A curse on Michael Moore. He too is an American. If it weren’t for the likes of him, the rest of us could take it easy and blame ‘the Americans’ for everything. This truly wonderful book occasionally misfires but even then the noise adds to the overall effect of a direct, humane, deeply serious and joyfully hilarious assault on the band of white men and their corporations who rule us all. As if to prove Moore’s point, Rupert Murdoch’s publishing empire tried to censor, then shelve, the book. So it’s gratifying to find it hitting the number one spot with internet booksellers.
If the ‘stupid’ in the title is off-putting for those of us who, like Michael Moore himself, are white men, then rest assured that the emphasis is less on flesh tones than on money and power. The fact that white men hoard most of it does not exempt those few others who’ve followed suit from the lash of Moore’s withering scorn. He thinks of slavery as sanitized, not abolished.
Occasionally Moore lets his gaze wander beyond the American horizon. The bulk of the book, however, is a blistering attack on the crude injustice of the education, criminal-justice and political systems in the US. He reserves his deepest contempt not for ‘President’ (he always uses the quote marks) Bush and the Republicans but for Clinton and the Democrats, on the grounds that the two are twins in practice but only the Democrats lie about it.
The book closes with an account of the veteran activist Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign. Apparently Nader is now hated by the same Baby Boomers who once venerated him. ‘Nader represents who they [the Boomers] used to be but no longer are,’ says Moore. ‘He never changed. He never lost faith, never compromised, never gave up.’
Anyone who thinks you can’t be angry, hopeful, funny and informative at the same time will be confounded by this book. In a passing aside he comes closer than the CIA or the FBI to foreseeing the events of 11 September. Chances are that he gets the rest of it right as well. Bless him.David Ransom
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