An Open Letter to Michael Moore
by Dennis Rahkonen
May 3, 2003
I thought about writing to the Dixie Chicks instead.
But my wife already disapprovingly suspects that all the time I spend online doing battle with wannabe Nazis is actually devoted to some sort of sordid interchange with “babes”.
If she ever learned I’d been contacting Natalie Maines, the nylon spatula would become a weapon of mass destruction.
Then I toyed with sending an e-mail to the Pope.
But, although the Vatican has a website, I strongly suspect His Holiness doesn’t have a personal computer. He communicates directly, and with a power much mightier than mine.
Frankly, he’s way out of my league.
So I chose you, being a Studs Terkel kind of man of the people and all.
First, congratulations on your Oscar for Bowling for Columbine. It was well deserved. And thanks for using your acceptance to blast Bush and his hideous war.
I’m also glad that crazed, reactionary efforts to “revoke” your Academy Award -- plus conservative boycott schemes -- have fallen flat. It’s heartening, too, that the aforementioned Dixie Chicks made a triumphant return to their U.S. concert schedule, playing to a sold-out arena of thunderously cheering fans in Greenville, S.C.
But there’s bad news as well...
U.S. troops fired into unarmed protesters in the town of Fallujah, Iraq, not on one occasion, but twice. It’s as if they couldn’t adequately expose the cruel absurdity of Dubya’s assertion that our oil invasion was actually intended to “liberate” the Iraqi people from evil. So they laid reality bare again, with another fusillade, aimed at a second crowd.
I can’t believe some Americans honestly think this war is about “freedom”.
How free would we be if a hyperpower devastated our country, appointed puppets, occupied us for years, controlled the news, and helped itself to our native wealth?
Oh, and shot us dead in the streets.
But this letter isn’t about the war.
It’s about Minnesota (just across the bay) recently becoming the latest in a growing list of states that permit virtually any citizen who isn’t a proven criminal or demonstrably insane to carry a hidden handgun in public. That includes anyone who’s unstable but not yet officially nuts, plus rightwingers who have a biased class-and race-based mindset about who “criminals” allegedly, invariably are.
Those full of prejudice, with a chip on their shoulder and a holster beneath it, are now going to look at certain folks they encounter, and think to themselves, as the adrenalin flows: “C’mon, punks! Try it! I dare you!”
A terrible triggering of someone’s paranoia will one day inevitably result in as panicked and or/enraged an unwarranted response as our troops displayed in Fallujah.
But this time in St. Paul or Duluth, and maybe in a mall, or on a bus.
Well, Michael, I’ve got to get to work. But before I go, I want to wish you continued success in doing what you do so very well: speaking truth to ordinary people about the corrupt “values” of illegitimate authority.
Here’s a poem I wrote that, in a small way, tries to do the same:
Don't think about the reasons why some people turn to crime
On the mean streets without justice in the badlands of our time
Forget about compassion or what Jesus had to say
Just pull your pistol's hammer back and trust the NRA
Pretend you'll find redemption in the handgun that you pack
As personal salvation in a holster stuck in back
And eye with grim suspicion every single soul you see
Yes, make your fellow citizen your mortal enemy
Let trust be torn to pieces and forbearance set aside
as one simplistic attitude is rigidly applied
To Hell with "brother's keeper" or the hallowed Golden Rule
"You won't take my gun away, you Million Mother fool!"
Shakespeare's grand potential and Mahatma's guiding light
Are beyond the comprehension of the vigilante Right
So pen our nation's epitaph and make the lesson clear
"God couldn't make His wishes felt, for guns were worshipped here!"
Keep on keepin’ on.
Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, WI, has written commentary and verse for various progressive outlets since the ‘60s. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org