FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Liberals Trash Ward Churchill

I am sure you’ve heard of Ward Churchill’s latest tribulations — so I’ll save you the repetition. However, I bet what you didn’t know was that liberals were running hand in hand with conservatives in hopes of clotheslining the radical professor.

In a recent CommonDreams.org column titled “Ward Churchill’s Banality of Evil” Anthony Lappé argues that Churchill’s critique of 9/11, along with his calling the workers in the World Trade Center “little Eichmanns,” was utterly 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.

To start, Churchill never actually said that WTC workers should be legitimate targets. What he did say was that using the US governments’ own rationale the WTC would most likely be a target for a military attack — for if no other reason than it housed a large CIA office and was an economic bastion of the military industrial complex.

Arguing that the WTC would be a justifiable military target using the US government’s bloody rationale, Churchill writes in his now infamous essay
“Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens”:

They [the WTC] 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.

Now where Lappé really gets off track is when he implies that Churchill somehow condones the WTC attack, let alone the attack on the Pentagon. In Churchill’s own words I think he spells it out quite clearly in response to misinterpretations such as Lappé’s:

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 fuzzy nature of “collateral damage” is what I think Churchill is really getting at. And Churchill’s rejoinder to critics was only clarifying his early position, not backpedaling as Lappé contests. Indeed, Churchill sees the WTC attack as “ugly” and “hurtful.” It was. He also thinks such militaristic conceptions, when applied to other US ventures such as Iraq and Palestine, for example, are also “ugly and “hurtful.”

This isn’t “twisted logic” as Lappé puts it. Or rather, it isn’t Churchill’s “twisted logic”: but the “twisted logic” of the US government.

Churchill simply took the WTC massacre and looked at it through the lense of the US military establishment, and pointed out why the attack on the WTC could be justified militarily. Nowhere in Churchill’s original essay did he state such a terrorist act was morally justified.

And there’s the key point. It wasn’t right, but evil and iniquitous. Churchill’s larger parallel is what liberals like Lappé cannot seem to stomach: that the US “military” interventions can also be classified as “terror”.

Lastly, if you are a tax-paying American (yes I am a tax-payer) you certainly are a “little Eichmann” in a very real sense. Especially if you do not speak out against the actions of our government and the corporations that run the damn show.

Nevertheless, this complicity by no means implies we should be all bombed in our apartments and homes, or forced to jump from a flaming skyscraper. And I certainly have never gotten the impression in any of Churchill’s writings that would indicate he would condone such horrific acts.

In fact I think Ward Churchill would say that such an act of terror is just as evil as bombing “selective targets” in Iraq.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the forthcoming book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, to be released in early 2005 by Common Courage Press. He can be reached at: frank_joshua@hotmail.com

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink, to be published by AK Press next month. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savoir
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail