The faded yellow clipping still hangs on the bulletin board, defining a man as well as an issue. Gene Amole, now deceased writer for the Rocky Mountain News (and sometimes referred to as the "heart" of Denver), wrote this column shortly after the 9/11 disaster -
"The key question for us now: Why".
Here are some of his quotes -
"What we need to find out is the Big W, the Why. Why did these people die to commit this atrocity? If we are to defend ourselves against them, we have to know why they squandered their lives. It isn't enough to say their religion promises them paradise.
Are we so self absorbed that we have isolated ourselves from large populations of the world? Have we made any real attempt to understanding these people, or are we so self absorbed with our own needs and desires that we just don't think about them?
When we do think about them, is it in terms of converting them to our religions, our politics, our folkways and our morality? Do we see them as customers for what we manufacture? Are they seen only as cheap labor to make our sneakers and T-shirts? "
Ward Churchill answered the question although it is doubtful that Gino who died in 2002 ever read or even heard about the famous essay, since it was little known until recently. The answer in quoting Malcolm X about JFK - it's a matter of "the chickens coming home to roost". Another translation might be - "as you sow - so shall you reap" or "what goes around comes around".
Here are some quotes from Ward Churchill's essay - On the Justice of Roosting Chickens
"All told, Iraq has a population of about 18 million. The 500,000 kids lost to date thus represent something on the order of 25 percent of their age group. Indisputably, the rest have suffered – are still suffering – a combination of physical debilitation and psychological trauma severe enough to prevent their ever fully recovering. In effect, an entire generation has been obliterated.
The reason for this holocaust was/is rather simple, and stated quite straightforwardly by President George Bush, the 41st "freedom-loving" father of the freedom-lover currently filling the Oval Office, George the 43rd: "The world must learn that what we say, goes," intoned George the Elder to the enthusiastic applause of freedom-loving Americans everywhere.
A good case could be made that the war ... has been waged more-or-less continuously by the "Christian West" – now proudly emblematized by the United States – against the "Islamic East" since the time of the First Crusade, about 1,000 years ago. More recently, one could argue that the war began when Lyndon Johnson first lent significant support to Israel's dispossession/displacement of Palestinians during the 1960s, or when George the Elder ordered "Desert Shield" in 1990, or at any of several points in between."
Another main theme of Mr. Churchill in the essay is that of personal responsibility.
Are the citizens of this country responsible for the actions of the government and specifically to the foreign policy that resulted in the deaths of large numbers of people?
Mr. Churchill -
"it was pious Americans who led the way in assigning the onus of collective guilt to the German people as a whole, not for things they as individuals had done, but for what they had allowed – nay, empowered – their leaders and their soldiers to do in their name.
If the principle was valid then, it remains so now, as applicable to Good Americans as it was the Good Germans. And the price exacted from the Germans for the faultiness of their moral fiber was truly ghastly."
Are you responsible for the war in Iraq and the murder of countless innocent people? This responsibility would also include other crimes against humanity such as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the genocide against the native americans, the slavery of the black slaves brought to this land, the murder of the Chinese people for the construction of the railroads and the list goes on.
Ward Churchill would certainly say you are!
And you might even argue that you protested the war in Iraq and voted against George Bush and gave money to charities to help oppressed people. And certainly this is good. But does it eliminate your responsibility for the actions of this government? One could certainly argue that it mitigates, but eliminate your responsibility - that would be a hard sell.
The writings of Ward Churchill and others like him such as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky depict the situation in the world from the point of view of the oppressed and not just the oppressor, the common man and not the privileged man. And looked at from the point of view of the oppressed - this USA is not the good guy, at best the "no where" guy but rapidly becoming the "bad guy". And that has to be considered a sobering thought.
As one man said back in the civil rights era -
"My country tis of thee
Sweet land of hypocrisy
Of Thee I weep!"
Than you Gene Amole for asking the right question and thank you Ward Churchill for answering!
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