Thursday, February 10, 2005

Beyond Ward Churchill

Cable & Web outlets have been choked with endless, sometimes hysterical, commentary regarding Ward Churchill and his post-9/11 essay. If you want some backdrop to all this, go here here here here. And of course, all this attention, death threats, etc., has made Churchill a rather hot commodity.

I hotly criticized Churchill's essay when it first appeared, and still think it terribly mistaken, especially when lionizing the religious fascists who committed that mass murder. They were no friends to anyone with a twinge of progressive feeling -- indeed, they emboldened and strengthened our domestic phalange -- but it appeared, and to a degree still appears, that Churchill will latch onto pretty much anybody who "pushes back" against the US war machine, even if they take out thousands of civilians, many of whom are working class, immigrants, and children. The "collateral damage" Churchill so rightly denounced overseas seemed, at least initially, not to upset him when the same occurred in lower Manhattan.

Still, given all that, Churchill did touch on a reality that many of his current bashers either miss, ignore, play down or deny -- a country that has so much foreign blood on its hands will, inevitably, suffer the consequences on its own soil. That should be obvious to anyone who's read any global history. Yet there's a feeling among our uber-patriots that the US is exempt from this, or should be. We can do whatever we want and the world must love us for it. If they don't, we'll threaten, boycott or bomb them until they see things our way.

I've heard this reasoning expressed on panels, radio shows, and in informal discussions with some of my more conservative relatives. And you can see it daily at numerous blogs and websites (Free Republic and Little Green Footballs host some of the crazier comment threads in this regard -- and no, I won't link to them. If you want to read that crap, look 'em up). It's this type of mindset that I believe Churchill was swatting at, however stupidly and clumsily. But even if he'd made similar points without engaging in the "little Eichmanns" rhetoric, I still think he'd be under attack. Because if 9/11 taught us anything, it was that Good Americans open their mouths only to praise the state, Dear Leader, his perpetual wars abroad and his privatization at home. Question any of this, or worse, acknowledge America's contribution to the world's misery, and you show yourself to be treasonous scum. End of story.

It seems a waste of time to point out the obvious, but given some of the extremist reactions to Churchill, the obvious needs as much advertising as possible.

And you know that when the rightwing plays the "It's taxpayers' money!" card (as Joe Scarborough did in the vid link in the first graph above), they're looking for a "legal" way to shutdown or marginalize speech they hate. This may shock them, but I'm sure there are plenty of Colorado taxpayers who agree with Churchill. And I bet that Churchill himself pays taxes. Taxpayers' money finances all manner of repugnant things -- like the invasion and occupation of Iraq (along with the torture and mass murder that came with it). Taxpayers also pay Dear Leader's salary, and I dare say that his statements and lies have had a far, far more destructive effect than anything Ward Churchill could ever hope to have. When Churchill's words lead directly to things like this, then perhaps we can find a more equitable mode of outrage.