bomb Bolivia?”
Mr. Moore's perspective on 9/11 might be described as middle-of-the-road -- if that road runs through downtown Damascus. “Three thousand Americans were killed,” he notes. “There's 290 million Americans, all right? The chance of any of us dying in a terrorist incident is very, very, very small.”
With views like that, is it any wonder that Michael Moore is the Heartthrob of Hezbollah?
If Mr. Moore is uncomfortable at having fanatics as fans, there's a simple way for him to prove it: Say publicly that he does not want and will not accept support from Hezbollah or any other terrorist organization. Fire Gianluca Chacra and cut ties with Front Row Entertainment.
But should Mr. Moore not do that, prominent Democrats might want to reconsider their embrace of him. Recently a phalanx of such luminaries – including Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, South Carolina Sen. Ernest Hollings, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, New York Rep. Charles Rangel, and Washington Rep. Jim McDermott -- attended a screening of “Fahrenheit 9/11” in Washington.
Like Hezbollah, these individuals were eager to boost Mr. Moore. Terry McAuliffe, the affable chairman of the Democratic National Committee, pronounced the film, “very powerful, much more powerful that I thought it would be… there are a lot of interesting facts that he [Moore] brought out today that none of us knew about.” That most of those “facts” have proven to be lies and distortions ought to be taken into consideration. Mr. McAuliffe added: “I think anyone who goes to this movie will come out en masse and vote for John Kerry.”
Perhaps having read this, and become more fully informed, Mr. McAuliffe and his friends will change their minds about Mr. Moore, his movie and its usefulness. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
* The first quote is from Mr. Moore, the second from Mr. Nasrallah.