Churchill's DefenseI just received an e-mail from the h-west mailing list, quoting Ward Chuchill’s defense of his statement. First he explains that he does not support terrorist violence like 9/11:
* I am not a "defender" of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people "should" engage in armed attacks on the United States , but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, said, "Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable."
* This is /not / to say that I advocate violence; as a U.S. soldier in Vietnam I witnessed and participated in more violence than I ever wish to see.
I happen to agree that terrorist violence directed against the American Government, and simple citizens is in fact wrong. But let us step back for a second. Churchill's passage is only persuasive if we assume violence is it of the question. If we did not share that assumption, Churchill does not seem to provide much direction to convince us. This might not be a problem, except that later in the document Churchill seems to provide a reason for us to support violence:
Finally, I have never characterized all the September 11 victims as "Nazis." What I said was that the "technocrats of empire" working in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of "little Eichmanns." Adolf Eichmann was not charged with direct killing but with ensuring the smooth running of the infrastructure that enabled the Nazi genocide. Similarly, German industrialists were legitimately targeted by the Allies.[*1]
So Churchill believes that “technocrats” in the World Trade Center were similar “little Eichmans” in that they supported the “infrastructure” of American violence. Does it not follow then that much like “German industrialists” they could be “legitimately targeted by” their enemies? Would physical violence directed at Eichmann and his subordinates not be justified? In fact would not resistance and violence by any means be incumbent upon moral individuals faced with the prospect of Eichmanns in their midst?
I do not doubt that Churchill is honest when he claims that he is not a violent person. But is it not a consequence of the scheme he has laid out, that he should be a violent person? Should he not get involved in any resistance group he can find to destroy the infrastructure of American violence?
I suspect the answer to this question is that Churchill does not actually believe that American foreign policy is equivalent to the Holocaust. But that is the whole problem with the comparison to begin with. It is a gross hyperbole that is insulting to both the conscience and the intelligence of the reader.
I know I am saying nothing new in disagreeing with Churchill’s statement, but I thought it was worth noting the logical problems with his rebuttal.