Paul From Minneapolis

Monday, February 14, 2005

Thoughts on Professor Head Shot

I caught the CSPAN coverage of last Tuesday’s Ward Churchill rally at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I watched it Saturday night around eleven from the sanctuary of a room at the Luck Country Inn in Luck, Wisconsin during a romantic Valentine’s Weekend getaway. So I didn’t watch the whole thing. At least not with the sound turned up, if you know what I'm sayin'. But I got the gist.

Just to review, Ward Churchill is the Native American (see below) activist and professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Boulder who back in 2001 labeled the 9-11 WTC victims “little Eichmanns,” functionaries of the profit machine of capitalism and hence legitimate military targets. “Innocent? Give me a break,” he said, a la Ed Grimley.

Now those words are coming back to haunt him; he’s standing by them, it’s a free speech issue and a “what a creep” issue and so on.

I’ve been following things a little. It turns out to be nearly certain he’s not an Indian, no kind of Native American or Indigenous Population Guy, not even the three-sixteenths Cherokee he’s leveraged into a reputation as one of the leading voices of indigenous protest. That’s according to AIM, anyway, which dismissed him in a terse press release; and newspapers have been looking and can’t find any Indian blood. In short, he’s not Quint, he’s Festus.

This fact didn’t bother the rally-goers. I would guess they see a conspiracy to keep Ward Churchill from being an Indian. Also, they were not perturbed by indications he makes things up in his scholarly writings, in easily detectable fashion. They stood and cheered anyway, and denounced a clear move by Those Who Control Us to destroy their new hero, the first step in a plan to silence those who dare dissent, like them, abetted by fools too cowed to perceive the obvious, like me.

So where’s it all headed? Not to Ward Churchill’s utter disgrace anytime soon. He is simply too craggy and owns too many pairs of dark glasses for that. Maybe he’ll be fired; maybe he’ll really become a new national spokesmodel of the Deep Left. Maybe both.

They’re not always so particular about who they anoint over there on the Deep Left, of course, one fact that keeps the Deep Left stuck in eternal LA Clipper mode.

A few observations.

The Deep Left likes to bears witness to its own courage, but the single least courageous thing a person could undertake anywhere in the United States that evening would have been to stand up at that rally and voice support for Ward Churchill. It looked like a hell of a lot of fun for the people doing it. They just glowed!

The combination of moral preening, absolute certainty and bodyguards was redolent of any number of bullyboy rallies we’ve all seen in grainy film from the past.

90% of the students standing and applauding this man will, in years ahead, wonder what in the name of God they were thinking.

The rest will become ever more impenetrably immune to argument. Meaning we may all be doomed, and yes I am proposing that out of ten thousand enraged fools in our population, al Qaeda might be able to spot a few true assholes. Call me a fascist and denounce me. But there was a particular womyn granted access to the microphone somebody should keep an eye on.

Speaking as his peer in a sense, I offer this clear summary. Ward Churchill: just another white guy with a master’s degree.