Sunday, January 21, 2007

Stupid White Men by Michael Moore

I generally avoid books like this, even when I'll likely agree with the politics, because I don't want to contribute to the shrill, closed-minded barking that passes for political discourse anymore. But I tried this book for two reasons: one is that I'm capable of analyzing the material and teasing out what's substance and what's noise, and the second is that it was on the bargain table for two dollars. I figured, if nothing else, I'd be a bit better informed about how these arguments are made.

Moore takes a lot of flak for his anti-conservative stance, and most of his detractors fall in the Republican camp, so I was a bit surprised to find he's so critical of the Democrats, too. In fact, he sees the two parties as co-conspirators in the political shell game that distracts voters from seeing a clear picture. In short, his political position is almost identical to mine.

This book has some good and some bad. The good is that it raises questions that ought to be examined. The bad is that he uses these issues mostly as launching points for rants and jokes. These are amusing, but don't do much in the way of political discourse. Moore leaves it to the reader to further explore these ideas, and my guess is that those who criticize him most vehemently either see these rants as an effort to close the debate, or they fear the readers will consider this the final word. Either would be a mistake, and I think the critics show a lack of respect for the American reading citizen.

Of course, with the state of the nation as it is, maybe that disrespect is appropriate.

Go ahead and read this if you want some new ways to assess the State of the Union, but don't check your brain at the door. These are just ideas, not answers.

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