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The Write Wing Responds

  • Christianity Today Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 28 Jun
The Write Wing Responds
They say you get what you pay for, and we certainly did.

Late last week, we decided to promote our Fahrenheit 9/11 review on Google as a "sponsored link." The result was a ton of traffic from people who probably don't normally visit Christianity Today Movies, and we're thrilled about that. Another result was a ton of e-mail, much of it negative. Some of it was clearly criticizing our review of Michael Moore's controversial new documentary—which was No. 1 at the box office over the weekend—and some of it was criticizing Bush and his policies.

Despite the mostly negative letters, we're also thrilled about that. This is an important film that America needs to be discussing, and we're glad to be part of that discussion. With that said, here's a sampling of some of the letters—the good and the bad—that we've received:

Kathryn Love writes: "I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 today. At the end of the movie the house broke out in applause. I was spellbound. This movie should go into the archives of history. This movie is accurate in every way. God bless Michael Moore and let him live a very long life."

Desmond Root: "Your review of Fahrenheit 9/11 was really disappointing. Why do you need to pay so much attention to that 'other side' when that's all that there has been in the press for years? The media is very saturated with 'the other side.' The movie clearly states how none of this corruption is being checked and that these politicians are lying to us, and no one is being held accountable for it. I feel your lame two-star review missed the point. Your shortsightedness is typical of your dying religion."

Donald Johnson: "I haven't seen the movie, but it seems to me that Christianity Today is in a poor position to criticize anyone for being one-sided on foreign policy issues. Rarely do you challenge the morality of American foreign policy in any serious way. For instance, if Moore's movie lacks any mention of Saddam's atrocities, then it presumably also doesn't mention how the U.S. supported him when he was committing his bloodiest crimes. The sad fact is that a humorist like Moore has to be taken seriously because most of his critics ignore the kinds of American sins that he focuses on. Christianity Today should be in the forefront on such issues, but in practice it's a timid mainstream publication that seems willing to talk about some issues (like abortion) while carefully avoiding others (such as the long-standing American support for pro-American tyrants and terrorists overseas)."

Rachel Ann Sollender: "I am a Christian, and though I do not agree with the way that Moore chooses to get his point across, I think that America needs to be informed on the way that the government (Bush) does in fact treat us, especially the military. My husband is military. I have seen the funeral processions through town, the widows, crying on the news, lives ruined, the death toll rising. And Bush just keeps sending more and more. Terrorism will never stop. Never. Do I think God looks at this war and approves? No. The last year and a half that I have spent as a military spouse, I have learned that this is another Vietnam. God weeps and families mourn uselessly. This war is evil. We must vote Bush out of office."

Mike Walsh: "Michael Moore is a complete idiot and moron. He is so far left that one of these days he will fall off the face of the earth."

Ximena Tagle: "Your review fails to mention that the film is also about the heartbreak of war, that the tears, rage, and despair of parents—Iraqi and American—is the same. As Christians, it is our duty to LOVE our neighbor, not bomb them."

Dan Roe: "I think you missed the point re: this movie. Look past the spin, which exists on both sides, and look into your heart, and please explain to me how, as a Christian, you can support this war after seeing the images of dead children? Are we killing their children to save our own? What have we accomplished in Christ's name? We've taken a very dark path as a nation, and I fear that by not speaking out, you're taking your readers further down this path. I've seen this movie, and will be recommending it to every Christian I know. They're smart enough to see past spin."

Suma Raju: "I just wanted to say I was impressed with the pure objectivity of your review. I am a fan of Michael Moore and consider myself to be a liberal, but I am not beyond seeing the faults of the positions that he takes. I saw the movie and I liked it very much, but everything your reviewer says is completely reasonable and true. I didn't expect to see so much more objectivity from a website with a right-wing-sounding name (sorry, but it's true!) than from bastions of 'objective' journalism such as the Wall Street Journal. It's becoming hard to distinguish truth from propaganda, and I appreciated reading a straight critique of this movie."

Meg Wolfers: "As I was reading your review, I tried to imagine you were writing a review of a right-wing radio program. It occurred to me that many of the criticisms you have of Moore could be made even more aptly about any one of a number of these shows, but I somehow doubt your publication has ever done so. Your review does what these radio folks do—take small aspects of the movie that you take objection to and then dismiss the entire effort by marginalizing. How can you not look at the movie in totality and see the big picture that is presented?"

Caron Speas: "You have got to be kidding when you complain that Michael Moore did not give any time to 'the other side.' The 'other side' airs 24 hours a day on several television channels, Fox News being the most obvious."

Michelle Williams: "Michael Moore better watch out. He should not trash our president, especially a Christian who in the face of all the trouble with 9/11 did the best he could. God doesn't like anyone trashing his children. I for one hope the wrath of God pours down on Michael Moore."

Andy Gundersen: "Since Bush has been in office, this country has never been this divided. For a president who ran on the platform of being a uniter, this to me, seems ironic. Bush is a phony. He is a liar. And his administration has gotten away with murder. And they know it. Michael Moore's film is a great movie. All the facts presented in the movie are true. It only brings to light what a lot of Americans don't know about Bush. The Christian Right love this guy, and Bush has played right into your hands. So, in my book, you are sleeping with the enemy. And I am angry about it. You people are a bunch of hypocrites. You castrate Clinton for a weak moment, yet turn a blind eye as your fearless (clueless) leader robs us blind and sticks it up our a**es. And I can't get over how self-righteous you are about it. The joke's on you. This president has lied to, cheated, and misled this great nation. And you love him. Pathetic."

K. Rochat: "Michael Moore's attempts to politically and privately smear the good name of President Bush are a feeble attempt to gratify the liberalists and play their political games. He's nutty as a fruitcake and enjoys defaming a godly man's name and turn it into something it clearly is not. He's playing a foolish game, one which I think is disgusting. I'm still voting for President Bush when it comes election time, no matter what bunk Mr. Moore comes up with. I support our President and won't let Mr. Moore mess with me. He's acting like a treasonous American and should be treated like one."

Robert Mitton: "Your right-wing, fascist thinking review is quite revealing in the fact that the Republicans, just like the Nazis, simply cannot stand the truth and the fact that it is the right-wing, Republican Christians that have given such a bad name to all the other Christians. For now it is considered that in order to be a good Republican, you must be a Christian and if you are a good Christian, you must be a Republican. Along with the outstanding fact that there is simply no difference between being a Republican and being a fascist, they are one in the same!"

Kenneth Petty: "Your review is very accurate. I only wish I had read it before, obtained permission from you to print it out, and hand out copies of it to other moviegoers for a good balance. Instead, I had to make up for that by being the only one to boo at the end, but nobody attacked me! And I made sure others heard me say out loud that the movie was so out of context. The problem really is that there was no context! I do hope Christians start engaging their culture with great bravery, to be salt and light, and not afraid to challenge any thought or movement, but as Scripture says, to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."

Joanna Will: "I am always very nervous about a 'Christian' website. (Some are too judgmental, too intolerant.) But I was surprised and pleased with your review. I thought it fair and professional. I appreciated the movie. I had heard it wasn't a 'true' documentary, the 'facts' may not be facts, etc. But none of that really matters. The overall message—that for no worthy cause whatsoever, but only due to extreme arrogance and extreme ignorance, awful things are happening to people: mothers, who trusted, lose sons; young men, who trusted, lose parts of their bodies and soul—that's what matters. That's what comes across, and I'm glad it's expressed."

Zoe Fleming: "My husband and I are both Christians. Our faith teaches us to oppose war. We recognize that sometimes some wars are unavoidable, but this war in Iraq is wrong. We have no right to be there. The writer of this article is wrong about the heavy-handed approach by the filmmaker. George W. Bush is a travesty as president. He should be defeated. Bush is no Christian. We defy anyone to go to this movie and come away thinking that George W. Bush should be elected president in 2004."

Tony Hallas: "I am an agnostic. I believe in God but can't stomach organized religions. I actually thought that your review had some foundation, but being a Vietnam veteran and having watched Bush exploit the trust and innocence of my fellow Americans, I have to side with Moore's stance that Bush has taken this country for a ride. To me, Bush is the ultimate embodiment of evil. In the end, Bush will be remembered for his stupidity, greed, lack of empathy, and arrogance."

Brenna Silberstein: "I've read your review, and with all due respect, I think you have entirely missed the point. You're right that Mr. Moore lacks circumspect analysis. But he possesses something that ultimately may be more important: moral outrage. Every American has a responsibility to develop an informed opinion about the actions of our government, and then engage in the democratic process on the basis of that opinion. I think Mr. Moore has done that. In effect, he says to his audience: 'Based on what I've heard and seen, I think what our leaders have done is scandalous, and here's why. I'm outraged, and you should be too.' His response to his own sense of outrage was to make a film about it. I don't think that's something to be put down as 'fearmongering.' I think it's to be congratulated as a positive moral choice.

Mike Benfield: "I know this e-mail is a waste of time because today's typical Christians already have all the answers. To be blunt, you support the system of the Beast. Can you explain with a clear conscience how the policies and actions and lies of the Bush administration parallel what is written in God's Holy Word? Is a man calling himself a Christian all that is needed to justify any action? Can you not judge the true nature of a man by his fruits? Don't you have the God-given wisdom to see when you are being deceived by lies? Can you explain why as a Christian, I should support this corrupt government?"

Craig Beyer: "Thank you for the great review. I refuse to pay to see such dribble, but appreciate being able to discuss it intelligently."

Robert Bellon: "Just wanted to thank you for being one hundred percent predictable and so conforming to your format. I was amused to find you quickly deflecting attention off the content to your own personal agenda and perspectives—typical of religious authorities. It's one of the reasons why I resigned from your dogma and marketing years ago. So you all keep talking about what was not said, and I will remember how the churches do the same with the word of Christ. When I speak with God tonight, I will put in a kind word for your political campaign. It will end with, 'Forgive them …' Now go do something valuable with your life and get off the Net."

Linda Griffin: "Moore doesn't need to portray Bush as out of touch and over his head. Bush does this very well himself. This is one of the most important and powerful films of our time and I urge everyone to see it."

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