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Michael Moore [00:00:30] This is Rumble with Michael Moore, and I’m Michael Moore. Welcome, everyone. First of all, I want to thank all of you who joined me last Friday night for the free worldwide screening of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and the Q&A afterwards…and we had an amazing turnout, received wonderful feedback from many of you. So thank you very much for that. It was the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and it was, it felt like a powerful moment. And I loved watching the movie with you and sharing it with you. And this is something I’m going to do for my Substack members. If you are a member of my Substack, I’m going to every month or two, do what we call Mike’s movie night. And I will curate this. I will pick films that are just personal favorites of mine. Some of them are really unknown. Some of them didn’t get the distribution they deserved and people haven’t seen them. I’d like to share them with you. Some of them are huge classics that I would love to get the director or some of the stars of the film together after the screening that particular night and have them take questions from you. So that’s going to be Mike’s movie night, a new feature on my Substack. And, you know, if you are already a free subscriber, of course, you get every one of these podcasts and you get every one of my essays and newsletters and any writings I do.
Michael Moore It’s all free to everybody. No paywall. But for those of you who choose to become a paid member and support the work we’re doing, our next film, our next series, the things that we are up to here now during this pandemic, we want to have we have a couple little gifts for you to thank you for becoming a paid member. And one of those is watching a movie with me every month or so. And also every month, I’m going to do a personal Q&A with those of you who are paid members. This is not going to be where I, you know, take questions in advance and read from cards or whatever. This is you and I personally being on the screen with each other to have a conversation, for you to ask me any question you want, to ask me to make a comment, to have a discussion, whatever it is, I’m really looking forward to doing this with all of you. So sign up and be a paid member of my podcast platform page, or you can do it when you get your next Substack email. But for five bucks a month you get these free gifts for being a paid member.
Michael Moore [00:05:04] And I thank all of you for being part of this in the first month. It’s been very special and I’m very grateful. Today’s podcast episode will be my conversations, twenty years after 9/11 and 17 years after we released “Fahrenheit 9/11” in the theaters, you’re going to hear on this podcast today two conversations that I had surrounding Friday’s worldwide event. Two conversations, one with Lila Lipscomb, from Flint, Michigan, the mother whose son died while serving in Iraq. And my conversation with Abdul Henderson, the former Marine corporal who came with me bravely to Capitol Hill to stop members of Congress as we tried to recruit them or their sons or their daughters to go and fight the wars that they were enthusiastically voting for.
Michael Moore [1.7s] All right, so as I was saying, last Friday, I spoke with Lila Lipscomb just before our “Fahrenheit 9/11” screening. She’s the mother from Flint, Michigan, who lost her son, Army Sergeant Michael Pedersen, on April 2nd, 2003 in Iraq. Michael, who was obviously also from Flint, was 26 years old. He was killed in a Blackhawk helicopter crash in central Iraq. Let’s just play a minute from “Fahrenheit 9/11” where we met Lila Lipscomb.
Lila Lipscomb [00:09:01] The army called me and I remember getting on the phone and him saying, asking me was I Lila Lipscomb? And I said, yes. And he said, mother of Sergeant Michael Pedersen? And I remember dropping the telephone. And all I can honestly say is that I remember this man, the United States Army, the secretary of defense, regretfully informs you…It’s all in you, the grief grabbed me so hard that I literally fell on the floor. And I was alone. I didn’t have anybody to pick me up. So I called over to my desk and was hanging on. And I remember screaming – why does it have to be Michael? Why did you have to take my son? Why is it my son you have to take him? He wasn’t a bad guy. He was a good guy. Why did you have to take my son?
Michael Moore [00:00:41] Lila and her family now live in Columbus, Ohio, and now my friends, here it is, my one-on-one conversation with Lila Lipscomb. Lila, how you doing?
Lila Lipscomb [00:00:43] Do you know what, Michael, first, can I just, I don’t know if I ever, ever got a chance to properly just warmly from my heart tell you, thank you so much for giving me a platform for my grief. I know it was because of what you gifted me with that gave me the strength to continue on. And I thank you for that. Not everybody had the ability or the gift to be able to have a platform to share that grief and to receive so much love when I needed it. So I want to thank you for that.
Michael Moore [00:01:16] Well, that’s very kind of you to say that. There’s no way I probably could ever do enough to remove the pain and obviously none of us have the power to bring Michael, your son, back, but I was so moved by you when I first met you while we were making the film. To stand there with you in front of the White House.
Lila Lipscomb [00:01:45] Yeah.
Michael Moore [00:01:45] To stand at the gates.
Lila Lipscomb [00:01:47] Yeah.
Michael Moore [00:01:48] Of power and to speak the truth. I know you’re a religious person and, of course, we’d talk about how when I was a teenager, I went to the seminary, but you literally that day I just was thinking, we have John the Baptist…Calling him out. And he’s up there.
Lila Lipscomb [00:02:25] But you know what I remember so much about that day at the White House? I was so angry that there was like a trench built in the fence in the building. I was like, yes, he’s so afraid he has to just literally lock himself in back there.
Michael Moore [00:02:42] Right, right, right, right.
Lila Lipscomb [00:02:44] I was appalled. I was appalled. It’s my White House, just like it’s his White House. And I couldn’t get to it.
Michael Moore [00:02:51] It shocked me, you know, there. And that was really the beginning of they were trying to do under the name of Homeland Security…
Lila Lipscomb [00:03:01] Exactly.
Michael Moore [00:03:02] Basically make sure that the people can be kept away and they can’t be heard.
Lila Lipscomb [00:03:10] Exactly.
Michael Moore [00:03:10] And there’s nothing to worry about with us. We’re not like the January 6th people.
Lila Lipscomb [00:03:14] Well, come on now.
Michael Moore [00:03:17] We’re not violent people. First of all, we’re there to stop the violence.
Lila Lipscomb [00:03:20] Exactly.
Michael Moore [00:03:21] What else do you remember of that time when we were sort of back and forth and everywhere? We were in front, we were in Washington, DC, and then after it came out…
Lila Lipscomb [00:03:33] What comes to me is Dover Air Force Base. When we went to Dover, that was pretty intense. That was pretty intense because I was not allowed to go and receive my son’s casket home. And to be able to go to Dover, it was as though I was able to go, even though he wasn’t there, and then to see when I walk to go up to the base and to see I didn’t realize that so many people were following me as I walked up to the base. And they told me that I had to leave and that hurt me to my heart, knowing that my son gave his blood for this country and I was not allowed to step foot on a military base.
Michael Moore [00:04:23] Yeah, I just, you know, all of that time was just so emotional for me, obviously for you, you know, all I was having to do was try to, you know, go around the country and try to talk to people and try to figure this out and try to present something to the public. But your loss I mean, your son, Michael, died on April 2nd, which was my mother’s birthday. And he was, I think, one of the first from our area to die in the war, because the war had started on March 17th, 19th, something like that. March 19th. So it was very early on. And I think most Americans really didn’t know why we were there or what was happening or what was going on.
Lila Lipscomb [00:05:24] And, well, a lot of Americans were actually feeding into the lie that we were going after bin Laden.
Michael Moore [00:05:33] Yeah, right. In Iraq.
Lila Lipscomb [00:05:35] Exactly right. Right. And then here we are 20 years later, finally having to come out of Afghanistan, where we should have, if we truly went for bin Laden, we should have been there in the first place.
Michael Moore [00:05:48] Yeah. And then once bin Laden was gone, why were we still there?
Lila Lipscomb [00:05:51] Thank you.
Michael Moore [00:05:53] They’ve never really explained that. And the way Bush has sort of now in the latter years comes off as this kind of goofy grandpa-ish type, he’s a painter now and he’s, you know, always hugging Michelle Obama and handing her sticks of gum. I mean, I just, you know, and once Trump was elected, everybody was like, oh, well, this makes Bush look good. And I’m think, no, not really, I’m not, I mean, I’m not prone to say anything good about Trump, but I’m trying to remember the countries he invaded. Right. You know, I mean, this guy invaded two countries. There’s a lot of blood on his hands.
Lila Lipscomb [00:06:36] And a lot of money in his pocket.
Michael Moore [00:06:37] A lot of money in his and Cheney’s and all of them.
Lila Lipscomb [00:06:40] Exactly. The ones that sit on the boards. Yep.
Michael Moore [00:06:44] So I’ve really never gotten over it. And I have this sense that justice has not prevailed when it comes to Bush and his crowd. And, you know, I hope that will happen in our lifetime.
Lila Lipscomb [00:07:06] Me too.
Michael Moore [00:07:08] How do they sleep? How do they sleep at night?
Lila Lipscomb [00:07:11] You know what? I don’t know how they sleep other than just being pure ignorant and choosing not to take accountability for their actions, because I think in their mind, they were doing what they thought they needed to do in order to pacify the ones that put them in office. And that sickens me. That just sickens me with our political system.
Michael Moore [00:07:33] How have you dealt with that yourself now, because it’s been, so Michael died in ’03, so that’s what is that 18.
Lila Lipscomb [00:07:44] 18 years.
Michael Moore [00:07:45] 18 plus years now.
Lila Lipscomb [00:07:47] Yep, a lot of counseling. I worked with the Columbia University for the study of grief for families of fallen soldiers. I just built a little cocoon that I stayed within. And unfortunately, I mean, I’m very blessed to be where I’m at right now, but I stay very close to the defense center in Columbus, Ohio. And I have to be very careful because when the military helicopters start flying overhead, I tend to get very anxious and start getting the PTSD flashbacks, so that part has been a real struggle for me. You can tell I’m still kind of dealing.
Michael Moore [00:08:36] Of course. Well, Michael died in a helicopter.
Lila Lipscomb [00:08:39] Exactly. And then to find out that his head was decapitated is…I choose not to try to think about those when I think of my son. I choose to think of the red bird, the cardinal, that comes and visits me almost daily. And they say when a red bird visits you it’s someone from heaven checking on you. So those kinds of things are what I choose to stick with.
Michael Moore [00:09:04] Yeah. Yeah, but still, I mean, I hear you and it’s, I mean..
Lila Lipscomb [00:09:12] You still hear the pain?
Michael Moore [00:09:12] Of course. I mean, how, you know, my grandmother lost my uncle in World War II in the Philippines, and now I wasn’t born then, but growing up, it was clear he was…there were seven kids in that family and he was probably the favorite brother of my dad’s, although I only saw him with his two living brothers, who were also in the war. And they were hilarious and great. And he loved them deeply. But the one who died, I think, was just like they were just a year apart or so. And my grandmother never got over it. She was so affected by his death that when the war was over and they finally, you know, the bodies came back and whatever, they buried him in the Catholic cemetery in Flint. She wanted to visit the grave every day and did and then she told her husband that she wanted to find a house that was in walking distance of the cemetery. And found a house to rent just across essentially right across the street from the cemetery and went there every day. Oh, my God. The grief, the pain of it.
Lila Lipscomb [00:10:32] Yeah, well, that’s that’s part of the reason that I had to leave Flint. Because I, too, would go to the cemetery and many days I would find myself standing at his grave and just screaming at the top of my lungs, because I still don’t understand it. 18 years in, and I still don’t understand a man’s greed that he would send children to make him more money. I still don’t understand it.
Michael Moore [00:11:05] Well, you understand that it was a man’s greed. And that he would not send his own daughters off to.
Lila Lipscomb [00:11:13] Exactly, exactly.
Michael Moore [00:11:15] But would send your son and all the others that signed up.
Lila Lipscomb [00:11:18] And all the others.
Michael Moore [00:11:20] And they said, why did they sign up? They signed up because they were willing to defend you and I.
Lila Lipscomb [00:11:26] Exactly.
Michael Moore [00:11:27] So that we wouldn’t have to give our lives. They are willing to give their lives.
Lila Lipscomb [00:11:30] Right.
Lila Lipscomb [00:11:31] And I can promise you that my son signed up with the military, he never gave a thought about being sent someplace to make money for somebody.
Michael Moore [00:11:41] Right. A place that had nothing to do with that.
Lila Lipscomb [00:11:44] Nothing to do with it. My son was all for getting bin Laden. But he wasn’t for invading Iraq.
Michael Moore [00:11:52] Right. Yeah, what did that have to do with bin Laden?
Lila Lipscomb [00:11:57] So it’s like Pop said in our house. And what is it all for? 18 years later, we’re still asking. And what was it for?
Michael Moore [00:12:07] Yeah. Yeah, well. Can I take a stab at answering that question? May help, it may not, may make it worse, but I’ve come to believe that Michael and the others who gave their lives, but it’s personalized, it’s personal when I think of your son that he did not die in vain. He didn’t die for the reasons that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld were lying to us about. But his death and he shouldn’t have had to die, but I remember my grandmother telling me that we all have this cross that we have to carry. And it comes in different forms. You know, you lose people in your family. My other grandmother lost two babies. You know, things. Life is hard, life is hard, and it feels sometimes like a one curveball after another coming right at our heads.
Lila Lipscomb [00:13:25] Right.
Michael Moore [00:13:25] But the fact that Michael Pedersen is with me to this day after I met him through you some 18 some years ago. The fact that he lives on in that way and lives on in you, through you, that we got to tell this story, that his story, I think, affected a lot of people. I’m sure people just watched the film for the first time tonight [and it] has affected them. And that means he lives. He lives on. He carries this message through his death.
Lila Lipscomb [00:14:13] I just got it, Michael, I just got it. Part of what, there might be many reasons, but I believe now, after hearing your words, part of the reason that my son had to give his life and he was willing to do that was so that this truth could be told.
Michael Moore [00:14:32] Right. I believe that very strongly and I believe and to the people who are watching this, who also lost loved ones. I mean, I’ve gotten letters from parents this last week after Afghanistan, after the end: What did he die for? What did he die for? And I’ve tried to write back and tell them that the answer will be delivered by us. If in his death, it encouraged five people watching this, ten people, a thousand people to get off the sofa, get active, speak your mind, vote, protest, participate in this democracy, whatever. We will complete his or her life. If we all do that and if we don’t, if we remain silent, if we remain apathetic, if we so easily can say and rightfully, I just got so much going on, please, Mike, I can’t take on anything else, please, I understand, Lila understands. Yes, but we cannot remain still, we cannot remain silent, no, and we dishonor the dead if we do. That’s how I personally believe.
Lila Lipscomb [00:15:54] Exactly. But Michael, I want everybody to understand that you start where you are. With the anxiety, the PTSD symptoms, with everything that I’ve dealt with over the last 18 years, I have the last election. I got more young people to register to vote than I have in my entire life. And it was because they had the audacity to start bitching to me about the way the world was in America. And my first question is always, well, did you vote? Well, no, I’m not a registered voter. Don’t say that to me. Ask my son. I have gotten one girl, her mother didn’t vote, her grandparents didn’t vote. And she was an African-American young woman.
Michael Moore [00:16:42] Mm hmm.
Lila Lipscomb [00:16:43] I can promise you this last election she voted for the first time and she’s now getting her family to vote. You start where you are. Stop the excuses. Just stop it. I don’t deal with excuses well, and I don’t deal with ignorance well.
Michael Moore [00:17:00] Hmm. Wow. Wow. That is, well, thank you for doing that with these young people and getting them to register to vote. But, when this film came on, I got so many emails and things from people that saw the film that had that sentence in there, I decided to vote. I haven’t voted yet. I’m going to vote now. And the powerful way that you can convey this message, you know, I remember somebody who worked on the film, saying after she, you know, we saw the final film, so this is really a film about two mothers. And ultimately, if you want to boil it right down to the core of this film, the soul of this film is brought to us by the mother from Flint, by the Lipscombe and and the Iraqi mother who has just lost her child after we bomb the civilian population there in Iraq and she’s carrying the dead child.
Michael Moore [00:18:03] And, you know, people know the scene in the movie and she’s crying to God, why have you let these Americans do this? Why? Are you there, you know, can you punish him for this? Can you, it’s not going to bring back my child, but boy, I’ll tell you in and so I thought this is really great when she said this, because it was like the sort of guttural scream from the soul, from that woman in Iraq and from you in Flint, Michigan, is the heart and soul and the glue of this film. And I think just watching it tonight, again, I just feel the same emotional reaction to this.
Lila Lipscomb [00:18:50] And well, my 18 year old grandson, who was actually, born on my son’s birthday, Omarion, he was the baby that Howard and Michelle had at the time of the filming. He’s getting ready to watch it for the first time.
Michael Moore [00:19:09] Oh, wow.
Lila Lipscomb [00:19:10] Wow. He’s been he’s been shielded from it only because we needed to make sure that he was mature enough to be able to receive what was really going in it, because knowing what has happened to his uncle, that he’s born and Michael knew that Omarion was born on his birthday prior to him dying, and he was so proud that his first nephew was born on his birthday. So this is going, I truly want him to be with me when he watches it. I think that was the thing that we needed to wait for.
Michael Moore [00:19:44] Hmm. Wow. Wow. I’m so happy to hear that. And let me know what his response is.
Lila Lipscomb [00:19:50] I will.
Michael Moore [00:19:51] Because how’s Michael’s daughter? How old would she be now?
Lila Lipscomb [00:19:55] She’s 24, I believe. Now she just left. She comes and spends the summer with us and her mother through all of it actually has done such a beautiful job raising her. I have to give her mother her props. She has done absolutely fabulous with Michael’s daughter. She’s loving. She’s kind. She’s special needs, but she’s just an absolute joy to be with.
Michael Moore [00:20:26] And how is your husband doing? Pops?
Lila Lipscomb [00:20:29] Pops, he’s doing fairly good. He’s recovering from colon, or prostate cancer, he is recovering from the surgery due to getting hit by a hit and run driver. Oh, jeez. So, you know, life just kind of tries to kick you down and you just get up and go. But the one thing that I’ve learned is the power that grief has over your physical body. And he’s 77 now. 77. Now, Pops is 77 and me just turning 68. We both have, you know, surgeries. And life happens, right?
Michael Moore [00:21:15] Right. So wow. Well, tell him I said hi for sure.
Lila Lipscomb [00:21:20] I will.
Michael Moore [00:21:20] And everybody else there. And you’re in Ohio now. You know, the mortal enemy of Michigan.
Lila Lipscomb [00:21:32] I’m not very popular on game day.
Michael Moore [00:21:33] No. And you live near Columbus, right?
Lila Lipscomb [00:21:36] I am in Columbus.
Michael Moore [00:21:37] You are in Columbus. Oh, yes. Yes, yeah.
Lila Lipscomb [00:21:42] And we really do love waving our Michigan flags.
Michael Moore [00:21:45] Oh, my God, man, you’re a brave person doing that in Columbus, Ohio, I’ll tell you.
Lila Lipscomb [00:21:52] Well, just like they have a right to go for Ohio. I have a right to go for Michigan.
Michael Moore [00:21:56] Yeah, but you’re in you’re in the heart of the…
Lila Lipscomb [00:22:01] And when have I shied away, Michael?
Michael Moore [00:22:03] I know. I’m just going to say, why am I even saying that?
Lila Lipscomb [00:22:07] It’s a challenge to me. I think that’s probably why we do it.
Michael Moore [00:22:11] Do you ever get back to Flint?
Lila Lipscomb [00:22:13] Yeah. We do. We do. And yeah, I won it. I tried this year, but we didn’t get a chance to make it because I tried to go up and visit the Michigan military museum in Frankenmuth because, you know, that’s where Michael’s display is. But we didn’t get up there this year, so…
Michael Moore [00:22:31] Well, anybody in Michigan, if you’re in Michigan or you visit Michigan, Frankenmuth. Everybody in Michigan knows what Frankenmuth is because it’s where you go to get a chicken dinner. But they have this Michigan Military Museum, where they honor those from Michigan who served and given their lives and all of that. So I have not seen it yet, but I definitely will be there because somebody is always dragging me to go there to get a chicken dinner. So I will be in Frankenmuth.
Lila Lipscomb [00:23:00] They closed Labor Day for the rest of the season until Memorial Weekend.
Michael Moore [00:23:05] Right. So for those who don’t understand what that meant, it starts snowing just after Labor Day in Michigan and usually right around Memorial Day is when the snow ends. So, we get like three months of sunny weather. But our friends and our family in Flint, man, what they’ve had to suffer through these years. It’s really, really something. How are you feeling about President Biden, what’s your take on that?
Lila Lipscomb [00:23:43] So far, I am so pleased. I am so pleased. I am so thankful that he just took everybody out of Afghanistan. I am so thankful that he just ripped the…there was no good way to do it. And he had to do it. And I stand with him one hundred percent on that. And I’m so thankful that he’s stepping up and doing everything he’s doing for this Covid stuff.
Michael Moore [00:24:04] Oh, I know.
Lila Lipscomb [00:24:05] I’m so thankful. And I love, love, love, love that he’s so into the military to take care of them and to make sure everything goes good with them.
Michael Moore [00:24:16] Right. And, you know, he means it. It’s not a fake politician thing, you know. It’s like, you know, the impact that his son and his son’s death had on him. Yeah and then he went to Dover there last week and stood there. Yep. And, you know, Bush not only didn’t go there, he would allow no cameras. He would allow no family. He wanted to try to sweep it under the rug. That was…
Lila Lipscomb [00:24:52] You see a lot of people, I’m sorry, but a lot of people didn’t realize that because my son was killed so early on, those of us that lost our children early on really paved the way for the other families to be able to go to Dover and receive their children coming home.
Michael Moore [00:25:10] Yeah, yeah. Hey can I tell you something when we showed “Fahrenheit 9/11” in the Cannes Film Festival and we’d already come back home to the United States, you know, halfway through the festival. And that was that. And I got a call the day before the awards ceremony to say, you need to fly back to France. I said, are you kidding me? Why? Well, the jury is indicating that they might give you some kind of an award. And so I said, well, should we go? Yeah, OK, so we got back on a plane, went back there, and we’re there at the awards ceremony. And we are completely shocked by Quentin Tarantino announcing and Charlize Theron holding up the award that the top prize was going to go to “Fahrenheit 9/11.” And we were, like, I go up there, I take the award from him and her. And afterwards, after the ceremony was over. He came up to me and he said, I want you to know on a personal level, this film really, really affected me deeply.
Michael Moore [00:26:30] And he mentioned you, a couple of other people in the film. He was so crushed and angry and everything, and he said to me…and I know it’s OK to reveal this publicly, because I had asked him a couple of years ago if I could. He said to me, I’ve never voted in my life. In fact, I’ve never registered to vote at that time. He’s late 30s, early 40s. And he said, but this film and the people in this film, first thing I’m doing when I get back to L.A., I’m registering to vote and I’m going to vote and then when the election time came, he sent me a thing that he was very happy and proud that what you just said in terms of how you got these young people to vote. That and the and it’s made me think a lot about the power of art, whether it’s film or anything, where those who can do this communicate to their fellow citizens.
Lila Lipscomb [00:27:43] Yes.
Lila Lipscomb [00:27:44] Whether it’s a book, whether it’s a play, whether it’s, maybe it’s a painting, maybe it’s a whole bunch of great photographs.
Lila Lipscomb [00:27:50] Maybe it’s a podcast.
Michael Moore [00:27:52] Maybe it’s a podcast. Yes. Yes, I know. I’m trying to put them all in. Ice Capades. I haven’t done that yet. I’ve not skated in Ice Capades or Disney on Ice. So I’ll put that on the bucket list. But now, while what I’m saying here is that we don’t know sometimes the impact and the effect that we have and what we do, and sometimes it’s even in the smallest things, smallest ways. You don’t have to be Quentin Tarantino or Michael Moore or whatever. You might if you just did this in your neighborhood. You just did this in your apartment building. Just appoint yourself the block captain of just one street. Yep. Yep and now a man…
Lila Lipscomb [00:28:36] Start where you are.
Michael Moore [00:28:37] Yes. Just start where you’re at. You don’t have to think you’ve got to change the world, if you change the world on your street and the 4,000 or 100,000 do that. Boom, right. We’re going to live in a better country, a better world because…
Lila Lipscomb [00:28:52] One is going to touch one. That one is going to touch, too. Yeah, it’s the domino. Yeah, yeah.
Michael Moore [00:29:01] Before we close, I just want to kind of turn it over to you to speak to these thousands and thousands. And I don’t know, I haven’t checked the counter yet, but this will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. Let me just put it like that. If it hasn’t already, it will. The film itself back in the day when it was released was seen by millions. But you have the floor now, the camera and the microphone, to say whatever you’d like to say to all of those who are watching right now, who have seen you and heard your voice, and I know who are very moved by what they saw in the film. But here we are now in 2021. And here you are. That the 2021 Lila.
Lila Lipscomb [00:29:47] Yeah, the great granny,
Michael Moore [00:29:50] The great granny.
Lila Lipscomb [00:29:53] Which is the greatest gift.
Lila Lipscomb [00:29:56] Yeah. First I just, I want to, I want to just relay how grateful I am, because of being chosen to be a part of the movie, it gave me the platform but it also gave me the opportunity to touch other lives. And it gave me the lesson of learning to accept love, because it at times became very overwhelming. But the love that was given to me by people that I didn’t know but that the story had touched, strengthened me and kept me going day after day after day. And even today, I still get reached from across the world. People get in touch with me through Facebook and things. I had an actress in L.A. not long after the documentary came out that I actually went to L.A. in and gave her points because she was playing a mother that had lost a son in war in a play in L.A.
Lila Lipscomb [00:31:01] Oh wow.
Michael Moore [00:31:01] So being able to be used in those avenues is really a gift that you’ve given me to be able to go forward and to be able to use my voice to get others to vote because I get so tired of hearing people say, well, my vote doesn’t count anyways. Yes, it does, and it’s clear that it does through the last election. But now what we need to do is start looking at the things that they keep shoving in all these bills that they’re trying to pass because people don’t understand that, yes, this might be a bill on abortion, but what other things are going through the lines with it?
Lila Lipscomb [00:31:42] And keeping people afraid gives them the power, keeping people held back gives them the power. But when you use your voice to speak out, you take their power away from them and you stand in your own power. Don’t let people silence you. I tell my kids all the time, if you don’t have the answer to the question, somebody does. I had to go to the White House through Michael Moore to get the answers to my questions, and I was able to teach my family, don’t stop. If you’re not satisfied with the information that you’re given, they can’t speak, they can’t keep it silent. They might be able to block out the lines and not tell you everything. But eventually somebody is going to have to step up and tell you what you really need to know. But you have to find the courage within and you have to start where you are. And I just want to encourage everybody that as you go through your day, pay it forward, smile at somebody because you don’t know what they’re going through.
Michael Moore [00:32:48] That’s right.
Lila Lipscomb [00:32:49] I smile at people. And there might be little kids after school trying to buy a snack and don’t have enough money. Buy it for them. What harm is that to you? You have to pay it forward. And if you get sick and tired of all the negativity surrounding you, you have to break it and you have to turn the light on and you have to surround yourself with the light and the peace, the fireplace. You just have to find peace within. And in order to find peace and strength from within, you have to step out of yourself. And you gave me that opportunity.
Michael Moore [00:33:22] Well, thank you for saying that, but I sometimes wonder, sometimes you don’t have a choice. What brought us to your living room in Flint that night, you know, we were given a list by that time, there have been a number of people in the Flint area given their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan. And we came to you, we came to you first, actually. And when we left, well, first of all, we knew we didn’t need to really go speak with anyone else, because I think it really took us a while to recover from meeting you, your family. We felt like when we left, we knew who Michael was. Those of us on my crew who grew up in Flint, Flint area, so in that way, as a fellow Flintstone, we knew Michael. We knew. And thank you for giving me, I guess, the privilege of being able to carry your voice forward and to have millions hear it. I’ve got to believe it’s done some good and you’ve encountered people who’ve told you that and what it did.
Lila Lipscomb [00:34:58] Michael, what you gave our family is that our son will never die.
Michael Moore [00:35:04] That’s right.
Lila Lipscomb [00:36:42] I love you Michael. I’m so thankful for you in my life.
Michael Moore [00:36:48] I will, you know, one of my best friends lives in Columbus, Ohio. So when I’m through there next, we will get together, catch up and thank you for the good words that you’ve given people here tonight and just keep on doing what you’re doing. It’s important.
Lila Lipscomb [00:37:08] You, too.
Michael Moore [00:37:09] All right.
Lila Lipscomb [00:37:09] And be safe, Michael. Please be safe.
Michael Moore [00:42:01] Oh, yeah. And thank you for that…
Lila Lipscomb [00:42:39] You turn the light on Michael. You stay in the light.
Michael Moore [00:42:42] Stay in the light. Wow.
Lila Lipscomb [00:42:44] And still I rise.
Michael Moore [00:42:46] Yes, that’s right. Everybody hear that? Yes, please. Everybody think that. Yeah, all of us do that. We’re going to be in pretty good shape
Lila Lipscomb [00:42:56] And just smile. Just smile at somebody.
Michael Moore [00:42:59] Yes. Well, I’ve always been a big believer that humor is maybe the best medicine. To be able to laugh, to have a sense of humor.
Lila Lipscomb [00:43:06] That’s one thing I didn’t tell you. That in the very beginning it’s how we actually survived. In the news of our Michael dying [there] was Tyler Perry. Madea. Look, and I put it on and literally we fell off the bed laughing so hard that we both wet ourselves.
Michael Moore [00:43:29] Oh, my God.
Lila Lipscomb [00:43:30] And I had the opportunity when Tyler was in Flint to meet him. He brought me backstage and met my daughter Laurie as well. And that was before the movie, actually. No, I think it was after it came out when we finally got to meet Tyler. But he is such a jewel and he’s such a big deal to me.
Michael Moore [00:43:49] He came to Flint. Yes. All of that. Yes. Wow. I did not know that story. And, but, it’s the truth. Watch a funny movie. It’s a healing power. And even just like you said, just that smile on your face can sometimes turn that day around. Yes. So I’m a big believer in that. And being raised in this Irish Catholic family, humor is very important. And well, I used to say to people, well, you know, you don’t drink. I said, yeah, I’m somewhere because I’m forced to drink because I’m Irish. But I said, no, I know that it’s either their choice is either laughter or drinking. And I chose laughter. But any time I say there – anybody who’s Irish, they’re going…we do both. It’s OK. Have a drink and a pint on me and keep laughing. So anyways, we have to go. So thank you for joining us. Much love to you.
Lila Lipscomb Much love to you too.
Michael Moore Yes, thanks. We’ll see you soon.
Lila Lipscomb OK, bye bye. Take care.
Michael Moore Wow, it was really great to hear her voice and the strength in her after all these years – of all this loss, this grief is very powerful. We got thousands of emails on Friday night and on Saturday morning of people wanting to share their love and strength with Lila. And we also received thousands of emails over the weekend, the first part of the week here from people who loved hearing from former Marine Corporal Abdul Henderson, who appeared in my film “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Here is my conversation with Abdul.
Michael Moore [00:00:16] He was a corporal in the United States Marine Corps. He served in Iraq in 2003. And one of our producers of this film, Nicky Lazar, was looking for people and covering a panel of military families speaking out against the war that had members of Congress there, Congressman John Conyers from Detroit, Maxine Waters from L.A. and Diane Watson from L.A. So that’s L.A. and one Detroit on the panel if you’re keeping score at home.
Michael Moore But he gave a sort of impassioned speech, [or] comment there. And we went over and talked to him and then came back. And we thought we would ask Abdul if he would like to be in the film. And so we talked to him. We interviewed him on camera. We did a lot of shooting around Capitol Hill. And then I asked him, I was going to ask members of Congress as they went in and out of their congressional buildings, if they would be willing to send their son or daughter to Iraq and see what they would say. And I asked Abdul if he would do this with me. And so I’d like to bring him on right now. Are you retired or do we say former, former corporal…
Abdul Henderson [00:02:01] Former Marine.
Michael Moore [00:02:02] Former Marine, former Marine, Mr. Abdul Henderson. Abdul, thanks so much for being with us tonight.
Abdul Henderson [00:02:09] No problem. Good to see you again, Michael.
Michael Moore [00:07:09] So why don’t we talk about the story of that day where I asked you if you would join me in the search for a member of Congress or a Senator who would be willing to have their kid in Iraq. Because I had read somewhere prior to that that there was only one senator and no members of Congress who had an offspring, a daughter or son in Iraq, except for one. There was one Democrat.
Michael Moore [00:07:49] And that was it. So I asked you if you want to join me. And then I thought immediately, oh, geez, I don’t want to get you in trouble because, you know, you’re first of all, you’re still in the Marines. You are doing this with me. That’s a court martial offense right there. If there ever was one. And you were doing it, you had your uniform on. And I thought, you know, my dad was a Marine. So I kind of know the rules. And I thought, this is really going to get you in trouble. Just walk me back to that moment that we were discussing this before we decided whether or not we should risk your entire career.
Abdul Henderson [00:08:36] Yeah, nah when I remember we had the conversation about wearing my uniform, I was just like, hmm let me think about that one.
Michael Moore [00:08:46] Right. So you were worried about it?
Abdul Henderson [00:08:49] Oh, yeah.
Michael Moore [00:08:50] Legitimately.
Abdul Henderson [00:08:53] That was going to be life changing because, you know, I have to make the decision that was virtually going to end my military career. Right. And future advancement.
Michael Moore [00:09:07] Right. And you thought about maybe you would stay in the Marines? Or…
Abdul Henderson [00:09:13] Originally, I wanted to…But after Iraq, my whole disposition changed. I just, you know, they call it Iraq: the sandbox. And I didn’t want to play in the sandbox anymore.
Michael Moore [00:09:32] I remember when we were talking there before we started approaching members of Congress, I asked you if called, because you’re still in the Marines, would you go back after everything you’d seen in Iraq and you said no on camera. And then I remember stopping and saying, do you want to say that on camera? And you thought about it and you said, yes, I do, because it’s the truth. I’m not going to go back and participate in. And you already, I think, told us, too, about how you felt about what you saw there in Iraq.
Michael Moore [00:10:09] So I said, OK, well, then I guess worrying about wearing your uniform is not your biggest concern now. You are just, you’re going to say publicly that you are going to disobey an order if you have been ordered to go back and do whatever we were doing in Iraq.
Abdul Henderson [00:10:33] Yeah, no, I wasn’t going to go back. You know, interesting enough, I hadn’t decided that until that moment.
Michael Moore [00:10:48] You had not decided that until that moment?
Abdul Henderson [00:10:51] Yeah, I hadn’t thought about it. Like I knew it was potentially going to get me in trouble. But I had not thought about it, but I knew how I felt. And so, when you asked me, it was really simple for me at that point. I’m saying now I’m not going back, like it was not worth it.
Michael Moore [00:11:11] And you know, you explained a little bit in the film, but for the people watching you right now, the reason you were not going to go back and participate in what you felt was this immoral, illegal war. I mean, just explain how you got to that position.
Abdul Henderson [00:11:31] This, just from what I saw, was that Iraq posed no immediate threat to America. What we were told was all false, that there’s this dangerous, imminent threat that had weapons of mass destruction and had the capability of launching attacks on Americans. [It] wasn’t real. Like that country had no defenses. We ran through there with relative ease and for my unit and in the beginning of the conflict, we secured the oil fields. That was our first objective, was to go into the oil fields. And, you know, I think we have a concept as Americans that the Middle East has a lot of oil. But when you get on the ground, you actually see you like, oh, my God, this stuff comes up out of the ground.
Michael Moore [00:12:32] It’s on its own.
Abdul Henderson [00:12:35] Right. There’s lakes of oil. And it’s like, wow. So you kind of get the gist of what this war was about. And, you know, I just didn’t want to have any part of having to kill any more people that didn’t pose a threat to my country. Because they clearly didn’t.
Michael Moore [00:12:58] And there’s that famous quote from Muhammad Ali when they tried to draft him and he refused to go to Vietnam and he made that famous statement about, you know, no Vietnamese ever called me the N-word. You know, it’s like, why, I don’t have a fight with them. They’re not a threat to me. So I was actually thinking of his statement when you said that on camera. And I thought jeez, you know, Muhammad Ali was like a really famous and beloved person by, you know, at least half the country. And he, I mean, they essentially arrested him, they booked him. And his case went all the way to the Supreme Court and, you know, so if Muhammad Ali had to go through that, I could only imagine what they were going to do to you because, you know, we were living in…we’ve always been living in these times though.
Michael Moore [00:14:01] And I keep saying, I think right now what we’re going through, and I think, jeez, I think we’ve been through this before. You know, so but OK. So anyway, so then you agreed to be a recruiter with me there with the members of Congress. And tell me what you remember about that scene, cause we were there for a good hour or two. You see a kind of a bit of it in the film. But I’m curious how you were maintaining through that and how you were processing this, because these were, like, really powerful, I think men, mostly all men that we were accosting nonviolently. But just tell me, I’ve never asked you this, just what was going through your head and were you thinking of maybe adding something else to the scene?
Abdul Henderson [00:14:57] I was thinking, like, man, this is crazy. I’m gonna’ get my ass in some serious trouble.
Michael Moore [00:15:02] Yeah, right. Yes. Why did I let this guy talk me into this?
Abdul Henderson [00:15:09] It was interesting. I found it interesting that only a few members of Congress would engage. Yeah. Run away. But that’s you know…
Michael Moore [00:15:23] They ran, didn’t they? Some of them ran.
Abdul Henderson [00:15:25] Yeah, I think it was Congressman Doolittle at the time. He ran away.
Michael Moore [00:15:33] You know, and then we start after him, but then I’m thinking, why is he running? He could literally escape me just through a casual walk. But that was yeah. That was, well, I mean, every American at some point in their life should be able to have the experience of a Congressman seeing them and running from them. Wouldn’t that be a great shared American experience? But do you remember any of the others or their response to us?
Abdul Henderson [00:16:09] I remember one gentleman, I think he had served in the Navy, I don’t remember his name, he actually stopped and chatted with us and I think he shared some similar sentiment in terms of that. Other members of Congress need to have some skin in the game. You know, why not their children be on the front lines for these wars? You know, why don’t they have that shared sacrifice like many of the other Americans that volunteer?
Michael Moore [00:16:41] Right, right. Right. Yeah, either some of them didn’t get the point or they really got the point and wanted nothing to do with this. There were a couple that were friendly, if I remember correctly, though. I think we saw that one of them maybe just there. I just thought, well, you know, they’re politicians. There’s a red light on the camera. It’s very seductive to them because they are always looking for the red light to be on camera, to be on TV. But at the end of the day, it was really kind of a, at some point it wasn’t funny anymore, and it was just kind of a kick in the gut, wasn’t it? Just like, yeah, of course. Send everybody else’s kid. But no. No way. Not yours. Right.
Abdul Henderson [00:17:30] Right.
Michael Moore [00:17:30] You know, so since then, how have you been doing? I mean, obviously you left the Marines. Did you get in any trouble?
Abdul Henderson [00:17:38] They did investigate me. I think they truly wanted to court martial me and throw me under the prison. But none of that happened. I ended up having to go back to my unit and I kind of just floated kind of under the radar as much as possible until my time ran out. So fortunately, nothing happened. I did my time. I was honorably discharged and I went on with my life.
Michael Moore [00:18:11] Wow. Well, that’s that’s good, I know we offered you before we left there that day that we will get you an attorney and pay for it if there’s any trouble. So maybe when the film came out too, they probably thought, you know what, this is going to be more trouble than we need if we go after this young guy. You know, let’s just let’s just hope nobody sees the film.
Abdul Henderson [00:18:37] You know, when I had conversations with my command staff at the time, once the movie came out, it was just like, you won’t be doing anything in uniform again. Right. That was kind of the, but that’s not going to prevent me from speaking out as, you know, as an American. I just won’t be represented in the Marine Corps in uniform as an American. [But] I have a right to express my opinion. I do have the right to free speech.
Michael Moore [00:19:10] Right. When we had the premiere there, the Washington, D.C. premiere, there were a number of members of Congress and Senators that came to that screening. And more than one, you know, pulled me aside and said, if that young Marine needs any help, just let us know. And I said, no, I will. So you got out of the Marines. And what’s your life been like since I met you? And we’ve run across each other numerous times in past years. In fact, you were working for a member of Congress at one point. You might have even, weren’t you like the person that was like the civilian person that sort of helped run the Congressional Black Caucus? Am I right in remembering that?
Abdul Henderson [00:20:07] Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, the first Representative I worked for was Diane Watson, um, I ultimately became her chief of staff and then she retired. And then I worked for Karen Bass, who replaced her for a very short period. Right. I actually went on to work at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where I led the department’s international engagement, working with our allies, mainly Canada, Australia and New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Actually did some really good work in helping veterans in that space. Did that for a few years. And then I went back to Capitol Hill as the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Michael Moore [00:20:56] Wow. OK, already this is better than being a movie star. It makes a far greater contribution to our society. So wow. So that’s why I remembered that. And I thought, damn, you know, Abdul’s done well. But we sort of knew that about you anyways, that day there in DC. You were a very special person and had guts and the courage to do this, to do this on camera, all of that. So how’s life been since being the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus?
Abdul Henderson [00:21:40] Well, it’s been interesting. Just kind of watching this transition that our country’s going through because I left after two years into that. So as the Trump train pulled in, I moved out. And so I moved down to Georgia to be closer to my sons because they’re in high school. My oldest son, Alex, is now a senior in high school. So we’re getting ready for him. My youngest son, he’s in the 10th grade and doing well. So I came to Georgia to be closer to them. I was here for a couple of years and then left for San Francisco. And then I end up working with Tom Steyer and I was his deputy campaign manager for his presidential campaign.
Michael Moore [00:22:25] Wow.
Abdul Henderson [00:22:26] Yeah. So a lot’s been going on. But now I’m back in Georgia. I’m running a mental health non-profit called Mental Health America of Georgia. And we’re trying to get Georgia from being last place in terms of access to mental health care and making sure that they enforce the parity law to make sure that insurance is going to cover mental health and substance abuse care, that people that are paying for insurance, you know, expect. So…
Michael Moore [00:23:00] Right. I know we have to get to that place where, when we talk about health care, we’re not just talking about medical care. We’re talking about mental and dental or mental dental. Is what I would put on my bumper sticker if I was running for anything. But no, we need all of this because it’s all connected. And God, I’m so glad to know that you’re doing this there in Georgia. That’s such important work Abdul. And everybody knows that now. I just, you know, I hope Biden knows that because when they’re ready to push forward on getting universal health care for everyone, you know, that’s got to be part of it.
Abdul Henderson [00:23:44] Yeah, I hope so, too. We have a long way to go. This pandemic has definitely shown some huge fissures in them. And unfortunately, we weren’t prepared to deal with it. And we’re suffering from the consequences of not being prepared.
Michael Moore [00:25:17] But just to give you the final word here, to just speak directly to all these people who are very concerned about, I think, a lot of the things that are going on right now and the various fights ahead of us and those who want to stop President Biden from enacting the things he’s trying to do. I’m just curious what your take would be on…to just open up the floor to you and speak directly to all the people out there?
Abdul Henderson [00:25:47] Yeah, I appreciate that. I would just like to thank everybody who supported me through a very difficult time and going through that process, cause at the time when the film did come out, everyone, 90 percent of everybody was in support of the war on terror. Right. And so for those who supported me through that and taking that stance, I really do appreciate and love you all. You know, I think, you know, as I think about the last 20 plus years of what’s been going on in the U.S., I think we have to do a little bit better in holding people accountable, right?
Abdul Henderson [00:26:40] We still have an issue of accountability in this country. We’ve allowed elected officials to go on to do the status quo when the American people are clearly moving in a different direction. Our country is a lot more diverse, but we still see a tremendous lack of diversity and equity. You know, we just people need to stay involved in civic engagement. Ah, that is the bedrock and foundation of our republic. And in order to maintain that we have to be engaged. One, we must demand and seek the truth and we have to stay informed. We can’t just read clickbait and decide that it’s a fact. We have to go a little bit deeper than that.
Abdul Henderson [00:27:41] We need to question what people tell us. You know, there’s ways to do it with civil discourse. We don’t have to hate one another. We can do it where we can agree to disagree. But, you know, we have to challenge the system to do better, because if we continue at this rate, I feel that we could soon just end up in a north or south or east or west situation. It’s we’re coming at a serious crossroads right now. But the good thing is, I always believe I’m very hopeful in people. There are a lot of great people that are doing a lot of great things. And I will continue to work with you, Michael, and others that are promoting fairness and justice for everybody. And I’ve been committed to that fight even before we met and I’m committed to that as a middle aged adult male.
Michael Moore [00:30:16] Back at you on that one. Thank you so much. And let’s make sure we stay in good touch and let me know if I can help down there in Georgia. We all are thinking about Georgia for the last year, grateful to the people of Georgia for saving us there. Not quite completely saved yet. But, man, it would have been much worse without those two Senators being elected. So, man, something is rocking there in Georgia. I’m glad you’re part of it. So be well and take care of it all. And let’s talk soon.
Abdul Henderson [00:30:54] Yes. Good seeing you.