Thursday, February 10, 2005


Churchill, Again

The criticism of Ward Churchill by the mainstream media and the Rabid Right continues unabated, but it is heartening to see some in the progressive community standing up for him.

Meanwhile, the pusillanimous regents at the University of Colorado, instead of defending a faculty member who has the courage to challenge lies, have knuckled under to the calls for repression by announcing a “review” of Churchill’s work. Clearly, this will very likely lead to Churchill’s dismissal for the crime of pointing out that the emperor wears no clothes. Of course they will say it is because he spoke irresponsibly.

Yet, over the past week or so, journalists and bloggers have been busy digging up shocking quotes and monstrous statements by our cultural and political icons showing clearly that the people our leaders, media, and education system lionize and teach us to adore are in many cases elitists, racists, and callous mass murderers. Will the mainstream press, the U. of Colorado regents, and the American academic community — whose job is ahem! the pursuit of truth — see fit to point out the egregious and disgusting statements made by our cultural and political celebrities? Is the moon made of green cheese? Further, Churchill’s rhetoric is tame in comparison with the toxic vitriol and even threats that are issued by rightists, yet the regents’ statement made no mention of that.

Much of the Rabid Right’s criticism of Churchill has predictably consisted in character assassination, such as in claiming that he actually has no Native American blood. Frankly, I personally couldn’t care. Even if he doesn’t, that should not disqualify him from speaking out for the cause of Native Americans, any more than it disqualifies decent white Americans from advocating the rights of non-white Americans. We must not let critics get away with cheap ad hominem attacks to avoid squarely addressing the questions that Churchill is raising.

When I went through the American educational system, I was told that open debate and freedom of speech are vital to democracy, and that these set America apart from countries that don’t tolerate them. You could have fooled me.

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