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September 20, 2004

What a country!

A twentysomething Iranian's response to Fahrenheit 9/11 (hat tip: Johan Norberg)

It sure is a great country, where someone like Moore trashes the president and gets away with it -- and makes so much money!
In addition to being funny, the young man's response raises a good point.

For most of human history, heck, in most countries today, instead of being a rich man, Michael Moore would likely have ended up his cellmate's girlfriend if he was lucky. If the United States were the police state it's so often accused of being, surely Moore would have felt the full wrath of the state apparatus by now. It's not like he's a fugitive who's gone underground or something.

In the West, freedom of speech is a guaranteed right and, as such, Westerners take it for granted. Unlike that Iranian moviegoer, Westerners don't find it absurd that strident denunciation of the state can lead to fame and fortune.

Mr. Moore's words say one thing, but his presently unincarcerated state says another. Nor do his supporters feel the need to conceal their admiration. Ironically, all this reassures me about the United States more than anything else.

"In every Arab country we need one Michael Moore or more[," said Sulaiman al-Hattlan, a U.S.-educated Saudi columnist for the Al-Watan newspaper].
And once it has a Michael Moore of its own to dissect the sins of its present (and a Noam Chomsky to exhume those of its recent past and a Howard Zinn to excavate those of its distant past), I'll feel reassured about the Islamic world.

Posted by jeet at 01:15 AM