I've just finished watching Ward Churchill speak to a packed auditorium. C-SPAN had their cameras there and did what they do best - recorded the reality sans spin.
Churchill is not the man I'd imagined him to be since the right wingers began their destruction campaign and the left wingers began their distancing (you know who you are). He's no Thomas Paine, but he's admirably focused on basic human rights and on the idea that violence begets violence. He's sharp, smart, passionate, and driven. We like that part. He's also angry, self-righteous, superior, and stentorian. That part... not so much liking involved. And it's hard to fault him for his pedantry since that's his gig and all.
The most important thing I heard this fiery intellectual whirlygig say was that the lives lost on 9/11 were no more important than the lives lost in Palestine, in Iraq, at Wounded Knee. Killing is killing, and killing is wrong. Maybe someone would care to nuance that statement?
Secondly, Churchill asks us each to hold ourselves responsible for the suffering we cause. Whether you're a Wall Street broker whose clients use slave labor or a schoolteacher who opts for the SUV, we are all responsible for our choices and their repercussions.
I wouldn't, as Churchill does, call corporate America 'little Goerhings'. But I would say we all have the potential to turn our eyes away from the damage that we do. While we're busy with our talk of freedom and liberty it will be important to recognize that many of our choices invoke the opposite.
Peace in America and in the world will never come through tools of war. It just can't happen. Supporting a military society, pre-emptive war, dead innocents as collateral damage, economic domination, and world supremacy is not going to bring peace. Please, more nuance if you're up for it.
As an American citizen, I feel it's my responsibility to represent the core values of our nation, and those are founded in equality, life, and liberty. War fuels none of these.
We are also responsible for the joy we bring to the world. For every person helped and sacrifice made we are responsible and accountable. We all keep our internal balance sheets, struggling to adhere closely to our principles. I, like Ward Churchill, am not blameless when we consider the death and suffering in the world. But I endeavor to be able to look my grandchildren in the eye and tell them that I did what I could to engender passion, peace, freedom, and equality.
Ward Churchill should not be fired, nor should he be invited to any dinner parties. But his ideas are provocative and worth your attention.