Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: University of Colorado at Boulder
Entrenched in vast controversy for referring to the civilians who died in the World Trade Center as “little Eichmanns,” University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Ward Churchill stepped down from his position as chair of CU-Boulder’s ethnic studies department. Problems arose, however, when the CU Board of Regents declared they were going to launch an investigation into Churchill’s “writings, speeches, tape recordings and other works.” FIRE wrote to CU noting that Churchill is entitled to due process and should be given the chance to defend himself, and assuring the university that Churchill’s speech, no matter how controversial or offensive, is protected by the First Amendment. Ultimately, the Board of Regents fired Churchill for “serious, repeated, and deliberate research misconduct” after finding that he had committed academic fraud. Churchill sued, on the basis that the investigation had been launched as a result of his controversial statements. FIRE took the position that while the initial investigation of Churchill’s speech was unconstitutional, as he was protected under the First Amendment, Churchill had put himself in the spotlight through his controversial statements, and was therefore susceptible to any further inquiry into his other works. In FIRE’s view, the termination for academic fraud was constitutional.
July 8, 2009
By Peter Schmidt at The Chronicle of Higher Education A state court judge on Tuesday not only denied Ward Churchill everything he sought in his long-running battle with the University of Colorado system, but also negated the one victory the controversial scholar had won so far: a jury verdict holding that system officials had violated his First Amendment rights by firing him from a job as a tenured ethnic-studies professor in response to statements he had made. Having presided over the four-week trial that led to the jury’s April 2 decision that the university had illegally fired Mr. Churchill for academic misconduct, […]» Read More
July 30, 2007
For critics of higher education, few campus controversies have been as illuminating as the ongoing saga of Professor Ward Churchill. His case has uniquely intertwined all of the higher education issues du jour—Academic freedom, plagiarism, affirmative action, liberal bias, degraded campus culture—into one messy cloud of controversy that just will not go away. And now that Churchill has sued his former employer, University of Colorado-Boulder, for defamation, more unflattering facts about standard operating procedure on campus may soon be revealed. A brief recap: Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Churchill, then the tenured chair of the UC-Boulder’s ethnic […]» Read More
July 30, 2007
This week, as expected, the University of Colorado regents dismissed Professor Ward Churchill from his tenured position in the Ethnic Studies Department. (A university committee had found that Churchill committed plagiarism and misused sources.) And, as expected, Churchill has filed suit, alleging First Amendment violations. The move against Churchill—who first attracted attention after describing those who perished (except for the terrorists) in the World Trade Center attack as “Little Eichmanns”—came over the opposition of the ACLU, which charged that the “poisoned atmosphere” of the inquiry into Churchill’s scholarship rendered meaningless the committee’s findings. ACTA president Anne Neal, on the […]» Read More
July 25, 2007
When Ward Churchill takes his dismissal case to court, he will have difficulty shifting a jury’s focus away from the academic-misconduct findings in his research, the president of a national watchdog group for free speech on college campuses said Tuesday. But the timing of the University of Colorado’s academic-misconduct investigation into Churchill’s work could be a hole in the school’s defense, said Greg Lukianoff, who heads the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, based in Philadelphia. Churchill—freshly fired from CU—is expected to file a First Amendment lawsuit against the university this morning in Denver District Court. The regents Tuesday evening […]» Read More
July 25, 2007
by Greg Lukianoff in The Huffington Post To the surprise of virtually no one, the University of Colorado’s (CU’s) Board of Regents voted to fire controversial professor Ward Churchill late yesterday. The Regents cited the extensive findings of academic misconduct against Churchill as the reason for the dismissal. Anyone following the case, however, will remember that Ward Churchill initially came to national attention because of an article in which he compared the victims of 9/11 to Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann. After a student newspaper at Hamilton College drew attention to that article in 2005, a national uproar ensued, prompting the […]» Read More
July 25, 2007
Nearly six years after Ward Churchill compared some American victims of terrorism to Nazi bureaucrats, the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado voted Tuesday night to fire him. But the controversial ethnic-studies professor said he was “ready to roll” into the next stage of his struggle with the university: a court of law. According to university administrators, it was findings that Mr. Churchill had committed research misconduct—and not the notoriety of Mr. Churchill’s opinions—that fueled the decision. To read the full story, please click here: http://chronicle.com/daily/2007/07/2007072502n.htm» Read More
May 25, 2006
Universities have traditionally been places where debate and the free exchange of ideas have been welcomed. But after 9/11, that may be changing — as some recent, troubling incidents suggest. In this column, I’ll survey some recent incidents suggesting free speech on campus is in peril, and discuss the extent to which the First Amendment protects student and faculty speech Cracking Down on Student Demonstrators and Controversial Student Speech Recently, students at the University of Miami (a private school, but one with a stated policy of fostering free speech) demonstrated alongside striking maintenance workers to show solidarity. Now, they face […]» Read More
May 18, 2006
The University of Colorado could fire professor Ward Churchill for plagiarism and fabrication as soon as next month, but the academic misconduct case is likely to linger in the courts for years, legal experts predicted Wednesday. The ethnic-studies professor most likely will take CU to federal court if administrators fire or suspend him without pay as recommended by a committee that examined his writings, his attorney, David Lane, said. Churchill’s lawsuit would accuse the university of retaliating against the tenured professor because of his essay saying some World Trade Center terrorism victims were not innocent and comparing them to a […]» Read More
September 10, 2005
By Linda Seebach Oh, that KC Johnson. He’s always getting into hot water. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that the administration at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York keeps trying to bring the water to a full rolling boil, hoping he’ll jump out. Well, perhaps he should. He deserves better, and his institution doesn’t deserve to keep him. But his students, who on the evidence are unlikely to encounter many other faculty members who exemplify the academic virtues of free inquiry and principled disagreement, need him.Robert KC Johnson is a tenured […]» Read More
September 9, 2005
There is a chill on campus, but that’s nothing new. For decades, campus speech has been chilled by speech codes and other attempts to prevent expression that might offend. Some would like to imagine that the excesses of “political correctness” are ancient history, but repression in the name of tolerance hasn’t gone anywhere. Oppressive speech codes are not only still around—they have actually multiplied, even after numerous court decisions declared them unconstitutional. Within the past year, college students have been punished for such things as expressing a religious objection to homosexuality and arguing that corporal punishment may be acceptable. Students […]» Read More
April 15, 2005
By John Gravois at The Chronicle of Higher Education One morning a few weeks back, David A. Sandoval was sitting in his office at Colorado State University at Pueblo and speaking to a local reporter on the telephone. The reporter had called to get the Chicano-studies professor’s opinion on Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado at Boulder professor who had recently tripped the switch of national outrage by calling the victims of the World Trade Center bombings “little Eichmanns.” In the firebrand’s defense, Mr. Sandoval offered the standard-issue rhetoric of academic freedom: Mr. Churchill’s words were hurtful and terrible, yes, but […]» Read More
March 28, 2005
Both Ward Churchill and one of his legislative critics compared the University of Colorado to an asylum this weekend — showing that the debate over the controversial professor has not been put to rest by a university review released Thursday. Churchill says that the new investigation requested by the review — this time an inquiry into whether he engaged in plagiarism and other forms of research misconduct — is unfair. In a speech in San Francisco Friday night, he said that the new investigation at Colorado, which will examine among other things his claims of being an American Indian, was […]» Read More
March 24, 2005
LET’S DISPENSE with some tangents right off. It’s a bad idea for teachers to spank students. There’s evidence that women are not innately handicapped when it comes to math and science. And it’s offensive hyperbole to cast the World Trade Center victims of the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns.” But that aside, we don’t have any problems with a student writing a school paper supporting corporal punishment, a university president raising the issue of possible gender differences, and a professor espousing radical ideas. In fact, our society and our universities are better off if faculty and students are allowed to […]» Read More
March 7, 2005
Insult is powerful. Insult begets both rage and humor, and often at the same time. Consider the dialogue in “Romance,” a new play by David Mamet in New York. A cast of six characters, all of themmen, some gay and at least one of them Jewish, goesafter each other. A Protestant defense lawyer and the Jew he’s in court to defend hate eachother. “You people can’t order a cheese sandwich without mentioning the Holocaust,” shouts the lawyer. “I hired a goy lawyer,” responds his client. “It’s like going to a straight hairdresser.” The satire aims for humor, but it’s humor […]» Read More
February 27, 2005
When Hamilton College canceled a Colorado professor’s appearance this month because of security concerns, it was only the latest in a recent string of free speech controversies at local campuses. Hamilton, the State University College at Oswego, Wells College and LeMoyne College have all become embroiled in the last year or so in what people should be allowed to say and when. It’s not just a local issue, said David French, president of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in Philadelphia (FIRE). “The specific problems you’re running into are being replicated on a mass scale across the country,” French said. […]» Read More
February 24, 2005
University of Colorado Ethnic Studies professor Ward Churchill deserves to be excoriated and shunned. Churchill, as widely reported, likened Americans killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11 to “little Eichmanns.” At the same time he celebrated the “gallant sacrifice” of those terrorist “combat teams” who had annihilated them. Elsewhere, Churchill declared that the United States should be put “out of existence”; “it may be,” he also stated, “that more 9/11’s are necessary.” Both public officials and private citizens should exercise their right to free expression by scathingly criticizing such odious speech. But — barring evidence of violations such […]» Read More
February 18, 2005
IT WOULD BE tempting to pity Ward Churchill, if he were a more sympathetic character. It seems that whenever he opens his mouth these days, someone gets upset. Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, became engulfed in national controversy in early January, when an essay he wrote three years ago came to light. In the essay, he compared victims of the September 11 attacks to Nazi functionaries who were appropriate targets for retaliatory violence. Since then, there have been cries from politicians (including Colorado’s governor), academics, and pundits (led by Fox News’s Bill […]» Read More
February 15, 2005
The following text is excerpted from a letter by Greg Lukianoff, director of legal and public advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, to University of Colorado at Boulder Interim Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. Before discussing the position of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on the recent controversy involving University of Colorado at Boulder professor Ward Churchill, I would like to say that FIRE is fully aware of the difficulties the university faces. FIRE has not seen a controversy involving political speech on campus provoke such passionate and often angry public response since the controversies that […]» Read More
February 15, 2005
As the sordid controversy of University of Colorado (UC) professor Ward Churchill plays itself out, what is perhaps the most damaging aspect of it has largely escaped notice: campuses’ double standard in First Amendment matters. Churchill, as widely reported, compared the World Trade Center victims on 9/11 to Nazis and praised their murderers as “gallant…combat teams.” In the ensuing national uproar, Hamilton College in New York, which had invited Churchill to speak, decided to cancel the event, stating it had received threats of violence against Churchill and college officers. The college’s president, Joan Hinde Stewart, covered her back with bogus […]» Read More
February 14, 2005
Fury over University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill’s inflammatory and crude comments branding victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as “little Eichmanns” is well justified. But Colorado now stands at a crossroads where it must decide whether to indulge in an emotional overreaction that sacrifices academic freedom or to rediscover the true meaning of the adage attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Indeed, “disapprove” seems far too modest a term to apply to Churchill’s ranting. In his effort to make a point about what he […]» Read More
April 5, 2013
Regular Torch readers may be familiar with FIRE’s previous coverage of the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) Board of Regents’ decision to fire then-tenured professor Ward Churchill and the subsequent legal battle. This fight has now ended, as the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against him in September 2012 and the Supreme Court of the United States has declined to hear his appeal. As FIRE reported in 2005, Churchill lost his position after a CU faculty panel determined that he had engaged in “plagiarism, misuse of others’ work, falsification and fabrication of authority.” The investigation, though, had been initiated amidst a controversy […]» Read More
September 18, 2012
Writing for The Atlantic today, Wendy Kaminer—lawyer, author, civil libertarian, and member of FIRE’s Board of Advisers—poses an important question: Does the Colorado State Supreme Court’s disappointing decision to deny former University of Colorado tenured Professor Ward Churchill’s appeal by granting “absolute immunity” to the Colorado Board of Regents signal “The End of Free Speech at University of Colorado?” Professor Churchill has maintained—and a jury agreed—that the University’s justification for firing him was pretextual and that the real reason he was fired was for constitutionally protected speech in the form of statements he made about the victims of the attacks […]» Read More
September 12, 2012
On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s opinion (PDF) disposing of former University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) professor Ward Churchill’s claims against CU, reports The Denver Post. FIRE has closely monitored Churchill’s case for years. In 2005, FIRE wrote a letter to CU concerning Churchill’s firing and issued an analysis of the university’s report. The Colorado Supreme Court held the following: First, we hold that the Regents’ decision to terminate Churchill’s employment was a quasi-judicial action functionally comparable to a judicial process. Hence, the Regents are entitled to absolute immunity concerning their decision to terminate […]» Read More
June 6, 2012
The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in former University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Ward Churchill’s First Amendment lawsuit against the university’s Board of Regents on Thursday. Longmont Times-Call reporter Mitchell Byars writes: The Colorado Supreme Court announced in 2011 that it would hear Churchill’s appeal, including a key argument about the quasi-judicial immunity doctrine that Churchill and his attorneys have challenged, arguing it threatens academic freedom and tenure at universities. In addition to reviewing whether granting CU’s Board of Regents quasi-judicial immunity comports with federal law, the Supreme Court will consider whether CU violated Churchill’s First Amendment […]» Read More
July 25, 2007
Last night the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted to fire professor Ward Churchill on the grounds of “serious, repeated, and deliberate research misconduct.” This vote came more than two years after the university investigated Churchill for making controversial public statements, including a reference to the victims of the World Trade Center attacks as “little Eichmanns.” FIRE released an analysis of the situation in 2005, determining that Churchill’s statements are protected and that the university’s initial investigation was unconstitutional. FIRE further cautioned that while the university’s investigation of Churchill’s research misconduct must not be swayed by anger over the […]» Read More
March 25, 2005
On March 24, 2005, the University of Colorado Board of Regents released its “Report on Conclusion of Preliminary Review in the Matter of Professor Ward Churchill.” This report states that no action should be taken against Professor Churchill on the basis of even his most controversial public statements. The report also states, however, that sufficient evidence exists of “plagiarism, misuse of others’ work, falsification and fabrication of authority” to refer such allegations to the University of Colorado at Boulder Standing Committee on Research Misconduct. Additionally, the report also refers to the Standing Committee the question of whether Churchill “committed research […]» Read More
In fairness, it must be admitted that there was an infinitesimally small segment of the body politic who expressed opposition to what was/is being done to the children of Iraq. It must also be conceded, however, that those involved by-and-large contented themselves with signing petitions and conducting candle-lit prayer vigils, bearing "moral witness" as vast legions of brown-skinned five-year-olds sat shivering in the dark, wide-eyed in horror, whimpering as they expired in the most agonizing ways imaginable.
Be it said as well, and this is really the crux of it, that the "resistance" expended the bulk of its time and energy harnessed to the systemically-useful task of trying to ensure, as "a principle of moral virtue" that nobody went further than waving signs as a means of "challenging" the patently exterminatory pursuit of Pax Americana. So pure of principle were these "dissidents," in fact, that they began literally to supplant the police in protecting corporations profiting by the carnage against suffering such retaliatory "violence" as having their windows broken by persons less "enlightened" – or perhaps more outraged – than the self-anointed "peacekeepers."
Property before people, it seems – or at least the equation of property to people – is a value by no means restricted to America's boardrooms. And the sanctimony with which such putrid sentiments are enunciated turns out to be nauseatingly similar, whether mouthed by the CEO of Standard Oil or any of the swarm of comfort zone "pacifists" queuing up to condemn the black block after it ever so slightly disturbed the functioning of business-as-usual in Seattle.
Small wonder, all-in-all, that people elsewhere in the world – the Mideast, for instance – began to wonder where, exactly, aside from the streets of the US itself, one was to find the peace America's purportedly oppositional peacekeepers claimed they were keeping.
The answer, surely, was plain enough to anyone unblinded by the kind of delusions engendered by sheer vanity and self-absorption. So, too, were the implications in terms of anything changing, out there, in America's free-fire zones.
Tellingly, it was at precisely this point – with the genocide in Iraq officially admitted and a public response demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were virtually no Americans, including most of those professing otherwise, doing anything tangible to stop it – that the combat teams which eventually commandeered the aircraft used on September 11 began to infiltrate the United States.
They did not, for starters, "initiate" a war with the US, much less commit "the first acts of war of the new millennium."
A good case could be made that the war in which they were combatants has been waged more-or-less continuously by the "Christian West" – now proudly emblematized by the United States – against the "Islamic East" since the time of the First Crusade, about 1,000 years ago. More recently, one could argue that the war began when Lyndon Johnson first lent significant support to Israel's dispossession/displacement of Palestinians during the 1960s, or when George the Elder ordered "Desert Shield" in 1990, or at any of several points in between. Any way you slice it, however, if what the combat teams did to the WTC and the Pentagon can be understood as acts of war – and they can – then the same is true of every US "overflight' of Iraqi territory since day one. The first acts of war during the current millennium thus occurred on its very first day, and were carried out by U.S. aviators acting under orders from their then-commander-in-chief, Bill Clinton. The most that can honestly be said of those involved on September 11 is that they finally responded in kind to some of what this country has dispensed to their people as a matter of course.
That they waited so long to do so is, notwithstanding the 1993 action at the WTC, more than anything a testament to their patience and restraint.
They did not license themselves to "target innocent civilians."
There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . .
Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire – the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to "ignorance" – a derivative, after all, of the word "ignore" – counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.
The men who flew the missions against the WTC and Pentagon were not "cowards." That distinction properly belongs to the "firm-jawed lads" who delighted in flying stealth aircraft through the undefended airspace of Baghdad, dropping payload after payload of bombs on anyone unfortunate enough to be below – including tens of thousands of genuinely innocent civilians – while themselves incurring all the risk one might expect during a visit to the local video arcade. Still more, the word describes all those "fighting men and women" who sat at computer consoles aboard ships in the Persian Gulf, enjoying air-conditioned comfort while launching cruise missiles into neighborhoods filled with random human beings. Whatever else can be said of them, the men who struck on September 11 manifested the courage of their convictions, willingly expending their own lives in attaining their objectives.
Nor were they "fanatics" devoted to "Islamic fundamentalism."
One might rightly describe their actions as "desperate." Feelings of desperation, however, are a perfectly reasonable – one is tempted to say "normal" – emotional response among persons confronted by the mass murder of their children, particularly when it appears that nobody else really gives a damn (ask a Jewish survivor about this one, or, even more poignantly, for all the attention paid them, a Gypsy).
That desperate circumstances generate desperate responses is no mysterious or irrational principle, of the sort motivating fanatics. Less is it one peculiar to Islam. Indeed, even the FBI's investigative reports on the combat teams' activities during the months leading up to September 11 make it clear that the members were not fundamentalist Muslims. Rather, it's pretty obvious at this point that they were secular activists – soldiers, really – who, while undoubtedly enjoying cordial relations with the clerics of their countries, were motivated far more by the grisly realities of the U.S. war against them than by a set of religious beliefs.
And still less were they/their acts "insane."
Insanity is a condition readily associable with the very American idea that one – or one's country – holds what amounts to a "divine right" to commit genocide, and thus to forever do so with impunity. The term might also be reasonably applied to anyone suffering genocide without attempting in some material way to bring the process to a halt. Sanity itself, in this frame of reference, might be defined by a willingness to try and destroy the perpetrators and/or the sources of their ability to commit their crimes. (Shall we now discuss the US "strategic bombing campaign" against Germany during World War II, and the mental health of those involved in it?)
Which takes us to official characterizations of the combat teams as an embodiment of "evil."
Evil – for those inclined to embrace the banality of such a concept – was perfectly incarnated in that malignant toad known as Madeline Albright, squatting in her studio chair like Jaba the Hutt, blandly spewing the news that she'd imposed a collective death sentence upon the unoffending youth of Iraq. Evil was to be heard in that great American hero "Stormin' Norman" Schwartzkopf's utterly dehumanizing dismissal of their systematic torture and annihilation as mere "collateral damage." Evil, moreover, is a term appropriate to describing the mentality of a public that finds such perspectives and the policies attending them acceptable, or even momentarily tolerable.
Had it not been for these evils, the counterattacks of September 11 would never have occurred. And unless "the world is rid of such evil," to lift a line from George Junior, September 11 may well end up looking like a lark.
There is no reason, after all, to believe that the teams deployed in the assaults on the WTC and the Pentagon were the only such, that the others are composed of "Arabic-looking individuals" – America's indiscriminately lethal arrogance and psychotic sense of self-entitlement have long since given the great majority of the world's peoples ample cause to be at war with it – or that they are in any way dependent upon the seizure of civilian airliners to complete their missions.
To the contrary, there is every reason to expect that there are many other teams in place, tasked to employ altogether different tactics in executing operational plans at least as well-crafted as those evident on September 11, and very well equipped for their jobs. This is to say that, since the assaults on the WTC and Pentagon were act of war – not "terrorist incidents" – they must be understood as components in a much broader strategy designed to achieve specific results. From this, it can only be adduced that there are plenty of other components ready to go, and that they will be used, should this become necessary in the eyes of the strategists. It also seems a safe bet that each component is calibrated to inflict damage at a level incrementally higher than the one before (during the 1960s, the Johnson administration employed a similar policy against Vietnam, referred to as "escalation").
Since implementation of the overall plan began with the WTC/Pentagon assaults, it takes no rocket scientist to decipher what is likely to happen next, should the U.S. attempt a response of the inexcusable variety to which it has long entitled itself.
About Those Boys (and Girls) in the BureauThere's another matter begging for comment at this point. The idea that the FBI's "counterterrorism task forces" can do a thing to prevent what will happen is yet another dimension of America's delusional pathology.. The fact is that, for all its publicly-financed "image-building" exercises, the Bureau has never shown the least aptitude for anything of the sort.
Oh, yeah, FBI counterintelligence personnel have proven quite adept at framing anarchists, communists and Black Panthers, sometimes murdering them in their beds or the electric chair. The Bureau's SWAT units have displayed their ability to combat child abuse in Waco by burning babies alive, and its vaunted Crime Lab has been shown to pad its "crime-fighting' statistics by fabricating evidence against many an alleged car thief. But actual "heavy-duty bad guys" of the sort at issue now? This isn't a Bruce Willis/Chuck Norris/Sly Stallone movie, after all.. And J. Edgar Hoover doesn't get to approve either the script or the casting.
The number of spies, saboteurs and bona fide terrorists apprehended, or even detected by the FBI in the course of its long and slimy history could be counted on one's fingers and toes. On occasion, its agents have even turned out to be the spies, and, in many instances, the terrorists as well.
To be fair once again, if the Bureau functions as at best a carnival of clowns where its "domestic security responsibilities" are concerned, this is because – regardless of official hype – it has none. It is now, as it's always been, the national political police force, an instrument created and perfected to ensure that all Americans, not just the consenting mass, are "free" to do exactly as they're told.
The FBI and "cooperating agencies" can be thus relied upon to set about "protecting freedom" by destroying whatever rights and liberties were left to U.S. citizens before September 11 (in fact, they've already received authorization to begin). Sheeplike, the great majority of Americans can also be counted upon to bleat their approval, at least in the short run, believing as they always do that the nasty implications of what they're doing will pertain only to others.
Oh Yeah, and "The Company," Too
A possibly even sicker joke is the notion, suddenly in vogue, that the CIA will be able to pinpoint "terrorist threats," "rooting out their infrastructure" where it exists and/or "terminating" it before it can materialize, if only it's allowed to beef up its "human intelligence gathering capacity" in an unrestrained manner (including full-bore operations inside the US, of course).
Since America has a collective attention-span of about 15 minutes, a little refresher seems in order: "The Company" had something like a quarter-million people serving as "intelligence assets" by feeding it information in Vietnam in 1968, and it couldn't even predict the Tet Offensive. God knows how many spies it was fielding against the USSR at the height of Ronald Reagan's version of the Cold War, and it was still caught flatfooted by the collapse of the Soviet Union. As to destroying "terrorist infrastructures," one would do well to remember Operation Phoenix, another product of its open season in Vietnam. In that one, the CIA enlisted elite US units like the Navy Seals and Army Special Forces, as well as those of friendly countries – the south Vietnamese Rangers, for example, and Australian SAS – to run around "neutralizing" folks targeted by The Company's legion of snitches as "guerrillas" (as those now known as "terrorists" were then called).
Upwards of 40,000 people – mostly bystanders, as it turns out – were murdered by Phoenix hit teams before the guerrillas, stronger than ever, ran the US and its collaborators out of their country altogether. And these are the guys who are gonna save the day, if unleashed to do their thing in North America?
The net impact of all this "counterterrorism" activity upon the combat teams' ability to do what they came to do, of course, will be nil.
Instead, it's likely to make it easier for them to operate (it's worked that way in places like Northern Ireland). And, since denying Americans the luxury of reaping the benefits of genocide in comfort was self-evidently a key objective of the WTC/Pentagon assaults, it can be stated unequivocally that a more overt display of the police state mentality already pervading this country simply confirms the magnitude of their victory.
On Matters of Proportion and IntentAs things stand, including the 1993 detonation at the WTC, "Arab terrorists" have responded to the massive and sustained American terror bombing of Iraq with a total of four assaults by explosives inside the US. That's about 1% of the 50,000 bombs the Pentagon announced were rained on Baghdad alone during the Gulf War (add in Oklahoma City and you'll get something nearer an actual 1%).
They've managed in the process to kill about 5,000 Americans, or roughly 1% of the dead Iraqi children (the percentage is far smaller if you factor in the killing of adult Iraqi civilians, not to mention troops butchered as/after they'd surrendered and/or after the "war-ending" ceasefire had been announced).
In terms undoubtedly more meaningful to the property/profit-minded American mainstream, they've knocked down a half-dozen buildings – albeit some very well-chosen ones – as opposed to the "strategic devastation" visited upon the whole of Iraq, and punched a $100 billion hole in the earnings outlook of major corporate shareholders, as opposed to the U.S. obliteration of Iraq's entire economy.
With that, they've given Americans a tiny dose of their own medicine.. This might be seen as merely a matter of "vengeance" or "retribution," and, unquestionably, America has earned it, even if it were to add up only to something so ultimately petty.
The problem is that vengeance is usually framed in terms of "getting even," a concept which is plainly inapplicable in this instance. As the above data indicate, it would require another 49,996 detonations killing 495,000 more Americans, for the "terrorists" to "break even" for the bombing of Baghdad/extermination of Iraqi children alone. And that's to achieve "real number" parity. To attain an actual proportional parity of damage – the US is about 15 times as large as Iraq in terms of population, even more in terms of territory – they would, at a minimum, have to blow up about 300,000 more buildings and kill something on the order of 7.5 million people.
Were this the intent of those who've entered the US to wage war against it, it would remain no less true that America and Americans were only receiving the bill for what they'd already done. Payback, as they say, can be a real motherfucker (ask the Germans). There is, however, no reason to believe that retributive parity is necessarily an item on the agenda of those who planned the WTC/Pentagon operation. If it were, given the virtual certainty that they possessed the capacity to have inflicted far more damage than they did, there would be a lot more American bodies lying about right now.
Hence, it can be concluded that ravings carried by the "news" media since September 11 have contained at least one grain of truth: The peoples of the Mideast "aren't like" Americans, not least because they don't "value life' in the same way. By this, it should be understood that Middle-Easterners, unlike Americans, have no history of exterminating others purely for profit, or on the basis of racial animus. Thus, we can appreciate the fact that they value life – all lives, not just their own – far more highly than do their U.S. counterparts.
The Makings of a Humanitarian StrategyIn sum one can discern a certain optimism – it might even be call humanitarianism – imbedded in the thinking of those who presided over the very limited actions conducted on September 11.
Their logic seems to have devolved upon the notion that the American people have condoned what has been/is being done in their name – indeed, are to a significant extent actively complicit in it – mainly because they have no idea what it feels like to be on the receiving end.
Now they do.
That was the "medicinal" aspect of the attacks.
To all appearances, the idea is now to give the tonic a little time to take effect, jolting Americans into the realization that the sort of pain they're now experiencing first-hand is no different from – or the least bit more excruciating than – that which they've been so cavalier in causing others, and thus to respond appropriately.
More bluntly, the hope was – and maybe still is – that Americans, stripped of their presumed immunity from incurring any real consequences for their behavior, would comprehend and act upon a formulation as uncomplicated as "stop killing our kids, if you want your own to be safe."
Either way, it's a kind of "reality therapy" approach, designed to afford the American people a chance to finally "do the right thing" on their own, without further coaxing.
Were the opportunity acted upon in some reasonably good faith fashion – a sufficiently large number of Americans rising up and doing whatever is necessary to force an immediate lifting of the sanctions on Iraq, for instance, or maybe hanging a few of America's abundant supply of major war criminals (Henry Kissinger comes quickly to mind, as do Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton and George the Elder) – there is every reason to expect that military operations against the US on its domestic front would be immediately suspended.
Whether they would remain so would of course be contingent upon follow-up. By that, it may be assumed that American acceptance of onsite inspections by international observers to verify destruction of its weapons of mass destruction (as well as dismantlement of all facilities in which more might be manufactured), Nuremberg-style trials in which a few thousand US military/corporate personnel could be properly adjudicated and punished for their Crimes Against humanity, and payment of reparations to the array of nations/peoples whose assets the US has plundered over the years, would suffice.
Since they've shown no sign of being unreasonable or vindictive, it may even be anticipated that, after a suitable period of adjustment and reeducation (mainly to allow them to acquire the skills necessary to living within their means), those restored to control over their own destinies by the gallant sacrifices of the combat teams the WTC and Pentagon will eventually (re)admit Americans to the global circle of civilized societies. Stranger things have happened.
In the AlternativeUnfortunately, noble as they may have been, such humanitarian aspirations were always doomed to remain unfulfilled. For it to have been otherwise, a far higher quality of character and intellect would have to prevail among average Americans than is actually the case. Perhaps the strategists underestimated the impact a couple of generations-worth of media indoctrination can produce in terms of demolishing the capacity of human beings to form coherent thoughts. Maybe they forgot to factor in the mind-numbing effects of the indoctrination passed off as education in the US. Then, again, it's entirely possible they were aware that a decisive majority of American adults have been reduced by this point to a level much closer to the kind of immediate self-gratification entailed in Pavlovian stimulus/response patterns than anything accessible by appeals to higher logic, and still felt morally obliged to offer the dolts an option to quit while they were ahead.
What the hell? It was worth a try.
But it's becoming increasingly apparent that the dosage of medicine administered was entirely insufficient to accomplish its purpose.
Although there are undoubtedly exceptions, Americans for the most part still don't get it.
Already, they've desecrated the temporary tomb of those killed in the WTC, staging a veritable pep rally atop the mangled remains of those they profess to honor, treating the whole affair as if it were some bizarre breed of contact sport. And, of course, there are the inevitable pom-poms shaped like American flags, the school colors worn as little red-white-and-blue ribbons affixed to labels, sportscasters in the form of "counterterrorism experts" drooling mindless color commentary during the pregame warm-up.
Refusing the realization that the world has suddenly shifted its axis, and that they are therefore no longer "in charge," they have by-and-large reverted instantly to type, working themselves into their usual bloodlust on the now obsolete premise that the bloodletting will "naturally" occur elsewhere and to someone else.
"Patriotism," a wise man once observed, "is the last refuge of scoundrels."
And the braided, he might of added.
Braided Scoundrel-in-Chief, George Junior, lacking even the sense to be careful what he wished for, has teamed up with a gaggle of fundamentalist Christian clerics like Billy Graham to proclaim a "New Crusade" called "Infinite Justice" aimed at "ridding the world of evil."
One could easily make light of such rhetoric, remarking upon how unseemly it is for a son to threaten his father in such fashion – or a president to so publicly contemplate the murder/suicide of himself and his cabinet – but the matter is deadly serious.
They are preparing once again to sally forth for the purpose of roasting brown-skinned children by the scores of thousands. Already, the B-1 bombers and the aircraft carriers and the missile frigates are en route, the airborne divisions are gearing up to go.
To where? Afghanistan?
Iraq, again (or still)?
How about Grenada (that was fun)?
Any of them or all. It doesn't matter.
The desire to pummel the helpless runs rabid as ever.
Only, this time it's different.
The time the helpless aren't, or at least are not so helpless as they were.
This time, somewhere, perhaps in an Afghani mountain cave, possibly in a Brooklyn basement, maybe another local altogether – but somewhere, all the same – there's a grim-visaged (wo)man wearing a Clint Eastwood smile.
"Go ahead, punks," s/he's saying, "Make my day."
And when they do, when they launch these airstrikes abroad – or may a little later; it will be at a time conforming to the "terrorists"' own schedule, and at a place of their choosing – the next more intensive dose of medicine administered here "at home."
Of what will it consist this time? Anthrax? Mustard gas? Sarin? A tactical nuclear device?
That, too, is their choice to make.
Looking back, it will seem to future generations inexplicable why Americans were unable on their own, and in time to save themselves, to accept a rule of nature so basic that it could be mouthed by an actor, Lawrence Fishburn, in a movie, The Cotton Club.
"You've got to learn, " the line went, "that when you push people around, some people push back."
As they should.
As they must.
And as they undoubtedly will.
There is justice in such symmetry.
ADDENDUMThe preceding was a "first take" reading, more a stream-of-consciousness interpretive reaction to the September 11 counterattack than a finished piece on the topic. Hence, I'll readily admit that I've been far less than thorough, and quite likely wrong about a number of things.
For instance, it may not have been (only) the ghosts of Iraqi children who made their appearance that day. It could as easily have been some or all of their butchered Palestinian cousins.
Or maybe it was some or all of the at least 3.2 million Indochinese who perished as a result of America's sustained and genocidal assault on Southeast Asia (1959-1975), not to mention the millions more who've died because of the sanctions imposed thereafter.
Perhaps there were a few of the Korean civilians massacred by US troops at places like No Gun Ri during the early ‘50s, or the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians ruthlessly incinerated in the ghastly fire raids of World War II (only at Dresden did America bomb Germany in a similar manner).
And, of course, it could have been those vaporized in the militarily pointless nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
There are others, as well, a vast and silent queue of faceless victims, stretching from the million-odd Filipinos slaughtered during America's "Indian War" in their islands at the beginning of the twentieth century, through the real Indians, America's own, massacred wholesale at places like Horseshoe Bend and the Bad Axe, Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, the Washita, Bear River, and the Marias.
Was it those who expired along the Cherokee Trial of Tears of the Long Walk of the Navajo?
Those murdered by smallpox at Fort Clark in 1836?
Starved to death in the concentration camp at Bosque Redondo during the 1860s?
Maybe those native people claimed for scalp bounty in all 48 of the continental US states? Or the Raritans whose severed heads were kicked for sport along the streets of what was then called New Amsterdam, at the very site where the WTC once stood?
One hears, too, the whispers of those lost on the Middle Passage, and of those whose very flesh was sold in the slave market outside the human kennel from whence Wall Street takes its name. And of coolie laborers, imported by the gross-dozen to lay the tracks of empire across scorching desert sands, none of them allotted "a Chinaman's chance" of surviving.
The list is too long, too awful to go on.
No matter what its eventual fate, America will have gotten off very, very cheap.
The full measure of its guilt can never be fully balanced or atoned for.
Ward Churchill (Keetoowah Band Cherokee) is one of the most outspoken of Native American activists. In his lectures and numerous published works, he explores the themes of genocide in the Americas, historical and legal (re)interpretation of conquest and colonization, literary and cinematic criticism, and indigenist alternatives to the status quo. Churchill is a Professor of Ethnic Studies and Coordinator of American Indian Studies. He is also a past national spokesperson for the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. His books include Agents of Repression, Fantasies of the Master Race, From a Native Son and A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust
In March 2009 Ward Churchill has been in court, suing the University of Colorado for firing him, a move the university made in 200_ as retaliation for this essay. Reports from the trial here are courtesy of the Ward Churchill Trial Blog maintained by the Ward Churchill Solidarity Network:
More Documents of Interest from early 2005
- Review of "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" , by Faith Attaguile (LiP Magazine Summer 2004)
- Review of "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" , by Jeb Brandt (The Indypendent Jan. 9 2005)
- Johnson: Churchill Not Alone in Pointing Finger , from Rocky Mountain News (Feb. 2 2005)
- U. of Colorado Faculty Rallies Around Professor , from Associate Press (Feb. 2 2005)
- Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center Statement in Support of Ward Churchill (Feb. 2 2005)
- American Association of University Professors on Professor Ward Churchill Controversy (Feb. 3 2005)
- Beat the Devil: Ward Churchill and the Mad Dogs of the Right , by Alexander Cockburn (The Nation, Feb. 3 2005)
- Colorado Regents Will Investigate Professor Who Compared September 11 Victims to Nazis , by Scott Smallwood (Chronicle of Higher Education, Friday, February 4, 2005)
- Students, Faculty at Hamilton College Back Controversial Discussion , by Marshand-Boone (Utica Observer Dispatch, February 4, 2005)
- The Distortions of Acumen: Liberals Trash Ward Churchill , by Joshua Frank (Press Action, February 4 2005)
- Churchill Rant Has Some Truth , by Reggie Rivers (Denver Post, February 4th 2005)
- Professor Under Fire for 9/11 Comments , by T..R. Reid (Washington Post, February 5, 2005)
- Raise Your Voice But Keep Your Head Down by Michael Albert (ZNet February 5th 2005)
- The Distortions of Acumen Continued , by Joshua Frank (Press Action, February 7th 2005)
- Thousands Attend Churchill Speech , by Erin Gartner (Associated Press, February 8th 2005)
- The Anti-AIM Tide Is Rising (Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, February 9th 2005)
- Churchill: "I Do Not Work For Bill Owens" (News4Colorado, February 9th 2005)
- Prof: Never Back Down by Howard Pankratz and George Merritt (Denver Post, February 9th 2005)
- What Ward Churchill didn't say; It's the singer, not the song... by Mickey Z. (Februaryt 9th 2005)
- Killing the Messenger: Ward Churchill's Sins Against the Empire by Steven Best (Press Action, February 10th 2005)
- N.Y. Professor Loses Post Over Churchill Controversy (Associated Press, February 11th 2005)
- Ward Churchill is Neocon Test Case for Academic Purges by Emma Perez, Ethnic Studies Chair at UC (February 15th 2005)
- An Open Letter to Ward Churchill: My Brother, the "Eichmann" by Michael Faughnan (Boulder Daily Camera, Feb. 16th 2005)
- The Termination and Removal of Ward Churchill by Scott Lyons (Indian Country, February 17th 2005)
- Churchill Gets Support at Forum by Brittany Anas (Boulder Daily Camera February 18th 2005)
- The Witch Hunt Against Ward Churchill (Revolutionary Worker, February 20th 2005)
- Churchill Clarifies 9/11 Stand in Hawaii (Associated Press, February 23rd 2005)
- Ward Churchill and 911 by Robert Jensen (The Progressive Trail, February 23rd 2005)
- So how come? by Dani Newsum (February 26th 2005)
- CU weighs buyout for firebrand prof by Dave Kurtin and Arthur Kane (Denver Post, Februrary 26th 2005)
Also check out Letters of Support for Ward Churchill from the UCB Academic Community .
Some institutions of "higher" learning are now enforcing a Colorado law that says that full time professors have to signa loyalty oath: click here for more details
Also on the aforementioned site is an indepth article that was written years before the current controversy that refutes many of the allegations and attacks on Churchill that have just recently been "revealed" by the mainstream media: http://www.coloradoaim.org/why.html
Almost one hundred different articles by Ward Churchill are available on ZNet, click here for a list: http://www.zmag.org/search/search_results.cfm?keyWords=Ward+Churchill&collection=allZnet&searchType=simple
You can purchase books and spoken word CDs by Ward Churchill at leftwingbooks.NET
While many people have contacted me upset at my posting this essay to my site, the following is certainly the best email i have received on this subject so far:
| ||Thank you for posting the illuminating essay by Professor Churchill. Although the essay is 99% accurate, there is a fatal flaw in this line...|
Evil – for those inclined to embrace the banality of such a concept – was perfectly incarnated in that malignant toad known as Madeline Albright, squatting in her studio chair like Jaba the Hutt, blandly spewing the news that she'd imposed a collective death sentence upon the unoffending youth of Iraq....Having received the Star Wars trilogy on DVD for Christmas, I would like to point out that Jabba the Hut (two b's, one t) did not squat in a studio chair, he reclined on a raised dais overlooking the floor where he received important guests. By comparing Jabba's seating style to that of Albright, Dr. Churchill demeans not only Jabba, but legions of loyal Star Wars fans the world over. If, like me, you are offended by Professor Churchill's misrepresentation of one of George Lucas' most compelling and memorable characters, please join me in petitioning the CU Board of Regents in favor of Dr. Churchill's dismissal. Please forward this to any other Star Wars fans you know, unless they are fans of Jar Jar Binks, a latter-day Joseph Goebbels who willingly served as a propagandist for the genocidal, imperialist monarchy of Queen Amidala, and later served in the Galactic Senate as an apologist for the Gungan use of biological weapaons in the dispute with the Trade Federation