Saturday, February 19, 2005

Petition To Defend Churchill

Please sign this petition prepared by the Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement to support Professor Ward Churchill.

4 comments:

Timmer said...

Scott,

I don't have anything much against Canada - beautiful country with generally nice and easy-going people. I don't necessarily agree with their recent policies vis-a-vis the United States (e.g. harboring our deserters), but that's okay. You can marry up all the gay people you want - knock yourself out. I don't involve myself with Canadian internal affairs.

It would be nice if you did likewise, my friend. Although you have recently relocated to LA with your family, you also point out that it is temporary - meaning you are a visitor and still a foreigner here.

As a foreigner, you are going to further anger people down here who are already steamed enough to drag this pseudo-native psychotic (Churchill) up over the border to "expose" him on a CANADIAN hillside.

If you really feel compelled to stick your nose into this (do you have nothing better to do in L.A. while your "partner" does her post-doctoral work?), why not instead start a campaign to allow this idiot to immigrate to your increasingly anti-American country? He would fit in real nice up there, and together you could all root for another attack on the American "Eichmanns."

Scott said...

Hi Tim...I'm not going to try and change your mind on the issue. I'd encourage you to read the essays that I link to a couple of posts back, particularly the ones by Robert Jensen and Michael Albert (both Americans, if that matters). Those articles do a good job of outlining both the basic analysis of Churchill that is accurate, as well as the points that (in Jensen's words) "missed the mark." The rhetorical and political attacks on Churchill may be using the points that "missed the mark" as their main ammunition, but their real goal is attacking the underlying analysis and all those who oppose countries behaving like empires (a behaviour in which Canada is totally complicit, btw). So it is incumbent for those of us who share some features of the underlying analysis to speak up.

As an aside, your understanding of Canada seems a bit distorted, just as the rosy understanding put forth by Michael Moore and other U.S. liberals is distorted. In case you're interested, here's a post of mine from back in November that tries to put in perspective the fact that the two countries have a lot more in common than they do differences.

As for me not holding U.S. citizenship, yes, that does shape how I am active where I am living. My stay here is for years not for weeks, however, so I do feel justified in getting involved in some ways -- living in this political culture shapes my experience just like it shapes the experience of anyone else living here over a period of years, which seems to me grounds enough for participation on my part.

Apart from that, I don't really see citizenship as relevant to this question -- I've learned a lot from Churchill, particularly his book A Little Matter of Genocide; I know that his work is held in high regard by some of the folks I've worked with who are active in the Aboriginal community in the city I came from, and they would be keen to defend him; exactly the same process of the right wing demonizing radical academics (particularly those who are non-white) happens in Canada too, as with Sunera Thobani; and the fact that his underlying analysis is correct even if I disagree with some of what he says and how he has defended it -- those are all reasons why if I can do a little to support him, I will.

It's not a matter of preaching to Americans from some supposed "better" place; it's a matter of seeing all of our struggles as being interconnected.

Timmer said...

Scott,

Glad you came over to mine for a visit. Your demeanor, clarity of thought, patience and personal class are evident in your commentary - all of which I appreciate.

I confess that you may be right about my view of Canada - I haven't visited for several years and am surely influenced by the buffoon Michael Moore's "wannabe Canadian" rantings and the ridiculous liberal emmigration movement.

This does not mean that I am letting you off the hook completely, but I must give credit where it is due.

I read both essays that you recommended (Jensen and Albert) and found them interesting reads, to be sure. In spite of my (not surprising) disagreements with these men, I was pleased to see that they did not give Mr. Churchill a free pass on all he has said and done. I certainly agree with both in saying that he (Churchill) has the right to free speech, but his essay in question could have been written much better and held little evident regard for any of the victims of 9-11.

I disagree with you and these men on a few major points, however. Although you seem to feel that America is an evil entity in the world, I strongly disagree in the broader sense. YES, our treatment of the natives has been terrible and YES we have made some bad choices as a nation. But when you consider our history and basic theme, America has been a power for GOOD in the world beyond any other you can name, from any time in the story of mankind.

Why is it so easy to forget how the United States has been the leading force in defeating communism? We rallied our people to save a CONTINENT only 60 short years ago, only to help rebuild the agressors! We are most often the first and most generous to respond to world crises - the list is truly endless.

Mr. Albert smuggly accuses:
"...if I were to now have the opportunity to ask Bush and Cheney how they could possibly have chosen to undertake the bombing of Afghanistan, I think they would not even understand the question. They would not see any need to weigh off benefits against costs because they saw no costs. For them the general estimates made by all responsible parties that literally millions of Afghans might suffer starvation if bombing were to commence counted for naught. For them, Afghans are like bugs outside our front door are for the rest of us. To Bush and Cheney Afghans are expendable. Bush and Cheney have no moral calculus. They reduce humans to the status of fleas."

Considering the fact that civilian casualties were very low, approximately 25 million VERY oppressed people were liberated and now have their FIRST democratically elected government, I would say that Mr. Albert has left out some data, at best.

Scott, you and Ward Churchill have the right, in my estimation, to your free speech regardless of its view and as long as it breaks no laws (e.g. hate crimes). But Churchill made a terrible mistake in disregarding people's feelings, and is now on the radar screen of powerful folks who will try to destroy him using legal means - his misrepresenting himself as a Native American for professional gain, for instance. This is NOT covered under the First Amendment.

Does it still bother me that you are a Canadian in the U.S. (for your partner's professional advancement) while criticizing the U.S.? Yes it does (albeit a bit less than it did now that I see your personal quality). Do you have the right to do that? Of course you do, but I don't have to like it - despite your concurrent condemnation of Canadian policies.

Not that you asked, but I would prefer that, if you absolutely must criticize this nation while plucking her fruits yourself, you include a kind word or two about the U.S. somewhere on the same document or commentary. Maybe you can say you are thankful that while you pursue your dreams here (or in Canada, for that matter), you are protected by the might, blood, good intentions and machinery you apparently despise and distrust? Perhaps you are thankful to a degree, but I don't see any of that in your writing.

Thanks again for the visit, Scott. I enjoyed your response and our dialogue immensely.

Scott said...

Hi again Tim...thank-you also for this dialogue. There are still obviously some major areas where we disagree, but the fact that we've been able to communicate about it is great. I'm pretty sure it is not what you describe as "might, blood, good intentions and machinery" that I'm thankful for -- yes, they help shape life here in the U.S., just as they do life in Canada, and life in those locations would be different without them, or at least without their current incarnations. I'm not convinced it would necessarily be worse, though; it would depend on what took its place. But that's not a useful discussion to try and have in the abstract.

In any case, I am thankful for individual people I've met in this country who are, like people in most of the world, a mixed bag but mostly generous, welcoming, and friendly. And while our presence has to do with my partner's professional development and both she and I certainly gain from this, I'm not sure it's entirely fair to characterize our presence as "plucking [this nation's] fruits" -- rather, it is also contributing to growing them. While post-doctoral positions in science are valuable and important for the individuals that fill them, they are also a source of relatively cheap, highly skilled labour that helps to build the academic and, ultimately, the industrial capacity of the nation in which they occur, so there is definitely give as well as take.

As for the more general points upon which we disagree, I don't think a comments thread would be enough to resolve all of that. Rather, I'm sure we'll both continue to develop our ideas on our own blogs, and hopefully spark future discussions on specific topics as they come up.