“Fahrenheit 11/9,” the title of Michael Moore’s new film that opens today in theaters, is an obvious play on the title of his wildly profitable Bush-era “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but also a reference to the date of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 election victory. Despite that, Trump himself is a secondary figure in Moore’s film, which is far more focused on the far more relevant and interesting questions of what – and, critically, who – created the climate in which someone like Trump could occupy the Oval Office.
For that reason alone, Moore’s film is highly worthwhile regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. The single most significant defect in U.S. political discourse is the monomaniacal focus on Trump himself, as though he is the cause – rather than the by-product and symptom – of decades-old systemic American pathologies.
Personalizing and isolating Trump as the principal, even singular, source of political evil is obfuscating and thus deceitful. By effect, if not design, it distracts the population’s attention away from the actual architects of their plight.
This now-dominant framework misleads people into the nationalistic myth – at once both frightening and comforting – that prior to 2016’s “Fahrenheit 11/9,” the U.S., though quite imperfect and saddled with “flaws,” was nonetheless a fundamentally kind, benevolent, equitable and healthy democracy, one which, by aspiration if not always in action, welcomed immigrants, embraced diversity, strove for greater economic equality, sought to defend human rights against assaults by the world’s tyrants, was governed by the sturdy rule of law rather than the arbitrary whims of rulers, elected fundamentally decent even if ideologically misguided men to the White House, and gradually expanded rather than sadistically abolished opportunity for the world’s neediest.
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But suddenly, teaches this fairy tale as ominous music plays in the background, a villain unlike any we had previously known invaded our idyllic land, vandalized our sacred public spaces, degraded our admired halls of power, threatened our collective values. It was only upon Trump’s assumption of power that the nation’s noble aspirations were repudiated in favor of a far darker and more sinister vision, one wholly alien to “Who We Are”: a profoundly “un-American” tapestry of plutocracy, kleptocracy, autocracy, xenophobia, racism, elite lawlessness, indifference and even aggressive cruelty toward the most vulnerable and marginalized.
This myth is not just false but self-evidently so. Yet it persists, and thrives, because it serves so many powerful interests at once. Most importantly, it exonerates, empowers, and elevates the pre-Trump ruling class, now recast as heroic leaders of the #Resistance and nostalgic symbols of America’s pre-11/9 Goodness...
Read the full article, with possible updates, at The Intercept.