Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Ward Churchill Update

This update contains Colorado Gov. Bill Owens' letter (essentially calling Ward "indecent" and asking him to resign from U. Col.) and a statement from Ward Churchill himself. Excerpts:
* 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."
A personal note here: Probably the biggest fight I've ever had with my wife (then girlfriend) was right after 9/11/01. She was in New York (midtown, luckily) and I was in Norway working at a TV station. I made a comment along the lines of "maybe this tragic event will make America change its foreign policy". This didn't go down so well with her. In retrospect I admit that my timing was bad. But I stand by my comment (she's ok with it by now).

Perhaps this is why this whole Ward business frustrates me so much. The Colorado Governor writes: "The thousands of innocent people - and innocent they were - who were murdered on September 11 were murdered by evil cowards." I agree, they were both "evil" and "cowards", but that doesn't help us very much, does it? This country has to move beyond name-calling in order to really understand what happened and why. You can't fix a problem until you understand it, as any good psychologist will tell you.

I can sort of see what Ward means when he says that the victims were "guilty". After all, if US citizens aren't responsible for US policy then who is? Were Germans "guilty" of allowing Adolf Hitler to kill 6 million Jews? Most would say they were.

But this is a theoretical "guilt" that doesn't really mean much in practice. Personally I don't see much point in this line of argument. If I were him I would consider admitting the comment about "guilty" was pointless and not very constructive. But the rest of his analysis seems sound and sensible and he is a good man for standing by it.

UPDATE: Instapundit has joined in the witch-hunt of course. He doesn't like the way Ward looks. He also links to this interview where we learn this:
A Creek and enrolled Keetoowah Band Cherokee, Churchill is a longtime Native rights activist. He has been heavily involved in the American Indian Movement and the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. He is Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado and has served as a delegate to the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations.

One of Churchill’s areas of expertise is the history of the U.S. government’s genocide of Native Americans—the chronic violation of treaties and systematic extermination of North American indigenous populations. His many books include A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas: 1492 to Present (1998)
It seems to me that Ward Churchill is essentially a Native American activist who has a bone to pick with the US Government. That probably explains his "they had it coming" statements about 9/11. University professors have irrational human feelings just like everybody else.

Like bloggers, for instance. Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds has his own hangups from the past. Look at how he describes Ward:
A man whose look, like his rhetoric, is frozen in the amber of 1969.

The same kind of guys, looking the same way, were saying the same kinds of things when I was younger than my daughter is now. When will the Left catch up with the times?
Note to Greg: Many of the people you disagree with (me, for example) weren't even born in 1969, and we never supported Marx, the Soviet Union, or even striking trade unionists. Yet you contemptuously call us "the Left" and falsely assume we hold all sorts of opinions because of events 40 years past.

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