January 28, 2005

Moronic Tales from Academia

Who is this man?

Via Andrew Sullivan, we hear of this (quite photogenic!) Professor at the University of Colorado, a Ward Churchill, who had some particularly noxious comments to make about 9/11. Churchill has a scheduled speaking engagement at Hamilton College on February 3rd that some there are protesting to have cancelled. Sullivan quoted Churchill as saying:

"As for 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." He also called the victims of the WTC disaster "little Eichmanns." This was all way beyond the pale, and more shocking than Sullivan's typical "Moore Awards," so I did a little further googling out of morbid curiousity.

It turns out these passages come from an essay (if we can call it that) that Ward Churchill penned called "Some People Push Back." Despite Sully just blogging it yesterday(it's making headlines now because of the controversial Hamilton speaking engagement), Churchill penned this nasty piece on--I kid you not--September 12, 2001. Sullivan, truth be told, probably didn't point out the most galling passages. There are many, but this one left me incredulous. It's from a section of the essay entitled "The Makings of a Humanitarian Strategy":

In sum one can discern a certain optimism–it might even be call[ed] 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.

Oh, you ask, why is B.D. wasting his time with this washed-out, Grade A ass? He's clearly out of the mainstream, underwhelming in the extreme, and barely worth the attention Sully has already given him. And, really, who cares if the person who equates the intentional mass murder of innocents with "humanitarianism" occupies a Department Chair at an American university of some repute? Or that he would be invited on speaking tours to bestow his words of wisdom on impressionable undergrads? Or that the slaughter of 3,000 individuals is, for this imbecile, a form of "reality therapy", "medicine," "coaxing" even. And, of course, it has become tired to point out the capacity for soi disant intellectuals to so breezily rhapsodize in grotesquely relativistic fashion. Still, let's look at the full passage that Sullivan had quoted from while we're at it:

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 relativistic mish-mash and garbage contained above, the laughably simplistic narrative underpinning talk of some nefarious "global financial empire,"--all are shibboleths of 60's group-think, prevalent among a significant number of baby boomer generation academics, taken to parodic extremes (American capitalism bad, the nefarious "military-industrial" complex a product thereto, anyone working in lower Manhattan near evil Wall Street therefore complicit (part of a nefarious "technocratic corps" with blood on their hands), and thus getting their just deserts (does Ward Churchill even know that the WTC was a 'back-office', of sorts, servicing the Gordon Gekko "Master of the Universe" players more likely to work on the 30th floor of 85 Broad or in office buildings lining Park in the high 40s and low 50s?)

But let's put all this aside. The reason I blogged this tonight, is because, truth be told, these views (if somewhat less extreme manifestations) are much more widespread than we might think. In New York, just a month after 9/11, a leftist female acquaintance of mine (an American!) admitted (with some shame, it should be said) that she felt a tinge of joy in her stomach when she digested the news. America had humiliated so many societies, her thinking went, here's a comeuppance, of sorts. Relatedly, I remember talking about what percent of Chinese and Russians and assorted other countries, on some level, were, shall we say, not unhappy that the 9/11 attacks took place. A buddy fluent in Mandarin had been cruising Chinese Internet chat forums. It was party time over in those chat-rooms, he relayed, with nationalistic, smart Chinese youth pretty psyched that the Towers were taken down. Another day, around a Kazakh friend (of Russian ethnicity), clumsily, I speculated that maybe 25%-33% of Russians likely felt we got our "just deserts" on 9/11 (I had a poll to that effect at the time, I seem to recall, that I had seen on Johnson's Russia List, though I honestly forget). The Kazakh didn't speak to me for weeks--so angry that I would so intimate.

Those were emotional times in the city. Stupidly, I had gotten dragged to a dinner in the Village where the talk of the night seemed to be whether UBL was really culpable for the 9/11 attacks. Elite big firm lawyers were demanding I provide more convincing proof that he was responsible. I couldn't help feeling they felt real sympathy for Osama and his varied projects. Why, I wondered, (quite angrily, truth be told)? Beyond Russia and China (or the Village), a French woman told me that within a day of the attacks, at an elite U.S. law firm's office in Paris, ironically known for helping foster Franco-American ties because Atlanticist George Ball had worked there (Cleary Gottlieb), the joke was that UBL and Bush were playing chess. And that Osama was up two rooks (the word for rooks in French is "tours" or Towers). Funny, eh?

What of the Middle East? In October '01, I had to travel to Dubai on business. It was a pretty surreal flight, starting at Kennedy (for a while, you really did check in 3 hours before, and they opened and all but squeezed the toothpaste out of your toiletries bag), with the flights more than half-empty, stewardesses still looking freaked out--a sense of angst and Something Really Big Just Happened still very palpable. Once in Dubai, things got even stranger. Of course, everyone wanted to ask the visiting New Yorker about what had just gone down. But I felt less sympathy, really, than a clinical curiousity--one tinged with a good dose of remove and chillness. The wife of a locally prominent lawyer, of Pakistani extraction, told me that the attack on the Pentagon was legitimate. Oh, hell, I thought--let her call it legit as an attack on a military target without too much of a fuss. But, I asked, what of the massive slaughter of civilian innocents at the World Trade Center? She paused, mulled that over a bit, and, incredibly, in near perfect English, said: "maybe they should have attacked [the Towers] on a weekend when there would have been less people there." Boy, I thought, get me on the next flight outta here! (As Bob Dylan once put it, "I’m going back to New York City, I do believe I’ve had enough.”)

How are all these little vignettes connected to the idiocy and amoral musings of a Ward Churchill? Only to the extent that I suspect that a byproduct of the 60's, that is to say a heightening of a postmodern condition characterized by incredulity to metanarratives, rank skepticism regarding the existence of Truth capital T; the moronic obsession with political correctness and debunking the baddies of the dead, white, male canon, the obsession with rights, rights rights! (but never talk of corollary responsibilities), and so on--all contribute to an intellectual climate characterized by Derrida-like gaming about, pastiche and bricolage, relativism and innate distrust of 'power structures', a detached, ironic stance. You see much of such trends, taken overboard in cretinous fashion, in Ward Churchill's 'essay' quoted above. But, and this is a somewhat different point, I firmly believe that one of the reasons that Bush is so unpopular is, simply, that he is so totally unironic. To Clinton's glib, smirkily-delivered "it depends on what the meaning of is is"--Bush speaks of the United States' mission as ending tyranny on the planet (and he really means it!). In an era permeated by cynicism (Peter Sloterdijk has, in another context, talked about an "enlightened false consciousness")--Bush is unabashedly appealing to what seems like a philosophically incorrect and almost embarrasingly retro idealism to marshall against fanatical terrorists. And, complicating the sell and task, and unlike the struggle against communism under Reagan, terrorism is not considered as pressing a challenge as the Soviets were by many in large swaths of Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

So Bush is attempting to hoist a bold, meta-narrative on a highly dubious international community (who breezily equate, carping from the sidelines at the primitive antagonists--his robust idealism with the fanatical nihilism of our foes--as too many have become overly unmoored from making value judgements as they dwell in a cynical, postmodern millieu). Put differently, such broad, meta-narratives aren't even supposed to exist anymore. Whether the destabilizations borne of WWI or, relatedly, Picasso's cubism, or, much later, Watergate-era cynicism, or even the late 19th Century developments with Nietzsche, Kierkegaard or Dosotoesky's revolutionary subjectivism--the canvas is supposed to be disconcerted, chaotic, ever-changing--John Coltrane to a Beethoven Symphony. And, like some odd Prophet from another era, Bush bangs on about freedom in our time and an end to tyranny--appearing an odd relic (almost like Solzhenitsyn did at Harvard in '78 when he gave his famous commencement address). It's just not how things are supposed to be per the vantage point of East Berlin, say, (see a recent Tom Friedman op-ed on this), where the hip, young Berliners expect the Hollywood vision of a loose, hyper-secular, pop culture obsessed, inward-looking America--one not meant to be waging a concerted ideological struggle in Mesopotamia. So, to put in vernacular, Bush is freaking people out, to a fashion, because of some of the above factors (though there are others, of course, of which more another day).

One last thing, though, about those "little Eichmanns" that the aforementioned cretin from U Colorado called the victims of 9/11. Here's one of them--from my high school class. I didn't know him well--but remembered him to be of generous spirit and with a kind heart. He worked his way out of the Bronx to a bright career at Cantor Fitz. The result of the "humanitarianism" of Mohammed Atta is that he is dead today. What was his crime?

Posted by Gregory at January 28, 2005 03:07 AM | TrackBack (41)

Ward Churchill is an ass, as are the idiots who apologized for the deaths on 9/11. But you're wrong on why people hate Bush. It isn't some post-modern disbelief in idealism or freedom or democracy. It's that many people just didn't and don't think Bush was or is sincere when he talks about idealism and freedom and democracy. Remember, for many months a huge majority of America - over 90% - coalesced around Bush because of his response in Afghanistan and in zeal in fighting Al Qaeda and Islamofascism. I was one of them. But when he started talking about Iraq a lot of people said, "Iraq?" Why Iraq? Why not finish the job fighting Al Qaeda and marshalling this massive support we have around the world to stamp out Islamic terrorism where it undoubtedly exists, like in supposedly friendly regimes like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Sure, Iraq was no friend of ours, but it never seemed to be a mortal threat. And it was when the great justifications for placing Iraq at the center of the next phase of the fight against Islamic terrorism began to fall apart - no WMD, no operational ties to Al Qaeda, just as the Administration's post-war plans turned out to be so hopelessly optimistic as to puzzle any sincere supporter of the Iraq invasion, many many good-hearted, patriotic, idealistic freedom-loving Americans started to ask, "What the hell is going on?" But instead of any recognition that some of the planning was off Bush planted his feet in the ground. His commitment to democracy seemed so much more about personal honor, political power and sheer stubbornness than a real, humane sense of the historic challenge of the mission. Liberals gave up on Bush after 9/11 not because he was an idealist, but because he clearly wasn't.

BTW, I don't know of any liberals who liked Clinton for his parsing of the meaning of "is", or thought it was particularly clever.

Posted by: Elrod at January 28, 2005 06:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Elrod: do you think we would have election in Afghanistan so soon if the terrorists' attention were not directed to Iraq? We surely would have a Vietnam where Iraq became a safehaven for terrorists. In Vietnam after attacking the South the Vietcongs retreated to N. Vietnam where they would be safe because we were not allowed to bomb them there. So the terrorists could attack us in Afg and retreat to Iraq where they knew they would be safe. Now even Iran's mullahs and Syria's Baathists have to look over their shoulders when they sent terrorists to Iraq. They fear that that moronic Bush would take them out next. Check this out: http://chrenkoff.blogspot.com/2005/01/good-news-from-muslim-world-part-4.html

Posted by: ic at January 28, 2005 08:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I think the issue people don't always look at fully is the radical change in Bush's worldview engendered by 9/11. Upon his election, he had every intention of returning to a more isolationist stance for America.

Following 9/11, with the realization that isolationism didn't work in the modern, globalizing world, I think he went back to the drawing board. What he came away with was the understanding that the American ideal of spreading democracy was now a "realistic" means of preventing terror attacks. The realism used to justify supporting corrupt regimes in the Middle East doesn't seem so realistic anymore...but where to put a foot in the door, so to speak? Non-violent change in most of those autocracies will take time...and a catalyst. Iraq is that catalyst. And it's an easy choice as such.


-The sanctions on Iraq had deeply angered Arabs and Muslims because, thanks to Sadam's twisting of their intent, they were inflicting undue suffering on everyday Iraqis and not seriously weakening the Baathist power structure.

-Saddam in power in Iraq meant a continued American military presence in Saudi Arabia - adding yet more fuel to the fire of Islamist rage (and forcing the Saudi regime to pander to extremists to counter this rage).

-If Saddam had been removed by a coup, what sort of ruthless leader would have replaced him? When would he have held elections?

-If the country had fallen into civil war, who would have intervened to stop the killing? What would we have done if Turkey invaded Kurdistan and Iran the Shiite south - all in the name of restoring order? End result: more deaths than we have seen so far, more instability, less freedom.

-What if one of Saddam's sons had replaced him? They were both more ruthless than he...would this have helped the situation?

-There were plenty of intelligence communities that firmly believed Iraq still possessed WMD. In fact, there members of the Iraqi army who thought the same. When Iraqi commanders who had issued their troops chemical warfare suits were asked why, they reported it was because they all knew Saddam was going to use gas. They just weren't quite sure who had it.

-Saddam still believed he was funding a WMD program...he just didn't know his scientists were feeding him hooey and pocketing the dough. What would have happened if his successor figured that out and got things on the ball again?

I've seen and heard from a lot of people who supported the idea of removing Saddam "in the abstract" - in other words, "yeah we need to get rid of him, but...." There was never going to be a RIGHT time to remove him, nor a "correct" method of doing it. But there were going to be a lot of negative consequences involved in not acting. Bush could have chosen to put off that decision (as Clinton did) or he could have acted. He did. I think he believed the window of opportunity to do so corresponded with a change in public opinion following 9/11...and no one really knew how long that change would last. He attempted to take advantage of that window of opportunity.

All that being said, he really muffed the whole thing when he let Rummy edge his way into directing reconstruction. And he never should have listened to the sort of optimistic talk being thrown out by Wolfowitz.

Having figured OUT that talk was overly optimistic and that DOD isn't the best at reconstruction, he should have held those folks accountable for their mistakes. But I don't question his commitment to democracy. Watch his eyes and his actions when he starts speaking about it. He becomes eerily animated. He's a true believer...which can be dangerous in itself. There's a time and place for pushing rapid change and a time and place for taking things slowly. I hope he and his advisor realize that.

Posted by: Tim at January 28, 2005 10:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Like Elrod, I have a strong distaste for the Churchill's commentary. But you can't take the extremists (from either end) and build a case from that to support a claim that Bush is somehow the saint and Clinton is the sinner is absurd.

You say "Bush speaks of the United States' mission as ending tyranny on the planet (and he really means it!). " Yes, and we all are shuddering about the potential consequences of that intent. You mistake his simplistic worldview and duplicity for idealism and enthusiasm. He surrounds himself with "yes-men" (and women) demanding loyalty instead of working for the greater good. I thought the Reagan years were bad, these years have been Orwellian.

But you don't want to hear about Bush's failings, just that anyone that thinks America had 9/11 coming is bad. First for clarity, I was in the Pentagon the morning that it was hit. I lost a comrade that was at ground zero. I didn't question invading Aghanistan one minute. However, when Bush extrapolated his GWOT to a mandate to attack the rest of the world, I had to say, what drugs is he on? Any CB weapons, whether they be in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Israel, or other areas, are a threat, but threats can be contained, just like we've been doing to Cuba and North Korea for decades.

You make it sound that we hate Bush because of his "Forrest Gump" mentality. No, it's because his agenda and particular Orwellian vocabulary have mezmorized so many millions into this "Team America: F***, Yeah!" attitude. People in opposition to Bush's actions are perhaps reacting to the average American's disinterest in global affairs and how the U.S. government interacts with the Middle East, Russia, China, Latin America, etc etc. So when these countries/areas have issues with the US, all these sheep we call citizens do is scratch their heads and go "Waddit we do, sheez? Stupid foreign weasels, they're just jealous of my 54 in Television and yellow Hummer..."

Bush and co take advantage of this simplistic, inward looking attitude to force an immoral and power-hungry agenda, and that's where we draw the line. Maybe we should take a page from Heinlein and define citizens as those people that can look beyond their own selfish, narrow needs and consider the health of society writ large. Everyone else, you're just civilians that shouldn't vote if you can't be bothered to consider life outside your suburb.

Posted by: J. at January 28, 2005 01:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is interesting that you compare the Bush and Reagan years. I think there are some interesting parallels.

My English colleagues say to me, "Bush is stupid", I say "yes, but they used to say that about Reagan" and it actually turned out he was pretty smart. Why was Reagan smart?

There was also a documentary on Reagan broadcast here over xmas, showing all the demonstrations (1 million people plus in New York) against the 'warmongering' Reagan, because he decided to take on and 'defeat' Communism. The previous policy had been to 'contain' Communism.

I believe it is fair to say that history now demonstrates that Reagan was right? The Economist credited him 'as the man who defeated Communism'. The Berlin Wall fell.

Will history prove Bush right? Obviously, no one can predict the future. But there is a precedent, when people accuse somebody of being a 'stupid warmonger', paradoxically, it has turned out that they did the most for peace?

Posted by: J at January 28, 2005 02:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J. -

So your argument consists of the following:

-Americans who don't agree with you are dumb and should not be allowed to vote.

-Simplicity and duplicity often go hand and hand. (that one's clever, by the way. It allows you to call him either 'stupid' or 'manipulative' depending on your mood for the day).

-You apparently conclude that Gregory is the simple-minded stooge you speak of, unaware Bush is pulling the wool over his eyes. Should we take away his voting privileges as well?

-You assume that those who question your ideas are all inward-looking and greedy...while you remain open-minded and progressive. Are you showing much open-mindedness in labeling all who support Bush as the lowest common denominator?

I'm sorry democracy is so tough for you to take. If only we could design a system where the guys who are right all the time (like you) didn't have to be held accountable to the stupid masses!

Full disclosure: I voted for Kerry based on what I think are serious flaws in the post-invasion plan in Iraq. That does not, however, make me automatically assume that all those who voted for Bush are idiots, blindly self-interested, or ill-informed. And it does not change my view that Bush is a fundamentally moral man...who has simply made too many incorrect decisions to win my vote for a second term.

Posted by: Tim at January 28, 2005 02:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Your response to Elrod elides one key aspect of the criticism of Greg's post. While you have valid arguments about Iraq, the merits of which can be debated by honest intellects, the crux of what Elrod was saying is that the reasons Greg gave for the dislike of Bush are too reductionist, and focus on extreme views to cast any opposition to Bush in the most negative light.

Personally, 9/11 hit home very hard for me. I was in my apartment on John and Pearl (mere blocks from the towers) getting ready for work when the planes hit. My apartment literally shook. I lost five people I had known since high school and before. The month of September consisted of funerals and wakes for people who never even saw their 30th birthday.

I, like Elrod, rallied around Bush, even though I opposed his bid in 2000, and supported the Afghan campaign 110%. Of all the leftists I know, and I know a lot, even some loons, none even approached the depths of depravity as Mr. Churchill. No doubt there are some out there though. Then, on the right, we heard from the "Christian" Jerry Falwell that 9/11 was God's punishment for our society's embrace of paganism, feminism, homosexuality, the ACLU, and depravity in general. No doubt there are others like him out there as well.

Despite my post-9/11 embrace of Bush, I had reservations about the invasion of Iraq, question the commitment to the ideals laid out in his inaugural, and many issues with Bush's domestic agenda. This led me to critique him, not some cynicism about "freedom" or rejection of his anti-intellectual stance. My problem with Greg's post is the suggestion that somehow good patriotic Americans exercising a healthy dose of dissent would be lumped in with the nihilists and relativists that he described. In that sense, I am with Elrod.

Save the debate about the actual virtues of the Iraq invasion aside (although in your defense those issues were also raised by Elrod and J.). This is a question about the motives of the people who oppose some of Bush's policies. Surely you, and Greg, must see that people can have very valid reasons (even if you disagree with them) for taking issue with Bush's foreign and domestic policy without it being the result of some post modernist perversion or aversion to idealism and democracy.

Should I dredge up some domestic right-wing religious fanatic, like Falwell, and then go on to describe how opposition to John Kerry was really a part of some theo-fascistic mentality? Wouldn't that leave out so many honest and impressive intellects?

Posts such as this are useful in as much as they highlight an absurd strain of thought that does exist in too many places really, but still, the underlying suggestion of a larger trend is a bit insulting.

Posted by: Eric Martin at January 28, 2005 03:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'when Bush extrapolated his GWOT to a mandate to attack the rest of the world,'

I must have missed the US attack on the rest of the world. How'd it turn out?

'all these sheep we call citizens '

Obviously everyone who's in the opposition is an ignoramous when someone defines intelligence with agreeing with them. It's incredible that those 62m people were able to vote all by themselves.

'Maybe we should take a page from Heinlein and define citizens as those people that can look beyond their own selfish, narrow needs and consider the health of society writ large. Everyone else, you're just civilians that shouldn't vote if you can't be bothered to consider life outside your suburb.'

OK - so I guess it would be a real boon to democracy to limit voting to people who hold one viewpoint. And you're calling other people's language Orwellian?

Posted by: Jack Tanner at January 28, 2005 03:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric and friends,

I don't think Greg is talking about you Eric, but at a whole swath of people out there. They do exist (and I know many liberals, including one who supported Bush reluctantly in the last election, who loved the definition of is comment Elrod) and especially in Europe. Furthermore, even you Eric may justify your distaste on other terms, but who knows whether such psychological factors color how you judge discrete data points to justify your positions. We all do, and often quite unawares.

However, I have a lot of respect for you Eric, even when I disagree, and I take you at your word. However, vast numbers of people walking at demonstrations here and overseas, carrying puppets, sitting in cafes and manning government posts in France are easily seen in Greg's post. They include friends and family of mine. Mostly good people, but sometimes I can see where Totalitarians have gotten their fodder. To the extent that some comments here show a need to put down the motives of Bush and those who have generally supported Bush to being slow, disinterested, mendacious or cabalistic I think we see some of that here. These rubes just aren't nuanced and sophisticated enough to understand why the more enlightened can possibly see things otherwise. No smashing on similar blind spots at other ideological points of the spectrum please. That topic can mushroom quickly. There is so much to disdain (including some posts of my own over the years.)

“truth be told, these views (if somewhat less extreme manifestations) are much more widespread than we might think.”

I think the assertion Greg is painting with too broad a brush is belied by that statement among others. So all the talk about using Jerry Falwell to indict all conservatives, libertarians, etc. is well taken, and I wish it would stop. Arguments the other way should be careful as well. Greg just isn’t guilty of that here any more than complaints about a significant minority of the Republican base are unfair as long as they are delineated in the way Greg has done so.

By the way I really enjoy your blog Eric.

Posted by: Lance at January 28, 2005 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I took a German history class in college for which the professor required a book by David Irving. When I asked why we were wasting time on this obvious Nazi sympathizer, the professor replied, "because he's controversial."

It's fair to ask why so many people, with intellectual qualities but few others, congregate in prestigious American universities (they started doing this long before deinstitutionalization became the fashion in the mental health field, so that can't be the reason). I don't think, though, that they represent much in the way of a larger trend in this country, or even that they bear any relation to how America is viewed in other countries.

And I don't think how they view George Bush says anything especially notable about Bush either. The historic struggle for freedom and against tyranny that Bush's admirers are congratulating him, and themselves, for embarking on is actually one America has been waging for a very long time, and with notable success. The assumption on the left is that complete success has eluded us because we have not been sincere enough -- we have "propped up" tyrannical regimes or "coddled" dictatorships -- and this assumption is one that for whatever reason Bush appears to have embraced himself, rhetorically at least.

The only problem with the assumption is that it is completely wrong. That freedom has not spread to some parts of the world has much more to do with the people who live there than it has to do with us. Freedom by any reasonable definition -- and certainly representative democracy as a system of government -- is only a right for people in the sense that playing Carnegie Hall is a right for novice violinists. Some violinists are up to it, and some aren't. Some people and some cultures are able to maintain free societies, and some aren't.

There are reasons to be hopeful about Iraq. Iraqis, both ordinary people and religious and political leaders acting with almost unbelievable courage, are striving against all the weight of their country's bloody history and a ruthless insurgency to make a revolution as profound as any in recent history anywhere. What a triumph for humanity if they succeed!

But they may not, and we as Americans need to recognize that the resources of blood, treasure and time we can afford to pour into the fate of one mid-sized Arab country are not unlimited. It would be most unwise to mortage American foreign and fiscal policy years into the future just to allow George W. Bush to maintain his claim that he made no mistakes in beginning this war.

Posted by: Zathras at January 28, 2005 05:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

was this piece disgorged while he was still a professor of "communications" at sangaman state university? if so, a campus-wide sigh of relief must have been palpable after he headed for the mountains. was he hired by u.of colorado after 9/11? if so, presumably the faculty hiring committee had an opportunity to review his published writings. if so, the committee must have savored his psychotic ramblings regarding that grim day. maybe, just maybe, the u. of colorado deliberately harbors and gives succor to the virulent, malevolent mindset represented by this miscreant.

Posted by: marc at January 28, 2005 07:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Thanks for the benefit of the doubt. And thanks for stopping by TIA. I am not saying that I am not biased in any way, though I strive to avoid it. But at my core, I am not a relativist, nor amoral, nor do I reject the notion of freedom. Those are not my subconscious filters.

Obviously our disagreement over Greg's piece is one of gradation - the degree to which we perceive these attitudes as representative of an entire political faction, and the extent to which we both read Greg to be making such a claim.

As usual, you have a thoughtful response, and the ability to have reasoned disagreements with people of differing view points is what I appreciate most about B.D. (Greg's insights notwithstanding). I guess my fear is that people will not be able to take pieces like this for what they are worth, as you did, and may be prone to over-generalize and extrapolate too far from them. That is what I wanted to emphasize in my comment.

Perhaps I am being unfair to Greg, maybe not. If my argument is superfluous, then I would be more than satisfied with the fact that readers were able to grasp the finer points of Greg's critique, and that I am being needlessly concerned with potential misinterpretation.

Posted by: Eric Martin at January 28, 2005 07:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


You said -Americans who don't agree with you are dumb and should not be allowed to vote.
No I just suggest that people that only vote on issues that affect their own pocketbook and daily life without considering the potential harm to society shouldn't be allowed to vote.

You said -Simplicity and duplicity often go hand and hand. (that one's clever, by the way. It allows you to call him either 'stupid' or 'manipulative' depending on your mood for the day).
No I said he had a simplistic world view, I didn't say he was stupid. Manipulative, yes.

You said -You apparently conclude that Gregory is the simple-minded stooge you speak of, unaware Bush is pulling the wool over his eyes. Should we take away his voting privileges as well?
I'd consider it. JOKING...

You said -You assume that those who question your ideas are all inward-looking and greedy...while you remain open-minded and progressive. Are you showing much open-mindedness in labeling all who support Bush as the lowest common denominator?
Yes. All you NASCAR-luven, gun-toting, gay-beating, Christians-only clubbers can go F*** Yourself, as Cheney might say.

Sorry. I shouldn't be so flip I guess. I just don't see the point of GD's narrow, single-sided view. Things are more complex than he makes it out to be. Liberals lost friends in 9/11 also.

Posted by: J. at January 28, 2005 07:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


"No I just suggest that people that only vote on issues that affect their own pocketbook and daily life without considering the potential harm to society shouldn't be allowed to vote."

Liberals are people who argue that intelligence does not matter, but who then criticis people who do not agree aith them as being stupid.

Hypocrisy is never a virtue. Let it lie.

Posted by: Lee at January 28, 2005 08:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I appreciate your response and when I said I take you at your word, I meant it in the most generous way possible. I get what you were getting at, and I think it is a good point and despite what I feel Greg was trying to get at I think you are correct that many will, and are, using it for the usual gratuitous riffs.

I guess I see Greg as seeing things a bit more as I described them. Of course not only do I find that people I agree with seem more intelligent than they may really be, but I seem to see agreement where maybe there isn't. In Greg's case I think I have it right, but I am as disposed to such intellectual shaping of others views as any.

As always a risk in such forums as this is that remarks addressed to many can be seen as addressed to someone specific. I certainly didn't want you to come to any conclusion that I accuse you of any of the sins you disavow. I have over time come to respect your views despite my disagreements and a needed check (along with others such as Praktike) to any echo chamber effect on my thinking. Greg seems to feel the same about you and Praktike when he refers to you, which is part of why I give him credit here. It seems to be you feel the same about him given your frequent visits to his site and the generally thoughtful responses to his views.

Yes, I do enjoy your site and unlike some here and elsewhere I consider you a worthwhile critic of Bush and even BD. If only more people in the debate about our country were as reasonable (at least most of the time:) from all ideological and political ports of call as you, Praktike and Greg.

Posted by: Lance at January 28, 2005 10:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Well said (though more brevity would be appreciated).

Anyway, keep fighting the good fight.

A shame that our diplomats can't find in themselves the same kind of good sense and moral courage. Why are they silent?

"the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Burke

Posted by: thibaud at January 28, 2005 10:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I didn't mean to sound defensive, just trying to set the record straight. I didn't perceive your comment as insulting or anything like that.

You are right about Greg's intentions, and I appreciate the tone over here. He, and some of the commenters, are a refreshing check on my own echo chamber. I come by every day for a look at what reasonable disagreements might look like (and some informative opinions to boot).

The ultimate goal for me, is to cut through all the extraneous ideological flotsam and jetsom, to get to the heart of the matter. When that is achieved, I think both sides move closer to the middle. The disagreements end up being judgment calls that are uncertain in their outcome, with neither side being completely right or wrong - just degrees of each.

I second your endorsement of Praktike as well. In fact, I first encountered him on this site, so B.D. has already paid dividends, aside from the intellectual rigor it demands of me.

I sincerely say thank you for the kind words. A sensible outlook is really what I am gunning for, even if we disagree on the details, we should not be left doubting the other's sanity or motives. It would be much better for our body politic if more debates could be held in this manner. The alternative crass partisanship is unfortunately the dominant form.

But before we turn this thing into kumbaya, let's get back to a little good natured rancor....someone call me a commie or something.

Posted by: Eric Martin at January 28, 2005 10:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Look, lets cut the crap here and all admit what we know to be true.

This guy Churchill is a dipstick... the kind of guy who would get the s__t beat out of him if he showed up in a country bar someplace and started spouting that nonsense about the 9/11 victims deserving it, and rightly so.

That academics can miss this point and even consider having him attend, then dither and debate this piously about first amendment rights is utter and complete nonsense.


Posted by: Skeej at January 29, 2005 12:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree with every bit of your post. I think.

But, dude -- chill out on the parentheses! I don't think I've ever before seen so many parentheticals crammed into one piece of writing.

They are impediments to effective communication. Since I presume your goal here is to convey your thoughts to others, possibly even to persuade them, you should eliminate anything that hinders that process. Clogging your sentences with parentheticals doesn't help the cause.

That's why I say I only think I agree with your post. It was so cumbersome to navigate, I can't be sure.

Posted by: Treban at January 29, 2005 12:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Another fact about Churchill that is not mentioned -- he is the epitome of "affirmative action" and would not be chairman of the ethnic studies dept but for his fraudulent claims to be a Cherokee and/or Creek. He has been denounced by the American Indian Movement as a fraud and an anglo. I live a few miles from the Cherokee Reservation and am familiar with this type of wannabe revolutionary poseur. They provide some of the best examples of why so much of the left can be better understood from the perspective of Freud than of Marx. Successful, dynamic societies have to be evil, while corrupt, dysfunctional ones have to be virtuous. How else could you show you hate daddy so much

Posted by: wayne at January 29, 2005 12:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm amazed we're having this discussion again. It's like reliving 2002. Somewhere around March of that year was the last moment that traitorous barking loons like these were plausibly claimed to be "fringe elements." Since then, many of those of my acquaintance who once vociferously proclaimed fringehood for Churchill and his ilk have been heard recycling the very same notions that they previously (and only halfheartedly, it must be said) condemned in them.

Posted by: Brian Jones at January 29, 2005 01:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As a newcomer to theis site, let me express my admiration to all of you who take the time to think, then write. Most everyone can agree that Churchill is, at best, a fringe player, who has written some hard to swallow comments--some (including me) would call them reprehensible.
I have a vested interest in the debate over whether people like him should be hired or invited to speak at our colleges--I have kids who will someday attend those institutions. Free speech should not be equated with unlimited speech--recall the famous "it's not ok to shout 'fire' in a crowded theater" comment from our Supreme Court years ago. Recognizing disparate views is what a university should encourage. Giving everyone a platform to say whatever hurtful/irresponsible things they want is another thing altogether. All too often, we see university administrators hiding behind "free speech" as an excuse for failing to act responsibly in choosing faculty or speakers. This is just the latest example.

Posted by: Kyle at January 29, 2005 01:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Treban: That's funny, because I was ready to say something along the same lines, only I was going to comment on the run-on sentences rather than the parentheticals in particular. I came here from the Instapundit link, but if the rest of the site is written like this post, I don't think I'll be dropping by again anytime soon...

Seriously... Is the below sentence a joke? Yes, this is a SINGLE SENTENCE...

"Only to the extent that I suspect that a byproduct of the 60's, that is to say a heightening of a postmodern condition characterized by incredulity to metanarratives, rank skepticism regarding the existence of Truth capital T; the moronic obsession with political correctness and debunking the baddies of the dead, white, male canon, the obsession with rights, rights rights! (but never talk of corollary responsibilities), and so on--all contribute to an intellectual climate characterized by Derrida-like gaming about, pastiche and bricolage, relativism and innate distrust of 'power structures', a detached, ironic stance. "

No offense to the, um, writer. There's plenty of bad blog writing out there. It's just that this stuff is SO awful, it actually stands out. There's gotta be an award somewhere for prose like this...

Posted by: nebraska corn huckster at January 29, 2005 01:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I know Churchill through his friend, Glenn Morris, chair of the political science department at the University of Colorado's Denver Campus. Both Churchill and Morris are wannabe (i.e., fake (as in truly fake, see the Denver City Paper's (or whatever it is called) expose back in the mid-90s, which resulted in their removal from leadership positions in AIM, the American Indain Movement)) indians who firmly believe that white males are a cancer to be eradicated. This tripe they preach to young students, Morris, at least, in so-called core diversity courses necessary to graduate. They, along with their peers, Marc Sills, Jerry Jacks, et al. are truly reprehensible. I love the fact that Churchill's silly sunglassed mug is slathered all over the internet today. He is indeed every bit as large an idiot as he appears. I graduated summa cum laude in political science from UCD, wrote tripe that made me sick in order to avoid failing the core courses, and, even though I entered as a confirmed hippy leftist, exited UCD as a conservative. The principal benefit of idiots like these in teaching positions is that they are so far beyond the pale they cannot be taken seriously, even by students who would wish it were otherwise. In short, they are terribly effective recruiters for the cause.

I despise both individuals, for who they are, what they stand for, and what they attempt to do to the kids they "teach." Here's hoping this week's pantsing permanently knocks them down another peg in terms of influence.

Posted by: eric at January 29, 2005 01:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg is not far off the mark. Consider that:

*MoveOn opposed the Afghanistan war, along with Soros, Moore, and other influential money men in the Democratic Party.

*Kerry's campaign almost entirely consisted of opposing the war in Iraq on the grounds that it was "illegal" without the express written consent of the French and the UN, and that other countries did not like us.

*Kerry's response to 9/11 as exemplified by his NYT interview was that terrorism was a law enforcement issue no more threatening than prosititution.

*MoveOn will be selecting the next DNC Chair, Howard Dean, and "owns" the Democratic Party. They will be pushing the Party ever leftward.

*The principal reaction among the Democratic Party (which is the Left, really) to 9/11 has been "why do they hate us and what can we do to make them not hate us?"

*The use of force to achieve either deterrence or remove threats to the United States is explicitly rejected by the Democratic Party. Kennedy has already blamed terrorism in Iraq on the US troops, talked approvingly of the terrorists (Moore's "minutemen"), and voiced his opinion that the US cannot use force at all devoid of the UN to achieve security, and that Iraq is Vietnam.

Churchill represents an extreme, but the mainstream of the Democratic Party has explicitly rejected the US pre-empting threats to it; Kerry's statements that he would "react" to a terrorist attack on the United States represents the Party's consensus to a return to Clinton's policies of "bomb and forget" which helped create 9/11. It's notable that Clinton himself does not hold these views of the "immorality" of the US of unilateral military power, or the wrongness and ineffectual nature of pre-emption. For that heresy he has been cast out largely by the Democratic Party, while fringe figures like Daily Kos "screw em" who openly root for jihadis killing Americans have been embraced by Barbara Boxer (a senator I'm ashamed of having voted for).

Yes. Barbara Boxer has posted on Daily Kos, thanking Kos himself and the swamp denizens thereof for their help opposing Bush's "illegal" Iraq War.

Conclusion: The Democratic Party is largely caught up in "Iraq=Vietnam, Bush=Hitler" with thinly disguised contempt and hatred for America on the fringes creeping into the mainstream of the Party, resulting in a Party that refuses to think America is actually WORTH defending.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 29, 2005 02:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I jut want to add that the Ward Churchills are all too common in academia. On Sept 12, 2001 a professor at a local university screamed at me that 'We deserved it because we are evil'. Three thousand people murdered, a country still in a state of shock and horror and her reaction was to view the tragedy solely through the prism of her (mindless, endless, evil) hatreds.

Posted by: max at January 29, 2005 02:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I read with interest the posts about the merits of invading Iraq, which lead me to ask a question I haven't seen addressed here or elsewhere.

What would the world be like today if Presdient Bush had made it clear that even after Sept 11th, the US policy towards Iraq that he inherited (notwithstanding the Iraqi Freedom Act of 1998) - containment, sanctions, no-fly zones - was going to be maintained, but that nothing more would be done?

Would the US be safer or less safe? Would the world be more stable or less? Would the Middle East be closer to solving its many internal problems or further away from doing so?

I know that answers to these questions will all contain speculation, but I think it's reasonable to ask them given how controversial the decision to invade Iraq was and is.

Posted by: max at January 29, 2005 02:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What would the world be like today if Presdient Bush had made it clear that even after Sept 11th, the US policy towards Iraq ... was going to be maintained, but that nothing more would be done?Would the US be safer or less safe?

Depends. Does this alternate-world Bush manage to capture Osama bin Laden by, say, October 2004?

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft at January 29, 2005 03:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mr. B.D. -- Thank you for your link to your classmate's obituary. I also read the one for the young woman below him. I have not done nearly enough of this in the years since 9-11. It brought back the feeling that this travesty was not just a national wound but 3000 personal tragedies. I recalled the belief I had that day that we were called as individuals and as a nation to make our lives and our actions a testimonial to those we had lost. The remembrances were beautifully written and made me very sad, but happy for the people who had known them during their brief stay.

Posted by: JM at January 29, 2005 03:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"However, when Bush extrapolated his GWOT to a mandate to attack the rest of the world...."

Ever notice how the loons who make the above assertion often follow it up by asking why we didn't invade nations other than Iraq?

The tinfoil hat wearers are just so tiring....

Posted by: Stane at January 29, 2005 03:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmmm. Lance, after reading through the rest of the comments, perhaps I was right to be concerned.

Posted by: Eric Martin at January 29, 2005 03:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Here's my attempt at an answer for what it's worth:


Posted by: Eric Martin at January 29, 2005 03:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's see Jim,

MoveOn did not oppose the war in Afghanistan, although they did express concern that we not over-react with indiscriminate bombing. Still they were wrongheaded about some aspects of our use of force, but you overstate the case. Their position now is definitely in favor of the Afghan campaign without reservation. Either way, it is not a monolithic organization, but one that encompasses a wide variety of opinions.

That is also a gross exaggeration of Kerry's campain position on Iraq. He did not call it "illegal," he always maintained that he would reserve the right to launch preventitive attacks, always maintained that he would give no other nation or group a veto power. To say otherwise is just missing what he actually said.

You misquote him from the NY Times article completely as well. He did not say that is what terrorism is. He said that he wanted to reduce it to the level that it was no more than a nuisance. That is actually what we all want. Ultimately, it would be great to eliminate all terrorism for ever in perpetuity, but realistically, it would be great if we could bring it down to the level of harm on the magnitude of other societal ills that we can and do live with.

Howard Dean may or may not win the DNC chair. But for the record, except for his opposition to the Iraq war, Dean is a moderate. Really. The guy got an A rating from the NRA, balanced budgets as a governor, and is generally pro-business and fiscally conservative. He supported Gulf War I and many other US involvements overseas. Don't believe the hype. Look at his actual record of governing, not someone's biased opinion.

And MoveOn does not "own" the Democratic Party. That is a bit of a stretch no?

The reaction you ascribe to the left is also an exaggerated stereotype. Boxer is not mainstream. The suggestion that Clinton has been cast out of the Democratic Party is laughable. Every time the guy shows up somewhere, there are record crowds. If anything, he continues to cast a very large shadow over the Party - perhaps too large. He is not marginalized by any stretch.

Honestly, you just exaggerated and played up all the worst stereotypes and fringe elements to try to argue that this is the mainstream of the Democratic Party. The mirror image critique could be made, but it would equally hyperbolic and ineffectual.

Posted by: Eric Martin at January 29, 2005 03:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

MoveOn does in fact own the Democratic Party. Or at least, they said so.

Posted by: Kevin P. at January 29, 2005 06:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The real proof that Bush is not an idealist and cannot be trusted is that he actually did something about it.

This the Left finds intolerable.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 29, 2005 11:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The suggestion that Clinton has been cast out of the Democratic Party is laughable. Every time the guy shows up somewhere, there are record crowds."

And whatever candidate he was supporting... loses.

That's not an exaggeration. Look at the track record, count up all the candidates Clinton has campaigned for, and see how many of them actually won their election. It's almost surreal. Kiss of Death.


Posted by: Qwinn at January 29, 2005 12:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg and readers,

I think everyone would be interested in the points on this blog the Instapundit referred me to on this topic:


Posted by: wayne at January 29, 2005 12:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg is correct in being wearily exasperated with an American Left that is rudderless and increasingly incapable of confronting almost any kind of reality - especially the reality that they are spiraling rapidly toward the nihilist black hole already occupied by the Churchills of the world. The self-described "Reality-Based Community" is reality-based in about the same way as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is democratic, republican and of the people.

The Democratic Party has also, by any rational measurement system, lurched hugely in this direction or its leadership would not consist of the delusional Howard Dean, the clueless and querulous Nancy Pelosi, the posturing Barbara Boxer and the brain-dead blusterer Ted Kennedy.

Then there is the kudzu-like spread of the juvenile attitude - ably expressed above by Elrod - that Bush cannot possibly believe what he says and must be saying it only to gull the barely sentient American public into going along with his actual nefarious intentions.

Refusing to confront the ideas of the non-left - or even their assertions as to the nature of objective reality - by a priori defining these as insincere only convinces the average joe, correctly, that you have nothing real to say. When you can't get anywhere on the facts, try changing the subject to the inner motivations of the opposition.

We non-lefties, in contrast, don't think the left is insincere, we just think it's full of crap and don't mind detailing the myriad ways in which this can easily be demonstrated.

A nearly equivalent tactic - of which J. has provided a nearly simon-pure example above - is to throw the word "simplistic" at anything you are similarly helpless to refute and sidetrack the discussion down pointless false paths.

Both of these fall under the general heading of what I call the W.C. Fields Gambit. In one of his films, Fields diverts the attention of an antagonist by suddenly pointing and saying, "Ah, look over theeeeeere! A buffalo stampeeede!"

All that said, I must still admit that J.'s first post on this thread is interesting despite consisting mostly of the above-described linguistic head fake if only because of his bringing the name of Robert Heinlein into the discussion and, by golly, stating the Old Man's idea correctly as well. I have never previously seen the Heinlein name invoked by a man of the left. Good on ya, mate. You certainly take the prize here for originality. But, given the ostensible subject of discussion - Bush's enunciated policy of support for universal human liberty - I think a selection from another of The Master's works is more fitting:

Puppet masters - the free men are coming to kill you!

Death and Destruction!

Posted by: Dick Eagleson at January 29, 2005 01:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To Dick - Heinlein rocks. I could probably have added something from William Gibson, but he's more of a storyteller and not as much a philosopher. Despite what appears to be my foaming at the mouth liberalness, I am much more a moderate centrist in fact. I have to be more like Eric Martin and be a calm commenter I think.

I would take exception to some of your refusals to confront legitimate concerns of the left. You are aware that we started using the term "reality-based community" in response to a Bush administration offical's statement that their strategy is creating their own future reality? And what the heck is a "non-left" person? Is that someone who is centrist but doesn't want to admit to being a right wing-nut?

I see BD has added another post with more thoughtful comments on this one's message. I should have articulated thoughts similar to the first comment than I have in this area. Enough said.

Posted by: J. at January 29, 2005 02:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm grateful to this idiot poseur Churchill temporarily grabbing the spotlight because it brought me to this blog:

Intelligent thought mostly well expressed and even a bit of wit.

Rare .... and welcome. Thanks to all who contributed.

Posted by: Robert at January 29, 2005 05:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I simply want to echo, above, the obvious observation that the comments made by Ward Churchill are not commonplace even within the so-called "Left". Chomsky, for example, has called 9/11 a crime, etc., etc. There are few leftists aside from guys like Churchill who even try to defend what happened on 9/11, though admittedly there are some. I don't see much value on harping on these guys --- it's a straw man. There are extremist wackos on the right as well --- who cares? Does it really advance political debate to focus on them?

There are valid reasons to object to what Bush has done and is doing, and I think it behooves us to listen to all sides in a debate such as this without comforting ourselves by looking at the extremists on either side and saying "heh, aren't they idiots." Some views are idiotic and it's obvious to everyone on all sides. But what about the non-idiotic objections?

Posted by: M at January 29, 2005 05:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wish everyone who is getting so excited about these elections in Iraq would keep in mind that the Soviet Union and many other countries behind the former iron curtain held regular national elections? That obviously did not translate into the kind of political and personal freedom that the promoters of our Iraq policy are trying to sell the public in Iraq and here. In fact, even if the election is procedurally successful, it may very well result in a civil war. What would you be thinking right now if you were a Sunni muslim in Iraq and were guilty by association of decades of mistreatment of the people who make up the majority which is most likely to win this election. You might be thinking you have nothing to lose.--Pikerman

Posted by: Pikerman at January 29, 2005 06:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The message being sent out by some fairly important people -- see, for example, NSA Steve Hadley in Saturday's Washington Post -- is pretty much that Iraq's Sunni Arabs do have nothing to lose. If they don't participate in the elections they can still be full participants in drafting a new constitution and everything that comes after that.

This, of course, is not enough for many Sunni Arabs. The methods being used by the insurgency differ in details only from those used by the Sunni-dominated Baathist government for decades. These are not people who only want "a voice." They don't see anything wrong with killing people outside their clan or faith. They are used to it; they like it. That is what the insurgency is fighting for.

I doubt many things about what America is doing in Iraq, but I've never doubted that we choose our enemies well.

Posted by: Zathras at January 29, 2005 08:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


If I say "I" own the Democratic party, does it make it so? OK.

Qwin, that is an interesting point, but it does not refute my contention that Clinton has not been marginalized. Whether or not he can deliver victory does not hinge on whether or not Democrats consider him a leader.

Posted by: Eric Martin at January 29, 2005 09:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And Kevin, what they actually said was:

"In the last year, grass-roots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the party doesn't need corporate cash to be competitive," the message continued. "Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."

So they are saying that grass-roots contributors "own" the Democratic party. MoveOn is by no means the ONLY grass-roots fund raising vehicle, and they do not claim to be. Therefore, MoveOn isn't claiming to be the sole owner of the Dem Party, but one organization of many that has an ownership stake based on their fundraising prowess. Even then, they are not saying MoveOn as much as they are saying "we" meaning all the people at the grass-roots level that donated money.

Or, you can take the quote out of context and distort the meaning for cheap partisan point scoring. The choice is yours.

Posted by: Eric Martin at January 29, 2005 09:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric --

My problem with MoveOn is that they view the world through their own myopia. Certainly it's true that non-violent means of coercion can be effective in making change for justice and peace.

The Phillipines, the Civil Rights Movement, and South Africa are all part of that soft power success story. But confronted with tyrants who have no independent power sources who can throw them over, there is no other solution than military force. The UN is a joke, most recently they decided not call Darfur "genocide" because it would mean they'd have to actually do something about it, which they won't do. Instead they passed more meaningless resolutions and are trying to "solve" the problem by bringing the matter to the ICC. Yep, more of the Left's solutions, lawyers. NATO can't even respond to mighty Serbia, let alone do anything constructive in Tsunami relief.

MoveOn/Soros/the Hollywood crowd are THE dominant money folks in the Democratic Party, hence they control the message and platform and candidates. They hew to this myopia about how the world works, with their allergic reaction to the military and their pathetic wish for Europe's approval/veto on anything the US does.

To those denying that MoveOn "owns" the Party, who ELSE contributes money? What other "grassroots" organization has massive mailing lists, money, and presence in the Party? What other organization is running a candidate for the DNC Chair? The Sierra Club? The AFL-CIO? Dean will be the DNC Chair absent some catastrophe, excluding the logical choice for the job, either: Begala or Carville.

The exclusion of these two guys, who btw WON two Presidential Elections, for a guy who's organizing prowess on the ground (Dean) was truly pathetic in Iowa and New Hampshire, shows how little influence the Clintons have. Hilary was roundly criticized for her speech endorsing efforts to encourage girls to delay sex; she's also been criticized for her support for Israel. She's thought to be ... "too conservative." Clinton is still loathed for presiding over Ricky Ray Rector's execution, and using even his limited military strikes on Sudan and Serbia.

Now Howard Dean was a moderate, NRA-friendly Governor. He had some solid ideas about not giving up on the South, and hoping to appeal to white middle/working class voters in the South. However, he dances to the tune of the folks who have the money and back him. Which is MoveOn/ANSWER/Soros/Hollywood, and their main issues are social ones (they're roughly analogous to Pat Robertson on the right). Dean's primary message was that the war was "illegal" and wrong and America had no right to use military force, the capture of Saddam was "not good" for the country.

Eric you're right in saying that Kerry was the "cover" for the deep split in the Party between those seeking to appeal to the moderate middle and the Deaniacs/MoveOn folks. But you gloss over Kerry's very specific move to the MoveOn position regarding National Security: a. ONLY with specific written UN approval can the US use military force, the "global test" in other words, with any Security Council country having a veto over US actions (this has been Kerry's consistent position in political life); b. Diplomacy and Law Enforcement and the UN are the best tools to address terrorism, military force only "creates more terrorists"; c. the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the primary source of terror attacks against the US; d. pre-emptive military action is wrong, a President Kerry would "respond firmly" to any attack but specifically rejected Bush's policy of pre-emption.

Tellingly, NO Democrat currently is regarded as an expert in military affairs or supporter of a strong military. No Democrat is making the argument that the nation be put on a strong war footing, with orders of magnitude increases in the military and spending. No Democrat is calling for a policy of deterrence, having a strong military and the willingness to use it to deter states sponsoring/allowing terrorist groups. No Democrat has drawn a connection between the toleration of failed states like Afghanistan and Somalia, the unwillingness to use military force to fix the problem (by killing the bandit forces), and the attacks on 9/11.

I'm sorry to say, but since Vietnam Democrats have consistently rejected in all instances ANY unilateral use of force by the US to achieve National Security objectives, in favor of "soft power" which has it's uses but also fails in many cases (Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Cambodia, Rwanda, most of West Africa).

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 29, 2005 11:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ward Churchill's comments are particularly disgusting because he seems to be actually cheering the attackers. But in the interests of balance, let's take a look at a comment by Jim Rockford:

Kerry's response to 9/11 as exemplified by his NYT interview was that terrorism was a law enforcement issue no more threatening than prosititution.

This is, of course, false. If Rockford's top priority were to prevent future terrorist attacks, one would think that he would want an honest debate on how to accomplish that. But by posting the above lie, Rockford makes it clear that the last thing he wants is honest debate. In short, Rockford makes the same type of calculation as Ward Churchhill--he is willing to accept terrorism if his political/ideological goals are advanced.

Posted by: Kenneth Almquist at January 30, 2005 08:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
How are all these little vignettes connected to the idiocy and amoral musings of a Ward Churchill?
Perhaps I shouldn't indulge in such a minor quibble, but shouldn't that be immoral?

On the broader question of Churchill's rant, at what point does it become acceptable to return him the favor, and wish he could meet with some jihadi who would saw his head off?

Posted by: C.P. at January 30, 2005 08:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

--No I just suggest that people that only vote on issues that affect their own pocketbook and daily life without considering the potential harm to society shouldn't be allowed to vote.--

This is an interesting statement by J(?) because of comments that have been reported in the MSM after the election.

In short, the Dems couldn't understand why people didn't vote their economic interest - Kerry.

Posted by: Sandy P at January 30, 2005 08:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There's enough straw here for a whole barn. If the Left, which according to some here is represented by the Democratic Party, truly believed that military power was counterproductive in the fight against terror then we would have heard more calls from prominent Democrats to send FBI agents into Afghanistan in October 2001, John Kerry would never have called for (and continue to call for) the expansion of the US military, and especially the Special Forces, and no Democrat, like Joe Biden, would ever have complained about there not being enough troops in Iraq. This is one of the great straw men of the Right - after the scurrilous assertion that the Left (and the Dixie Chicks) hate America, they say that the Left rejects all military power. Garbage - akin to saying that the Republican Party wishes to establish a Puritan Theocracy, and deport all black people to Africa.

As I mentioned in the first post here, the problem was Iraq, plain and simple. I never believed at the time that Iraq was a mortal threat. Sure, I believed that Saddam was a brutal dictator and the Iraqi people deserved to be free - and I'm thrilled that they are free to hold elections today. But the reason we went in there was for security reasons - none of which were necessary. Forgive me for not trusting Bush when he tries to have us forget his well-stated rationales for the war, of which liberation ranked low. I understand the fact that you can't go to war everywhere to liberate the oppressed and that you have to pick your battles. But the Iraqi invasion of 2003 was the wrong place, time and manner for that battle.

Posted by: Elrod at January 30, 2005 08:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

7642 right spot ruffus

Posted by: hoodia gordonii at February 4, 2005 01:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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