IN DEFENSE OF BRUTAL HONESTY

I was over at Pandagon a moment ago, and I read a fascinating discussion about the public treatment of Ward Churchill. Amanda linked to a wonderful treatment of this topic by Chris Clarke, and the comments section is up to snuff as usual. Since there is a temporary problem with me accessing the server there (or something), I’m going to post my comment here just to be safe. I recommend you go there yourself and join in, or at least follow the link and read the comments.

I’d like to say a word or two about Ward Churchill’s sometimes-incendiary language.

I had never heard of Churchill before the ‘little Eichmanns’ thing was blown out of proportion in the wrong direction. Thanks to Amanda and Chris Clarke, I now understand why. See, we here in the States have a serious cultural disease which manifests itself in varying degrees of willful ignorance.

We represent roughly 5% of the world’s population, yet we control at least a quarter of its resources. Regardless of our stated or intended political leanings, we generally don’t like to have our comfort afflicted. Our comfort is heavily subsidized by the shed blood and suffering of millions of innocent people past and present, foreign and domestic; who among us wants to be told that? Who among us really wants to take a long, hard look at the itemized bill for our ‘way of life’?

Few self-professed liberals and progressives, even, wanted to hear Churchill’s message, which is that we all have a hand in creating the conditions that made 9/11 happen (said conditions including those that resulted from allowing Dubya to hold stolen office). Since 9/11, those conditions, for a growing majority of the world’s people, have gotten worse (politically, economically, and environmentally).

Are we still buying Jet Skis, CXTs, and shiny, practically worthless baubles? Are we willing to give those things up, or at least pause long enough to honestly reexamine how our material appetite affects both us and the rest of the world? If the answer is no, then we are as bad as “little Eichmanns”; or at least we’re as bad as those German citizens who sat back and watched their innocent Jewish neighbors get ostracized, brutalized, then shipped off to their doom, and then cheered as their economy improved in the midst of that ethnic cleansing. Well, they cheered at least until the Allied bombs started falling en masse…

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