Why Is Ward Churchill’s Article On This Site?

Why Is Ward Churchill’s Article On This Site?

by Kersplebedeb, Feb. 1st 2005

As part of a campaign to stop him from being allowed to speak at a small college in New York, right-wing student groups latched onto Ward Churchill’s essay “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens”. Specifically Churchill’s description of victims of the September 11th attacks as “little Eichmanns”… an essay that has been happily housed on this site for some years now…

So Why The Fuck Is This Essay On This Site?!?!?

Lots of interesting writings can be found on this site, and while i am usually sympathetic to them i rarely agree with every single word. Ward Churchill is a brilliant polemicist, and he raises issues that most Americans do not want to think about, indeed feel resentful to even be reminded of… As for the World Trade Center being brought down, of course it is a great human tragedy. As for the victims, of course the vast majority of them were not “little Eichmanns”. It’s a horrible thing that so many people died. But no more horrible than when people die anywhere in acts of war. The solution is not to demonize the killers, nor to simply bemoan human evil, but rather to look for the root causes. For while the World Trade Center being airplaned was an incredible human tragedy – one which sensible people can only deplore – to say this and say nothing else is to miss another side of the story. A side in which more than just two towers are destoyed, a side where the deaths continuued for more than a day or a month or a year, a side where more than three thousand people died… …a side in which America is the bully, the aggressor, the one which routinely sends it’s killers on missions overseas to rain death on foreigners. After all, isn’t it true that what really shocked most people about September 11th was that the unthinkable had happened, that this time the killers had come from the foreign lands, and the death was being rained down on Manhattan not the Middle East? The World Trade Center – as not only a symbol of U.S. power, but an actual financial powerhouse – was a monument to America. If you love America, the two towers were there for you to love too. But if America was the power with its boot on your neck, why would you cry when the towers came down? For the innocent victims?Like we get real upset about innocent victims – in Palestine, in Iraq, in Colombia, around the world – all the time, right? Its so funny, and so very not funnyshould i laugh or should i cry? Let’s put it another way: since September 11th many Americans feel that they are “at war”. A large percentage of Americans support this war, if only grudgingly, for they feel it is a war of self-defence, a just war, a war to protect their way of life. Most people shed few tears for the innocent victims in other countries. Yet while the war may have started on September 11th for citizens of the empire, for other people the war has been going on a long time. Because in reality the United States has been at war as long as the country has existed – at war with Native nations, at war with Africans who were kidnapped to provide the labour to build this whitest of nations, at war to claim new colonies, at war to prop up brutal dictatorships and at war to topple regimes that were not good for U.S. business interests. So from the point of view of many people, the U.S. was already at war.I don’t blame people for being upset at what Ward Churchill has to say. A part of the problem is Churchill’s polemical style, which can feel like a slap in the face. A part of the problem is the undeniably wrong statement that those who died in the WTC attacks were “little Eichmanns” – although it must be pointed out that in a subsequent statement he qualified this. But i would argue that a much greater part of the problem is the message he bears, one which may seem ruthless, but which is far less so than the daily crimes of the U.S. around the world. The world is a place of untold violence, and death oozes out of the history books like so much shit coming out a backed up toilet. Churchill’s message – stupid insults and polemical grandstanding aside – is that Americans are uniquely well-placed to reduce this violence, for they are citizens of the empire which is directly and indirectly involved in most of it. The question is: do they really want to?

In other, much more eloquent words, please read the following poem:

Moment of Silence

Before I start this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me In a moment of silence In honour of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last September 11th. I would also like to ask you To offer up a moment of silence For all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes, For the victims in both Afghanistan and the US And if I could just add one more thing… A full day of silence For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of US-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation. Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year US embargo against the country. Before I begin this poem, Two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa, Where homeland security made them aliens in their own country. Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin And the survivors went on as if alive. A year of silence for the millions of dead in Vietnam – a people, not a war – for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives’ bones buried in it, their babies born of it. A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of a secret war …. ssssshhhhh…. Say nothing … we don’t want them to learn that they are dead. Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia, Whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues. Before I begin this poem. An hour of silence for El Salvador … An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua … Two days of silence for the Guatemaltecos … None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years. 45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas 25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky. There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains. And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west… 100 years of silence… For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples from this half of right here, Whose land and lives were stolen, In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears. Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness … So you want a moment of silence? And we are all left speechless Our tongues snatched from our mouths Our eyes stapled shut A moment of silence And the poets have all been laid to rest The drums disintegrating into dust. Before I begin this poem, You want a moment of silence You mourn now as if the world will never be the same And the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be. Not like it always has been. Because this is not a 9/11 poem. This is a 9/10 poem, It is a 9/9 poem, A 9/8 poem, A 9/7 poem This is a 1492 poem. This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written. And if this is a 9/11 poem, then: This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971. This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977. This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York, 1971. This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992. This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks The 110 stories that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored. This is a poem for interrupting this program. And still you want a moment of silence for your dead? We could give you lifetimes of empty: The unmarked graves The lost languages The uprooted trees and histories The dead stares on the faces of nameless children Before I start this poem we could be silent forever Or just long enough to hunger, For the dust to bury us And you would still ask us For more of our silence. If you want a moment of silence Then stop the oil pumps Turn off the engines and the televisions Sink the cruise ships Crash the stock markets Unplug the marquee lights, Delete the instant messages, Derail the trains, the light rail transit. If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco Bell, And pay the workers for wages lost. Tear down the liquor stores, The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses and the Playboys. If you want a moment of silence, Then take it On Super Bowl Sunday, The Fourth of July During Dayton’s 13 hour sale Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful people have gathered. You want a moment of silence Then take it NOW, Before this poem begins. Here, in the echo of my voice, In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand, In the space between bodies in embrace, Here is your silence. Take it. But take it all… Don’t cut in line. Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime. But we, Tonight we will keep right on singing… For our dead.

by EMMANUEL ORTIZ, 11 Sep 2002 you can also hear this poem in mp3 format by clicking here

Irony Irony Everywhere…

On Tuesday, February 1st the college cancelled their panel discussion on the Limits of Dissent, in the words of the college administration:

We have done our best to protect what we hold most dear, the right to speak, think and study freely. But there is a higher responsibility that this institution carries, and that is the safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and the community in which we live.  Credible threats of violence have been directed at the College and members of the panel. These threats have been turned over to the police. Based on the information available, I have made the decision to cancel this event in the interest of protecting those at risk.

i guess the limits were a bit closer to home than they thought…

Other AuthorsOther AuthorsOther Authors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.