Michael Moore acknowledged his standing ovation March 26 by passing his recently won Oscar around the front row of Strong Auditorium. “This is the people’s Oscar,” Moore declared, speaking for the first time since his controversial acceptance speech on March 23.
Moore, the well-known writer, director and political activist, spoke on the Bush administration, the war with Iraq, his recent Oscar moment as well as the state of liberal politics in America to a sold out audience.
Moore made it clear that he felt his comments during his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards were appropriate. “If I had done a documentary about birds, then no, it would not be appropriate. I would have said something about birds,” he said. “I made a film about American violence.”
“I hope it has opened up a discussion on Bush and this war, which it seems to have done,” he said. Moore believed that he had a moral responsibility to make the comments instead of just “taking the easy way.”
He also addressed the crowd reaction. “There were booers booing booers for booing. It was like a big fucking boo fest,” he said.
“Anytime you’ve got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, you aren’t long for the White House,” Moore said, paraphrasing his Oscar speech. He continued to lambast Bush’s actions surrounding September 11 and the war in Iraq. “The Bush administration has done a fairly good job in confusing the issues – September 11 and Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with September 11.”
“It really disgusts me that the Bush administration has used the dead of that day, the 3,000 dead, to make his conservative policies. “It makes me sick,” he said, in regards to the use of September 11 as justification for actions such as the USA Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. He also spoke on the use of September 11 as a scare tactic.
“Osama bin Laden – you couldn’t come up with a better boogie man than this,” Moore said. “What’s he doing? Running from cave to cave in Afghanistan with a kidney machine? Or is there a dialysis machine in every fifth cave?”
Moore then attacked the inconsistent actions of Bush towards Iraq and North Korea. “North Korea, they’re okay. They’re going, ‘Hello, hello? We already have the bomb. Hello? Over here,'” Moore said.
He insisted that the actions of Bush are not those of the majority of Americans, and that poll results showing support for the war don’t show this. Instead, he suggested that they are the results of people wanting to rally around their leader during a time of crisis.
“In most Americans’ minds it’s ‘Love the one you’re with,'” he said. “I would like Americans to think about why we are such a violent people. The reason it is important to ask this question is because we are really good people. There are a lot of flaws in our history and right now, but the average American has a good heart.”
Moore continued to speak on average Americans throughout the night, in the context of the economic situation of the ’90s. “You think there would be a revolt by now,” he said in reference to the economic crisis of many in the middle class. “Many of those conservatives believed in the American dream and it became the American nightmare.”
Now, Moore said, it is especially important that the average American get involved in politics, despite the disconnect between the majority and politicians.
“The problem is they have no one to vote for – because liberals don’t have the courage of their convictions,” Moore said. “If they have to go between Tweedledum and Tweedle-dumber they would just rather go home. Apathy has always been a part of humans.”
His stressed creating solutions to the apathy and lack of participation. “We have to start believing in our own power. We are the majority,” he said. “We could create an atmosphere where a lot of people do a little instead of where a little do a lot.”
Moore continued to argue for involving the average “slacker” Americans. “We need to figure out how to make politics more accessible to the majority of our fellow lard-ass Americans.”
Moore challenged the audience to each run for office and to move past their backgrounds to encourage participation of different groups of people. “Let people be who they are. Open your minds a little bit to where people are, so you can meet them where they’re at,” he said. “I’m telling you, word of mouth and grassroots is an incredible thing.”
Controversy follows Moore and his visit to UR was no exception. Members of the community and students gathered to demonstrate in support of the President. “Basically, the reason I am here is to support our troops. We are here not as pro-war, but to be behind our President at a time that is necessary,” community member Michael Valente said.
He stood in front of Interfaith Chapel holding American flags saying, “I would choose peace over war. I’m asking everyone who lives here to support our troops, right now, more than ever.” He was also there, in part, to show his disapproval of Moore’s comments at the Oscars.”I do not feel it was appropriate,” Valente said. “I respect him having the right, but I don’t agree with him.”
“We wouldn’t be out here unless there is a lot of resistance to what is right because people feel the need to go against the correct line the President is following,” President of the College Republicans and sophomore David Pascoe said. He explained the group was there mainly as a counter-protest but also because of Moore. “Moore is a flashpoint for the liberal anti-war movement,” he said.
Peace protestors also demonstrated in front of Strong. A group of around 50 students joined hands to sing songs of peace and protest the war in Iraq. “We are seeking the same thing we’ve been seeking – peace,” sophomore John Zeiser said.
Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.