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Ward Churchill on Maher's Show
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I haven't blogged about the Ward Churchill controversy (unless you're living under a rock, this is the professor who called the World Trade Center victims "little Eichmanns").

But he's sure getting the publicity now, and he was on the latest Bill Maher show.

Maher walks him through all of the atrocities in American history, then finally asks him the question:

MAHER: Answer the question that people are now asking perhaps, which is, okay, but that’s the American government; why am I connected to that? How were the people in the World Trade Center who were working for Dean Witter – what is their connection to this? Why are they guilty?

CHURCHILL: First of all, the government doesn’t kill anybody. It’s Americans that go out in the name of the government, follow orders and kill people. And there’s an infrastructure behind that, that makes that possible. That’s composed of Americans as well.

And a moment later:

CHURCHILL: If you’re performing a technical function, a bi-product of which is the emiseration and mass death of millions of people, you are not innocent. [applause] You are performing a function along the lines of what Adolf Eichmann performed.

I agree with the broad point that a nation's citizens bear some responsibility for the actions of their government, to a greater extent the more democratic the government is.

But he goes way beyond this general point, to directly compare America to Nazi Germany, and that's when he leaps right over the fence into la-la land.

The comparison is obviously grotesque...this really doesn't need to be pointed out. I was wondering if the guy might come on the show and try to downplay what he said, but he pretty much just reiterated it.

So then a relative of one of the 9/11 victims came on, and was understandably upset by having his dead brother being compared to Hitler's "Chief Executioner".

Maher's show was a bit of theatre, but you might want to read Michael Faughnan's open letter to Churchill. An excerpt:

Mr. Churchill, what I want you to see is the human face behind the rhetoric. Human beings are not symbols, and your essay's dehumanization of the victims of 9/11 reduces them to mere symbols — drones in a capitalist machine. In this way, you are guilty of what you claim to condemn, that is the dehumanization of individuals. It is the inability to see the human face of "the other" that allows the horrible violence in this world to continue.

From what I understand after reading your essay, you wish to give the American people a view of the suffering of the Iraqi and the Palestinian peoples, and provide insight into why the attacks of 9/11 may have occurred. This is noble and legitimate. We do need to see and understand the consequences of the actions of our government and the exportation of our culture, and also do what we can to right the wrongs that have been committed. But to make this point is it necessary to forget the individual humanity of those who died in the attacks and reduce them to mere stereotypes?

Recently, our family has been discussing what would be a befitting, honorable tribute to his life. Ironically, your essay arrived with its own recognition of Chris's memory — as a faceless technocrat who deserved to die.

Anyway, I've generally avoided the issue since the guy is so obviously a nutjob. It's ironic that buried within his obscene remarks is actually an interesting point.

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