[News] AK author, Ward Churchill, embroiled in bitter controversy
News at freedomarchives.org
News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 1 18:06:57 EST 2005
AK Press Author Under Attack
After finding himself at the center of a media firestorm--and receiving a
barrage of death threats--AK Press author, Ward Churchill, has stepped down
from his position as Chair of the Ethnic Studies Department at the
University of Colorado. Not satisfied with this, Colorado Governor Bill
Owens is demanding that Ward resign his position as a tenured professor as
The controversy is based on an essay Ward wrote soon after 9-11, which he
later expanded into an AK Press book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens:
Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality.
Conservative protestors used the essay to force Hamilton College in New
York to cancel a speaking engagement Ward had scheduled there. The
mainstream media (including Bill O'Reilly and Fox News) has picked up the
story, distorting and misrepresenting the facts, as usual.
AK Press wishes to voice our support for Ward in this struggle--in terms of
both his well-researched analysis of factors that contributed to the 9-11
attacks and his right to express that analysis in public without having his
life and livelihood threatened.
Below, we've provided some links to articles describing the controversy,
followed by the press release Ward issued. We also recommend that you read
On the Justice of Roosting Chickens yourself, rather than relying on the
media's version on it. Individuals can order it here:
The book is available to bookstores and to the trade in general from
Consortium Book Sales and Distribution at: http://www.cbsd.com/ or
Ward Churchill's Press Release:
January 31, 2005
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
* 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 name.
* 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.
January 31, 2005
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