Churchill’s post-9/11 statement and his response to criticisms of it are attached below. These documents were posted on Solidarity Network.
Leola: How would people feel about making a donation from our solidarity fund to Ward Churchill’s legal action against the U. of Colorado? It’s hard to believe this was anything but retaliation for his post 9/11 statements (and his on-going radicalism).
Dunstan: I’m conflicted. On the one hand, I don’t want to call ‘comrade’ someone whose political analysis looks like this:
“As for 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. … 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.”
On the other hand, I’m certain that he wouldn’t have been fired had he not a long history of contrarianism and critique, which I’m very inclined to support. Any thoughts on how to square this circle?
Mary: My thoughts are that we might be straying from our mission and vision which encompasses treating others with dignity and connecting social healers. Churchill’s intemperate remarks don’t quite live up to that standard. And where do we draw the line in supporting individuals with our limited funds? I prefer our funds to be used to support the Center for Human Dignity and more directly related struggles in Africa.
Paul: I understand all the points made by Leola, Dunstan, and Mary. I just would like to remind us of the following: when the system needs to castigate someone in an exemplary fashion, it will do so and use whatever ammunition it takes to make its case. In the case of Ward Churchill, there are lots of Native Americans who can’t stand him. Some even go as far as accusing him of working for …… well you know the line.
Can OBA stand for ALL of the causes which need to be supported? I would hope that the discussion will continue, Mbongi style. We all know of Ward Churchills in our vicinity: they are the ones who are so angry they cannot control their language. One of the most horrendous injustices is the one which is happening in the so-called Middle East with regard to Palestine. I am raising this because more and more frequently we’ll face situations where we should stand up. In the Mbongi everyone MUST say something on ALL issues, not just on the ones one feels strongly or more sure about.
Healing does not necessarily mean that there is only one way of standing up for someone who is being punished just so that he( i.e., the Native American) knows where his place is. Although Ward Churchill may not himself stand up for others, it does not mean that, automatically, one should stand up for him on the principle of academic freedom.
If I remember, Ward Churchill did respond to criticisms provoked by the passage Dunstan quoted, and it would be good to have that response.
To summarise and also try to be specific: how many ways can one be in solidarity with a person, with a cause? Being in solidarity with Ward Churchill could mean writing a piece on the issue. When everyone, or so it seems, in the Congo wanted Lumumba’s skin, I cannot remember anyone who stood up. I remember a priest telling us (I was about 17 then) that he would give absolution to anyone who would kill Lumumba. I was shocked, but did not say, could not say a word.
It seems to me that in these times one has to be able to articulate positions beyond the ones one is presented with—such as: sack him, do not sack him. To put it differently: does one only stand for the causes which are popular? With Ward Churchill’s sacking, what else is at stake?
Is there more to Ward Chuchill’s sacking than Ward Churchill himself?
Leola: Just so we have all the facts about the 9/11 statements which gave the U. of Colorado the excuse to go after him, here are both Ward Churchill’s complete statement http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/s11/churchill.html and his response to criticism of that statement http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/s11/churchill.html.
While it’s true that Churchill is not a pacifist and basically says the stockbrokers and financiers in the WTC got what they deserved, it is also true that they are the very heart and soul of the capitalist system that wiped out most of Churchill’s ancestors. He seems to me no different from an Iraqi who screams for the blood of the Americans after his family has been incinerated by indiscriminate bombing. Rage at this system is a totally natural and predictable response to the atrocities it commits, and as Churchill points out, we “ordinary” citizens will be held just as responsible as the “good Germans.” Not many in Churchill’s position have the courage to express that rage. I think after 9/11 there were many people around the world—and at least a few here [US]—who said, at last, they’re having to pay for what they’re doing. Yes, many innocent people were killed at the WTC, as they are in Iraq and Palestine and Afghanistan and across the world in the name of profit and greed every day of the week. I don’t rejoice at anyone being killed by terror (whether it’s the US government’s or Al Queda’s) or anything else, but I find it hard to condemn Churchill for not mourning the “technocrats.” He’s attacked for being a Native American guilty of truth-telling, lack of humility, and ingratitude to the academic establishment that’s allowed his presence, and I think he deserves our support. The healing tree we’re trying to create needs big leaves, broad shade, and room for many.
However, I do agree with Paul that there are better ways to express solidarity in this case than giving the little bit of money we could. Maybe a piece on the issue is just what’s needed.
Paul: This is a virtual Mbongi. The best ones are the ones which force us out of routinized thinking. Just heard from Pambazuka News about the firing of Ward Churchill. They would like to publicize it. Ward Churchill is not an easy person to like. I have even heard Native Americans express contempt for him, but then is that different from the Congolese (in association with the powers that be) killing Lumumba, or killing each other through prodding from those who have decided only they count as humans.
In our history books at school, Leopold II was praised. My mother was black, my father was white. In the school environment I was supposed to look down on blacks. I am not sure what would have happpened to me if I hadn’t read Fanon’s first book in the mid-fifties (his thesis was written in 1952).
Before condemning Ward Churchill, regardless of how he has vented his rage, do think through what the Ota Bengas of this current world have to go through on a daily basis. Resistence to the system will always take multiple forms. Each one of us thinks. Each one of us is a treasure. NO ONE in those towers should have died, but, as Susie points out, on which basis do we decide that the 4,000 lives in the twin towers are worth more than the thousands upon thousands of Iraqi, Palestinians whose deaths are barely aknowledged, except, and even then, as mere statistics.
On which basis do we just let go of the utterances of the fundamentalist right-wing talk show hosts while we show our outrage at Ward Churchill’s rage at the system? It is that double standard which helps feed the mindset that was born out of the INAUGURAL GENOCIDE of the system.
Healing from this long process of slow, relentless killing of nature, killing of life is not easy because it calls on us to let go of habits and desires which have been fed by a system which, despite appearances to the contrary, is actually feeding on ourselves. The US has seen itself, up to now, as the only worthy defender of the system. Yet, it is being devoured by the very system it has claimed to run. When I say the US, I mean its ruling clique. This ruling clique has managed, over the last decades, to present the American Way of living as the most enviable. Little by little people are beginning to see through this incredible hoax (really, a crime against humanity). Still people will continue to kill each other, to discriminate, just so as to get a piece of the pie.
The real tragedy is that the crime had been called such from a very long time ago, BUT (syndrome of discovery) until it is said to be so by the descendants of the discoverers, any Ward Churchills along the way shall be crushed, laminated to death for daring to say the obvious.
What is the difference between Ward Churchill and Ota Benga, between Ward Churcill and Lumumba, between Ward Churchill and….anyone can add to the list.
We are stuffed with heroes of a death-promoting system, while starved of heroes who have resisted the system by promoting the sanctity of life.
David: Powerless anger makes me feel so frustrated that it is hard to find the appropriate words even to cry my anger. This is the situation I am now facing. Almost all of us on this planet are victims of all types of violence (physical, spiritual, verbal, economic, psychological, ethical, etc.), constantly unleashed by the arrogance of the State that was once moving towards true democracy but seems to be hijacked by Pentagon militarism and continuous racist and anti-Native American feelings. The trauma that was unleashed by the treatment of slaves and Native Americans is replayed each time one of their descendants challenges the establishment. And all of us (Pygmies, Native Americans, continuing suffers of Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Vietnam, Iraq, Haitians, African Americans, Palestinians, so-called Aborigines , etc.) will find ourselves in the words of insight of Ward Churchill. They provide so much clarity on how things are connected, on this world where evil has become good and the exercise of superpower has become without any consideration of universal human interest—irresponsible towards the meek of this world. A superpower was supposed to be the defender of the meek. This of course should not forget those innocents who died in the 9/11 events and other events; they deserved living like all of us.
We have the right to express—with all our lungs—our anger against this ultimate victimization of truth-bearers, of the little light still remaining to show us the possible way of true humanity. What happens to Ward Churchill may happen to others daring to say things as they are.
At all times, people must stand up for truth against bigotry, victimization of truth-bearers and denial of life to others. To make one be in the situation of no means of life, of expression, of freedom of speech.. is but the beginning of the denial of life. We are right, everywhere and always, to rebel against the reactionaries and more so against the humanity murderers.