Thursday, February 10, 2005

Unfortunately, freedom of speach yields freedom to hate

Looks like some folks can't handle some contrarian standpoints, what with the whole conflagration involving Ward Churchill. The bigger question has to be what took them so long to scorn that poor man?

Slice from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Hours after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Ward Churchill compared the victims to the Nazis. A professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, he wrote in an essay that those killed at the World Trade Center were not innocent civilians but "little Eichmanns."

The analogy is so outrageous, one thinks, that surely he immediately got into trouble. Surely it prompted angry letters and calls for him to be fired. But it didn't.

Instead, for years the comparison just sat there quietly. Mr. Churchill, by contrast, rarely stays still. He has spoken on more than 40 college campuses since the 2001 attacks....

...Mr. Churchill's speaking engagements may dry up now, as other colleges back away from his fiery rhetoric. But he has other things to worry about -- most immediately, his job. Regents in Colorado are pushing for his firing, and the interim chancellor of his campus has announced an investigation into his work to determine whether he "may have overstepped his bounds."

That investigation could be the first step toward dismissing him. Vandals have spray-painted swastikas on his pickup truck, and he has received more than 100 death threats. And now a Lamar University sociologist is charging that some of Mr. Churchill's research is fraudulent.

In a speech on Tuesday in Boulder, Mr. Churchill said that he would not retract his statements and that he would fight to keep his job. His essay was sparked, he said, by hearing someone call the attack "senseless." He added: "How can they positively know that? Do they really believe this operation had no purpose?"

He also told the crowd that he did not mean that everyone in the World Trade Center was a "little Eichmann." The janitors and passers-by were not the people at the heart of the "mighty engine of profit" that he derided.

End slice:

Which is more important, the freedom of speach or the freedom to hate?

I particularly found Churchil's Addendum to the original essay very poignent:

Read on if you dare (i wonder how many vandals actually got that far in the essay):



The preceding was a "first take" reading, more a stream-of-consciousness interpretive reaction to the September 11 counterattack than a finished piece on the topic. Hence, I'll readily admit that I've been far less than thorough, and quite likely wrong about a number of things.

For instance, it may not have been (only) the ghosts of Iraqi children who made their appearance that day. It could as easily have been some or all of their butchered Palestinian cousins.

Or maybe it was some or all of the at least 3.2 million Indochinese who perished as a result of America's sustained and genocidal assault on Southeast Asia (1959-1975), not to mention the millions more who've died because of the sanctions imposed thereafter.

Perhaps there were a few of the Korean civilians massacred by US troops at places like No Gun Ri during the early ‘50s, or the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians ruthlessly incinerated in the ghastly fire raids of World War II (only at Dresden did America bomb Germany in a similar manner).

And, of course, it could have been those vaporized in the militarily pointless nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There are others, as well, a vast and silent queue of faceless victims, stretching from the million-odd Filipinos slaughtered during America's "Indian War" in their islands at the beginning of the twentieth century, through the real Indians, America's own, massacred wholesale at places like Horseshoe Bend and the Bad Axe, Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, the Washita, Bear River, and the Marias.

Was it those who expired along the Cherokee Trial of Tears of the Long Walk of the Navajo?

Those murdered by smallpox at Fort Clark in 1836?

Starved to death in the concentration camp at Bosque Redondo during the 1860s?

Maybe those native people claimed for scalp bounty in all 48 of the continental US states? Or the Raritans whose severed heads were kicked for sport along the streets of what was then called New Amsterdam, at the very site where the WTC once stood?

One hears, too, the whispers of those lost on the Middle Passage, and of those whose very flesh was sold in the slave market outside the human kennel from whence Wall Street takes its name. And of coolie laborers, imported by the gross-dozen to lay the tracks of empire across scorching desert sands, none of them allotted "a Chinaman's chance" of surviving.

The list is too long, too awful to go on.

No matter what its eventual fate, America will have gotten off very, very cheap.

The full measure of its guilt can never be fully balanced or atoned for.

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