LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP)–He was lauded with a 20-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. A.O. Scott of The New York Times called his movie a “passionate expression of outraged patriotism.” At the June showing of Fahrenheit 911 before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science in Los Angeles, he received a standing ovation for over a minute.
But in his recent work, Michael Moore spits in the face of true patriots.
I know that Moore is first and foremost a provocateur and thrives on controversy; he is only too happy that his critics give him free advertising for his film. But, his contempt for democracy demands rebuke.
Despite the evidence proving otherwise, Moore claims that he has a “dogged commitment to uncovering the facts.” In reality, he is a purveyor of “hatriotism” to anti-American critics here and abroad. Even as Islamic extremists in Iraq severed yet another innocent person’s head, Moore ignored that the fledgling freedom there is under attack.
Hatriotism is the new chic in American media. But criticizing democracy and America has long been in vogue in continental Europe, with detractors alternately caricaturing Americans as “naive” and “brutish.”
After an initial fair and balanced look at our efforts to free the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, the American media’s coverage now has deteriorated to negative portrayals of our soldiers and their sacrifices. The trend is to showcase professional protesters mocking America and President Bush, while dismissing the monumental changes that have been won.
Hatriotism ignores that America has freed my kinsmen.
I am a Persian Turkish immigrant raised as a Sunni Muslim, and in the interest of full disclosure, I must state that I left Islam in 1982, the same year I became an American citizen. Moore states that his film is a call to true patriotism. But as one who has lived in both worlds, I don’t see his devotion to the welfare of this country or to those countries America seeks to liberate in this war against terrorism.
The present conflict is not a war against Islam, and neither is it a “war for oil.” American troops have died protecting Muslims, and there are easier ways to obtain oil. This is a war of ideologies, and Moore showcases his in “Fahrenheit 911.”
His film features Lila Lipscombe, a mother in Flint, Mich., who sent her sons to the military and “lives to regret it.” Roger Friedman of FOXNews.com described Lipscombe’s story as “unexpectedly poignant.”
I wonder — was Moore equally moved about the honor killings which daily threatened the lives of Muslim women in Afghanistan? Was he equally outraged about female circumcision that mutilated generations of Afghan women?
In fact, I wonder — where were all the “hatriots” when our soldiers freed the women of Afghanistan from the oppressive rule of the Taliban? Where were the feminists when our soldiers liberated Afghanistan’s women to go to school and to work and to vote?
The irony is hatriots like Moore enjoy the right to free speech because American men and women have shed their blood to protect our Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees — the same freedoms America seeks for the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. I welcome Moore to visit my homeland to make a movie criticizing Turkish oppression and see what happens.
Islamic theocracies do not allow the religious freedom or freedom of expression that democracy affords. The best the Islamic republics can offer is “religious toleration.” Based on the “Pact of Umar,” religious toleration allows non-Muslims to enter Islamic republics, but they must pay a tax (jizyat). They can practice their faiths, but they cannot convert anyone from Islam — to do so means deportation or worse.
Further, Islamic prophecy foretells of worldwide conversion to Sharia law under Islam, and the Taliban and al Qaida terrorists have appointed themselves as the “holy warriors” who would make this prophecy true. So, President Bush is half-right. We are not at war with Islam. But, Islam is largely at war with us.
And Michael Moore is blind to it all.
I would fight and die for a Muslim’s right to build a mosque in every city in America. Our soldiers are fighting to gain such freedom of religion and expression for Iraqis and Afghans. These are not freedoms that Islam offers.
Our soldiers also are fighting to preserve Michael Moore’s freedom to produce works that mock democracy, denigrate our leaders and even ridicule the military — without him having to fear death by stoning or beheading while executioners chant “Allah hu Akbar.”
It has become fashionable for Moore and his fellow hatriots to say, “I support the troops, but not the war.” This is akin to saying, “I support doctors but not surgery.”
Let me state emphatically: I support the troops and their mission.
There is a final irony. In his film, “Roger and Me,” Moore chased an automobile executive for an interview. Now, a young film producer, Michael Wilson, is making a documentary titled, “Michael Moore Hates America.” He continues to pursue Moore for an interview, but Moore has dodged him at every turn. The worm has turned.
Patriotism should not be confused with cynicism, skepticism and criticism.
Nor should hatriotism be confused with the bravery, honor and sacrifice that makes men free.
Ergun Mehmet Caner is coauthor of “Christian Jihad” (Kregel, June 2004) and professor of theology and church history at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.