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 is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail