Dear Michael Moore: You Should Really Learn When To Just Be Quiet

michael-mooreI’m willing to admit that once upon a time I was a pretty big fan of Michael Moore. I liked his work and his passion, even if I didn’t always agree with everything he said or did. And for the most part, I still think he does a decent amount of good. That being said, I also think he has a real problem with not knowing when to just shut up.

As many have already probably heard, Moore made comments recently where he essentially called snipers “cowards”:

His comments are idiotic on several levels. First, his uncle being killed by a sniper in WWII has nothing to do with the “courage” of a sniper. A sniper is a position found in every form of organized military on the planet. They have a specialization and a job that’s specifically assigned to them. His uncle’s life, until it was taken, was quite possibly saved by American snipers with whom he was fighting alongside several times during WWII.

And what’s Moore saying, that unless you’re killing the enemy in face to face combat you’re a coward? Does he then think that every pilot who’s dropped a bomb, or service member on a naval ship who’s fired a missile, are cowards as well? You know, since they didn’t even “have the courage” to see who they might have killed? Because if a sniper shooting someone with a sniper rifle is “cowardly, ” then what does he think of someone who killed someone with a tomahawk missile from miles away?

Then we can’t ignore the overwhelmingly obvious fact that snipers have saved countless American lives. How many men and women are alive and with their families right now because they were saved by a sniper? And how many of these “cowards” have died serving this country, fighting for our freedom?

Let’s use WWII for an example. If an American sniper would have had a clear shot at Hitler, would they have been a “coward” for taking the shot, ending the war and saving millions of lives? How many Jews would have been saved had a “cowardly sniper” took Hitler out well before he slaughtered millions of them?

This isn’t about debating the ethics behind going to war in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else. Members of our military don’t have a choice. When they’re ordered by our government to do their duty, they’re expected to follow orders. If you want to criticize the people who sent our troops into war, go right ahead. But don’t sit there and call members of our military “cowards” for doing their job.

And while I understand Chris Kyle is a bit controversial because of some of the things he’s said, Moore’s comments weren’t directed at one individual – though it’s clear the debut of American Sniper was what triggered him to post such idiocy. His comments were blanket statements clearly derived from his disagreement with our involvement in Iraq that essentially become him publicly admitting that he has disdain for our men and women in uniform.

If you want to disagree with war, go right ahead. While I’m not anti-war, I’m also not pro-war. It’s my belief that some wars are justified while others are not. But supporting the brave men and women of our military who risk everything to defend this country whenever they’re called upon to do so should never be attacked by anyone. They’re called upon to do a job and if they don’t do it, people can die. They’re put into situations where they’re making decisions that are often so difficult that many of them suffer from PTSD for the rest of their lives because of what they see and have to go through while serving in our military.

If Moore wants to debate the merits of whether or not we should have gone to war, go right ahead. But that’s not what he did. He publicly bashed members of our military as “cowards” because they do a job that he clearly doesn’t understand. And by doing so, his ignorance was on full display.

And while I’ll fully admit that I’ve enjoyed of a lot of what Moore has done, there are times when he just needs to know when to be quiet. And in my opinion, this was one of those times.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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  • Cemetery Girl

    I’ve appreciated his work in the past, but he should have kept his mouth shut here. He knew this would stir people up, I don’t doubt he intent there, but I think he figured the liberal masses (being generally less supportive of military action) would agree. Snipers aren’t cowards. They hold a position in the military that is psychologically/emotionally taxing, and they don’t deserve this kind of statement just to stir people up in the wake of a movie. The family of Chris Kyle does not deserve the disrespect of this comment which was clearly made because of the movie.

    • hellyeah_rook

      I’ve liked his work in the past too, but it seems a person can’t become famous due to controversy without eventually stepping over that line.

      • Cemetery Girl

        Anyone that strives for controversy will eventually cross the line. It is bound to happen. When your fame is due to pushing boundaries you will eventually cross one that a majority of people feel is too far. Some people are highly offended by this (I can’t blame military, current and past, that are), some just think it went too far. It’s the cost of courting fame by stirring people up. And while I do think he’s brought valid attention to some things in the past, really he has worked to be known for controversy.

    • CherMoe

      It would be interesting to do some real expose’ work on what these guys do once returned to the general population, after serving as snipers, Navy Seals, after having worked for Blackwater (Xe or whatever they’ve now changed their name to), etc. This movie was done to stir the pot once again and spread more hatred and division in this country. Clint Eastwood himself has become a very controversial figure (visible or not). At a time when America is at war within itself (NRA and the open-carry wackos), this just serves to generate more violence. And let’s note that it comes at a time when the right-wing is trying to get us involved in more wars AND leading up to another Presidential election in 2016.

      • Cemetery Girl

        Had the process of making the movie began before the death of Kyle? Admittedly, I haven’t seen the movie yet (reading the book now, I prefer to read a book before seeing a movie), but based on trailers it seems that some of the impact on family is shown. People will get out of a movie what they want though. I know a couple of people that couldn’t wait to go see it because they were thinking of it like the ultimate action movie (since it’s based on Chris Kyle, it’s an action movie based on reality.)

  • Jackson Malone

    I think there would be much less war if it had to be fought at a range where you can see the white if your enemy’s eyes. That being said, he’s an idiot here.

    • hellyeah_rook

      Also there’d be a lot less war if the people declaring war had to serve on the front lines. Bet a lot of wars would have been prevented.

    • Cemetery Girl

      It wouldn’t impact the declarations of war or military action. Those that make those calls do so from an office, not a battlefield. The gentlemanly way to conduct war (lining up to shoot at each other) was abandoned because it was inefficient. If we think that the military has no regard for our soldiers now, there was far less then. The only difference then was the inaccuracy of guns, but as that improved the gentleman’s form of battle fell out of favor.

      • Jackson Malone

        I am not convinced that the efficiency of war is a good thing. I also am not convinced that there is such a thing as a “gentleman’s war” either. I am convinced, however that it would be a lot harder to recruit people to fight those wars if they had to do it up front and close. If you notice those wars ended when the draft ended. At least in America anyway. War should not be cheap, easy or efficient. It should be terrible, costly, and avoided at all cost. The streamlining of the ability to inflict mass death and damage is a slippery slope. We now fight corporate wars where we look at the bottom line and profit more than the human toll because it has become an inhuman thing. Death strikes from afar take us away from the human toll and make it easier for the Armed forces to convince our youth to kill in the name of Big Business.

      • Cemetery Girl

        The term “gentleman’s war” just refers to that style, as it was considered how civilized people fought. When I say inefficient, I refer to the cost of human life. If you consider the loss of life in the American Civil War, which still relied on lining up forces to fire at each other, there is a high cost of life. Grant was known for his willingness to send as many men as needed to die as long as it resulted in a victory. Despite technology war is always going to be destructive and ugly. There is no getting around that. Regardless of how wars are fought (using technology or lining up forces face to face) those that start the wars will continue to do so because they don’t have to face the results. Instead they can sit, removed, and speak of glory and bravery. That isn’t going to change.

      • hellyeah_rook

        Well, we are talking about now, and if you want to talk about inefficiency, profiting from war is a huge inefficiency to the idea of protecting our freedoms. And if those guys had to be the ones held accountable by their decisions I bet our attitude towards war would be a lot different.

      • Cemetery Girl

        The statement was made that if the soldiers had to see the whites of the eyes of the enemy there would be less war. History shows that makes no difference to the people that declare wars. We actually learn something if we pay attention to the past.

      • hellyeah_rook

        And in the recent history the leaders don’t participate in combat. If they did they’d come back with “shell shock”. Sending troops over and over just like history isn’t changing anything. We can learn from history, just not what you think we should learn.

      • Cemetery Girl

        The leaders didn’t participate back then either. They were removed. I oppose war, but going back to close combat isn’t going to make our political leaders want to avoid it. They do not have to face the carnage, so what does it matter to them?

      • hellyeah_rook

        Exactly. My point being if they were forced to be held accountable for their decisions, as in directly participate in combat, then war wouldn’t happen as often because war isn’t profitable to them if they die.

        Bush wouldn’t have started an illegal war if he had been deployed along with the troops when we invaded Iraq. That’s a recent example.

  • Bill Fisher

    Excuse me, but snipers do see their victims, unlike pilots or missile launchers. Every sniper I’ve met has gloried in holding their fire until they can see the persons face and make it personal. I don’t like people who kill for the pleasure of it. I agree with Moore.

    • Cemetery Girl

      You know them, so you also know the toll their service takes on them? Yes, they do see the people they shoot. They watch them, visually verify it is their target, will even hold off for the best possible shot. You know them, you’ve heard “one shot, one kill”. The goal is the target and only the target. Dropping a bomb would probably be easier, or even just sending in some men with fully auto weapons, but that risks the deaths of many yet still not getting the target. So instead they watch their target, must face the idea that this is a person, and it does impact them.

      • Bill Fisher

        Thank you, Cemetary Girl. I was painting with a broad brush and that’s unfair. You’re right, I know the toll their service took on them as mine took on me and every other veteran’s took on them. We all react differently and I had no right to condemn. Like TeeDee said, “it’s better to say they’re not heroes, rather than call them cowards.” You seem to have your head screwed on right. Thanks, again.

      • Cemetery Girl

        Everyone handles their experiences differently. Combat situations are complex. As a civilian I haven’t experienced it, but I know that the range of emotions from service are complex. I oppose war, dislike what our people endure, but I respect those that serve. And I can agree that on a certain level about referring to them as heroes. I can’t recall meeting any soldier that has served in a combat situation and been comfortable being called a hero.

      • DavidD

        Most but not all.Some think no more about taking a human life than swatting a fly.The good guys suffer usally later.The bad ones don’t.
        You have to make yourself do a job you are trained to do if for no other reason than you don’t want to let your buddies to suffer for your fuck ups or cowardness.
        I wasn’t never in combat but I was in a dangerous rate and I still don’t know what kept me going towards a situation except that.
        I’m not the heroic type and I was just as close to freaking out as you can get.I was just so damm scared .
        i’d shake,or puke and in more than one occasion pee in my pants but I never ran away.
        I sure did want to though.

      • Cemetery Girl

        I have heard (I did not join the military, being female with the type of personality I have, it wouldn’t have been a success) that the adjustment to feeling like that causes the difficulty. The human mind will adjust to accept just about any situation. Adjusting back isn’t easy at all. I know of many that served that wouldn’t mind going back to it. They understand that normal derived from intense situations. It is complex, they want to be with their families but also almost need to get back to that adjusted normal. I haven’t seen the movie (have started the book), and I hope this is something that it does call attention to.

      • DavidD

        The Hurt Locker addresses this issue better than any other movie but Apocalypse Now touches on it.

      • Cemetery Girl

        I am hoping that this movie brings some attention to the family impact also. I am not a military wife (my personality is no better suited for that than it is actually enlisting), but I have close friends that are, and this change in their husbands does impact them and their children.

    • Eg Kbbs

      I don’t entirely agree with Moore but in his defense, American Exceptionalism. I saw it in Vietnam and I’m seeing it now in Afghanistan:

      THEY are an amorphous blob of 100% uncivilized, hateful, terrorists. WE are 100% good guys.

      THEIR snipers are cowards, laying in wait where they don’t face us. OUR snipers exercise extreme self control to complete their assigned mission.

      THEIR suicide bombers are cowards (and all of THEM are coward terrorists). OUR drones bombing weddings are the glories of freedom.

      • Bill Fisher

        Correct, Eg. This American Exceptionalism crap has made us a pariah to the rest of the world and has been used to pit Americans against each other.

  • TeeDee

    I think Michael Moore would have been better off saying that snipers are not heroes, rather than calling them cowards. I think a truly good soldier, no matter what his position in the military, is humble about killing others and doesn’t parade himself on Fox News while Hasslebeck completely gushes over him.

    • bigovernmentsocialconservative

      And do note that what you said is a very high standard.

      Whether a soldier tries to live up to that standard (being humble about killing others), or stuffs his/her chest about it on Fox News, either way he/she ends up with PTSD.

      • DavidD

        The longer I’m away from the service and the more age is making inroads on me the more I can see how the cruelity of war effects those who participate in it.
        I go to the VA and sit in the waiting room and listen to my fellow old snorts express regret over not what they suffered but what they did.
        I know they are good men because they have those regrets.Bad men don’t.
        Maybe it’s because our testosterone has dropped or as our mortality approaches we get more contemplative.I don’t know.
        Every time I am so thankful I was never invoved in combat.The cost to ones self is way high and the consequences can’t be taken back.

      • Cemetery Girl

        My grandmother had two brothers, one served in WWII and the other Korea. Both were nearly killed in battle. Both received medals and spent months in a military hospital recovering. Neither one would ever talk about their time in the Army. (I think both were Army.) One of the brothers developed Alzhiemers at the end of his life. Thankfully his mind usually took him back to his childhood, but occasionally he was back in war. We will start seeing this in Vietnam vets now that they’re getting older. Eventually we will see this in those that have served in the Middle East too. Especially since it is now believed that risk of Alzheimer’s is increased when a person has experienced a head trauma.

  • Creeayshun Sighuntist

    Michael Moore was told to just be quiet and keep his mouth shut by Conservatives many times throughout the years, particularly after the release of Fahrenheit 9/11. I don’t always agree with what he says, but the guy has stones and there are times that we need people like him to speak up so we stop glorifying horrific mistakes, like the destruction of Iraq, and potentially avoid repeating those mistakes in the future. This Sniper movie reeks of an intent of making the memory of that war of choice more palatable through wrapping the flag around some guy who killed a lot of people (unnecessarily) and hoping that idiotic Americans will forget the disaster of PNAC’s global policies. Sorry, but there are no “heroes” in an illegal war. Congratulations, you killed hundreds of people in a country where you should have never been in the first place had you had an honorable President in office at the time. And you came home only to be murdered by some unstable gun nut because guns and shooting was that important. Karma is a b****, end of story. The military is full of people like him who did and do the job they are trained to do, and killed countless innocent men, women, and children. I just hope we can continue electing Presidents who take mass murder as seriously as Michael Moore does.

    And how those Iraqi’s were murdered makes little difference at this point, (missiles from 30 miles, sniper from 1000 yds, A-10, blackhawk, hand to hand, etc). One thing is for sure, their feel-good stories will never be told like Kyle’s has been because we don’t give a damn about people born in other countries. We’re America. You are welcome. Try some Burger King.

    However, Chris Kyle was certainly no coward but he wasn’t a hero either, and that war will always be BS.

  • Ernesto DelMundo

    Instead of bashing Michael Moore the author should be talking about how this “american sniper” died. He was shot dead on a gun range by a fellow veteran with PTSD. These poorly-educated, ripe for the picking members of the lower socioeconomic order are chewed up and spit out by a machine that generates huge profits for a few well connected corporate execs at the expense of everyone else. This author should be talking about this evil group of people laughing all the way to the bank while we argue about how noble or ignoble some of their victims are.

    • CherMoe

      Excellent observation. I hope Michael Moore will continue to “take them on.” Every time the war-mongers start their “fear campaigns” all I know is that I see $$$$$ signs in their eyes. They are so heavily invested in the military industrial complex.

      • Michael G Brotherton

        Oh… how the drivel flows from the Queen of Asshat!

  • Kevin Talmadge

    The context here is that Kyle was a braggart and liar, and he is the “brave” one being glorified…in reality, Iraq was and is a free fire zone where any male age 16-65 was a legit kill (no sniper ever gets questioned on their judgement) How many of his kills were even combatants? Really? at least with drones we have a video trail of some evidence. I agree that pilots also fall into the coward category (Big competition to fly during Vietnam, for instance, to avoid ground duty), as they drop bombs on innocents all the time…anyone who volunteers for the military, then commits war crimes, then brags about it for mega$, is a coward indeed…

  • Ron Davis

    Free speech.
    MM can say whattever he wants. He’s earned.

    • Cemetery Girl

      He can say it, absolutely. The beauty of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not obsolve how others react. He is someone familiar with controversy, so he surely understands this.

  • Nancy

    Yeah, that was dumb.

  • adcbeast

    YES Michael Moore was being provocative … but he addressed a point about the movie American Sniper that movie director Robert Greenwald made on The Ed Schultz show.

    Greenwald (and Moore) said the movie did a great job of showing the emotional struggle of soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan but failed to address the issue that we shouldn’t cause harm to our soldiers by putting them in police actions where they kill the civilians including women and children.

    Great movies hit on the larger global issues and the personal specific issues.

    Too many people let themselves get caught up in reacting to one word in a comment rather than look at the larger point being made .. it shows a laziness that the media loves in their audience ..

    Stop being a sap that the media plays like a card ..

  • DavidD

    i like Moore.I never bothered to watch any of his films since i already agree with a lot he says.
    He really stepped in it this time but so have I probably more than him.
    The RWNJ’s will repeat his comments and make much of them but through mindless and constant repitition their impact will lessen over time.RWNJ’s are not very imaginative and their obvious opportunism is plain to see.
    Learning to pick your battles and when to be quiet is not easy but it is something we both need to work on.

  • Richard Arthur David Chartrand

    Ultimately, the end result of this movie proves one point. We are ALL entitled to our opinion. We are ALL entitled to discuss, argue, oppose one another openly and safe in the knowledge we are free to do so. Even if a few of you are deranged morons.

  • Bob Blaylock

      Why does anyone care what Mr. Moore has to say?  What makes anything to do with him the least bit newsworthy?  This dumbass used up his fifteen minutes of fame a very long time ago, and after that, we really ought to have been spared ever having to hear of him or from him again.

      As someone on the far-right, I promise not to bring him up as an argument against my opposition.  I recognize that most of you in the wrong-wing very rightfully consider Mr. Moore to be a deep embarrassment to your side of the debate; and I can sympathize with this article expressing the wish that Mr. Moore would just shut up and go away; and stop embarrassing the rest of those on his side of the political spectrum.