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Can you handle the truth?
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People who see Fahrenheit 9/11 differ in which scenes affect them the most.

For some, it’s the sight of the charred body of a dead Iraqi toddler being loaded onto the back of a pickup truck after a “precision” strike by American bombs.

For some, it’s the scene where a mother who has lost her Marine son in Iraq goes to the White House to vent her anger. Standing in front of the barricade, she says through her tears, “This is harder than I thought it would be.”

For me it was the scenes at Walter Reed Army Hospital, where broken young men, limbs and nervous systems maimed beyond repair, lie in a state of shock, wondering through a haze of painkillers where their young lives will go from there.

But whatever the scene or scenes, I can guarantee you will be affected by Fahrenheit 9/11 in a profound way. I don’t know how much longer it will be in town, but you should go see it. Kudos to the Eisenhower and Regal Cinemas for having the balls to bring it here.

You should see Fahrenheit 9/11 not because of any political message you think it might have, but because it is first and foremost a great work of art, a well-crafted film that -- like life itself -- is sometimes depressing and sometimes hilarious.

Filmmaker Michael Moore tells this complex story of corruption in high places with archival footage you’ve almost certainly never seen before, interspersed with pop-culture references that provide timely comic relief.

The mainstream media -- as usual letting the O’Reillys and Hannitys and Limbaughs set the agenda -- has chosen to focus on Moore himself, painting him as some kind of quasi-terrorist enemy of the state.

But the personal attacks and nickel-and-dime debates over whether individual charges in F9/11 are “true” are just red herrings to distract from the movie’s irrefutable main message, which it tells quite artfully -- that a nation suffers real pain when its government has no credibility.

That the media’s corps of extremist right-wing attack dogs would go after Moore for being “biased” is revealing in itself. Unlike O’Reilly and company, Moore has never claimed to be “fair and balanced” about anything.

It’s true that Moore is a difficult man to like. When he made his now-infamous Oscar acceptance speech for Bowling for Columbine, I felt sorry for the mild-mannered European filmmakers he brought on stage with him, their one brief moment of fame overshadowed by this big American blowhard.

I have since forgiven Moore. A lot has happened since he gave that tasteless acceptance speech. If Moore is evil, than of all the evil afoot in the world today he is certainly the lesser of it.

Before seeing Fahrenheit 9/11, it was difficult to accept the reviews I’d read saying that any American regardless of politics would get something out of the film. I figured it would be like everything else Moore has done -- more raw meat for those of us who are mentally and spiritually exhausted from twenty years of watching right-wingers gleefully flush our country down the toilet.

While F9/11 is very hard on George W. Bush -- using rarely seen footage that proves beyond a doubt what a shallow and inept amateur he is -- the film is less a political polemic than a wake-up call.

F9/11 gives voice to the rising fear that America’s credibility as a legitimate democracy may be broken beyond repair. It is a sobering look at a nation in decline, whose people have given up their sovereignty to the most venal among them, who see war as an answer to all problems.

While Bush is no doubt the movie’s main target, its secondary victim is the horrendously incompetent American media. Bush may have handed them the ball, but it was the media that ran with it.

I had forgotten how eager the media was for the Iraq war to happen. I had forgotten the almost sexual fetishizing of our own weapons of mass destruction.

I had forgotten how anyone questioning the war -- all of whom turned out to be right -- was brushed aside or attacked for their views.

Using the media’s own words and images against them, Moore brings their crimes against the truth back into focus.

Indeed, F9/11 shows that we are all complicit with the evils America has loosed in the world in the name of fighting the corollary evil of terrorism.

From spineless Democrats to mindless Republicans, to the so-called “liberal” media that acts as cheerleader rather than watchdog, to defense contractors who profit when others die -- we all played our part in bringing America to the sorry state it’s in right now.

As Jack Nicholson once said in a far lesser movie: “You can’t handle the truth.”

I don’t know -- can you?

Jim is editor in chief of Connect Savannah.