supports "blowback" paradigm, missed real story
Professor Ward Churchill is a target of the right-wing propaganda machine for daring to suggest that 9/11 happened as retaliation for US foreign policies in the Middle East.
It's a shame that Ward Churchill is so opposed to looking at the evidence for Bush / Cheney complicity in 9/11. Churchill notes that the World Trade Center had a CIA office in it (in WTC 7).
Churchill's comments ironically support the Bush regime propaganda that 9/11 was a surprise attack, which is not true! (Churchill's main disagreement with the official story is the motivation of the alleged perpetrators -- he's a supporter of the "Blowback" theory that we were attacked as revenge for US foreign policy, although "Blowback" does not adequate explain the events of 9/11, and the interference with numerous governmental systems designed to prevent attacks.)
Hopefully Professor Churchill will be able to keep his job and that the hate directed against him moderates (or goes away), but it would have been better for him to get his facts straight about how 9/11 was deliberately allowed to happen and assisted.
His books "The Cointelpro Papers" and "Agents of Repression" are among the best analyses of the "COINTELPRO" programs to disrupt social change organizations.
Left Denial on 9/11 Turns Irrational
by Jack Straw
www.indybay.org/news/2005/05/1736367.php 6 May 2005
www.globalresearch.ca 8 May 2005
The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/STR505A.html
People like Noam Chomsky and Ward Churchill are turning toward the irrational as they continue to deny increasing signs that 9/11 was an inside job.
Ever since the events of 9/11, the American Left and even ultra-Left have been downright fanatical in combating notions that the U.S. government was complicit in the attacks or at least had foreknowledge of the events. Lately, this stance has taken a turn towards the irrational.
In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky has made an incredible assertion:
"There's by now a small industry on the thesis that the administration had something to do with 9-11. I've looked at some of it, and have often been asked. There's a weak thesis that is possible though extremely unlikely in my opinion, and a strong thesis that is close to inconceivable. The weak thesis is that they knew about it and didn't try to stop it. The strong thesis is that they were actually involved. The evidence for either thesis is, in my opinion, based on a failure to understand properly what evidence is. Even in controlled scientific experiments one finds all sorts of unexplained phenomena, strange coincidences, loose ends, apparent contradictions, etc. Read the letters in technical science journals and you'll find plenty of samples. In real world situations, chaos is overwhelming, and these will mount to the sky. That aside, they'd have had to be quite mad to try anything like that. It would have had to involve a large number of people, something would be very likely to leak, pretty quickly, they'd all be lined up before firing squads and the Republican Party would be dead forever. That would have happened whether the plan succeeded or not, and success was at best a long shot; it would have been extremely hard to predict what would happen."
More recently, Ward Churchill, under fire for his comments following the 9/11 attacks comparing the people in the WTC towers to "little Eichmanns", took a somewhat different turn to the irrational. This comes via an email from a friend:
"I went to the Friday (3/25/05) night event which was organized by the so-called 'anarchist' AK Press people who in 'true anarchist spirit' only allowed written questions which they selected (i.e. censored) and handed to Churchill to read one by one. Needless to say my question as to how he reconciles the fact that his 'roosting chickens' thesis is consistent with the 'war on terror' mythology was not asked. A badly phrased 9-11 question did get through. He first said "as to what actually happened on 9-11, I'm open to different theories, I have not seen any evidence" (to which I would of course say - well look at it you idiot!) - or something to that effect - at this point there was scattered clapping - and then he added "But, the problem with the idea that it was an inside job is that it suggests that brown people are not capable of such feats and gives all the credit to the white man, another master race fantasy". Many people seemed to like this silly analysis - although a couple of people shouted loudly "that's ridiculous!". Anyway he clearly illustrated what a dolt he is, his past work notwithstanding."
This happened in Oakland. The following day, while Churchill was speaking at the Anarchist Book Fair in San Francisco, someone yelled out to the effect that the people who are after Churchill are also the real perpetrators of 9/11. He paused for maybe two seconds, and responded to the effect that this was the same racist crap about brown people not being able to defend themselves. The audience gave him a standing ovation. Such a viewpoint parallels an article in New Left Review from Summer '04 in which a (self-styled) situationist group named Retort from the San Francisco Bay Area claimed the 9/11 attacks are evidence that outside groups can still strike at the dominant spectacle from the outside. The Reverend Chuck-O of Indymedia omnipresence, always on the prowl for anyone daring to discuss 9/11 skepticism and acting when he can to quickly end any such discussions, has also endorsed this view.
With all due regard to Chomsky and Churchill, and an absolute stance against any effort at censorship, we must not let respect for their past achievements or current efforts at repressing them stand in the way of clarity and the insistence on the truth.
Chomsky condemns the actions supposedly undertaken by "Arab terrorists", driven by the injustices of U.S. foreign policy, though he also condemns the "reaction" of the US government to these attacks as opportunistic moves to legitimate imperialist expansion, a perspective widely shared in the American "Left" and even "ultra-Left". On the other hand, Churchill implicitly endorses these attacks as blows against the empire, something others like Retort are more willing to say outright.
But both perspectives fully accept the official story as to who carried out the attacks.
[note: the "Left Denial" article is generally very good about the strange myopia of the "left" about 9/11, but it is marred by a strange focus on alleged, unprovable assertions of temperature inside the burning towers that supposedly means they were demolished, and most of the web links for additional information are bogus. The "Left Denial" article ignores the evidence about foreknowledge, warnings to insiders, the stock trades on United and American Airlines just before 9/11, the anthrax attacks on the media and the Democrats, the motivation of Peak Oil and creating the pretext for invading the Middle East oil fields, among other issues that have very strong evidence for complicity. These omissions allow the leftists in denial to avoid the issue of complicity.]
February 3, 2005
On the Injustice of Getting Smeared
A Campaign of Fabrications and Gross Distortions
By WARD CHURCHILL
In the last few days there has been widespread and grossly inaccurate media coverage concerning my analysis of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, coverage that has resulted in defamation of my character and threats against my life. What I actually said has been lost, indeed turned into the opposite of itself, and I hope the following facts will be reported at least to the same extent that the fabrications have been.
The piece circulating on the internet was developed into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. Most of the book is a detailed chronology of U.S. military interventions since 1776 and U.S. violations of international law since World War II. My point is that we cannot allow the U.S. government, acting in our name, to engage in massive violations of international law and fundamental human rights and not expect to reap the consequences.
I am not a "defender"of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people "should" engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, said, "Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable."
This is not to say that I advocate violence; as a U.S. soldier in Vietnam I witnessed and participated in more violence than I ever wish to see. What I am saying is that if we want an end to violence, especially that perpetrated against civilians, we must take the responsibility for halting the slaughter perpetrated by the United States around the world. My feelings are reflected in Dr. King's April 1967 Riverside speech, where, when asked about the wave of urban rebellions in U.S. cities, he said, "I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed . . . without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government."
In 1996 Madeleine Albright, then Ambassador to the UN and soon to be U.S. Secretary of State, did not dispute that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of economic sanctions, but stated on national television that "we" had decided it was "worth the cost." I mourn the victims of the September 11 attacks, just as I mourn the deaths of those Iraqi children, the more than 3 million people killed in the war in Indochina, those who died in the U.S. invasions of Grenada, Panama and elsewhere in Central America, the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, and the indigenous peoples still subjected to genocidal policies. If we respond with callous disregard to the deaths of others, we can only expect equal callousness to American deaths.
Finally, I have never characterized all the September 11 victims as "Nazis." What I said was that the "technocrats of empire" working in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of "little Eichmanns." Adolf Eichmann was not charged with direct killing but with ensuring the smooth running of the infrastructure that enabled the Nazi genocide. Similarly, German industrialists were legitimately targeted by the Allies.
It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center. Following the logic by which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to justify target selection in places like Baghdad, this placement of an element of the American "command and control infrastructure" in an ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a "legitimate" target. Again following U.S. military doctrine, as announced in briefing after briefing, those who did not work for the CIA but were nonetheless killed in the attack amounted to no more than "collateral damage." If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these "standards" when the are routinely applied to other people, they should be not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them.
It should be emphasized that I applied the "little Eichmanns" characterization only to those described as "technicians." Thus, it was obviously not directed to the children, janitors, food service workers, firemen and random passers-by killed in the 9-1-1 attack. According to Pentagon logic, were simply part of the collateral damage. Ugly? Yes. Hurtful? Yes. And that's my point. It's no less ugly, painful or dehumanizing a description when applied to Iraqis, Palestinians, or anyone else. If we ourselves do not want to be treated in this fashion, we must refuse to allow others to be similarly devalued and dehumanized in our name.
The bottom line of my argument is that the best and perhaps only way to prevent 9-1-1-style attacks on the U.S. is for American citizens to compel their government to comply with the rule of law. The lesson of Nuremberg is that this is not only our right, but our obligation. To the extent we shirk this responsibility, we, like the "Good Germans" of the 1930s and '40s, are complicit in its actions and have no legitimate basis for complaint when we suffer the consequences. This, of course, includes me, personally, as well as my family, no less than anyone else.
These points are clearly stated and documented in my book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, which recently won Honorary Mention for the Gustavus Myer Human Rights Award. for best writing on human rights. Some people will, of course, disagree with my analysis, but it presents questions that must be addressed in academic and public debate if we are to find a real solution to the violence that pervades today's world. The gross distortions of what I actually said can only be viewed as an attempt to distract the public from the real issues at hand and to further stifle freedom of speech and academic debate in this country.
Ward Churchill is the author of On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.
Published on Friday, February 4, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Ward Churchill's Banality of Evil
The right to free speech doesn't mean you're right
by Anthony Lappé
Controversial statements by radical University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill have become the latest 9/11 free speech flame-up. In an essay that has since been developed into a book entitled “Justice of Roosting Chickens,” he compared “technocrats” inside the World Trade Center to Adolf Eichmann, Hitler’s Final Solution logistics man. Churchill strongly implied the WTC “technocrat’s” complicity in the machinations of the American empire made them legitimate targets of the 9/11 hijackers. He wrote:
Well, really. Let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they [technocrats] 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. [emphasis added]
Strong stuff. Other public figures have found themselves in hot water for making controversial statements about 9/11. On 9/12, Noam Chomsky noted the attacks were neither unexpected or unprecedented in the scope of recent human suffering. His timing left something to be desired, but he was making a fairly mundane observation. Churchill is making a much more radical statement here. He has since issued an explanation in which he back-peddles and tries to shift the emphasis onto the Pentagon’s policies (see statement and GNN discussion here). But he fails to disown the thrust of the original argument: those who take part in an evil capitalist system should be held accountable, like Adolf Eichmann was. Eichmann was the mild-mannered German bureaucrat who designed the plans for carrying out the Holocaust. He was famously captured by Israel in 1960, tried for his crimes and hanged. His everyman demeanor prompted Hannah Arendt to coin the term “the banality of evil.”
The storm around Churchill’s statements has many on the far left coming to his defense. As a Native American activist, he has a long record of fighting injustice (see my interview with his frequent co-author Jim Vander Wall here), and I too support his right to free speech. Ruffling feathers is what good professors do. It’s a shame that the controversy has cost him his chairmanship of the Ethnic Studies Department at Colorado (he resigned this week). Now his troubles have reached all the way to New York, where an appearance at Hamilton College was cancelled due to what administrators said were security concerns over a flood of death threats.
But there’s a big difference between the right to speak your mind, and being right. And I think he’s dead wrong.
Maybe it’s because I was blocks away when the towers fell. Maybe it’s because I’m more of a wussy pacifist than my more radical brothers. But I cannot find it in me to find what he wrote anything other than completely reprehensible.
Consider the professor’s twisted logic: People who work in the financial industry are legitimate military targets. Where do you draw the line? What about the secretaries who serve coffee to the little Eichmanns? They keep the evil system caffeinated, should they die? What if you own stock? Does earning dividends on GE mean your apartment building should be leveled with you in it? What if you keep your money at Chase or Citibank? Buy stuff at Wal-Mart? Pay federal taxes? Or better yet, what if you work for the government? Churchill himself works for a state university. He takes a paycheck from an institution that in all likelihood does military research and is probably ten times more complicit in the actual machinery of war than any junior currency trader.
If Churchill’s intent was to merely challenge us – to get us to look in the mirror and ask if maybe we all have a little Eichmann in us, then I applaud him. In some ways, we all do – no matter how hard we try to buy recycled toilet paper or not to buy Air Jordans. As Americans, we are all complicit in varying degrees in an exploitative system. It’s the acknowledgment of my special responsibility as a privileged person on this planet that keeps me doing what I’m doing. But Churchill, no matter how he later tried to spin it, was clearly trying to do something more than “shock the yuppies.” He was pinning a target on the backs of a very specific group of people, the “technocrats,” and saying they deserved what they got that clear September morning. It was a vicious, sloppy polemic that he deserves to be called out on. To argue that a commodities trader (which many WTC victims were) deserves to pay with his life for buying pork bellies low and selling them high is simplistic, unprogressive, and I dare say, fascist – even if, as he later tried to argue, he was merely applying America’s standards back on itself.
It’s a shame to see such a great champion of the repressed as Ward Churchill succumb to such wrongheaded logic – the very logic that has led to the belief that certain groups of people could be annihilated for their perceived complicity in the acts of the larger group.
Anthony Lappé (anthony @ gnn.tv) is GNN's Executive Editor. He is the co-author with Stephen Marshall of GNN's first book, True Lies, and the producer of GNN's award-winning Iraq documenatry, BattleGround: 21 Days on the Empire's Edge.
Note: Guerrilla News Network's 2003 film "Aftermath: Unanswered Questions from 9/11" is a MUCH better analysis of September 11th than Professor Churchill's comments. While the premier showing of Aftermath in San Francisco was a sold-out audience (with hundreds more turned away for lack of seats), it is a film that was ignored by the "left gatekeepers."
Published on Friday, February 4, 2005 by the Denver Post
Churchill Rant Has Some Truth
by Reggie Rivers
It's easy to attack University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill. He went too far in his essay "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens." He made overstatements, praised the Sept. 11 terrorists as noble heroes and labeled their victims as criminals who deserved what they got.
The essay is not a scholarly document. It's not subtle, reasonable or balanced. In fact, Churchill states in the addendum that it's more of a "stream-of-consciousness interpretive reaction to the Sept. 11 counterattack than a finished topic on the piece." I'd say that's a fair assessment.
I can only assume that in a true scholarly work, Churchill wouldn't describe former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as "a malignant toad" or "Jaba (sic) the Hutt." I assume that he wouldn't call President Bush the "Scoundrel-in-Chief," or refer to the FBI as "a carnival of clowns."
But while it's easy to attack Churchill's inflammatory words, it's harder to deny the core argument of his essay. It is a critique of U.S. policies around the globe, particularly the 12 years of sanctions in Iraq that former U.N. Assistant Secretary General Denis Halladay denounced as "a systematic program ... of deliberate genocide."
I have long been a vocal opponent of sanctions in Iraq, because everything I read on the subject revealed that it was regular citizens, not the leadership, who suffered under sanctions. Saddam Hussein easily circumvented the restrictions, made billions of dollars and built more palaces. It was regular Iraqis who died for lack of clean water, sewage-treatment facilities and basic medical supplies.
We might expect Hussein to show indifference to his own people, but I was shocked by the degree of indifference Americans showed toward them. We continued to enforce sanctions that killed civilians.
If you put aside Churchill's angry words, his message is something that every American needs to consider. Why were we attacked? After Sept. 11, I repeatedly asked this question on the radio and in this column, and I was stunned by the vitriolic response that I received from listeners and readers.
People accused me of "justifying" the terrorists, being a terrorist sympathizer, an unpatriotic American and a heartless jerk. Some people told me to shut my mouth until after I'd visited ground zero, while hundreds of others suggested that I leave the United States. No one was willing to have a rational conversation about why we were attacked.
An analogy can be found in the life of Martin Luther King Jr. If someone had thrown a brick through his living room window, it would have been reasonable for his wife to say, "Explain to me again why these marches and speeches are worth putting our family at risk."
Asking the question doesn't suggest that she sympathizes with the brick-thrower, but it does demand some accountability from her husband, so that she can decide whether his being a civil rights leader is worth the risk.
It would be silly for King to respond, "They attacked us because they hate our freedom and our goodness."
Ironically, the reaction to Churchill's essay mimics the thesis of his essay. In calling the victims of Sept. 11 "little Eichmanns," Churchill has offended so many people that he has provoked an effort to remove him from the CU faculty. He argues that enforcing sanctions that kill hundreds of thousands of children angered terrorists so much that they attacked the United States.
We can clearly see the connection between Churchill's statements and the public effort against him, but we seem unable or unwilling to see the connection between U.S. foreign policy and terrorist reactions against it.
Former Denver Broncos player Reggie Rivers writes Fridays on the Denver Post op-ed page.
© 2005 Denver Post
American Association of University Professors
Statement on Professor Ward Churchill Controversy
We have witnessed an extraordinary outpouring of criticism aimed both at Professor Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado at Boulder, for his written remarks describing victims of the attacks on September 11, 2001, as "little Eichmanns," and at the invitation for him to speak at Hamilton College in New York. Television commentators urged viewers to write to Hamilton College to condemn what the professor had written and the college's decision to invite him. More than 6,000 e-mail messages were sent to Hamilton College president Joan Hinde Stewart, who described them as "ranging from angry to profane, obscene, violent." The governor of New York wrote a letter of protest to President Stewart and in a dinner banquet described Professor Churchill as a "bigoted terrorist supporter." The governor of Colorado called on the professor to resign from the University of Colorado and, one day later, called for his dismissal. Professor Churchill reports that he and his wife have received more than 100 death threats. The prospect of violence at Hamilton College led the administration there to cancel the visit.
The American Association of University Professors, since its founding in 1915, has been committed to preserving and advancing principles of academic freedom in this nation's colleges and universities. Freedom of faculty members to express views, however unpopular or distasteful, is an essential condition of an institution of higher learning that is truly free. We deplore threats of violence heaped upon Professor Churchill, and we reject the notion that some viewpoints are so offensive or disturbing that the academic community should not allow them to be heard and debated. Also reprehensible are inflammatory statements by public officials that interfere in the decisions of the academic community.
Should serious questions arise about Professor Churchill's fitness to continue at the University of Colorado -- the only acceptable basis for terminating a continuing or tenured faculty appointment -- those questions should be judged by a faculty committee that affords the essential safeguards of due process, as required by the university's and the Board of Regents' official policies. Special care must be taken, however, to avoid applying harsher standards in such a case, or following less rigorous procedures, because of the statements made by Professor Churchill about the tragic events of September 11, 2001. While members of the academic community are free to condemn what they believe are repugnant views expressed by a faculty member, any charges arising from such statements must be judged by the same standards and procedures that would apply to statements unrelated to the terrorist attacks and the loss of life on that fateful day. We must resist the temptation to judge such statements more harshly because they evoke special anguish among survivors and families of the September 11 victims. The critical test of academic freedom is its capacity to meet even the most painful and offending statements. A college or university campus is, of all places in our society, the most appropriate forum for the widest range of viewpoints.