By David Peterson at Feb 19, 2005
Continue now with our lead story, the radical Professor Ward Churchill's situation. Can he be tried for either treason or sedition?And just two days later, Fox's O'Reilly Factor introduced another segment as follows ("Impact: U.W.-Whitewater Does Not Cancel Churchill," Feb. 11):
[A]as you may know, "The Factor" got involved with the Ward Churchill story, because Hamilton and other colleges were paying the guy to spread his hateful anti-American rhetoric. I feel that's kind of dubious, don't you? After our initial reporting, everyone canceled Churchill, except for the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. Now we called Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, but he is unavailable, as they say. But joining us now from Madison is Wisconsin state assemblyman Steve Nass. This just came in over the wire, Mr. Noss, interestingly enough. You know, the Hamilton College is what started this whole thing for "The Factor." He was going to speak there. And we got on to the story and they canceled him. Well, the woman who invited him to speak there, Nancy Rabinowitz, has now resigned her position as the director of the project that brings in these kinds of speakers. So that's good.As to the question of why this is happening now, three-and-a-half years after Churchill first wrote his commentary, I think there's a strong element of randomness to it. Criticism of the Hamilton College invitation that had been extended to Churchill to deliver a speech there literally broke in the Hamilton College student newspaper, The Spectator, on January 21---the first issue after the Christmas break, please note well. (See "Controversial speaker to visit Hill," "Advocacy and Academia," and "Deja vu all over again?") The U.S. wire services didn't take up reporting the Churchill affair until January 26 ("Choice of speaker ignites protests again at Hamilton College," Associated Press)---two days before The O'Reilly Factor first started haranguing the affair over the Fox News Network. Now already three weeks later, The O'Reilly Factor has yet to let it drop. Clearly, Ward Churchill has earned a very long list of enemies for himself over the years. On either February 13 or 14, I heard someone on the Fox News Network mention that are roughly 50 academics working at colleges and universities in the United States today that are problematic in some manner similar to Churchill. (Sorry I can't be more precise.) Just who compiled a list such as this, no one mentioned. But that there is such a list (and who knows how long it really is) seems likely. Right now, Ward Churchill is serving as a proxy persona non grata for all of the personae non gratae academics to have run afoul of various establishment factions over the years. The subsequent focus, not on his ancestry, but on his Native Americanness, is merely a case of the American racist monster let loose upon the scene. Imagine the twist of history involved here, though. Churchill's racist detractors are hell-bent on excluding him from the academic community. So they've called for him to be rounded by the modern American Gestapo, and given the once-over by a board of race scientists to determine whether he really is the offspring of American Indians. If he is, then he's a real Indian, and can keep his job. (Maybe.) But if he isn't? Then he's a phony Indian, and ought to have been fired. Yesterday. If possible. Don't forget: This is America we're talking about here. Not Nazi Germany. Postscript. Perhaps the one line of thought for which Ward Churchill's “Some People Push Back” has brought the greatest opprobrium down upon his head has been the following:
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.But as Fidel Castro said during a speech in Havana, some 11 days after Churchill wrote these lines (“Terrorism and the War Crisis,” Monthly Review, November, 2001):
The unanimous anger caused by the human and psychological damage inflicted on the American people by the unexpected and shocking deaths of thousands of innocent people, whose images have shaken the world, is perfectly understandable. But who have been the beneficiaries? The extreme right, the most backward and right–wing forces, those in favor of crushing the growing world rebellion and sweeping away everything progressive that is still left on the planet. It was an enormous error, a huge injustice, and a great crime, whoever they are who organized or are responsible for this actionPersonally, I think this answers Churchill's question ("If there was a better...") about as thoroughly as one needs to bother. Qui bono, in either case.
“'Some People Push Back': On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," Ward Churchill, September 11, 2001 (Here linking the Dark Night Press website's edition of Churchill's commentary.) “On the Injustice of Getting Smeared,” Ward Churchill, CounterPunch, February 3, 2005 “The Right Has a License To Write Anything,” Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch, February 5-6, 2005 "The Churchill episode: Two unfortunate currents," Editorial, Indian Country Today, February 10, 2005 "Ward Churchill: Right to Speak Out; Right About 9/11," Robert Jensen, CounterPunch, February 14, 2005 Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, 1790 to 1990, and By Hispanic Origin, 1970 to 1990, For The United States, Regions, Divisions, and States, Campbell Gibson and Kay Jung, U.S. Census Bureau, September, 2002 (For the PDF version of the same report)