Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Natives vs imperialist pawns

Yah, cause prior to the Churchill affair level headed, well footnoted, left understatement had produced a real domestic block to US imperialism and a real stage presence for the left. Has not Chomsky been doing that for the last thirty years? No comrade, since when was the American political scene dominated by level headed, serious debate? News flash, prior to the Churchill affair nobody was listening to the left...except of course the left. Are you arguing that fewer lefties will now be listening? Or that fewer on the right are now listening--were they ever listening? Or is it the beloved middle of the roaders that you seek. Is there any evidence subtle, sober intervention works on them? Do you cling to the Millsian fantasy of the market place of ideas ? And as for having to go out of your way to explain that "you are not an insane asshole," all I can say is the best defense is a good offense. Why in the hell would you apologize for the existence of your position at the out-set. What do they teach you in debating classes down south? When you talk to your less liberal left friends try the statement "Churchill was over the top in many respects but he made one point which is worth thinking about..." Thats how the right uses their militants. Just try it for thirty days as a rhetorical strategy, and if you don't like it you are under no obligation to continue on with the strategy. Travis -------------

Absolutely. It is worth adding that the in-your-face tactics employed by Churchill and other activists is totally counterproductive vis a vis the professed goal - it diverts public attention form the message and concentrates it on the messenger. I may also add that this whole notion of collective guilt and blame game is sure sign of impotence cum irrelevance. This is the last refuge for those whose influence on real life events has been reduced to zero. Instead of realizing their defeat and regrouping - they pull a Proyect and keep on haranguing their fellow travelers. Wojtek

------------- When I re-read Ward Churchill's essay (one that I had read some time ago in "Pockets of Resistance" No. 11 A a Supplement of "Dark Night Field Notes" Sept, 2001 at http://www.marxmail.org/ward_churchill.htm ) my reaction was the same the second time and I was again reminded of two of my favorite quotes: "If there is to be hope, we must all 'betray' our country. We have to save each other, because all victims are equal and none is more equal than others. It is everyone's duty to start the avalanche. Nowadays you have to think like a hero just to behave like a merely decent human being." (The character Barley Scott Blair in the film version of "The Russia House" by John Le Carre) and: "If the construction of the future and its completion for all time is not our task, all the more certain is what we must accomplish in the present; I mean, the ruthless criticism of everything that exists--the criticism being ruthless in the sense that it neither fears its own results nor fears conflict with the powers that be." (Karl Marx letter to Arnold Ruge 1843) I believe that Ward Churchill was correctly pointing out some of the forms of imperial hubris, narcissism, self-absorption, identity politics, chauvinism, jingoism, herd mentality, myopia, gross insensitivity, lack of empathy, just plain ignorance about anywhere outside the U.S.--as well as about most realities inside the U.S.--and willful blindness/depraved indifference to the real costs, pain and barbarism of U.S. imperialism past and present that are evident and clearly manifested among large sections of the U.S. population including some sections of the U.S. left and nominal left. In Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11, he focused on--and used in my opinion--the grief of a U.S. mother who had lost her son in Iraq and who had once been a "proud mother" of a daughter as well as a son in the U.S. military. But he did not have the guts to ask this mother why she still refused to see the pain of possible Iraqi victims of her son's military unit before he was killed. He didn't have the guts to ask her if she had ever wondered how many Iraqi mothers were crying because they had lost sons killed by her son and/or other members of his unit. That mother was filmed outside the White House wailing in grief about her son which was the only thing she could talk about when she came up to an Iraqi woman with an information booth protesting the bombing of Iraq.

As I travel throughout Indian country, and I am writing from Vancouver BC, I see Indigenous Peoples rising up in lawful and yet increasingly damaging (to the system) ways, and they wonder when the ongoing genocide inside the U.S. and Canada will be finally noticed by all those "tie-a-yellow-ribbon" types and even among some sections of the U.S. and Canadian left. They wonder why they are not seen as cute as baby seals or whales so that some of the limousine liberals of Hollywood might contribute to lawful avenues for exposing the ongoing genocide and realities of Indian Country. They wonder when the SUV-driving liberals, with their "Free Tibet" bumper stickers, will finally try looking a little closer to home and to the realities around them; perhaps they can actually stop for awhile and really look around them the next time they pass through one of the Rezes to buy tax-free cigarettes or booze or perhaps some "prima dope." They wonder why so many of the U.S. and Canadian populace can so reflexively lecture foreigners about the need to respect "human rights" in their countries of origin and yet not be able;e to find those countries on a blank world map or show any awareness of the extent to which their own states practice state-sponsored terrorism and violations of basic human rights right under their noses and at levels far greater than the nations being criticized. They wonder why two patently stolen national elections (even worse that the usual stolen elections on many reservations and reserves), wind up being ratified with little resistance while those who stole those elections, celebrate protests against --and the overturning of--comparable or less comparable stolen elections in places like the Ukraine. They wonder when all those "cyber warriors", whose only "battle wounds" might be a little carpal tunnel syndrome, are going to get off their asses and actually come out and live under, concretely investigate and help to directly challenge some of the conditions they write about from a safe distance. They wonder when some of those granola-eating, tree-hugging and "animal-loving" liberals are going to see Indigenous Peoples--and other oppressed Peoples--as also "oppressed animals", "endangered species" and as worthy of not being taken out as old-growth forests. They wonder when those who can wax so eloquently--and in exquisite detail--about the CIA-sponsored terrorism in Indonesia, or Chile, or other places, during various periods of history, will be as aware of past and present terrorism at places like the Marias River, Sand Creek, Wounded Knee and elsewhere where they live.This is some of the rage that Ward Churchill is picking up and passing along with a lesson in role reversals and arguments based on irrefutable facts and consistent application of some of the same "reasoning" and "principles" celebrated by U.S./Canadian triumphalism, national chauvinism, victim exclusivism and jingoism.

If we can--and are supposed to-- "overlook" the so-called "collateral damage" of U.S. bombing in places like Iraq (focusing instead, supposedly, on what horrors were supposedly being stopped with the bombing to justify, in NET "benefit" terms, the total human and other costs of the bombing itself), then "what is good for the goose is good for the gander." How does it feel to hear the argument that "Since so many crimes were being committed and so many innocents killed through the political, diplomatic, intelligence and economic decisions being made and carried out by many of the companies and U.S. governmental agencies that occupied the WTC, then, actually, in NET terms (lives saved minus lives lost) the WTC attack actually wound up saving lives--with all due and perfunctory respect to those innocents who were unfortunate--but strategically necessary-- "collateral damage"? Jim Craven By the way, surely there were some little Eichmanns in the Pentagon.

Dubofsky writes: >>Here we go again with the promiscuous use of language. Tom Mayer takes it as a given that European colonists (settlers) practiced or intended the "genocide" of the indigenous peoples. Admittedly, the European conquest (settlement) of the "new world" exacted an enormous loss of human life among the native peoples. As did nearly all colonial conquests historically. But did the conquerers seek to exterminate all the native peoples? Was there a conscious plan to do so? That has yet to be proved and there is little evidence to sustain such a thesis.<<> this openly racist crap on their website: > (http://denver.rockymountainnews.com/aboutus/creekjoa.shtml) > > The newspaper's founder was one William T. Byers. Showing that he was dead > serious about the advancing wave of Anglo-Saxon civilization subduing the > wild Indians, he called for the extinction of the Cheyenne in 1861. After > Cheyenne leader Chief Black Kettle had signed a "peace treaty" (in reality, > a surrender of all their land and rights at the point of a cannon), his > people chafed at the miserable hunting afforded them after resettlement and > began to launch forays against the colonizers. Cheered on by Byers, Colonel > Chivington made a speech on August of 1864 that included these infamous > words: "...kill and scalp all, little and big... nits make lice." > > This rancid newspaper has basically been leading the campaign to fire Ward > Churchill. ----------------

Lou, sometimes you astound me. The Rocky Mountain News is undoubtedly a rancid newspaper, especially for its campaign against Churchill. But putting this passage on their web site is the very opposite of rancidness. It's honesty about history, quoting words from its past which it describes as "infamous." Sometimes your understanding of history seems to be the very reverse of Marx's understanding, which is epitomized in the sentence, "The anatomy of man is a key to the anatomy of the ape." Quoting that web page as evidence against the paper in effect assumes that "The anatomy of the gorilla is a key to the history of humanity." It isn't -- that's the point of Gould's _Wonderful Life_, which confirms that in evolutionary as in political history, the historical method is to read history backwards, not forwards. There are too many different results that can flow from the same beginning. Carrol

---------------- "We make our debut in the far west, where the snowy mountains look down upon us in the hottest summer day as well as in the winter's cold; here where a few months ago the wild beasts and wilder Indians held undisturbed possession - where now surges the advancing wave of Anglo Saxon enterprise and civilization; where soon we fondly hope will be erected a great and powerful state, another empire in the sisterhood of empires... "Fondly looking forward to a long and pleasant acquaintance with our readers, hoping well to act our part, we send forth to the world the first number of the Rocky Mountain News." --Rocky Mountain News, April 23, 1859.

To give you an idea of how shameless this disgusting rag is, they include this openly racist crap on their website: (http://denver.rockymountainnews.com/aboutus/creekjoa.shtml) The newspaper's founder was one William T. Byers. Showing that he was dead serious about the advancing wave of Anglo-Saxon civilization subduing the wild Indians, he called for the extinction of the Cheyenne in 1861. After Cheyenne leader Chief Black Kettle had signed a "peace treaty" (in reality, a surrender of all their land and rights at the point of a cannon), his people chafed at the miserable hunting afforded them after resettlement and began to launch forays against the colonizers. Cheered on by Byers, Colonel Chivington made a speech on August of 1864 that included these infamous words: "...kill and scalp all, little and big... nits make lice."

This rancid newspaper has basically been leading the campaign to fire Ward Churchill. If you go to the Rocky Mountain News website, you will find 139 (!) items that mention Ward Churchill. The charges against him are now focusing on his academic credentials, since it is becoming obvious that it is not possible to fire somebody for making unpopular comments about 9/11. It should also be noted that the U. of Colorado administration is working behind the scenes with the Rocky Mountain News and a hate radio outlet, according to today's Chronicle of Higher Education: "Newly released documents show that a vice chancellor at Boulder urged other administrators to hire Mr. Churchill in 1990, even though he did not have a doctorate. He earned tenure the next year, bypassing the usual six-year review. The documents were released by the university to Dan Caplis, a talk-show host on a Denver radio station, who shared them with the Rocky Mountain News." Colorado Indynews reports that Caplis was paid off to attack Ward Churchill:

>>An anonymous tipster working with, what was referred to as, a "faith-based think tank", claims that KHOW/Clear Channel's Dan Caplis accepted a "gift" from the unnamed group to spread the biased Ward Churchill story in an attempt to "frame the left", the anti-war movement, and the 9-11 truth movement into "one package". The person also stated this was a ploy to set-up an "Ideological Enemy" on "American Soil" and to re-invent Ward Churchill as a "sacrificial lamb http://colorado.indymedia.org/feature/display/10164/index.php

Of particular use to the Rocky Mountain News is the article by Thomas Brown that has circulated widely on the Internet, which charges Churchill with not substantiating allegations that the US army distributed smallpox blankets to the Mandan Indians in 1837. Brown has been cited in four separate Rocky Mountain News articles this month. Typical is this 2/8 contribution by Paul Campos: --- >>Thomas Brown, a professor of sociology at Lamar University, has written a paper that outlines what looks like a more conventional form of academic fraud on Churchill's part. According to Brown, Churchill fabricated a story about the U.S. Army intentionally creating a smallpox epidemic among the Mandan tribe in 1837, by simply inventing almost all of the story's most crucial facts, and then attributing these "facts" to sources that say nothing of the kind.<< ---- It should be mentioned that Campos, a law professor at the U. of Colorado, has also attacked Churchill for going too far in his remarks about 9/11. In an appearance on Bill O'Reilly's Fox-TV show, Campos said "that if he engages in conduct, including publishing things that bring into question his professional competence that the University of Colorado," his employer can "sanction him for behaving in that fashion." So we are talking about a rather well-organized cabal at this point, involving the U. of Colorado administration, a law professor who makes himself useful to Bill O'Reilly, a Denver hate radio personality allegedly paid for his services, Commentary Magazine and a newspaper that has the temerity to include an item hailing Anglo Saxon civilization's triumph over the wild Indian. As I told Thomas Brown on crookedtimber.org, when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Recently Brown joined Doug Henwood's LBO-Talk mailing list to make his case. (I should mention that whatever my disagreements with Henwood in the past, he has played a very positive role in stressing the "an injury to one is an injury to all" nature of the Ward Churchill controversy.) When asked by Henwood why he chose to launch his assault on Churchill at the very moment this carefully orchestrated neo-McCarthyite attack was being organized, Brown gave a highly revealing reply, which can be read in its entirety at http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/pipermail/lbo-talk/Week-of-Mon-20050214/003589.html:

Brown writes, "I made the essay public now as a gift to the left, so that it would not be necessary to line up behind Churchill on the free speech issue."

With gifts like this, one might actually prefer a smallpox blanket. You can get vaccinated against smallpox; it is much more difficult to protect oneself against McCarthyism. When he characterized Ward Churchill's politics as "irredentist" on LBO-Talk, Charles Brown [no relation, as Charles was anxious to point out] questioned the relevance of this term to land claims by American Indians. The irredenta included Trentino, Trieste, Istria, Fiume, and parts of Dalmatia before WWI, areas that had a majority Italian population but that were not under Italian state control. The Italian nationalist movement to reclaim these areas agitated to enter World War I. Today, it is a term that has largely reactionary connotations. That Brown would apply it to a movement that, for example, fought for control over the Wounded Knee reservation is singularly perverse. It reminds one of Malcolm X's observation that "The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make a criminal look like he's the victim and make the victim look like he's the criminal." Although Brown fancies himself as some kind of expert on American Indian affairs, nearly everything he writes is tainted.

In a paper on his website ( http://hal.lamar.edu/~BROWNTF/PISCATAWAY.HTML) titled "Ethnic Identity Movements and the Legal Process: The Piscataway Revival," Brown seems consumed with the need to sniff out the true racial make-up of the Piscataways, something that is consistent with his burning desire to prove that Ward Churchill is not a real Indian.

He writes: "A comprehensive examination of the Maryland courts' handling of bastardy cases reveals consistent patterns that allow us to infer the race and class status of defendants whose status is not specified in the record. Free servant women who bore bastards by slaves were charged with bastardy, and punished by having their indentures extended and their children bound out until age thirty-one. Free servant women who bore bastards by free men were charged with a lesser offense--fornication--and received a more lenient punishment. "There are only four cases of free servant women charged with bearing bastards by Indians on the Western Shore (and some of these may well be East Indians, not native American Indians). These women were given the lesser charge of fornication. Thus when Wesort progenitors were charged with bastardy instead of fornication, and punished accordingly, it is a clear indication that the father was a slave--not an Indian. And no Piscataways were enslaved. In fact, none of the Wesort progenitors were ever identified as Indians in the colonial records. The courts' treatment of the Wesort progenitors' mixed-race unions in the bastardy proceedings clearly indicate that they involve people of African and European descent, and not Indians." My goodness, all this talk about bastardy and fornication. One imagines that if fascism ever comes to the USA, and if there are job openings in a new agency charged with the responsibility to define pure-blooded Americans, that Thomas Brown will be first on line. -- Most of the above was found at www.marxmail.org -----------------

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