It was with a heavy heart that I sat in the theatre and waited for this documentary to begin. I was told that the connections made by Moore were mesmerizing and the images completely devastating. I was also told I would cry (but that’s not really news) and so with tissue in place of pop, I watched with bated breath from beginning to end.
Many of us have already heard about the connections between the Bush tribe, the Cheney tribe, the Rumsfeld tribe (etc, etc, etc) and the Saudis. We’re also aware of the Saudi connection to Osama Bin Laden and his family, as well as the Bin Ladens and their funding of several of the Bush family’s major corporate undertakings. We know that the Saudi regime “owns” 6 –” 7% of the American economy, that the Saudi Embassy is protected by the U.S. Secret Service, and that Bush’s family pretty much ran/runs Fox news. We also know that there was a time when Hamid Karzai didn’t always dress in traditional Afghan clothing; when this now interim “leader” of Afghanistan used to be an advisor to Unocal, the very same oil giant that has been leading the building of the trans-Afghan pipeline, he used to wear nice crisp North American suits and ties. For the most part, we also knew that it was only America’s poor that were targeted for army recruitment, and that U.S. Bills such as the Patriot Act are passed without comprehensive knowledge of their destructive power. Furthermore, we’ve also been aware that the African-American community possesses no real voice in America and that it is the poor of the U.S. of A. who fight and die in wars overseas, so as to ensure that the rich and ‘haves and have-more’ inside of America stay that way.
Oh, right! We’re also most definitely certain that Bush has a tendency to bumble and fumble when he’s trying to speak any language other than Texan.
So then, what’s left to learn from Fahrenheit 9/11?
More important than any of the facts I just rattled off for you, there are women in this documentary who you have to pay attention to. Christian, Muslim, American, Iraqi; mothers who are, as are most women in times of war, left behind trying to make sense of the loss of life.
The first was an elderly Iraqi woman who was about to bury the 5th member of her family murdered by the arrogant American kids running amuck in massive tanks, loud wanker music their accomplice. Angry and hysterical, this woman was calling for the wrath of God to embrace the American men and women who murdered her family.
Can she be blamed?
From the same family.
Can she be blamed?
The second was yet another Iraqi woman who was terrorized in the middle of the night, courtesy of the Coalition Forces. They took her son from her because they wanted him for questioning. The cowboys stormed through this little Iraqi home in search of the young man –” a university student –” all the while pointing their guns at the mother and the daughter. The daughter was just freaking out, completely and without apology: freaking right out.
Remember that Iraq is a sovereign country that has never threatened America, and that has never –” until they were invaded –” brought harm to even one American person. Remember that before the Coalition Forces bombed, invaded and occupied Iraq, Iraqi men would have never become ‘militants’ or ‘terrorists’ preparing to fight even one American individual. And so assuming that this man was, by certain definitions a ‘militant’, he was made that way by the same men who went in to his home and ripped the privacy and calm from his mother and sister (I believe the word is ‘liberty’).
I couldn’t help but wonder if this woman’s son was one of the many who ended up in Abu Ghraib.
The last woman was the most complex character of the entire documentary. She was the proud and poor American who encouraged her children to join the army so that they would “see the world” and “get an education”, neither of which she would ever be able to afford on her own. This is the woman who believed in her Country and confused that very belief and trust with the strange concept of patriotism.
This is the woman who held unadulterated support for her President, the President of the United States of America. The type of support that provides breeding ground for the likes of the Patriot Act and brands dissent a threat to national security.
This is the woman who once jeered at the anti-war protests, calling anyone who was party to the demonstrations a ‘traitor’ a ‘coward’, most definitely ‘unpatriotic’.
This is the woman who a mere three years ago, welcomed the destruction of another Country, believing blindly that the death of one ‘American’ was justification for the brutalization of many a country and the citizens within.
This is the woman who said that America was great, America was freedom, America was the dream that we know as democracy…right before she proudly kissed her son goodbye as he left for Iraq. The woman who believed her son was one of the brave who would ‘liberate’ an oppressed people.
Surprisingly, it was for this woman that I cried most.
Watching this character, there were two pivotal moments for me: the first was when she read aloud the last letter she received from her son, the one in which he expressed his anger and misgivings about Bush and the false reasons he sent these boys to kill innocents.
The second was when she walked to the front of the White House and I watched her double over from the hurt, and I understood that she was mourning both her son and what she once believed to be her ‘Country’ and all that it represented. She was crying so hard that she was incapable of breathing. She became the elderly Iraqi woman lost in disbelief, anger, lies, destruction, and death…but she was lucky enough to only lose one son, rather than five. Whereas this woman chose to support this war effort in a blind patriotic fog, the Iraqi women had and still have no choice but to accept the consequences of the rest of the world’s actions, inaction, and complicity.
With the Iraqi women, it is almost simple. For the most part, they have a clearly defined enemy (if there is such a thing).
For this American woman, her enemy turned out to be her President, her ‘Country’, and worse yet, herself. I saw the recognition of betrayal written all over her face, and I knew that no matter what amount of recourse was available to this woman, she was broken. There can be no mending her, there is no renewal of faith in her future. Se believed and that belief came home in a body bag.
In the audience, I heard someone whisper “…she deserves it…”, and it wasn’t the first time I’d heard such sentiments. There is a lack of sympathy for these players in the war: She wanted war, and rather than exercising her democratic right to question and probe and demand information, she believed blindly in ‘liberty’ and this, this death is the fruit of her patriotic labor. I couldn’t turn around to see what sort of individual would have it in them to say such a thing because I was trying to control every part of me to not double over myself and share in her grief. That reaction, and what follows was the most important lesson for me…
This was a woman and a mother who, willingly, ignored a very loud and very legitimate cry against war. This was a woman who chose to actively ignore the reality that in war, it is not only one ‘side’ that dies…even in invasion and occupation, there are casualties on both ‘sides’, and any support for war is support for murder. Any support for war is support for the massive grief of someone else’s mother. That it was her son who died, should not make this war any more personal, for the grief of every mother, regardless of nationality, should be cause enough to speak up against war.
She represents one of the thousands of desperate mothers who will lose a son or a daughter in this invasion and occupation of Iraq. She has learned, through the most treacherous way, that her love of her country demands that she check her President’s power. With this lesson, I have no doubt that her cries against any war will be much louder than yours and mine.