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The "Academy" Must Now Share Michael Moore's Cinematic Shame

Thursday, March 27, 2003

By Chris W. Cox Executive Director NRA Institute for Legislative Action

As the record-low television audience that sat through the latest Hollywood celebration of Hollywood knows, the Academy Award for a feature documentary film was given to Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, a painfully pretentious work of anti-American, anti-gun, anti-NRA propaganda.

But many don't know that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had to violate its own rules to allow Moore to compete for, much less win, an Oscar. The Academy's "Special Rules for the Documentary Award" define a documentary film "as a non-fiction motion picture," with the emphasis "on factual content." Bowling for Columbine miserably fails this practical test. It is a work of propaganda, pure and simple, riddled not with slovenly conducted research but with calculated dishonesty.

For example, Moore splices together two separate speeches by NRA President Charlton Heston to create the false impression that viewers are seeing a single speech given at the 1999 NRA Annual Meetings in Denver. Moore's intent is to make NRA's president appear insensitive to the senseless murders at Columbine High School earlier that year in nearby Littleton.

To further his lie, Moore depicts President Heston raising a musket at the Denver meeting and delivering his familiar line "from my cold dead hands." The facts—that President Heston was actually filmed one year later and 1,354 miles away in Charlotte, N.C.—aren't something Moore cares to document.

The deception continues with Moore repeatedly referring to the Denver meetings as pro-gun rallies. He fails to document the well-known fact that out of respect for the families victimized at Columbine, NRA canceled all events and meetings in Denver except those required by the Association's bylaws and laws regarding not-for-profit corporations.

No lie is too poisonous for Michael Moore. He actually tries to make viewers believe that NRA makes a habit of holding rallies in the wake of tragic shootings. After failing to document that NRA's Denver meetings were scheduled years in advance, Moore jumps to a Michigan campaign rally, claiming: "just as he did after the Columbine shooting, Charlton Heston showed up in Flint, to have a big pro-gun rally." Moore wants viewers to believe the Flint rally took place immediately following the shooting death of child in a local classroom. In fact, the rally took place eight months later during the regular campaign season.

Another outrageous sequence in Moore's supposedly "non-fiction motion picture," tries to associate NRA with the Ku Kux Klan and depicts an NRA member assisting in a Klan cross burning. The rationale? NRA was founded in 1871, the year the KKK was declared an illegal organization. The absurd connection is intentional. It's Michael Moore's idea of humor.

An honest documentary would record that NRA was founded by former Union Army officers who fought a war to bring an end to slavery. It would record that Civil War veteran Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside was the Association's first president. It would record that the man who signed the act making the Klan an illegal organization later became NRA's eighth president—Ulysses S. Grant.

A true documentary would note that NRA's early history was written by figures who had not only fought to end slavery, but who would later oppose the persecution of freedmen. Such a man would assume command of the Fifth Military District, and he would then remove governors in Texas and Louisiana for failing to oppose the KKK. That man later became NRA's ninth president—Gen. Philip H. Sheridan.

Bowling For Columbine is a compilation of deceit piled upon deceit—facts omitted, time lines distorted and editing tricks employed to present a false view of American culture in general and the "gun culture" and NRA in particular. And yet, no matter how shameless its deceptions, no matter how brazen its lies, Moore's propaganda film does have its fans, including the Brady Campaign.

When Moore's Oscar nomination was announced, the gun-ban group was "very pleased" that "Bowling for Columbine is receiving the acclaim it deserves." The Brady bunch fell silent, however, in the days following Moore's win. Possibly they found him less appealing after his tasteless Oscar acceptance speech. Unable to resist a captive audience, the self-indulgent Moore railed against the war in Iraq and President Bush. And while his tirade was received silently by most of the Hollywood millionaires in the Kodak Theater, the poseur-populist was booed loudly by the stagehands actually working the event.

As more and more Americans catch on to the deceit that is Bowling for Columbine, its maker will have to seek out a more gullible audience. The Wall Street Journal's John Fund provides a road map: "Mr. Moore is naturally a big hit among the French. The jury at the Cannes Film Festival created a special, one-time only award to honor his film and then gave it a 13-minute standing ovation." Many Americans would gladly say, Au revoir Monsieur Moore.

More on Michael Moore's anti-gun deceit Bowling For Columbine may be found at www.nraila.org. In particular, see the article "Sliming America" and the link to "Bowling for Columbine: Documentary or Fiction?"

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.