Sunday, November 13, 2005
Divided We Fall
More than ever, we are a country polarized by the kind of exclusive ideology and politics being practiced these days (on both sides of the isle). Loud speaking pundits for the Left and the Right have both capitalized on this polarization by not listening to each other, but rather by shouting over each other's heads. Radio commentators such as Randi Rhodes, who, on a daily basis, venomously rails against the Republicans with statements of how they are "disgusting," "liars," "perverts" and "homosexuals" is no better than the rhetoric being spewed by the equally rabble-rousing Rush Limbaugh for the right. Neither is ever really willing to listen to a caller that may be conflicted, or "on the fence." These shows don't thrive on "fencers." For their brand of divisive rhetoric to work, these commentators need you to either be liberal or conservative, "Blue" or "Red," in other words -- either right or wrong. And we, as a country, seem to have quickly moved into the camps that allow these programs, and others like them, to thrive. For the most part, citizens seem to want to be one or the other. And the media seems happy to categorize them as such. Do you live in a Red state or a Blue state? This kind of thinking is dangerous. The United States divided on ideology once before, and it led to a devastating civil war. Is that what these commentators for both sides want -- to lead this country to another civil war? Stirred up long enough, differences can easily go beyond words and spill over into violence. (Witness Nazi Germany.) What's to be gained from that? Into this mix comes the film This Divided State, a self-proclaimed left-leaning documentary from first-time filmmaker Steven Greenstreet which focuses on a controversial visit Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 911, Bowling for Columbine) made to the state of Utah two weeks before the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. The film also documents how Fox News Channel commentator Sean Hannity went out to Utah one week before Moore to offer a conservative point of view, and how members of the Mormon community there and other local conservatives then rose up to protest Moore's visit and began a campaign to cancel his speech. The makers of This Divided State claim that beyond protest, bribery and even death threats resulted. Now THAT makes for a great movie! Director Greenstreet describes This Divided State as a film about the "state of civil discourse in America and the ongoing battle of 'red versus blue' ideology." I haven't seen it. But a film that begins with a pre-set agenda can not truly be a discourse about anything. As great as Moore's films are, they do not offer a discourse in and of themselves. They want to be, and are, statements. This Divided State is available on DVD. For further information go to http://www.thisdividedstate.com. The filmmakers have also extended their views on the 'red vs blue' mentality -- and offer their opinions on how the Democratic Party can gain momentum as it moves towards 2008 -- at ThisDividedState.blogspot.com.