Michael Moore on the types of lies told by U.S. Presidents
The following passage is taken from Michael Moore’s “Dude, Where’s my Country?” (2003). I quoted from this book several times in my recent book, “Home Study Projects and New Ideas for English Language Arts.” In Chapter Two I discuss five authors whose combined book and miniseries are rich in content and extremely well written. The five authors are Ken Burns, Michael Moore, Alex Haley, Herman Wouk and the team of authors who produced “The Story of English.” I recommend all five for enriching your life during this horrible Covid-19 nightmare.)
In my book I recommend that students write home-based reports on any of these authors for extra credit. They will find their research interesting and rewarding and they won’t find reports that difficult to write—all they have to do is follow the questions in my templates (I have included in the book templates for book reports, movie reports and song reports.)
Here’s Michael Moore:
What is the worst lie a president can tell?
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
[Or…]“He [Sadam Hussein of Iraq Ed.] has weapons of mass destruction—the world’s deadliest weapons—which pose a direct threat to the United States, our citizens and our friends and allies.”One of those lies got a president impeached. The other lie not only got the liar who told it the war he wanted, but also resulted in huge business deals for his friends (…).
Sure, we have been lied to before. Lots of lies: big lies, little lies, lies that brought us down in the eyes of the world. “I am not a crook.” was a lie, and it sent Richard Nixon packing. “Read my lips: No new taxes.” wasn’t so much a lie as a broken promise, but it nonetheless cost the first Bush his presidency. “Ketchup is a vegetable.” was technically not a lie, but it was a good example of the Reagan administration’s whacked view of the world. Other presidents lied about Vietnam, lied about Korea, lied about the Indians, lied about all men being equal (as they kept personal slaves chained up in the backyard). Boatloads of lies for hundreds of years. And, when caught in their lies, they were disgraced, punished, or removed. Sometimes. Maybe the reason Bush is still here is that he proved the old adage that if you tell a lie long enough and often enough, sooner or later it becomes the truth.
(…) But nothing can hide this indisputable fact: There is no worse lie than one told to scare mothers and fathers enough to send their children off to fight a war that did not need to be fought because there never was any real threat at all. To falsely tell a nation’s citizens that their lives are in jeopardy just so you can settle your own personal score (“He tried to kill my daddy!”) or to make your rich friends even richer, well, in a more just world there would be a special prison cell in Joliet reserved for that type of liar. (pp. 90-2)
(Also from Moore
On the U.S.A.’s lamentable record of aiding repressive regimes
throughout the world:
We (Americans) have a long and proud history of propping up madmen and their regimes as long as it helps us rule the world. (…)
One of Moore’s examples is Cambodia. After secretly extending the Vietnam War into Cambodia in the late sixties and then watching the already decimated country slip under the control of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, the United States chose to support this madman for the simple reason that he offered opposition to the Vietnamese communists, who had just fought mighty America to total defeat. Then he [Pol Pot] took control and wiped out millions of his own people. (p. 118)
When staging a coup and overthrowing the democratically elected leader of another country, do it right. Don’t force the people of those countries to live under a U.S.-sponsored dictatorship as we did in Chile, Indonesia, and Guatemala. [Ed: and Cuba, and Nicaragua] These regimes are set up primarily to allow U.S. corporations to run roughshod over their people. This type of behavior results in a certain unruly segment of the population just hating our guts. I know, I know, what a bunch of crybabies. Still, we’re the ones who often end up suffering. The best way to help spread democracy may be for us to not undo the democratic decisions people in other countries make. Greed, the real reason why so many American companies have set up factories in undeveloped countries.
America became well off when its workers were paid enough money to afford to buy the very houses and cars and stereos they built with their own hands. That made them happy, content, and not thinking thoughts of revolution or terrorism. The genius of Henry Ford was not only his invention of the assembly line; it was his idea that everyone should get five bucks a day (a bonanza in those times). By keeping the
price of the Ford low enough, all his workers would be able to buy one. Why have American corporations forgotten this lesson when they go abroad? It will be their doom. They say they are paying their overseas workers practically nothing [Moore gives the example of the clothing factory worker in El Salvador who makes 24 cents
for each $140 National Basketball Association jersey she produces so that the price of the products is kept low for American consumers. But the truth is they have moved these factories to foreign countries so they can pocket the profit. (…) The new rich (…) have an insatiable desire to make as much as is inhumanly possible. (…) This gluttony will result in more of us losing our lives to angry terrorists from the Third World. Let’s make the fat cats share the wealth with those who make their products for them overseas. It’s a good way to keep the rest of us safe. (pp. 98-102 of “Home Study Projects and New Ideas for English Language Arts”, by Robert Thomson)
To my readers: send me an email if you would like me to send you information on my new book. firstname.lastname@example.org I can send you in separate files the introduction, the table of contents and any of the seven chapters.