[Paleopsych] Z: Churchill Replies by Ward Churchill

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Churchill Replies by Ward Churchill

In the last few days there has been widespread and grossly inaccurate 
media coverage concerning my analysis of the September 11, 2001 attacks on 
the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, coverage that has resulted in 
defamation of my character and threats against my life. What I actually 
said has been lost, indeed turned into the opposite of itself, and I hope 
the following facts will be reported at least to the same extent that the 
fabrications have been.

* The piece circulating on the internet was developed into a book, On the 
Justice of Roosting Chickens. Most of the book is a detailed chronology of 
U.S. military interventions since 1776 and U.S. violations of 
international law since World War II. My point is that we cannot allow the 
U.S. government, acting in our name, to engage in massive violations of 
international law and fundamental human rights and not expect to reap the 

* 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."

* In 1996 Madeleine Albright, then Ambassador to the UN and soon to be 
U.S. Secretary of State, did not dispute that 500,000 Iraqi children had 
died as a result of economic sanctions, but stated on national television 
that "we" had decided it was "worth the cost." I mourn the victims of the 
September 11 attacks, just as I mourn the deaths of those Iraqi children, 
the more than 3 million people killed in the war in Indochina, those who 
died in the U.S. invasions of Grenada, Panama and elsewhere in Central 
America, the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, and the indigenous 
peoples still subjected to genocidal policies. If we respond with callous 
disregard to the deaths of others, we can only expect equal callousness to 
American deaths.

* Finally, I have never characterized all the September 11 victims as 
"Nazis." What I said was that the "technocrats of empire" working in the 
World Trade Center were the equivalent of "little Eichmanns." Adolf 
Eichmann was not charged with direct killing but with ensuring the smooth 
running of the infrastructure that enabled the Nazi genocide. Similarly, 
German industrialists were legitimately targeted by the Allies.

* It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a 
CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center. Following the logic by 
which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to 
justify target selection in places like Baghdad, this placement of an 
element of the American "command and control infrastructure" in an 
ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a 
"legitimate" target. Again following U.S. military doctrine, as announced 
in briefing after briefing, those who did not work for the CIA but were 
nonetheless killed in the attack amounted to no more than "collateral 
damage." If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these "standards" when 
the are routinely applied to other people, they should be not be surprised 
when the same standards are applied to them.

* 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 

* The bottom line of my argument is that the best and perhaps only way to 
prevent 9-1-1-style attacks on the U.S. is for American citizens to compel 
their government to comply with the rule of law. The lesson of Nuremberg 
is that this is not only our right, but our obligation. To the extent we 
shirk this responsibility, we, like the "Good Germans" of the 1930s and 
'40s, are complicit in its actions and have no legitimate basis for 
complaint when we suffer the consequences. This, of course, includes me, 
personally, as well as my family, no less than anyone else.

* These points are clearly stated and documented in my book, On the 
Justice of Roosting Chickens, which recently won Honorary Mention for the 
Gustavus Myer Human Rights Award. for best writing on human rights. Some 
people will, of course, disagree with my analysis, but it presents 
questions that must be addressed in academic and public debate if we are 
to find a real solution to the violence that pervades today's world. The 
gross distortions of what I actually said can only be viewed as an attempt 
to distract the public from the real issues at hand and to further stifle 
freedom of speech and academic debate in this country.

Ward Churchill
Boulder, Colorado
January 31, 2005

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