It was Monday night at the Tweeter Center along the Camden waterfront, and Michael Moore was falling into one of his trademark fits, giving an address sponsored by Rutgers University-Camden. He described a scene from his latest film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” in which an Iraqi woman comes out of a house in Baghdad screaming “Death to America.”
Moore’s voice, triumph of the left and scourge of the right, rose from a menacing simmer.
“She called for a curse on each and every one of us in this room, that bombs would rain down on our homes, so that we could feel the pain of what the Iraqi people had to suffer through during this year and a half.” He said as he began to boil, “We cut off the head of one dictator so that the heads of 11 dictators can now sprout.”
He turned his ire directly at the Bush administration. Red-faced, he said, “It is absolute insanity that anyone would consider keeping (George W. Bush) in the White House for this. He is the man who did this and he will not be rewarded by having another four years in the White House.”
He was spitting now, chanting. “He’s gotta go. He’s gotta go. He’s gotta go – I’ve had it.”
This is why the anti-Bush left loves Michael Moore – he is a galvanizing figure, the exact reason he is so hated by his critics on the right.
He paced behind the podium as a thunderous ovation rose from the Tweeter’s nearly packed house – a packed house that seemed to play host to only a few dissenting voices which quietly held back as Moore masterfully moved the audience with his rhetoric.
A busload of more than 40 students from the College joined the cheering crowd as part of a College Union Board sponsored trip.
“I thought it was a very powerful speech,” Manisha Narang, junior sociology major, said. “He said what needed to be said.”
The enthusiasm of the crowd helped Moore substantiate his claim that the vast majority of Americans are actually liberal in their viewpoints.
“(The Republicans) are the minority and they know it,” Moore said, asserting that only 30 percent of the nation actually considers itself aligned with the Republican party’s platform, and that only 20 percent represent the Christian conservative movement.
“It’s small, it’s a dying breed,” he said. “They’re so angry because they know their days are numbered.”
As such, Moore suggested that victory by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry hinged not upon reaching swing voters, but instead on reaching non-voters.
In an attempt to convince that key demographic to participate in the election, Moore announced his plan to tour 20 swing states beginning this Sunday. The goal of the “The Slacker Uprising Tour,” as its been dubbed by Moore, is to get 10 percent of the 50 percent of non-voters in the United States to come out on Nov. 2.
Moore also announced his intention to distribute thousands of free copies of “Fahrenheit 9/11” in swing states in the week leading up to the election, as well as an attempt to have the film televised on Nov. 1.
He reached out to the non-voters in Camden as well, heralding the unregistered onto the stage as he handed out door prizes – Tostitos, Kraft Easy Mac, clean underwear, Ramen – as incentives to get them to the polls.
To help Moore with the efforts, volunteers with America Coming Together and MoveOn.org were on-hand to register new voters.
The bestselling author, whose books include “Stupid White Men,” and “Dude, Where’s My Country?” doled out some advice for the Kerry campaign, which is struggling through the doldrums following the Republican National Convention. Among the “mantras” Moore suggested Sen. Kerry repeat on the stump included “George W. Bush, the ATM machine for the rich,” “Bush – he’s not a Republican, he’s a radical,” and “Mr. Bush – where’s Osama?”
He urged Kerry to go on the offensive regarding the war in Iraq. “His only crime,” Moore said, in response to criticism of Kerry’s “flip-flopping” on the issue, “was that he believed in the president of the United States … What are we left with if you can’t believe what is coming out of the mouth of the man who calls himself President?”
Moore, dressed in his signature garb – baseball cap, baggy jeans and T-shirt – focused much of his address on this matter, the misguided invasion of Iraq. “You don’t deliver democracy through the barrel of a gun,” he said. “It has to happen organically.”
“George W. Bush has absolute contempt for our men and women in the armed forces,” he said, countering the anti-American labels that many opponents of the war found attached to them in the weeks after the March 2003 invasion. “You support the troops by opposing the war. That’s how you support the troops – you don’t want them to die.”
“This war cannot be won. It can never be won,” he said, citing the growing insurgency and the deteriorating faith of the troops in the nobility of their cause and the ability of their commander in chief. He read letters sent to him by American servicemen, which evoked some of the strongest reactions from the audience.
“I had no idea there was such an outpouring of dissatisfaction with Bush,” Kim Reynolds, junior secondary history education major, said. “If they (the troops) say it’s bad, you know it’s bad.”
Moore noted that while “anything by Stephen King” was the number one fiction book requested by U.S. soldiers on booksforsoldiers.com, any of his own books were the number one non-fiction request.
A compilation book of some of the more than 3,000 letters and e-mails Moore has received from American troops overseas, entitled, “Will They Ever Trust Us Again: Letters from the War Zone,” is scheduled for release the first week of October.
-Christine Brozyna, Features Editor; Matthew Fair, News Editor