The most important person in my life, my daughter, let me know that several people she knew did not like Michael Moore. I promised I would take some time and explain to her why I liked Moore so much and why they did not.
The answer is best and easiest viewed when we consider other important figures in history who challenged the mindset of those who advocate the status quo. How were they viewed? How were they treated? At 13, my daughter is fairly gifted in math and science, so lets look at two figures in those disciplines:
Given the titles “The Father of Modern Observational Astronomy”, “The Father of Modern Physics” and “The Father of Science” Galileo was hated by many in his time for opposing the church’s Aristotelian view of the solar system and universe which said that all heavenly bodies revolved around the earth. Instead, Galileo said that the solar system was Heliocentric, and the earth and other planets revolve around the sun. While Copernicus originally put forth the theory and physics behind Heliocentrism, it is Galileo who more prominently rose to its defense through his book “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” leading to the showdown between himself and the Catholic Church. In 1633, Galileo was forced by the church to recant his beliefs and was placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life and his book “Dialogue…” was banned.I feel it useful to include two quotes by Galileo before moving on:- I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect intended us to forgo their use.
- All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.
I would add an addendum to the last quote if I could be so bold. I would say “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them and then not insist on stubbornly clinging to the status quo”
Sir Isaac Newton
If Galileo was the father of Modern Physics, Newton is his most important son. Children like my daughter, at age 13 will be learning the foundations in mathematics and science to hopefully be eventually able to tackle one of Newton’s most important inventions/discoveries, Calculus. Newton gave us many important discoveries including his work on Optics, and on the classical mechanics that bear his name (Newtonian mechanics).
Newton did not face the round criticism from many corners that Galileo did, but it is also commonly known that Newton had a large ego. This ego was turned loose on other important scientists and mathematicians of his time including Liebnitz and Hooke among others. I cite this because many say they dislike Moore because they say he has a large ego that is on display in many of his films. To them I say, since Newton did also, if it is your intent to live a life that depends on rejecting the ideas of people with big egos, feel free to go through the rest of your lives without using any invention that depends on Newtonian discoveries. Which can basically be translated as “Have a nice life living in a hut in the middle of some rainforest somewhere without electricity, running water or any other modern convenience”. Can anyone say “Unabomber”?
Leaving Science, let’s look at philosophy. Socrates is credited for laying the foundations of Western Philosophy and thought. Law schools in the United States today use the Socratic Method of dialectic reasoning to teach their students. His adherence to truth and virtue conflicted with Athenian society and government. Many hated him including those in the highest echelons of power in Athens. He was found guilty of “corrupting the youth of Athens” and sentenced to death by drinking the poison Hemlock. In reality, Socrates was guilty of challenging the idea “Might makes right” which was the accepted belief of the Athenian government. Put yet another way, here was another person who challenged the status quo and was subjected to hatred and persecution for it.
Whatever you think of Moore, he challenges the status quo. Moore says through his film that the official story of 9/11 looks suspicious. It does. Moore says healthcare is broken in the United States and it is. Moore says that Universal Single Payer healthcare in countries like Canada, the United Kingdom and France do a much better job taking care of their citizens and they do. If you want to hate Moore, go ahead, but have the courage to tell people the truth. You hate him because he is brilliant, because he wants to change things and because he is right.