rn: Michael Moore, Lennon’s “Imagine” & “Give War a Chance”


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,

I find the first of these messages deeply moving and insightful, the second
one almost too scathing. But it is permissible, I think, to be scathing in
our denuciation of this war.

all the best, Jan
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 10:42:42 -0700
From: Roger and/or Denise =?iso-8859-1?Q?Lagass=E9?= 
Subject: John Lennon's "Imagine" sensored in US; Neil Young sings it anyway

----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Moore <•••@••.•••>
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2001 3:32 AM
Subject: [Mike's Message] Tears Down the West Side Highway

Tears Down the West Side Highway

                       Dear Friends,

                       The drive across New Jersey has been the longest
portion of this
                       trip across America. It is only 60 miles to New
York City and I am
                       having trouble keeping my eyes open. I had just
pulled off the road
                       in Allentown, PA, to throw some cold water in my
face. Kathleen
                       and I have grown very silent. It is the dread of
what is ahead.

                       As we cross the George Washington Bridge into
Manhattan, the
                       plume of smoke from the lower part of the island
hovers, bright
                       blasting searchlights attempting to crash through
it. The college
                       radio station from Fordham is playing Dylan's "A
Hard Rain's Gonna

                       Instead of making the turn south to go home down
the West Side
                       Highway, I go north and head toward the town
where our daughter
                       goes to college. It is one in the morning, and
when we arrive on
                       campus we note that every single light in the
dorms is on (when do
                       these kids sleep?). 

                       We call Natalie and tell her we have made it
home. She directs us
                       to the nearest gate where she is with some other
young women
                       who are working on the school paper. We pull up,
she comes out...
                       and this is, as it always has been, the happiest
moment of our
                       lives. We hug her, and hug her again. She is
happy to see us, and
                       she generously, good-naturedly, tolerates our
weepy parental
                       doting. She is, after all, the only reason we
have made this drive.
                       Nothing else matters at this point. 

                       We eventually leave her to her own life and head
toward New York
                       City. It is now deep in the middle of the night
and the radio plays
                       "O Superman" by Laurie Anderson ("Here come the
planes -- they're
                       American planes!... hold me in your arms... your
military arms...")
                       and then the DJ says that he is going to play a
song that they
                       have never let him play before on the station.
What an odd thing to
                       announce, I think, considering we live in a free
country where you
                       can play whatever music you damn well please. 

                       I recall the email I received the night before
from a radio station
                       manager in Michigan. He passed on to me a
confidential memo from
                       the radio conglomerate that owns his station:
Clear Channel, the
                       company that has bought up 1,200 stations
altogether -- 247 of
                       them in the nation's 250 largest radio markets --
and that not only
                       dominates the Top 40 format, but controls 60% of
all rock-radio

                       The company has ordered its stations not to play
a list of 150
                       songs during this "national emergency." The list,
incredibly, includes
                       "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Peace Train," and
John Lennon's
                       "Imagine." Rah-rah war songs, though, are OK. 

                       And then there was this troubling instruction:
"No songs by Rage
                       Against the Machine should be aired." The entire
works of a band
                       are banned? Is this the freedom we fight for? Or
does this sound
                       like one of those repressive dictatorships we are
told is our new

                       The song the college DJ goes ahead and plays is,
"Hey, War Pig," by
                       Katrina and the Waves, and he dedicates it to the
"all the war
                       mongers out there." Yes, there is hope, the kids
are all right.

                       We arrive at our apartment building and I am too
tired to drop the
                       vehicle off at the rental car place, so we
unload, head upstairs, and
                       hit the sack. 

                       I awake at noon. A horrible stench has filled the
apartment. I did
                       not notice it a few hours earlier, but the winds
have shifted. It is
                       the odor others had warned me about. It is a
smell I have never
                       smelled. I am told by someone in the building
that it is a
                       combination of chemicals, rubber, sheetrock,
and... he pauses. He
                       does not want to list the final ingredient, and I
do not want him to. 

                       I thank him and go back upstairs and close all
the windows. I look
                       at the cereal box I had left half-opened before
our trip to L.A. I
                       stare at this box for a long time. Nine days of
ash has descended
                       on the city. It is everywhere, microscopic,
                       non-discriminatory in where it has landed. No
part of the city is
                       untouched, and all are treated equally to the
smoke and stench,
                       regardless of station in life. There is no way to
turn away and
                       ignore it.

                       I take the rental car back. As I park it, I look
across the street and
                       see our neighborhood firehouse consumed in
flowers and candles.
                       "They lost nine firemen," the rental woman tells
me. "It's a pretty
                       sad place."

                       There's a firehouse every few blocks in New York.
Back in Michigan,
                       I grew up across the street from a fire station
and I have always
                       loved the sound of that screeching siren. The
(mostly) men who
                       work down the street from us now in New York are
our neighbors in
                       the truest sense of the word. 

                       They are quintessential New Yorkers, right to the
bone, and when
                       they are called to do their job (for which they
are grossly
                       underpaid), they never stop for a moment to think
of themselves. I
                       always enjoy shooting the breeze with these guys,
and when
                       possible, I've put them on my show, as they are
                       comedians and wiseguys. I have never once
complained about the
                       wail of their fire trucks as they barrel down my

                       I walk across the street to pay my respects. A
lone fireman spots
                       me coming and approaches me, arms outstretched.
He grabs me
                       and hugs me. He says, "Mike, thanks, thanks for
everything you do
                       for the..." I am stunned and embarrassed by this,
and I cut him off.
                       "Stop," I say, "I haven't done shit. I am here to
thank you and to
                       tell you how horribly sorry I am..." He cuts me
off. "Shutupwillya!
                       Lemme say what I need to say..." 

                       He continues to thank me, I can't take this -- I
                       NOTHING BUT RETURN A DAMN RENTAL CAR -- and I
break down in
                       tears. "Oh, don't go gettin' mushy on me, Mike --
c'mon, we're
                       Irish!" He laughs, I laugh, I grab him and hold
him and these two big
                       Irish lugs and crybabies make for quite a sight
in the middle of a
                       Manhattan street. Kathleen and I sign their book
and we take down
                       the name of the fund for the nine families of our
neighbors. "Don't
                       forget," our fireman friend says as we leave, "We
need your prayers
                       more than we need the donations." 

                       I cannot go to work. But I have a film to finish.
Our editor has been
                       unable to make it in from New Jersey, but he is
there now waiting
                       for some word on what to do. I can't even think
about this movie. I
                       don't WANT to think about it because if I think
about it I will have
                       to face an ugly truth that has been gnawing
through my head... 

                       This started out as a documentary on gun violence
in America, but
                       the largest mass murder in our history was just
committed --
                       without the use of a single gun! Not a single
bullet fired! No bomb
                       was set off, no missile was fired, no weapon
(i.e., a device that
                       was solely and specifically manufactured to kill
humans) was used.
                       A boxcutter! -- I can't stop thinking about this.
A thousand gun
                       control laws would not have prevented this
massacre. What am I

                       My wife does not want to go down to the memorial
to the victims
                       that has spontaneously taken over Union Square in
the Village --
                       she is still in too much shock having returned to
this sullen city --
                       but she encourages me to go, and I do.

                       The Square is filled with hundreds of people.
But, more importantly,
                       the walls and fences around Union Square are
covered in a blizzard
                       of "MISSING" posters of loved ones. Thousands of
handbills, flyers,
                       photos, notes -- all pleading to contact them
should anyone know
                       the whereabouts of their mother, father, son,
daughter, infant. 

                       Yet, all of us who stare at these faces, we know
                       "whereabouts." And the smoke, the ash, the odor
is much thicker
                       down here, just 20 blocks from The Site. The
faces of the victims,
                       culled from wedding photos, birthday party home
videos, vacation
                       snapshots, are striking in their diversity.
Easily, the majority are
                       African-American, Arabic, Hispanic, Asian,

                       Their jobs at the World Trade Center are listed.
They were clerks,
                       secretaries, janitors, security guards,
assistants, dishwashers,
                       waitresses, receptionists -- all the people who
HAVE to be at work
                       first thing in the morning, the lower wage
workers. The wall is also
                       filled with the faces of brokers, lawyers,
managers, accountants,
                       insurance agents -- it is endless, it is
everyone, it is America. 

                       I am told that there may be over 500 "illegals"
-- those
                       less-than-minimum wage workers that the commerce
of America
                       depends on -- who are also among the dead, but
there are no
                       photos of them. Citizens from over 80 countries
are victims of this
                       attack and, remarkably, the country that seems to
have the most
                       people who were killed is the Muslim country of

                       For two hours I walk through Union Square,
listening to the debates
                       that rage in various small circles, between
hippies and Army guys,
                       Israelis and Palestinians, those for war and
those against. They are
                       heated, passionate -- but never do I sense the
threat of violence
                       between them. No police are in sight. "We are
self-policed," one kid
                       tells me. Others are singing or rapping, many are
quietly crying. 

                       I leave and go down to Canal Street. It is as far
as they will allow
                       civilians to go. The odor is now nearly
unbearable. I tell the officer I
                       would like to volunteer, to do anything that is
needed -- carry
                       buckets, lift, haul, relieve, whatever. He tells
me that no more
                       volunteers are needed. He says that, right now,
they do not expect
                       to find anyone alive. 

                       The job they are doing is one of recovery of the
dead and the
                       removal of all the steel and concrete, and they
have left these jobs
                       to the professionals. I can't help but think they
could still use an
                       extra pair of hands -- surely, at least ONE
person could still be
                       alive! I remain upset and appalled that Wall
Street has ordered its
                       employees back to work -- to trade stocks! --
next-door to a
                       mass, open graveyard of yet unburied bodies. How
cruel is this to
                       the workers who must walk by, or to the dead who
are treated to
                       this sacrilege? And, in my mind, what IF someone
was still down
                       there alive? How can you be running around a
stock market floor
                       when you should be on your hands and knees
digging out the
                       possible survivors? I just don't get it...

                       As I sit here in the early morning hours of
Saturday, September 22,
                       2001, I cannot untangle much of the past 24
hours. I am exhausted
                       from the trip, from all that has hit me upon
returning to New York. I
                       have to unpack eventually. What was it exactly I
had packed all
                       these bags for in the first place? Oh, yeah, The
Emmys in L.A! Big
                       friggin' deal now, eh? I tick off the list of
everything that no longer

                       I watch Bush speak in front of Congress, but I
cannot answer him
                       right now, I am tired. The mayor has drastically
upped the death
                       toll. My phone rings off the ... whatever phones
ring off of these
                       days. Calls from the BBC, CBC, Canal+, ABC
(Australia), Swedish
                       TV, Dutch TV -- all want me to appear live on
their national
                       primetime newscasts. Not a single American
network has called. 

                       Frankly, I don't want to be on anybody's TV show
no matter where
                       they are from, but I cannot help but feel this
sinking feeling in my
                       gut that the rest of the world wants to hear what
I have to say,
                       yet in my own country, I am to have no voice in
the media (other
                       than through these letters on the Web). This is
MY country. I love
                       MY country. Every channel and it's the same damn
                       drumbeat WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR...

                       And yet, I have just driven 2,944 miles, a drive
that began on the
                       corner of Wilshire and the Pacific Ocean in Santa
Monica, California.
                       I have heard the voices of the scores of fellow
Americans I met,
                       the average Joes and Janes, who are NOT screaming
                       WAR! Why can't their voices be heard? 

                       Forget about me, I can barely utter a sentence
anyway; I don't
                       wanna go on no TV. But where is Noam Chomsky, or
Howard Zinn,
                       or the editors of "The Nation" or "Tikkun" or
"The Progressive" or the
                       thousands of college kids who protested at noon
on Thursday on
                       148 American campuses? Don't they count? Is this
still the America
                       we believe in, the one we are being asked to

                       Coming home tonight, I noticed a strange sound in
the city. I did
                       not hear a single car horn being honked! I have
never heard that
                       sound in New York City. No one was yelling, it
was quiet and

                       I called my dad on my cell phone. He tells me of
things getting even
                       worse back home in Flint, the city now bankrupt,
the state
                       preparing to take it over. The fire department
has had to lay off
                       over 50% of its firefighters. Fires now are just
allowed to burn
                       because they have neither the trucks nor the
people left to fight

                       Then he said, "Mike, that guy you call 'The Boss'
-- he's singing
                       right now on TV!" The nationwide telethon for the
September 11th
                       victims has started. I could hear Bruce
Springsteen singing in the
                       background. My father (bless him and his Big Band
soul at the age
                       of 80!) knows how much I love Bruce and says,
"let me hold the
                       phone up close to the set so you can hear him,"
and he does, and I
                       hear Springsteen sing these haunting words: "My
city is in ruins, my
                       city is in ruins... c'mon, rise up!" 

                       I love my dad and my mom, my sisters, my wife and
my daughter,
                       and I am grateful for this life and for the
privilege I've been given to
                       live it with all of them. I come upstairs and
Kathleen and I watch
                       the rest of the telethon. Neil Young appears at
one point, alone at
                       the piano, and he does not sing one of his own
songs. Rather, he
                       sings the banned "Imagine." The Walrus had to
have loved that one
                       from where he was watching!

                       My wife looks over at me. The tears won't leave
my eyes. I tell her
                       what I was told today.

                       "Woody (our assistant editor) saw a rescue truck
going down the
                       West Side Highway to help in the relief effort,"
I tell her.

                       "On the side of the truck, it read 'FFD.'"

                       The Flint Fire Department. 

                       All the way from our home. 

                       To our home.

                       It was more than either of us could bear.


                       Michael Moore
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 21:42:32 -0700
From: CyberBrook <•••@••.•••>
Subject: All I Am Saying Is Give War a Chance

>All I Am Saying Is Give War a Chance
>Dear Friends,
>It's about time! I was beginning to worry that George II didn't have it in 
>him, that he might wander off to vacation in Omaha again. But finally, the 
>bombs are raining down on Afghanistan and, as Martha Stewart says, that's 
>a good thing.
>Oh, don't get me wrong -- I deplore war and killing and violence. But, 
>hey, I'm a pragmatist, I know where I live, this is America and dammit, 
>somebody's ass had to get kicked!
>Our Leader, a former baseball club owner, could have at least had the 
>decency to wait one more day until the baseball season was over. Poor 
>Barry Bonds -- will anyone even remember what he did a month from now? At 
>least Fox had the good grace to get the football game back on the tube 
>within an hour of the war's start! They KNEW none of us could stomach 
>looking at Stepford Drones from Fox News for the rest of the day.
>Fellow liberals, lefties, Greens, workers, and even you loveable Gore 
>voters and recovering Democrats -- let me tell you why I think this war on 
>Afghanistan is good for all of us:
>1. Network Unanimity in Naming The War.  It has been so confusing the past 
>four weeks, what with all the networks calling this thing we are in by so 
>many names: "America's New War," "American Under Attack," America Fights 
>Back," "War on Terrorism," etc. Now, nearly every network has settled on 
>"America Strikes Back."
>I like this because, first of all, it honors George Lucas. We're a humble 
>people, we Americans, so we can't quite bring ourselves to call it "The 
>Empire Strikes Back." "Empire" sounds a little scary, and there's no use 
>reminding the rest of the world that we call all the shots now. So 
>"America Strikes Back" is appropriate (and, as Sunday was the last day of 
>baseball, "strikes" has the necessary sports metaphor we like to use when 
>bombing other countries).
>2. The Citizenry Can Now Go Back to What They Were Doing.  I don't know 
>about you, but nearly four weeks of anxious and tense anticipation of what 
>would happen next was starting to wear me down. I thought nothing could 
>top what spending the whole summer agonizing over whose baby it was on 
>"Friends" did to me.
>But the last four weeks was worse than a bad classic rock extended drum 
>solo. NOW we have resolution. NOW we know the ending -- the bombing to 
>smithereens of a country so advanced it has, to date, laid a total of 18 
>miles of railroad tracks throughout the entire country! How very 19th 
>century of them! I hope our missiles were able to take them out. I don't 
>want this thing going on forever. Best that we obliterate them before they 
>come up with some smart idea like the telegraph.
>3. Dick Cheney Has Been Moved Into Hiding Again.  This can only help. The 
>farther this mastermind can be kept from young Bush, the better. He's like 
>that creepy friend of your dad's who has taken a bit too much of a shine 
>to you. Wait -- he *is* that creepy friend of his dad's! Anytime I hear 
>they have transported Cheney out of town and into a bunker in the woods, I 
>feel safe. And don't worry about him having any workable form of 
>communications with Bush -- remember, this is a government which discovers 
>that a known terrorist is taking flying lessons in Florida and does nothing.
>4. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Orrin Hatch Will All Be Fighting This War 
>for Us!  These are all honorable men, men of their word, men who would not 
>expect someone else to fight their battles for them. They have all called 
>for war, revenge, blood -- and, by God, it is blood I want them to have! 
>Now that we are at war, let us insist that those who have cried the 
>loudest for the killing be the first to go and do just that!
>I would like to see, by the end of the day, Rush and Bill, Orrin and the 
>rest of their colleagues down at the recruiting station signing up to join 
>the U.S. Army. Sure, I know they are no longer young, but there are many 
>jobs they will be able to do once they get through the Khyber Pass. Surely 
>these men would not expect our sons and daughters to die for something 
>that they themselves would not be willing to die for. To make it easy, 
>guys, you can just go to the Army's website right now!
>Get your butts over there to Afghanistan and defend a way of life that 
>allows companies like Boeing get rid of 30,000 people while using the 
>tragedy in New York as their shameful excuse.
>5. Really Cool War Footage. It's been way too long since we've been able 
>to watch those cruise missiles and smart bombs with their little cameras 
>on them sail in and blow the crap out of a bunch of human beings. This 
>time, let's hope the video is in color and that it's attached with a 
>miniature set of Dolby speaker microphones so we can hear the screams and 
>wails of those Afghanis as our shrapnel guts them into strips of bacon. 
>Oh, and let's pray the video can be loaded into my Sony Playstation!!
>6. Better a Quickie War Than the Permanent War. Orwell warned us about 
>this one. Big Brother, in order to control the population, knew that it 
>was necessary for the people to always believe they were in a state of 
>siege, that the enemy was getting closer and closer, and that the war 
>would take a very long time.
>That is EXACTLY what George W. Bush said in his speech to Congress, and 
>the reason he said it is because he and his buddies want us all in such a 
>state of fear and panic that we would gladly give up the cherished 
>freedoms that our fathers and those before them fought and died for. Who 
>wouldn't submit to searches, restrictions of movement, and the rounding up 
>of anyone who looks suspicious if it would prevent another September 11?
>In order to get these laws passed that will strip us of our rights, they 
>have been telling us that we are in a LONG and PROTRACTED war that has no 
>end in sight. Don't buy it! We are bombing Afghanistan, and THAT is the 
>only war in progress. It should be over anywhere from a few days from now 
>or in about nine years (Soviet-style). Either way, it will end. The good 
>guys will win. And, if George II is anything like George I, then the bad 
>guy will win, too, getting to live and go on doing what he enjoys doing 
>(what were we, like, 40 miles from Baghdad?) while we continue to bomb the 
>innocents (540,000 Iraqi children killed by U.S. in last ten years from 
>bombs and sanctions).
>As I'm sure you must agree, there are many upsides to this war. Sure, The 
>Emmys got cancelled again, and, as a nominee this year, I already found 
>out that I wasn't getting one of those little gold people so who cares if 
>I can't walk down the red carpet in my Bob Mackie gown? I don't even wear 
>a gown -- I wear pants, ill-fitting pants at that! Yesiree, I say, BOMBS 
>AWAY! Rockets red glare! We are all WHITE WITH FOAM!
>And please, dear friends, let's look at the bright side for once: The last 
>time a Bush took us to war and got a 90% approval rating, he was toast and 
>a ghost the following year. You can't get better than that.
>Michael Moore
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