See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Rabble rouser 

Best Local Activist
Michael Moore

I’ve written exactly one fan letter my entire life, and it was to Michael Moore, back in 1999, when his cable show The Awful Truth premiered. One of the segments involved a diabetic who was dying because his health maintenance organization refused to provide him with the pancreas transplant he needed to stay alive. After the program aired, the HMO, shamed by the horrible publicity, reversed course. And a life was saved.

It was a remarkable piece of television, and I wrote Moore to say so, and to tell him how important he is to progressives such as me. He makes us laugh, sure. But he also inspires. From his days running an alternative newspaper in Flint to his landmark documentary Roger & Me, to a groundbreaking television series to his role in Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign, the guy steps up again and again to take on corporate special interests and venal political hypocrites, racists and homophobes, greed meisters and polluters and brutal cops, always on behalf of those drowning in poverty or struggling to survive the relentless toil of a blue-collar existence.

And through it all, his sense of humor remains intact. Even, as is the case these days, when the attacks are coming from some of his former allies on the left.

On his Web site a few weeks back, he described this scene at a recent Writers Guild Awards dinner in New York City:

“My wife,” he wrote, “told me that, while I was on the way up to the stage, the people at a nearby table hissed at me.

“‘That’s the first time I have ever heard someone hiss you just at the mention of your name,’ she said. ‘Usually they wait ‘til you’ve said something obnoxious or stupid.

“‘I think it’s Nader residue,’” my wife said later. ‘They hold you responsible.’”

Maybe so. But all the Best Of voters who sent your name to the Metro Times feel differently. They, like me, simply hold you in awe.

And to you lefties who still blame him for helping put George Bush in the White House, he offers this olive branch:

“Our work is cut out for us. Is everybody ready to mend some fences and get busy? I am.”

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October 21, 2020

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