Guest Column

Ward Churchill Incites Critical Thinking

By Robert Miranda

The neo-conservatives and fear mongering right-wingers are on the war path. They’re on the offense against a professor who is coming to speak in March at the University of
Wisconsin-Whitewater about the 9/11 attacks. Some argue that this professor espouses hate speech and that the “hate speech police” are nowhere to be found condemning Ward Churchill.

First, as a supporter of the “free speech police” let me state for the record that I disagree with Ward Churchill. I do not agree with the notion that al-Qaeda acted in self-defense when they murdered innocent people on 9/11. As a former Marine with eight years regular active service I can say with authority that flying commercial planes loaded with civilians into the World
Trade Center filled with more civilians was an act of murder, end of point.

The 9/11 attacks by bin-Laden [not Saddam Hussein] did nothing to stop the murder of Palestinian and Israeli children nor did it end hostilities between the Muslim world and the West.

All bin-Laden achieved was giving “George W. Bush Industries” pretext to invade
Iraq for the purpose of advancing western corporate imperialism in the Middle East.

Indeed, Churchill would be hard pressed to prove that most in the Muslim world would have approved of the 9/11 attack by this violent extremist religious group (al-Qaeda) before it happened.

Any attempt to portray al-Qaeda as a force representing the interest of the Muslim world will fail. Simply, these groups are hard line conservative religious fanatics determined to destroy and kill anyone who stands in the way of their narrow extremist religious beliefs.

In my view, Churchill does miss the mark on 9/11. What is taking place in post 9/11 is a battle between two men [bin-Laden and Bush] who are advancing theocratic ideologies that appeal to religious extremists. As a colleague of mine put it, “Allah will come down and smite the infidels; Jesus Christ and the host of heaven will return to cast the ungodly into hell.” For these two, humanity matters not when it comes to religion.

For these two men, unleashing mass murder on humanity is no big deal. This is why we should get beyond the rhetoric of freedom and condemn the war in Iraq as George W. Bush’s war and not the war against murderous terrorism.

The Iraq war is a war for Bechtel and Halliburton to profit from. The Iraq war is a war that is built on lies, misinformation, American jingoism and religious fanatical idiom.

Mark Belling, Milwaukee's most well known conservative talk-radio host bigot, says that Ward Churchill is engaging in hate speech when he says that those killed in the World
Trade Center were “little Eichmanns.” This argument is elementary and exposes his simplistic understanding of racism in our society.

In my opinion, hate speech refers to an individual or individuals who have been dehumanized or stereotyped by their ethnicity, race and gender preference and denounced publicly. For example, when Adolph Hitler and the NAZI Party attacked the Jewish people, they attacked the Jewish community in general because they were not of the Aryan race.

Ward Churchill’s reference of “little Eichmanns”, in my opinion, did not imply the ethnicity of the people murdered at the
World Trade Center. He appears to be referring to the ideals that Eichmann worked hard to protect—fascism—a nationalist government controlled by national corporations operating to achieve global economic dominance. What Churchill appears to be pointing out is that the extermination of market competition and the introduction of our commercial culture by Western corporations into Middle Eastern markets [to achieve economic superiority in the region] initiated a murderous response by the al-Qaeda terrorists. This is thought provoking stuff.

To be sure, Belling engages in hate speech when he uses terms such as “wetback” and “gook.” Indeed, there is no misunderstanding of what these terms imply. I mean, what ideals does one conjure up when the n-word is mentioned? These and other like terms are direct, they have one meaning and one meaning only—to degrade and demean a people’s blood line and heritage.

What kind of critical thought was Belling stimulating when he used the w-word and then mocked and joked about it? What kind of thinking did Belling stimulate when he told his listening audience that he has not changed and his program would not change and that such language might happen again when he returned to his program after his five days of so-called suspension?

Churchill is engaging in free speech and is doing it in a way that stimulates critical thinking. Is he actually attacking an ethnic group of people? I don’t see it.

Indeed, to reduce this serious matter to nothing more than an issue of hate speech is ridiculous and provides another example of the ignorance Belling and his neo-conservative following continue to demonstrate when they talk about this tragic chapter in American history.

-- Miranda is a national award-winning columnist, Latino community activist and columnist for the
Milwaukee Spanish Journal.