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In Honor of 9/11 - Ward Churchill 'Some People Push Back'
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DeuceLeader's Ankle



Joined: 01 Sep 2003
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In Honor of 9/11 - Ward Churchill 'Some People Push Back'  Reply with quote  

(i am posting this not because i agree w/Ward but because i thought he makes some good points. i'm sure this is gonna piss some people off but i believe he has a better critique of US imperial power than chumpsky. by the way, he later went on the record as saying he did feel sorry for the janitors, restaurant workers, illegal aliens, etc.)

Excerpt from Ward Churchill's
Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens

When queried by reporters concerning his views on the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, Malcolm X famously and quite charitably, all things considered, replied that it was merely a case of "chickens, coming home to roost." On the morning of September 11, 2001, a few more chickens along with some half-million dead Iraqi children, came home to roost in a very big way at the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center. Well, actually, a few of them seem to have nestled in at the Pentagon as well.

The Iraqi youngsters, all of them under 12, died as a predictable in fact, widely predicted result of the 1991 US "surgical" bombing of their country's water purification and sewage facilities, as well as other "infrastructural" targets upon which Iraq's civilian population depends for its very survival. If the nature of the bombing were not already bad enough and it should be noted that this sort of "aerial warfare" constitutes a Class I Crime Against Humanity, entailing myriad gross violations of international law, as well as every conceivable standard of "civilized" behavior, the death toll has been steadily ratcheted up by US-imposed sanctions for a full decade now. Enforced all the while by a massive military presence and periodic bombing raids, the embargo has greatly impaired the victims' ability to import the nutrients, medicines and other materials necessary to saving the lives of even their toddlers.

All told, Iraq has a population of about 18 million. The 500,000 kids lost to date thus represent something on the order of 25 percent of their age group. Indisputably, the rest have suffered and are still suffering, a combination of physical debilitation and psychological trauma severe enough to prevent their ever fully recovering. In effect, an entire generation has been obliterated.

It should be noted that not one but two high United Nations officials attempting to coordinate delivery of humanitarian aid to Iraq resigned in succession as protests against US policy. One of them, former U.N. Assistant Secretary General Denis Halladay, repeatedly denounced what was happening as "a systematic program . . . of deliberate genocide." His statements appeared in the New York Times and other papers during the fall of 1998, so it can hardly be contended that the American public was "unaware" of them. Shortly thereafter, Secretary of State Madeline Albright openly confirmed Halladay's assessment. Asked during the widely-viewed TV program Meet the Press to respond to his "allegations," she calmly announced that she'd decided it was "worth the price" to see that U.S. objectives were achieved.


The Politics of a Perpetrator Population
As a whole, the American public greeted these revelations with yawns. There were, after all, far more pressing things than the unrelenting misery/death of a few hundred thousand Iraqi tikes to be concerned with. Getting "Jeremy" and "Ellington" to their weekly soccer game, for instance, or seeing to it that little "Tiffany" an "Ashley" had just the right roll-neck sweaters to go with their new cords. And, to be sure, there was the yuppie holy war against ashtrays, for "our kids," no less as an all-absorbing point of political focus.

In fairness, it must be admitted that there was an infinitesimally small segment of the body politic who expressed opposition to what was/is being done to the children of Iraq. It must also be conceded, however, that those involved by-and-large contented themselves with signing petitions and conducting candle-lit prayer vigils, bearing "moral witness" as vast legions of brown-skinned five-year-olds sat shivering in the dark, wide-eyed in horror, whimpering as they expired in the most agonizing ways imaginable. Be it said as well, and this is really the crux of it, that the "resistance" expended the bulk of its time and energy harnessed to the systemically-useful task of trying to ensure, as "a principle of moral virtue" that nobody went further than waving signs as a means of "challenging" the patently exterminatory pursuit of Pax Americana. So pure of principle were these "dissidents," in fact, that they began literally to supplant the police in protecting corporations profiting by the carnage against suffering such retaliatory "violence" as having their windows broken by persons less "enlightened" or perhaps more outraged, than the self-anointed "peacekeepers."

Property before people, it seems, or at least the equation of property to people is a value by no means restricted to America's boardrooms. And the sanctimony with which such putrid sentiments are enunciated turns out to be nauseatingly similar, whether mouthed by the CEO of Standard Oil or any of the swarm of comfort zone "pacifists" queuing up to condemn the black block after it ever so slightly disturbed the functioning of business-as usual in Seattle. Small wonder, all-in-all, that people elsewhere in the world, the Mid-east for instance, began to wonder where, exactly, aside from the streets of the US itself, one was to find the peace America's purportedly oppositional peacekeepers claimed they were keeping. The answer, surely, was plain enough to anyone unblinded by the kind of delusions engendered by sheer vanity and self-absorption. So, too, were the implications in terms of anything changing, out there, in America's free-fire zones.


Meet the "Terrorists"
Of the men who came, there are a few things demanding to be said in the face of the unending torrent of disinformational drivel unleashed by George Junior and the corporate "news" media immediately following their successful operation on September 11. They did not, for starters, "initiate" a war with the US, much less commit "the first acts of war of the new millennium." A good case could be made that the war in which they were combatants has been waged more-or-less continuously by the "Christian West", now proudly emblematized by the United States, against the "Islamic East" since the time of the First Crusade, about 1,000 years ago. More recently, one could argue that the war began when Lyndon Johnson first lent significant support to Israel's dispossession/displacement of Palestinians during the 1960s, or when George the Elder ordered "Desert Shield" in 1990, or at any of several points in between. Any way you slice it, however, if what the combat teams did to the WTC and the Pentagon can be understood as acts of war, and they can, then the same is true of every US "over-flight" of Iraqi territory since day one. The first acts of war during the current millennium thus occurred on its very first day, and were carried out by U.S. aviators acting under orders from their then-commander-in-chief, Bill Clinton. The most that can honestly be said of those involved on September 11 is that they finally responded in kind to some of what this country has dispensed to their people as a matter of course. That they waited so long to do so is, notwithstanding the 1993 action at the WTC, more than anything a testament to their patience and restraint.

They did not license themselves to "target innocent civilians." There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . . Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire, the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to "ignorance", a derivative, after all of the word "ignore", counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in and in many cases excelling at it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it. The men who flew the missions against the WTC and Pentagon were not "cowards." That distinction properly belongs to the "firm-jawed lads" who delighted in flying stealth aircraft through the undefended airspace of Baghdad, dropping payload after payload of bombs on anyone unfortunate enough to be below, including tens of thousands of genuinely innocent civilians, while themselves incurring all the risk one might expect during a visit to the local video arcade. Still more, the word describes all those "fighting men and women"
who sat at computer consoles aboard ships in the Persian Gulf, enjoying air-conditioned comfort while launching cruise missiles into neighborhoods filled with random human beings. Whatever else can be said of them, the men who struck on September 11 manifested the courage of their convictions, willingly expending their own lives in attaining their objectives. Nor were they "fanatics" devoted to "Islamic fundamentalism." One might rightly describe their actions as "desperate." Feelings of desperation, however, are perfectly reasonable, one is tempted to say "normal" emotional response among persons confronted by the mass murder of their children, particularly when it appears that nobody else really gives a damn (ask a Jewish survivor about this one, or, even more poignantly, for all the attention paid them, a Gypsy).


On Matters of Proportion and Intent
As things stand, including the 1993 detonation at the WTC, "Arab terrorists" have responded to the massive and sustained American terror bombing of Iraq with a total of four assaults by explosives inside the US. That's about 1% of the 50,000 bombs the Pentagon announced were rained on Baghdad alone during the Gulf War (add in Oklahoma City and you'll get something nearer an actual 1%). They've managed in the process to kill about 5,000 Americans, or roughly 1% of the dead Iraqi children (the percentage is far smaller if you factor in the killing of adult Iraqi civilians, not to mention troops butchered as/after they'd surrendered and/or after the "war-ending" ceasefire had been announced).

In terms undoubtedly more meaningful to the property/profit-minded American mainstream, they've knocked down a half-dozen buildings, albeit some very well chosen ones, as opposed to the "strategic devastation" visited upon the whole of Iraq, and punched a $100 billion hole in the earnings outlook of major corporate shareholders, as opposed to the U.S. obliteration of Iraq's entire economy. With that, they've given Americans a tiny dose of their own medicine. This might be seen as merely a matter of "vengeance" or "retribution," and, unquestionably, America has earned it, even if it were to add up only to something so ultimately petty. The problem is that vengeance is usually framed in terms of "getting even," a concept which is plainly inapplicable in this instance. As the above data indicate, it would require another 49,996 detonations killing 495,000 more Americans, for the "terrorists" to "break even" for the bombing of Baghdad/extermination of Iraqi children alone. And that's to achieve "real number" parity. To attain an actual proportional parity of damage, the US is about 15 times as large as Iraq in terms of population, even more in terms of territory, they would at a minimum, have to blow up about 300,000 more buildings and kill something on the order of 7.5 million people. Were this the intent of those who've entered the US to wage war against it, it would remain no less true that America and Americans were only receiving the bill for what they'd already done. Payback, as they say, can be a real motherfucker (ask the Germans). There is, however, no reason to believe that retributive parity is necessarily an item on the agenda of those who planned the WTC/Pentagon operation. If it were, given the virtual certainty that they possessed the capacity to have inflicted far more damage than they did, there would be a lot more American bodies lying about right now. Hence, it can be concluded that ravings carried by the "news" media since September 11 have contained at least one grain of truth: The peoples of the Mid-east "aren't like" Americans, not least because they don't "value life" in the same way. By this, it should be understood that Middle-Easterners, unlike Americans, have no history of exterminating others purely for profit, or on the basis of racial animus. Thus, we can appreciate the fact that they value life, all lives, not just their own, far more highly than do their U.S. counterparts.


The Makings of a Humanitarian Strategy
In sum one can discern a certain optimism, it might even be call humanitarianism, imbedded in the thinking of those who presided over the very limited actions conducted on September 11. Their logic seems to have devolved upon the notion that the American people have condoned what has been/is being done in their name, indeed, are to a significant extent actively complicit in it, mainly because they have no idea what it feels like to be on the receiving end. Now they do. That was the "medicinal" aspect of the attacks. To all appearances, the idea is now to give the tonic a little time to take effect, jolting Americans into the realization that the sort of pain they're now experiencing first-hand is no different from or the least bit more excruciating than that which they've been so cavalier in causing others, and thus to respond appropriately. More bluntly, the hope was, and maybe still is, that Americans, stripped of their presumed immunity from incurring any real consequences for their behavior, would comprehend and act upon a formulation as uncomplicated as "stop killing our kids, if you want your own to be safe." Either way, it's a kind of "reality therapy" approach, designed to afford the American people a chance to finally "do the right thing" on their own, without further coaxing.


In the Alternative
Unfortunately, noble as they may have been, such humanitarian aspirations were always doomed to remain unfulfilled. For it to have been otherwise, a far higher quality of character and intellect would have to prevail among average Americans than is actually the case. Perhaps the strategists underestimated the impact a couple of generations-worth of media indoctrination can produce in terms of demolishing the capacity of human beings to form coherent thoughts. Maybe they forgot to factor in the mind-numbing effects of the indoctrination passed off as education in the US. Then, again, it's entirely possible they were aware that a decisive majority of American adults have been reduced by this point to a level much closer to the kind of immediate self-gratification entailed in Pavlovian stimulus/response patterns than anything accessible by appeals to higher logic, and still felt morally obliged to offer the dolts an option to quit while they were ahead. What the hell? It was worth a try. But it's becoming increasingly apparent that the dosage of medicine administered was entirely insufficient to accomplish its purpose.

Refusing the realization that the world has suddenly shifted its axis, and that they are therefore no longer "in charge," they have by-and-large reverted instantly to type, working themselves into their usual bloodlust on the now obsolete premise that the bloodletting will "naturally" occur elsewhere and to someone else. "Patriotism," a wise man once observed, "is the last refuge of scoundrels." And the braided, he might of added. Braided Scoundrel-in-Chief, George Junior, lacking even the sense to be careful what he wished for, has teamed up with a gaggle of fundamentalist Christian clerics like Billy Graham to proclaim a "New Crusade" called "Infinite Justice^' aimed at "ridding the world of evil." One could easily make light of such rhetoric, remarking upon how unseemly it is for a son to threaten his father in such fashion or a president to so publicly contemplate the murder/suicide of himself and his cabinet but the matter is deadly serious. They are preparing once again to sally forth for the purpose of roasting brown-skinned children by the scores of thousands. Already, the B-1 bombers and the aircraft carriers and the missile frigates are en route, the airborne divisions are gearing up to go. To where? Afghanistan? The Sudan? Iraq, again (or still)? How about Grenada (that was fun)? Any of them or all. It doesn't matter. The desire to pummel the helpless runs rabid as ever. Only, this time it's different. The time the helpless aren't, or at least are not so helpless as they were. This time, somewhere, perhaps in an Afghani mountain cave, possibly in a Brooklyn basement, maybe another local altogether but somewhere, all the same, there's a grim-visaged (wo)man wearing a Clint Eastwood smile. "Go ahead, punks," s/he's saying, "Make my day." And when they do, when they launch these air-strikes abroad or may a little later; it will be at a time conforming to the "terrorists'" own schedule, and at a place of their choosing, the next more intensive dose of medicine administered here "at home." Of what will it consist this time? Anthrax? Mustard gas? Sarin? A tactical nuclear device? That, too, is their choice to make.

Looking back, it will seem to future generations inexplicable why Americans were unable on their own, and in time to save themselves, to accept a rule of nature so basic that it could be mouthed by an actor, Lawrence Fishburn, in a movie, The Cotton Club. "You've got to learn," the line went, "that when you push people around, some people push back." As they should. As they must. And as they undoubtedly will. There is justice in such symmetry.




ADDENDUM
The preceding was a "first take" reading, more a stream-of-consciousness interpretive reaction to the September 11 counterattack than a finished piece on the topic. Hence, I'll readily admit that I've been far less than thorough, and quite likely wrong about a number of things. For instance, it may not have been (only) the ghosts of Iraqi children who made their appearance that day. It could, as easily have been some or all of their butchered Palestinian cousins. Or maybe it was some or all of the at least 3.2 million Indochinese who perished as a result of America's sustained and ethnocidal assault on Southeast Asia (1959-1975), not to mention the millions more who've died because of the sanctions imposed thereafter.

Perhaps there were a few of the Korean civilians massacred by US troops at places like No Gun Ri during the early 50s, or the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians ruthlessly incinerated in the ghastly fire raids of World War II (only at Dresden did America bomb Germany in a similar manner). And, of course, it could have been those vaporized in the militarily pointless nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There are others, as well, a vast and silent queue of faceless victims, stretching from the million-odd Filipinos slaughtered during America's "Indian War" in their islands at the beginning of the twentieth century, through the real Indians, America's own, massacred wholesale at places like Horseshoe Bend and the Bad Axe, Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, the Washita, Bear River, and the Marias. Was it those who expired along the Cherokee Trial of Tears of the Long Walk of the Navajo? Those murdered by smallpox at Fort Clark in 1836? Starved to death in the concentration camp at Bosque Redondo during the 1860s? Maybe those native people claimed for scalp bounty in all 48 of the continental US states? Or the Raritans whose severed heads were kicked for sport along the streets of what was then called New Amsterdam, at the very site where the WTC once stood?

One hears, too, the whispers of those lost on the Middle Passage, and of those whose very flesh was sold in the slave market outside the human kennel from whence Wall Street takes its name. And of coolie laborers, imported by the gross-dozen to lay the tracks of empire across scorching desert sands, none of them allotted "a Chinaman's chance" of surviving. The list is too long, too awful to go on. No matter what its eventual fate, America will have gotten off very, very cheap. The full measure of its guilt can never be fully balanced or atoned for.


by Ward Churchill, after the fall, 2001.
Post Wed Sep 10, 2003 11:12 pm
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