Jon Schwarz is editor of MichaelMoore.com and was research producer for 'Capitalism: A Love Story.' He's also contributed to the New Yorker, New York Times, Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Slate, Saturday Night Live and NPR.
Wow, who doesn't sympathize with this righteous, blistering 2006 critique of Bush's foreign policy?
Bush is not spreading human rights...Instead, he is spreading secret prisons everywhere, practicing mean torture in Baghram, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
Well, me, actually. Because that criticism was coming from al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
There aren't many Americans who disliked Bush more than I did. Yet when I hear him being criticized by Zawahiri, it doesn't really…speak to me. To start with, it's hard to take seriously the indignation of someone who would himself set up secret prisons and torture people the second he had the chance. But more importantly, al Qaeda itself helped create the political conditions that allowed Bush to torture people around the world. Sure, maybe in his heart of hearts Bush always wanted to, but he would have had many fewer opportunities if Zawahiri and his pals hadn't plotted to fly airplanes into the World Trade Center.
So I appreciate that Zawahiri wants to both (1) kill 3,000 Americans in lower Manhattan and (2) get all outraged when this empowered members of the Bush administration to attack civil liberties. But you really are only allowed to choose one or the other.
Similarly, the U.S. media has taken the opportunity of Hugo Chavez's death to be OUTRAGED by the violation of civil liberties in Venezuela. And I feel just the same listening to them as I do to Zawahiri.
I have no idea how much of the criticism of the Venezuela government is legitimate, and I'm not going to take the time to find out unless someone pays me to do it. (Given the general crappiness of any coverage of our official enemies, I'd guess it's about 15% accurate.)
But as with Zawahiri, the more important point is that U.S. policy has done nothing but empower any people within the Venezuelan government who are inclined to crack down on freedom of the press, an independent judiciary, etc. It's not just that the U.S. attempted to overthrow the Venezuelan government in 2002; we also overthrew the Aristide government in Haiti in 2004; assisted in the overthrow of the Honduran government in 2009; and have a previous century's worth of meddling in Latin America.
And when countries are under attack, the space for civil liberties diminishes. Sometimes that's for legitimate reasons, and sometimes it's not and is opportunistic on the part of would-be authoritarians. But it's essentially a law of nature; it always happens. Therefore, if you choose to attack another country, you are making certain the people of that country will have fewer civil liberties.
So if you're a member of al Qaeda and you're OUTRAGED by the violation of civil liberties by the U.S., the most effective way you can spend your time is trying to stop your friends from blowing up something else in America. And if you're an American and you're OUTRAGED by a diminishment of civil liberties in Venezuela, the best way to spend your time is trying to stop the U.S. from intervening any more in Venezuela. In both cases, you'll create desperately needed breathing room for Americans or Venezuelans fighting for what you say you want.
But failing that, it would be much more effective and polite if you could just shut up.
P.S. Did the Japanese government get OUTRAGED about Japanese in the U.S. getting sent to internment camps? Yes they did.
January 28th, 2014
In the State of the Union address tonight, President Obama is going to call for a national minimum wage of $10.10. Then in their response ...
January 21st, 2014
My New Year's Day op-ed in the New York Times seems to have kickstarted a discussion about how to make Obamacare better. I hope you ...
December 18th, 2013
This morning it was announced by the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board that my first film, 'Roger & Me', has been ...
December 14th, 2013
[View the story "Michael Moore Tweets on Eve of Newtown Anniversay" on Storify]
November 9th, 2013
Click here for this week's full schedule for the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City, Michigan. The day has arrived. For ...
September 10th, 2013
[View the story "John Kerry's Accidental Diplomacy" on Storify]
July 30th, 2013
Today Bradley Manning was convicted on 20 of 22 counts, including violating the Espionage Act, releasing classified information and disobeying orders. That's the bad news. ...
September 11th, 2010
OpenMike 9/11/10 Michael Moore's daily blog I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero. I want it built on ...
December 14th, 2010
Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that ...
May 12th, 2011
"The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we're not like them. We're Americans. We roll different." – Michael Moore in ...
November 22nd, 2011
This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and ...
September 22nd, 2011
I encourage everyone I know to never travel to Georgia, never buy anything made in Georgia, to never do business in Georgia. I will ask ...
December 16th, 2010
Dear Swedish Government: Hi there -- or as you all say, Hallå! You know, all of us here in the U.S. love your country. Your ...
November 2nd, 2010
This letter contains (almost) no criticisms of how the Democrats have brought this day of reckoning upon themselves. That -- and where to go from ...