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No Backing Down
June 15, 2004
By Robert J. Nebel

In this post-9/11 environment, the Bush administration has been silencing its dissenters and critics through shameful bullying tactics.

When former Secretary Paul O'Neill wrote a critical tome on his former boss, Karl Rove and his right-wing PR machine went into full force labeling this rather conservative Alcoa executive as a disgruntled, whacko former employee.

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward released an excellent book exposing the inner-workings of The White House and the making of the war in Iraq. Rove and his attacks dogs have been let loose on Woodward.

Now "The Karl" and his band of PR henchmen are after Ambassador Joseph Wilson with his new book, The Politics of Truth. Wilson's wife's name was leaked to the press after Wilson acted as a whistleblower on the administration for exposing the 16 untruthful words about uranium in Niger in a State of the Union address.

Karl Rove feels justified in his tactics in the name of national security. He has been most successful in frightening America after September 11th, which justified the war in Iraq.

How many more will come forward?

The bullying continues in the world of entertainment. Filmmaker Michael Moore, who is no fan of the Bush administration with his highly critical book Stupid White Men, and the Oscar-winning Bowling For Columbine, is at it again with his new film, Fahrenheit 9/11. From press reports, this film is a lightning rod for its portrayal of the links between the Bush administration and the bin Laden family.

The film's distributor, Disney, refused to release Fahrenheit 9/11. The links back to The White House are uncanny. Disney World in Florida receives tax breaks from the president's brother, Jeb - another nemesis of Mr. Moore.

Is Moore's film a threat to security? Is it treasonous? Libelous? Blasphemous?

I and many Americans feel that the public should be the judge, not the Disney corporation that blocked its release. Thankfully, Mr. Moore has distributors, but the blockage in the first place is disturbing.

While many may disagree with Moore's politics and style, he has a right to be heard and now it is great that he has a chance to screen the film. However, it is unconscionable that at every turn, attempts are made to silence him and I feel that this administration has fomented this culture. It is shameful that President Bush and its supporters in the conservative media have taken September 11th to crush dissent and start unjustified war rooted in deception.

When Stupid White Men was to be released, Moore was asked to tone down the rhetoric against President Bush in the aftermath of September 11th. His refusal threatened the book's release. With the help of librarians throughout the country, Stupid White Men was released and climbed up the New York Times bestseller list.

Speaking of protest, upon receiving his Oscar for Bowling For Columbine, Moore made an anti-war/Bush speech at the 2003 Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. While some in the audience cheered, others attempted to drown Moore out.

Moore persevered and did not back down. His books and films have been wildly successful in the wake of these attacks.

Government and art have been strange bedfellows since the beginning of the Republic. Nevertheless, the recent episodes of O'Neill, Wilson and Moore, conjure up images of McCarthyism and that is what is most disturbing. Challenging and controversial art is a necessity to our progress. It may offend some and enlighten others, but its presence is what we ought to fight for. If we are supposedly fighting for freedom in Iraq, then we ought to practice it at home.

If we are not free under the Bush administration, we need regime change this November.

Robert J. Nebel is a writer from Atlanta who has reviewed Mr. Moore's Stupid White Men and has interviewed the director/author. His site is

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