July 30, 2004: Impressions From CrawfordWednesday night I drove up to Crawford, Texas, with our shipping clerk, John Northrup, to attend the big outdoor screening of Fahrenheit 9/11, billed as "Michael Moore's movie in Bush's back yard!"
Well, we weren't exactly in Bush's back yard; in fact, we were in a big parking area next to the Crawford football stadium. Organizers of the event claimed about 5,000 attendees; this news story claims about 1,000. I'm guessing it was closer to 2,000. The showing was sponsored by the Crawford Peace House, which is pretty much what it sounds like.
It's fair to say that most native Crawfordites (Crawfordians? Crawfordsters?) were not pleased to have us there. Several businesses along the main street had large "Bush in 2004" placards or banners, and many townsfolk were walking around in pro-Bush (or anti-Moore) shirts. At the entrance to the screening site, a number of demonstrators carried signs and encouraged everyone to vote for Bush in November. I wouldn't say the atmosphere was cordial, but it was certainly not inflamed or even especially hostile, as you might expect from a small town in Texas. John told me today that he heard there was a scuffle, but if so, I missed it completely.
I'm not going to talk about the movie itself, except to say that I'm glad I saw it. I wish Mr. Moore had not backed out of the screening, because there are questions I would have liked to have had answered. I would encourage all Americans to see the movie before Election Day. I would also encourage them all to view the film with a critical eye, and be aware that Moore's film is quite one-sided, and that he himself would not argue that fact. In the strictest sense, this is not a documentary; this is a movie where the script, characters, and plot are drawn from real people and real events, but which doesn't attempt objectivity. (I'm very carefully not talking about my own political views, because I think Bush supporters have as much to gain from seeing the movie as Kerry supporters and the large mass of people who haven't decided, don't like either of them, or just don't care. It does raise some good questions. It glosses over just as many. There are lots of issues here to discuss, and we only lose when, through apathy or blind partisanship, we fail to do so.)
I'm glad I went. I hope we did not unduly inconvenience the good people of Crawford, but I'm afraid we probably did (with our traffic, if nothing else). Wednesday night's screening was, to me, a heartening example of what is right about America -- information (slanted, to be sure) was made available to anyone who cared to see it, and those who disagreed had the freedom to speak out. As long as we remember to listen to those who do not share our convictions, rather than trying to shout them down, I have no fears about the future of the United States and of the world.
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