Ward Churchill brings the house down

I just read the talk Ward Churchill gave at the University of Colorado and I could almost feel the energy. It was really good to read and really good to know that he is going to be fighting this, and the tone of it all was just right. This was the best part of the speech for me:


I just read the talk Ward Churchill gave at the University of Colorado and I could almost feel the energy. It was really good to read and really good to know that he is going to be fighting this, and the tone of it all was just right. This was the best part of the speech for me:

And I thought about my brother Russell Means, in 1982, when we were engaged in a physical occupation of a piece of ground outside Rapids City. I learned from Russ, too, not just Phillip Dare. That was 1982, that was the time of the Battle of Beirut, and they had the PLO fighters sealed in and they were bombarding Beirut, and they were gonna kill Arafat, OK? They had a quid pro quo arrangement where he could go for sanctuary if he could leave, but no one could take him. And Russ convened a press conference and he said something that had to be pretty close to this: the Palestinians of North America offer sanctuary to the American Indians of the Middle East.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.

11 thoughts on “Ward Churchill brings the house down”

  1. I liked the part where he
    I liked the part where he says we should be thanking O’Reilly and fellow thugs. It may turn out that way if enough people back Ward up. I hope so. Then they’ll say Ward started all the commotion himself.

  2. If you didn’t listen to the
    If you didn’t listen to the audio on C-SPAN, do so. I just did it now and it is really very good.

  3. javascript:playClip(‘rtsp://v
    javascript:playClip(‘rtsp://video.c-span.org/15days/e020905_churchill.rm’)

  4. Thanks for the link, Justin
    Thanks for the link, Justin (and the audio link, Jon). Nice to see Churchill is not backing down and is pushing the issue… I’m sort of getting bits and pieces, not being in the US, but I am baffled as to why he became such a big issue now. Any ideas?

  5. I’m curious about what
    I’m curious about what seemed to be the weakest link in the Q & A, where he said his ninth amendment rights made Columbus Day celebrations unconstitutional. Can anyone explain that?

  6. The man’s mind moves so fast
    The man’s mind moves so fast sometimes that he goes ahead of his words, it seems to me. The same occurred when he was talking about someone who emailed him – from what I could gather the person emailed him and said: “The 9/11 hijackers were the last people in the world who attacked a civilian-occupied facility”, and Ward’s response was: “The US attacked civilian occupied facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11”, but he wrapped it all up so quickly that it was hard to tell.

    As for the 9th Amendment stuff – I don’t actually know the issue or the laws, but if I followed his argument it is as follows.

    1) The 9th Amendment states that there are rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution – anything that isn’t mentioned in the Constitution is an inherent right that resides in individuals.

    2) Discussion of inherent rights is basically up for interpretation in a lot of cases. However:

    3) International human rights law spells out a great deal in terms of inherent individual rights.

    4) According to the US Constitution’s 9th Amendment, such rights as are spelled out in international human rights law become fundamental rights guaranteed by the US constitution, via that amendment.

    5) One such right is the right to freedom and dignity, which Ward interprets as the right to not have the genocide of his people celebrated in the streets.

    Legally it’s possible that the last point is weak – that is, freedom of speech might have to override dignity in a system of rights, even to the point of celebration of genocide, because it’s much easier to know when someone’s legal right to free speech is violated than it is to know when someone’s dignity is being violated? That’s one possible counterargument I think.

    But the whole 9th amendment discussion as a wedge through which international human rights law can be made to apply is a very interesting one. I would have thought that it would apply simply because the US is a signatory to the various treaties, but this seems to go beyond that and suggest that even things the US hasn’t signed apply if they pertain to inherent rights that aren’t spelled out in the Constitution? Of course, there’s the whole problem of power – law is nice, enforcement is another issue – but it is definitely an interesting legal idea.

  7. The legal argument is
    The legal argument is interesting, I’d like to know what a constitutional expert would make of it. But I think the argument falls short for another reason: celebrating Columbus Day by honouring Christopher Columbus and the European “discovery” of the New World is not the same as celebrating the genocide of the Arawak Indians by the same guy. Presidents’ Day honours George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, two individuals whose indigenous policies were probably worse than Columbus’s, but by celebrating Presidents’ Day nobody is endorsing their less enlightened actions. Blurring that distinction is sloppy thinking and can lead to unfortunate conclusions, like condemning Martin Luther King for his ultra-Zionist statements… or, I can’t help thinking, accusing Churchill of “calling 9/11 victims Nazi war criminals”.

  8. I read ward’s Speech
    I read ward’s Speech from Counterpunch. I found him to be a really powerful speaker. He is deliberately inflammatory, and that’s really great.
    He certainly gets a response from the Audience.
    I enjoyed his speech.
    I found one thing in most of the Mainstream media coverage of Ward Churchill. I haven’t read everything. But in all the coverage i have looked one thing is absent. that is Ward Churchill’s Scholarly work against FBI And other organisations of National Security State
    They just don’t talk about it.

  9. It doesn’t seem that the
    It doesn’t seem that the media is willing to engage Ward Churchill at all at an intellectual level, they are only concerned whether or not he is a “traitor” and should be fired.

  10. On the Columbus and
    On the Columbus and President’s day stuff… I’ve been thinking about it more, and I do think it’s really rather bad for the culture. I mean, Jefferson and Washington can genuinely be said to have mixed records. Their legacy is a mix of genocidal ideas and practices and liberal ones. Columbus I think is less mixed and worse. But in all cases to the extent that the genocidal legacy is being celebrated, it does have a corrosive effect – not just on the 9th amendment rights or international human rights of indigenous people, but on the entire culture.

    If the culture was more reflective and had genuinely gotten rid of those genocidal tendencies and reversed their legacy then there might be a way of remembering the encounter 500 years ago. Until that happens I think protests at them and arguments against them are important…

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