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John Wayne's Holster: We Have Heard Ward Churchill, But Were We Listening?
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Sunday, March 06, 2005

We Have Heard Ward Churchill, But Were We Listening?

I am sure we have all heard something about Ward Churchill – the University of Colorado Ethnic Studies Professor who penned the now famous article, “Some People Push Back - On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.” For the full article, click Here. In this article, Churchill espouses the belief that civilians in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were legitimate military targets for Al Qaeda. As a result of these remarks, some have stated that he is anti-American. Others have labeled him a traitor.

It is not my point to place any labels on Churchill. I will leave that up to others. Let me start by stating that I do not agree with many of the incendiary points in Churchill’s article. I do not believe that the civilians in the WTC and Pentagon deserved to die. I am confident that almost all American agree with me. However, I began to wonder what it was that fueled all the anger that came spewing forth from this man. I went back, read and reread his article, then read it again. I came to the profound realization that, underneath all the hate and ranting, there is a kernel of truth in what he has to say.

The thesis of Churchill’s article is that the United States has historically engaged in campaigns of terrorism as a means of implementing its own foreign policy objectives. In our recent history, many of these campaigns have been directed on the Muslim nations of the Middle East, and have led to the deaths of untold thousands of innocent civilians. Our one-sided support in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, our abandonment of the Afghans, the bombings of Lebanon and Sudan, and the sanctions against Iraq are just a few examples.

Churchill maintains that we citizens must bear some of the responsibility for these crimes for (paraphrasing) “allowing and empowering our leaders to carry them out in our name”. The way he sees it, what occurred on 9/11 was essentially an act of revenge, of exacting retribution for our sins. We got a taste of its own medicine.

I think Churchill has a point here! I am not suggesting that civilians killed in the WTC/Pentagon deserved to die. On the contrary, I think the action of the 9/11 terrorists was murder – plain and simple. However, the innocent civilians in the Middle East that died as a result of our imperialistic foreign policies didn’t deserve to die either! We see the actions of the 9/11 terrorists as evil – and indeed they are. But somehow we see the terror we inflict on other nations as acceptable or even noble – but it is not.

We as a nation must make ourselves more aware of what our leaders do in our name, to maintain our “way of life”. We must demand that they employ more enlightened foreign policies that have a prominent humanitarian face. We have to stop acting like the world’s natural resources are our birthright!

If we don’t, we are writing a legacy for ourselves that will go down as one the most shameful in the history of mankind.


At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Mister B said...

Joe --

I agree with your conclusions.

I would like to think, for both of us, for all of us, actually, to think of what opportunities we have to do as you say-- to become more aware.

One path that I see is to push for legislation that will increase voter turnout. A lot of good people in this country feel disenfranchised and impotent in the face of modern politics. But the simple act of voting, in large numbers, will I think, start to reverse things.

Forget red states and blue states. Think numbers. What would happen if 90-100% of eligibile voters voted. Who would win elections? What kind of candidates? I believe the candidates would be less extreme. Extreme politics stem from fringe bases. Let's enlarge the base and increase the peace.

Last note-- In light of my above comments, should the National Election be held on a national holiday? I for one, want to start supporting groups who are demanding that change be legislated.



At 11:21 AM, Anonymous David Lally said...

Hi Joe,

I saw Ward Churchill on Bill Maher last night - interesting stuff.
Certainly we Americans should reflect on our true role in the world and the root causes of events like 9/11. Ward Churchill definitely has a valid point.
However, as my mom used to say, "those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still."
If he really wanted true change, then he might make his point in a way that does not, in effect, tear the illusion of American innocense away from those that cling to it for comfort in their greif and loss. There is at times a wide canyon between what is correct and what is true.


p.s. I really love all your nifty topics.

At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Joe Verica said...

Hi Robert

A National Holiday for the elections? I must admit, I haven't put much thought into this idea in the past, but I do agree that there are a lot of people who are disenfranchised. Something does not to be done about voting. I know here on the Penn State campus, the students had to wait several hours in line to vote. Many had to get out of line and go to class, and thus did not vote.

A national holiday seems like it would be hard to get passed into law. November already has two holiays, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. I am not sure if the corporate interests in this country would go for a third. I have heard some proposals of combining election day with some other holiday. Perhaps that could work, but I think the vets would be unhappy about "compromising" Veterans Day. Maybe another solution would be to open more polling places.

Have you heard of any feasible proposals?

At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Joe Verica said...

Hi DAvid

Thanks for the reply. I wish I had known Churchill was on, I would have liked to see what he has to say.

I agree with your point about Churchill. He does have a point, but his method of delivery was not well suited to the situation at hand. He seems to be an real anti-establishment guy with his own agenda. He also seems to be harboring a lot of anger about how the US has historically pursued its interests going back to the colonial and frontier days. I think he has a point there as well.

I suppose one could argue that, had Churchill not been so incendiary, his words may have been dismissed. At least now, people are talking about it and (hopefully) taking a more critical look at how we conduct our foreign policy.

Personally, I support a good deal of our foreign policy objectives - every country has a right to pursue what it in its best interest. BUT...I do have a BIG problem with how that policy is implemented, especially when it impacts other nations - usually without or against their consent.

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Be said...

Hi Honey,
This article and its views remind of an old, yet great, American History quote...........
"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey joe

i'm happy to see we finally agree on something in politics. shit's fucked up at the university, when a professor can't stir some controversy to generate a positive dialog about something as important as our place in the world order. we all know that an author needs to push the limits to get noticed. i think it's obvious that churchill doesn't intend every person on the planet to consider themselves combatants--and arm themsleves accordingly. but members of a democracy are as much generals in the army as members of the senate. we may not directly chose our leaders. (i know i definitely haven't chosen most of our recent leaders). but it is our duty to stay abreast of events and participate in democracy as it is exercised on the battle field. that's why elections are so important. i think the veterans who've fought and died for freedom would welcome a joint holiday for veterans and voting. call it freedom day and honor each accordingly. but don't make it a monday. everyone will disapear to the coast to go wine tasting. make it a wednesday. and join many other republics, by requiring our citizens to vote under penalty of a $200 fine. some critics of this system say that freedom can not be forced. but i agree with many enlightenment thinkers who postulated that freedom without limits is not a freedom, but lawlessness. we've agreed on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. but the rest of our freedoms require limits to protect our citizens who could be hurt by our speed-limitless freeways or uncontrolled numbers of guns in the hands of criminals. so i say, mandate voting and more people will understand the blatant subtext of churchill's article.


At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Rita said...

I am now in love with you site and will have to save it as a favorite. I too watched the re-run of Bill Maher on sunday night and saw the interview with Churchill. Its funny because after the attacks on 9/11 I too thought to myself "yes this is a tragedy, but really its been a long time coming." Of course I didn't say this out loud to many people for fear of being ostracized and burned at the stake but I find the whole thing very interesting. Keep writing about this kind of stuff and I will keep reading.
Rita Jean

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Beast7 said...


Sorry, cannot agree. If those terrorist turds would present themselves on a battlefield somewhere, and fight honorably, then yes, I would concur. Instead, they attack defenseless civilians.

Further, Churchill has a right to spew any and all vitriol he wants. I served 20 years to preserve that right for him. What he cannot do, however, is do that on the government payroll with the expectation of freedom from consequences.

Finally, Churchill's personal integrity is entirely in question. He has been shown to be likely guilty of plagiarism, representing the art of others as his own (for profit), and of misrepresenting his own heritage. He seeks the shelter of academic integrity, but cannot practice integrity in his personal conduct.

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Joe Verica said...

Hi Gordon

Thanks for the insightful reply. I will make it a point to check out your blog as well. Let me start by saying that I respect the service that you have given to this country and am thankful for it.

I think a lot of people have misunderstood my remarks about Churchill. As a person, I don't have much respect for him or the tenor of his rhetoric. I don't agree with much of the incendiary comments he made in his essay. I agree is character is highly suspect. Because of these reasons, many have simply not looked seriously at what the root of his message is.

The point that I intended to make was that if strip away all the vitriol and hate, he does make one salient points - that the United States has historically engaged in campaigns of terrorism as a means of implementing its own foreign policy objectives and that we citizens must bear some of the responsibility for these crimes for allowing the govt to perpetrate them in our names. I don't think our culpubuility rises to the level of warranting death as a punishment. But I do think people should be more aware of what the govt does on our behalf.


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