ambivalent imbroglio home

« Rule Of Law? | Main | Five Things »

June 24, 2004

Attack Mode: Engaged

It looks like Christopher Hitchens is trying to lead the charge against "Fahrenheit 9/11", another movie with its own (unofficial) blog. Hitchens brazenly displays one of the fundamental disagreements between the left and the right in America today. The left says the world is complicated, and there's no simple "good v. evil" or any other binary, but complex spectra of interleaved causes and effects. The right says no, it's good or evil, black or white, either or:

Either the Saudis run U.S. policy (through family ties or overwhelming economic interest), or they do not. As allies and patrons of the Taliban regime, they either opposed Bush's removal of it, or they did not. (They opposed the removal, all right: They wouldn't even let Tony Blair land his own plane on their soil at the time of the operation.) Either we sent too many troops, or were wrong to send any at all—the latter was Moore's view as late as 2002—or we sent too few.

Oops! Excuse me, Mr. Hitchens, but I'm afraid that last binary got a little mangled—you've suggested there are more than two options and that just cannot be!

To be fair, it's possible to argue that Moore's worldview is no more complex or nuanced than the one Hitchens describes (also: I think Hitchens is just playing the role of sensational provocateur here, a role with which he's apparently familiar). According to the Washington Post:

In this latest movie Moore has been praised for having matured as a filmmaker, but his worldview hasn't changed much since "Roger and Me" -- history can be explained by tracing connections between rich people and their friends.

That may not be wholly inaccurate as far as what Moore thinks. It also wouldn't be wholly untrue. But whatever.

Apparently the movie had its U.S. premier last night at the Uptown, here in D.C. L. and I have tickets to a Friday showing, so I'll have a better idea of what to make of it after that.

See also:

Posted June 24, 2004 05:20 AM | ai movies election 2004

i've seen three links to this article this morning. i'm sure it's one of what will become many. but it's not stopping me from seeing the film on friday either. or agreeing with Moore, but that wasn't going to change anyway.

Posted by: monica at June 24, 2004 05:53 AM

I love your post, and your assessments of Christopher Hitchens. I've blogged about Hitchens before, and it seems like the more time passes, the more stale his "controversial" comments start to sound.

Posted by: Carey at June 24, 2004 06:39 PM

The left says the world is complicated, and there's no simple "good v. evil" or any other binary, but complex spectra of interleaved causes and effects. The right says no, it's good or evil, black or white, either or

Come on, Ambimb. That gross overgeneralization would be... what, a stupid either/or? And yes, Hitchens 'mangles' the last "either/or" because he's not suggesting a dilectic.

Notably, Moore's taken flack from the left because he's presented the world in a black/white worldview. It's just that the 'black' in this case is a certain Texan.

Anyway, I suppose that between you, who sees the right as willing to see no complexity, and Chris Geidner, who's thoroughly convinced that I'm so convoluted as to be ineffectual, I must simply pause in wonderment. Hitchens does paint Moore very darkly, but his worldview is hardly as simplistic as the buffoon who wrote Stupid White Men.

Posted by: A. Rickey at June 25, 2004 12:09 PM

Anthony: Of course you're right -- I used a binary to mock binary thinking. I think we'd both agree that there's no monolithic or neatly-bordered "left" or "right," but groups of tendencies that head in either direction. So no, not everyone on the right sees the world in simple binaries any more than everyone on the left sees the world in complex nuances. I will disagree, however, that Moore's portraying a black/white world in either "Bowling for Columbine" or "Fahrenheit 9/11." See today's post (coming soon, I hope) about my thoughts on the latest film.

Posted by: ambimb at June 26, 2004 06:22 AM

It's dialectic, not "dilectic." And I might add that it is a fine line between convulsion and stupidity so I would not be so quick to pat yourself on the back. There is more than a bit of hypocrisy in calling someone on a "gross overgeneralization" while yet painting Hitchens "worldview" as "hardly as simplistic" as that of Moore. That would be "what, a stupid either/or?"

Posted by: Famous P. at June 26, 2004 12:03 PM

about   ∞     ∞   archives   ∞   links   ∞   rss
This template highly modified from The Style Monkey.