For some "Marxists" who have odd notions about what a worker is

joelw at bgnet.bgsu.edu joelw at bgnet.bgsu.edu
Tue Sep 25 09:49:31 MDT 2001


The following is an article by Michael Moore. I know he is know
revolutionary, but he also doesn't spend all of his time talking to
himself. He also makes some comment on the working-class composition of

the WTC that many "marxists" on this list have failed to note.


Tears Down the West Side Highway
> >

> Dear Friends,
> > The drive across New Jersey has been the longest
> > portion of this trip across America. It is only 60
> > miles to New York City and I am having trouble
> > keeping my eyes open. I had just pulled off the road
> in Allentown, PA, to throw some cold water in my face.
> > Kathleen and I have grown very silent. It is the
> > dread of what is ahead.
> > As we cross the George Washington Bridge into
> > Manhattan, the plume of smoke from the lower part of
> > the island hovers, bright blasting searchlights
> > attempting to crash through it. The college radio
> > station from Fordham is playing Dylan's "A Hard
> > Rain's Gonna Fall."
> > Instead of making the turn south to go home down the
> > West Side Highway, I go north and head toward the
> > town where our daughter goes to college. It is one
> in the morning, and when we arrive on campus we note
> that every single light in the dorms is on (when do
> these kids sleep?).
> > We call Natalie and tell her we have made it home.
> > She directs us to the nearest gate where she is with
> > some other young women who are working on the school
> > paper.
> > We pull up, she comes out... and this is, as it
> > always has been, the happiest moment of our lives.
> We hug her, and hug her again. She is happy to see us,
> and she generously, good-naturedly, tolerates our
> weepy
> > parental doting. She is, after all, the only reason
> > we have made this drive. Nothing else matters at
> this
> > point.
> > We eventually leave her to her own life and head
> > toward New York City. It is now deep in the middle
> > of the night and the radio plays "O Superman" by
> Laurie Anderson ("Here come the planes -- they're
> American planes!... hold me in your arms... your
> military arms...") and then the DJ says that he is
> going to play a song that they have never let him play
> before on the station. What an odd thing to announce,
> I
> > think, considering we live in a free country where
> > you can play whatever music you damn well please.
> > I recall the email I received the night before from
> > a radio station manager in Michigan. He passed on to
> > me a confidential memo from the radio conglomerate
> that owns his station: Clear Channel, the company that
> > has bought up 1,200 stations altogether -- 247 of
> them in the nation's 250 largest radio markets -- and
> that not only dominates the Top 40 format, but
> controls 60% of all rock-radio listening.
> > The company has ordered its stations not to play a
> > list of 150 songs during this "national emergency."
> > The list, incredibly, includes "Bridge Over Troubled
> > Water," "Peace Train," and John Lennon's "Imagine."
> > Rah-rah war songs, though, are OK. And then there
> was this troubling instruction: "No songs by Rage
> Against the Machine should be aired."
> > The entire works of a band are banned? Is this the
> > freedom we fight for? Or does this sound like one of
> > those repressive dictatorships we are told is our
> > new enemy?
> > The song the college DJ goes ahead and plays is,
> > "Hey, War Pig," by Katrina and the Waves, and he
> dedicates it to the "all the war mongers out there."
> Yes, there is hope, the kids are all right.
> > We arrive at our apartment building and I am too
> > tired to drop the vehicle off at the rental car
> place, so we unload, head upstairs, and hit the sack.
> > I awake at noon. A horrible stench has filled the
> > apartment. I did not notice it a few hours earlier,
> > but the winds have shifted. It is the odor others
> > had warned me about. It is a smell I have never
> smelled.
> > I am told by someone in the building that it is a
> > combination of chemicals, rubber, sheetrock, and...
> > he pauses. He does not want to list the final
> > ingredient, and I do not want him to.
> > I thank him and go back upstairs and close all the
> > windows. I look at the cereal box I had left
> > half-opened before our trip to L.A. I stare at this
> > box for a long time. Nine days of ash has descended
> > on the city. It is everywhere, microscopic,
> invisible, non-discriminatory in where it has landed.
> No part of the city is untouched, and all are treated
> equally to the smoke and stench, regardless of station
> in life.
> > There is no way to turn away and ignore it.
> > I take the rental car back. As I park it, I look
> > across the street and see our neighborhood firehouse
> > consumed in flowers and candles. "They lost nine
> > firemen," the rental woman tells me. "It's a pretty
> > sad place."
> > There's a firehouse every few blocks in New York.
> > Back in Michigan, I grew up across the street from a
> fire station and I have always loved the sound of that
> > screeching siren. The (mostly) men who work down the
> > street from us now in New York are our neighbors in
> > the truest sense of the word. They are
> quintessential New Yorkers, right to the
> > bone, and when they are called to do their job (for
> > which they are grossly underpaid), they never stop
> > for a moment to think of themselves. I always enjoy
> > shooting the breeze with these guys, and when
> > possible, I've put them on my show, as they are
> > natural-born comedians and wiseguys. I have never
> > once complained about the wail of their fire trucks
> as they barrel down my street.
> > I walk across the street to pay my respects. A lone
> > fireman spots me coming and approaches me, arms
> > outstretched. He grabs me and hugs me. He says,
> > "Mike,thanks, thanks for everything you do for
> the..." I am stunned and embarrassed by this, and I
> cut him off.
> > "Stop," I say, "I haven't done shit. I am here to
> > thank you and to tell you how horribly sorry I
> > am..." He cuts me off. "Shutupwillya! Lemme say what
> I need to say..."
> > He continues to thank me, I can't take this -- I
> > HAVE DONE NOTHING BUT RETURN A DAMN RENTAL CAR --
> and I break down in tears. "Oh, don't go gettin' mushy
> on me, Mike -- c'mon, we're Irish!" He laughs, I
> laugh,
> > I grab him and hold him and these two big Irish lugs
> > and crybabies make for quite a sight in the middle
> of a Manhattan street. Kathleen and I sign their book
> and we take down the name of the fund for the nine
> > families of our neighbors. "Don't forget," our
> > fireman friend says as we leave, "We need your
> prayers more than we need the donations."
> > I cannot go to work. But I have a film to finish.
> > Our
> > editor has been unable to make it in from New
> > Jersey,
> > but he is there now waiting for some word on what to
> > do. I can't even think about this movie. I don't
> > WANT
> > to think about it because if I think about it I will
> > have to face an ugly truth that has been gnawing
> > through my head...
> > This started out as a documentary on gun violence in
> > America, but the largest mass murder in our history
> > was just committed -- without the use of a single
> > gun!
> > Not a single bullet fired! No bomb was set off, no
> > missile was fired, no weapon (i.e., a device that
> > was
> > solely and specifically manufactured to kill humans)
> > was used. A boxcutter! -- I can't stop thinking
> > about
> > this. A thousand gun control laws would not have
> > prevented this massacre. What am I doing?
> > My wife does not want to go down to the memorial to
> > the victims that has spontaneously taken over Union
> > Square in the Village -- she is still in too much
> > shock having returned to this sullen city -- but she
> > encourages me to go, and I do.
> > The Square is filled with hundreds of people. But,
> > more importantly, the walls and fences around Union
> > Square are covered in a blizzard of "MISSING"
> > posters
> > of loved ones. Thousands of handbills, flyers,
> > photos,
> > notes -- all pleading to contact them should anyone
> > know the whereabouts of their mother, father, son,
> > daughter, infant.
> > Yet, all of us who stare at these faces, we know
> > their
> > "whereabouts." And the smoke, the ash, the odor is
> > much thicker down here, just 20 blocks from The
> > Site.
> > The faces of the victims, culled from wedding
> > photos,
> > birthday party home videos, vacation snapshots, are
> > striking in their diversity. Easily, the majority
> > are
> > African-American, Arabic, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish.
> > Their jobs at the World Trade Center are listed.
> > They
> > were clerks, secretaries, janitors, security guards,
> > assistants, dishwashers, waitresses, receptionists
> > --
> > all the people who HAVE to be at work first thing in
> > the morning, the lower wage workers. The wall is
> > also
> > filled with the faces of brokers, lawyers, managers,
> > accountants, insurance agents -- it is endless, it
> > is
> > everyone, it is America.
> > I am told that there may be over 500 "illegals" --
> > those less-than-minimum wage workers that the
> > commerce
> > of America depends on -- who are also among the
> > dead,
> > but there are no photos of them. Citizens from over
> > 80
> > countries are victims of this attack and,
> > remarkably,
> > the country that seems to have the most people who
> > were killed is the Muslim country of Pakistan.
> > For two hours I walk through Union Square, listening
> > to the debates that rage in various small circles,
> > between hippies and Army guys, Israelis and
> > Palestinians, those for war and those against. They
> > are heated, passionate -- but never do I sense the
> > threat of violence between them. No police are in
> > sight. "We are self-policed," one kid tells me.
> > Others
> > are singing or rapping, many are quietly crying.
> > I leave and go down to Canal Street. It is as far as
> > they will allow civilians to go. The odor is now
> > nearly unbearable. I tell the officer I would like
> > to
> > volunteer, to do anything that is needed -- carry
> > buckets, lift, haul, relieve, whatever. He tells me
> > that no more volunteers are needed. He says that,
> > right now, they do not expect to find anyone alive.
> > The job they are doing is one of recovery of the
> > dead
> > and the removal of all the steel and concrete, and
> > they have left these jobs to the professionals. I
> > can't help but think they could still use an extra
> > pair of hands -- surely, at least ONE person could
> > still be alive! I remain upset and appalled that
> > Wall
> > Street has ordered its employees back to work -- to
> > trade stocks! -- next-door to a mass, open graveyard
> > of yet unburied bodies. How cruel is this to the
> > workers who must walk by, or to the dead who are
> > treated to this sacrilege? And, in my mind, what IF
> > someone was still down there alive? How can you be
> > running around a stock market floor when you should
> > be
> > on your hands and knees digging out the possible
> > survivors? I just don't get it...
> > As I sit here in the early morning hours of
> > Saturday,
> > September 22, 2001, I cannot untangle much of the
> > past
> > 24 hours. I am exhausted from the trip, from all
> > that
> > has hit me upon returning to New York. I have to
> > unpack eventually. What was it exactly I had packed
> > all these bags for in the first place? Oh, yeah, The
> > Emmys in L.A! Big friggin' deal now, eh? I tick off
> > the list of everything that no longer matters.
> > I watch Bush speak in front of Congress, but I
> > cannot
> > answer him right now, I am tired. The mayor has
> > drastically upped the death toll. My phone rings off
> > the ... whatever phones ring off of these days.
> > Calls
> > from the BBC, CBC, Canal+, ABC (Australia), Swedish
> > TV, Dutch TV -- all want me to appear live on their
> > national primetime newscasts. Not a single American
> > network has called.
> > Frankly, I don't want to be on anybody's TV show no
> > matter where they are from, but I cannot help but
> > feel
> > this sinking feeling in my gut that the rest of the
> > world wants to hear what I have to say, yet in my
> > own
> > country, I am to have no voice in the media (other
> > than through these letters on the Web). This is MY
> > country. I love MY country. Every channel and it's
> > the
> > same damn repetitive drumbeat WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR...
> > And yet, I have just driven 2,944 miles, a drive
> > that
> > began on the corner of Wilshire and the Pacific
> > Ocean
> > in Santa Monica, California. I have heard the voices
> > of the scores of fellow Americans I met, the average
> > Joes and Janes, who are NOT screaming WAR WAR WAR!
> > Why
> > can't their voices be heard?
> > Forget about me, I can barely utter a sentence
> > anyway;
> > I don't wanna go on no TV. But where is Noam
> > Chomsky,
> > or Howard Zinn, or the editors of "The Nation" or
> > "Tikkun" or "The Progressive" or the thousands of
> > college kids who protested at noon on Thursday on
> > 148
> > American campuses? Don't they count? Is this still
> > the
> > America we believe in, the one we are being asked to
> > defend?
> > Coming home tonight, I noticed a strange sound in
> > the
> > city. I did not hear a single car horn being honked!
> > I
> > have never heard that sound in New York City. No one
> > was yelling, it was quiet and peaceful.
> > I called my dad on my cell phone. He tells me of
> > things getting even worse back home in Flint, the
> > city
> > now bankrupt, the state preparing to take it over.
> > The
> > fire department has had to lay off over 50% of its
> > firefighters. Fires now are just allowed to burn
> > because they have neither the trucks nor the people
> > left to fight them.
> > Then he said, "Mike, that guy you call 'The Boss' --
> > he's singing right now on TV!" The nationwide
> > telethon
> > for the September 11th victims has started. I could
> > hear Bruce Springsteen singing in the background. My
> > father (bless him and his Big Band soul at the age
> > of
> > 80!) knows how much I love Bruce and says, "let me
> > hold the phone up close to the set so you can hear
> > him," and he does, and I hear Springsteen sing these
> > haunting words: "My city is in ruins, my city is in
> > ruins... c'mon, rise up!"
> > I love my dad and my mom, my sisters, my wife and my
> > daughter, and I am grateful for this life and for
> > the
> > privilege I've been given to live it with all of
> > them.
> > I come upstairs and Kathleen and I watch the rest of
> > the telethon. Neil Young appears at one point, alone
> > at the piano, and he does not sing one of his own
> > songs. Rather, he sings the banned "Imagine." The
> > Walrus had to have loved that one from where he was
> > watching!
> > My wife looks over at me. The tears won't leave my
> > eyes. I tell her what I was told today.
> > "Woody (our assistant editor) saw a rescue truck
> > going
> > down the West Side Highway to help in the relief
> > effort," I tell her.
> >
> > "On the side of the truck, it read 'FFD.'"
> > The Flint Fire Department.
> > All the way from our home.
> > To our home.
> > It was more than either of us could bear.
> > Yours,
> > Michael Moore
> > mmflint at aol.com
> > www.michaelmoore.com
Joel Wendla

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