Magnus and Michael Moore |

Magnus and Michael Moore

Matt Zalaznick

People left a recent showing of “Fahrenheit 9/11” more than a little bit stunned by what their government had concealed from them in leading the nation to bloodshed and an occupation unraveling in Iraq.

A few days earlier, a family was forced ” by a police officer and a wealthy developer ” to leave the hoisting of a super-sized flag because they refused to conceal their inability to go all gooey at the sight of the stars and stripes unfurling in Avon.

Like the director Michael Moore, the man and his two children insisted on peering into the less than freedom-loving motives behind the superficial brand of discount, mass-market nationalism that’s passing for patriotism these days.

Ordinary Americans walked out of the movie theater saying they couldn’t believe some of the deceitful things they’d seen President Bush and his war cabinet say. Once the Dandy family was hounded and chased out of the parking lot in front of two of the world’s largest retail stores, the smallish crowd in Avon saluted what’s touted as the biggest American flag in Colorado, big enough to blot the sun.

That’s how some people appear to like their patriotism ” so excessively huge it smothers everything around it, particularly anyone who would dare have a contrary thing or two to say about America’s military and economic motives.

Some people like their love of country quick and easy, like all those Americans who in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks slapped Old Glory in their back windows and while yakking obliviously away on their cell phones, still tailgated and cut off their fellow Americans on the interstate network named after the general and president who led the D-Day invasion.

Some of those same people who are aghast at the hijacking on Sept. 11 don’t seem to be bothered by having their flag and their mountain scenery hijacked in the Wal-Mart parking lot for use as a fluttering billboard. Perhaps they feel they are better obeying the consumer-in-chief’s post-Sept. 11 valiant command to spend, spend, spend if they are saluting the the flag all the way to big sales and volume discounts.

It’s a more difficult, sometimes uncomfortable but crucial brand of patriotism that Michael Moore presents in his documentary and that the Dandy family exhibited in Avon. That’s an unapologetic willingness ” even an enthusiasm ” to question, criticize and contradict the government. Even in a time of war, even when soldiers and Marines are dying, and American and Iraqi families are being devastated.

Actually, a refusal to blindly trust the government ” whether it’s a Democratic or Republican administration ” is even more important in times of war, when sailors and pilots are being killed and their

families’ emotions are being terrorized.

Hopefully for the country, Michael Moore would have just as much enthusiasm to take on the government should John Kerry win election and use flimsy, self-serving reasons to send troops into harm’s way and misfire cruise missiles into the neighborhoods of innocent foreigners.

At the moment, however, as angry as the Democrats are at Bush-Cheney, that’s about as angry as Bush-Cheney and their minions seem to be when anyone speaks badly about them or has the gall to doubt America’s impeccable motives.

They’ve created a new, paranoid atmosphere in America in which those who speak out are not just debated, but defamed, demolished and decapitated.

City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or

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