Michael and Me: What ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ Refuses to Tell You

Posted July 2, 2004 at 2:49pm

I wasn’t able to attend the press conference on censorship held last week by entertainment filmmaker Michael Moore. Although it’s a topic of great importance to me, there were two reasons why I couldn’t go. One, I wasn’t invited, and two, its hypocritical host was only interested in talking about “censorship” perpetrated on him.

Moore failed to recognize the irony of this situation. This press conference took place the day before the release of his film “Fahrenheit 9/11,” in which Moore censored me from movie screens across the country.

Allow me to recount what really happened the day Moore shoved a camera in my face. On the predictable path between the Capitol and my office after a vote, Moore and his camera crew were standing outside the Longworth House Office Building, waiting to talk to any Member of Congress who stopped.

Citing a since-disputed statistic that only one Member of Congress has a child in Iraq, he asked me whether I would help recruit children of Members to join the Army. My answer was yes, especially those who voted for the war. I added that I myself had a nephew on his way to Afghanistan. Upon hearing this, my moment in the spotlight was over, and Moore and his camera crew went on their way.

Shortly thereafter, the trailer for the movie hit the mainstream media. For those of you who have already seen the movie, or if you plan on doing so, you will recognize me as the guy in the suit who listens to Moore’s question, gives him an inquisitive look, but who doesn’t get to say anything in response. The fact that my answer wasn’t included came as no surprise. It would have disproved his theory that we in Congress lack conscience in how we vote.

The more I thought about it, and the more I was asked about it, the more his question offended me — and the fact that he didn’t use my answer made it worse. It’s like asking someone an accusing question on talk radio and not offering them a microphone to respond. He was implying that we in Congress placed no value on the human lives involved in war, which is simply not the case. Further disproving his theory, I’ve talked with many friends in Congress whose family members have dedicated their lives to the military. Moore has seriously underestimated how many of them there are.

Sending our troops into harm’s way is the most serious vote we ever cast as Members of Congress. We voted to allow our military to free people from the fear of terror and to protect us here at home. That’s a message you don’t hear in “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Families all across the United States, including the families of Members of Congress, sacrifice for our freedom and our safety. Our dedication to our country goes deeper than a pithy question founded on a fabricated statistic. These men and women dedicate their young lives to keeping us safe, and they are the ones who should be offended by his implications.

My nephew was in his sophomore year at Iowa State University when he was called up to active duty. Though it disrupted his college career, he was honored to serve his country. This is the nephew I referred to when speaking with Moore, and he’s not the only member of my family involved.

In fact, this young man’s brother, another nephew of mine, recently completed his service in the Navy, and my wife has a cousin who just returned from Iraq. It’s an honor to have members of my family choose this path.

This brings me back to his press conference on censorship. When confronted by a reporter about why he censored me, Moore recounted a fictional conversation between the two of us. He continued to talk but did not give a coherent answer, and then moved on to someone else’s question. It’s not a healthy debate when the person you’re dealing with makes up the answers.

My limited dealings with Moore have been riddled with lies, double talk, misspeak and manipulation. First he said I was in the movie, then that I wasn’t. He still maintains that my remarks were not edited, when in fact they were edited out. On and on, over and over again, his story keeps changing. But this was his plan. The more controversy, the more free press, the more money in the bank for Michael Moore.

When is enough enough? He’s called Americans dumb and said that our stupidity is embarrassing. He’s now mocking the dedication of millions of American lives to the military, and we are paying for him to do it. I hope our men and women in uniform who are protecting us in Afghanistan and Iraq didn’t hear him trivialize their position. They instead deserve praise and our support for the work they do every day.

When do we, as Americans, say enough is enough? It’s your choice to see the film, but understand that it’s for entertainment purposes only, not to be mistaken for truth.

Rep. Mark Kennedy is a Republican from Minnesota.