The Guardian April 10, 2002


Letter from Michael Moore:
Stupid White Men tops US sales

Last September, it looked as though Michael Moore's latest book, 
Stupid White Men, was headed straight from the printing press into 
the pulper without a single copy hitting the bookshops. Thanks to the huge 
demand for the book, at the end of March it was sitting at the top of the 
"New York Times'" best seller list in America. Michael Moore is a well 
known left-wing author and filmmaker. He is probably most familiar to 
Australians for his entertaining and biting TV series "The Awful Truth" 
which was shown on SBS.

On September 11 last year, when the book was about to be launched, its 
publishers, Harper Collins, got cold feet, deeming it as "inappropriate" 
and "critical" of the "President" in the post-September 11 climate. Fifty 
thousand copies of the book had been printed. As news of the book's likely 
demise spread (mainly through the internet), orders poured in. Harper 
Collins were eventually persuaded to release it. Since then they have been 
unable to keep up with demand. The following letter (slightly abridged) is 
from Michael Moore while on a book tour of the USA.

Police raid shuts down booksigning

It's a few minutes before midnight, on Friday night on March 8. I'm in San 
Diego, and I have just escaped being arrested by the San Diego police. This 
book tour keeps getting more surreal, but the last hour has been unlike 
anything I have yet seen.

I have come to San Diego to speak at an event organised for my book 
(Stupid White Men). The event is being held at a school auditorium 
that seats about 800 people. I have spent the week in California, pretty 
much at my own expense.

Weeks ago, the publisher informed me that they would not be sending me to 
this state if they had to pay to get me there.

So I called up my friends at "Politically Incorrect" and asked if they 
could book me on the show and bring me out there. They were more than happy 
to help out. I can't believe the crap this show has had to endure because 
its host one night, early on in "America's NEW War" had the guts to state 
the truth as he saw it.

Now advertisers have dropped like flies, affiliates in DC, Columbus, and 
other cities have cancelled the program, and ABC seems eager to deep-six 
the whole hour it shares with "Nightline".

But, for now, they have come to my aid, and I am grateful.

In the past six days, I have spoken to 15 separate mobs of people. I don't 
know what other word to use because, quite simply, wherever I go, there is 
this unbelievable pandemonium.

Every day, every night, hundreds  or thousands  jam themselves into 
halls, arenas, churches, auditoriums to listen to me talk about my book and 
whatever else is struggling to make its way through my brain. Forget about 
standing room only  these venues look more like breathing room only.

I have visited the most out-of-the-way places in California and, no matter 
where I go or how right-wing the congressman is that represents their 
district, all sorts of people are desperate to get inside to be with the 
thousands of others who want to be part of "United We Stand Against the 
Thief-in-Chief".

I wish all of you could see what I have seen. In every town, at every stop, 
huge throngs of Americans who are sick and tired of the silence that has 
been demanded of them, lest they be thought of as "unpatriotic" should they 
dare to question the actions of George W Bush and company.

That's what this tour is all about. It's time to come out and start acting 
like Americans again.

And then there was San Diego. Over a thousand people are packed inside the 
800-seat auditorium.

Outside, another thousand people are on the lawn trying to get in. The 
traffic on the street is tied up and the stream of people keeps filing up 
the sidewalk.

I tell the organisers that I am going to spend a half-hour outside speaking 
to the people who cannot get in. Then I go inside, give my usual talk, and 
begin to sign books.

There's a 90-year-old lady whose granddaughter has driven her down from 
Orange County. There's a union organiser from the anti-union San Diego 
Union-Tribune newspaper who announces that his grandfather was a sit-
down striker with my uncle back in 1937 in Flint.

Some punk-poet kid tries to finish me off for good by offering me two 
Krispy Kreme donuts. Hundreds line up to have their books, their "Awful 
Truth" DVDs and, in one case, an Iron Maiden jean jacket, signed.

I am told that we are getting close to the time when we will have to leave 
the school, as it has only been rented until 11pm. That is not good. 
Hundreds are still in line. I don't think any of these signings this week 
have been over before midnight.

Somewhere around 11:30pm, I hear a commotion at the back of the auditorium. 
I see people start to scatter.

The San Diego police are coming down the aisle, their large flashlights out 
(the auditorium lights are still on, so we all understand the implied 
"other" use of these instruments).

The police are telling everyone to "VACATE THESE PREMISES IMMEDIATELY OR 
YOU WILL ALL BE ARRESTED!" I cannot believe what I am hearing. "YOU WILL 
NOT RECEIVE ANOTHER WARNING. LEAVE NOW  OR FACE ARREST!"

The cops approach the stage where I am signing the books. People are 
visibly frightened  and about half the book  line bolts toward the 
doors.

I stand up and speak to the officers. "I am the author of this book," I 
tell them politely. "These people are only here to get a book and all I am 
doing is signing them. We will be done shortly."

"I don't care who you are", they reply. "We have received a call from the 
school district and we have been told to remove you. You were supposed to 
be out of here at 11:00pm." We had apparently violated our curfew.

"C'mon guys, you can't be serious", I said. "Are you saying that you are 
going to arrest me for signing people's books, and arrest the people who 
are here because they want to read this book?"

"I don't care what you are doing  this is your last warning. I am ready 
to arrest you and everyone else."

"Who is your superior?", I ask.

"I'm it. Only the Chief is above me at night, and I am not going to wake 
him up. This has already gone through many channels. We are here because 
this has already gone through many people in the last half-hour, people in 
authority, and the decision has been made to clear you out of here or 
arrest you."

I have never been arrested, strange as that may seem. I could not believe 
that, of all I have done, all I have stood for over the years, that it has 
come down to this  and I was about to be hauled away for autographing 
books!

"OK", I said. "We'll leave." I then mumbled something about the last time I 
checked, this was still the United States of America  even if we were 
just five miles away from where it ends.

They escorted me and the few remaining souls out of the building.

The brave lady who was the owner of the independent bookstore and who was 
there selling my book, leaned over and whispered to me, "I am willing to go 
to jail for this if you want me to."

Ya gotta hand it to the independent bookstores  they've been through hell 
lately, so much so that they are now ready to be led away in handcuffs!

I walked outside and about 40 people ask me if I would still sign their 
books in the dark of the parking lot. A girl gets out her pocket 
flashlight. A guy runs over and turns on his headlights. "Sign quick, Mike, 
here come the police!"

I finish the last book and hop in my sister's car. She remembers to give me 
a plaque that had been presented to me in abstentia (while I was outside 
talking to the people who couldn't get in).

It was from the city councilwoman from the area of San Diego we were in. It 
read, "Official Proclamation: City of San Diego Declares  March 9, 2002, 
'Michael Moore Day'".

"Maybe we should have shown this to the cops", she says. We drive to her 
house where I catch four hours sleep before I get up and head for Denver.

The book is, according to the publishers, in Australian bookshops now, but 
a quick ring around by The Guardian found it was sold out or in one 
instance "on order" and expected in July!. It is also available from:

http://www.amazon.com
or http://www.michaelmoore.com

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