Even the title made me uneasy. Stupid White Men is, first of all, a phrase from a Jim Jarmusch movie, Dead Man. An Indian says it every time he encounters another S.W.M. And Jarmusch...well, he's just wrong. Even when he's good, he's a wrong person, a wrong director.
Then there's the awkward fact that Moore's white. And I'm white. Hell, my whole family is white. It's a tricky business.
Ah, but you see? You see what's happening to me? I'm retreating, "one eye on the exits," to the nearest available quibble with Moore's book.
It's interesting to observe this process: why have I not spoken yet about Moore's beautiful attack on Bush in the first fifty pages of his book? Why do I jump to the one part that makes me queasy, his race chapter?
Put it this way: Moore hates well and loves poorly. His hates are always dead right; his attempts to love or just lighten up are inferior. So when he proposes his solution to America's racial problems, he fails. When he tries to sum up the things men do wrong in their dealings with women, he's just plain awful, like -- God help me -- Dave Barry or something. And when he says how he loves "this big lug of a country," he annoys me; why love it? I used to love it too, when I was all alone defending America on Sproul Plaza, but...how, why, love this sick evil mess it's become? What is this, a Civics class? No, I won't love America any more, and I don't like Moore loving it. (By the way, he DOES love America. That much is very clear to anyone who reads Stupid White Men carefully.)
But when Moore is free to attack, when his glorious hatred has scope to play over the target-rich environment which is contemporary America, he comes in glory to judge the living and the dead, and he has no equal. It's been a long time since America saw anything like righteous rage with this sort of media savvy, and it has terrified everyone -- as it should.
Oh, there's plenty of rage. It's the staple of talk radio. But it's a contemptible rage, fifty million morons too chickenshit to admit they hate their lives, projecting their misery onto an imaginary "liberal elite" which was scared into hibernation decades ago.
Even gaudily psychotic ranters like Ann Coulter, who would be drawing with blunt crayons in a padded cell had she been born anywhere else in the world, seems banal when you see how her sickest spittle-laced rants serve no function but distracting dyspeptic commuters from their wretched lives.
Moore's hate is something else: a left hook like Tyson's. When he hits people, they fall down. And that horrifies everyone. The American left has been throwing fights longer than any bum in Don King's stable. To find one of their own fighting to win is the one thing they won't stand.
And Moore's point, in this book, is that the Democrats threw the fight. In the first chapters of Stupid White Men, Moore tells what happened to the 2000 election in Florida. He doesn't pretend to be "balanced"; if he did, he'd be crazy. Anybody who could tell this story as if it were an NFL game, with a balanced appreciation of both teams, is a traitor. (That is to say: the mainstream press are traitors.)
Moore's a great storyteller. He starts fast, like the true-crime writer he is: "The coup began long before the shenanigans on Election Day 2000. In the summer of 1999 Katherine Harris...who was both George W. Bush's presidential campaign cochairwoman AND the Florida Secretary of State in charge of elections, paid $4 million dollars to Database Technologies to go through Florida's voter rolls and remove anyone 'suspected' of being a former felon. She did so with the blessing of the governor of Florida, George W.'s brother Jeb Bush -- whose own wife was caught by immigration officials trying to sneak $19,000 worth of jewelry into the country, a felony in its own right. But hey, this is America. We don't prosecute felons if they're rich or married to a governing Bush."
The tale goes on from there. It's stunning, most of all because, though I'd bet every reporter in Florida knew all this, none of the cowardly, slimy bastards ever put it all together and said it stinks. It's a classic African banana-republic tale, in which the local oligarch's family steals the election and crushes all opposition -- except our press is not as brave as the African press, so our oligarchs didn't have to threaten the local press with death or torture. All you have to do, it seems, to make the American press repeat any lie you wish is to threaten not to let them ride on Air Force One.