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Sunday, March 03, 2024

Pundits wrong to jump on Churchill

As Bill O'Reilly's staff revives him from his Ward Churchill-induced orgy of \patriotic"" indignation, dusts him off and points him toward his next victim, the rest of the nation should take advantage of the calm between the media storms and re-examine what Churchill actually said. 




Although O'Reilly said he would like to see Churchill tried for treason or sedition for his essay on the Sept. 11 attacks, what Churchill argues is actually quite simple, very accurate and not extremist at all when viewed directly. Instead, it was filtered through Republican lap dogs like O'Reilly. 




The essay, ""Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,"" which got the Republican incredulity-machine and O'Reilly going, was written by Churchill on Sept. 11, 2001 in order to help a grieving nation understand what had happened. 




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In the paper, widely available online and in book form, Churchill makes the straightforward argument that Americans should not be surprised by an event like the ""terrorist"" attacks on Sept. 11 because of what the United States military has done throughout the world in the last 50 years.  




Churchill makes reference to the one million civilians who died as a result of the U.S. intervention in Vietnam and the hundreds of thousands of citizens who died because of ""surgical"" air strikes in Iraq during the 1990s. He also refers to deaths caused by U.S. interventions in smaller yet still significant numbers in Grenada, Cuba, Korea, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, Colombia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere. 




In all these places soldiers were killed, but so were civilians, children and the elderly. Churchill simply asks if it is so unbelievable that the relatives, co-workers, friends, children and spouses of these people would want revenge on the nation responsible: the United States.  




It is not unbelievable at all. Think of the rage and passion that were generated in the United States after Sept. 11 when 3,000 people died. This rage was translated into two international wars and major changes in domestic policy, all because of only 3,000 deaths.  




Imagine how unbelievably angry Americans would be if one million of their fellow citizens were killed, or even 100,000. This type of anger is what many people in the world feel for the U.S. In their minds, how are the attacks carried out on Sept. 11 any more tragic than those carried out by the United States military all over the world? Civilians die in large numbers in both cases, and survivors get very angry in both cases. 




This is Churchill's main thesis: The only Americans that should be surprised by things like the Sept. 11 attacks are those who have ignored history and ignored the cries of the millions of civilians who have died under auspices of the U.S. military worldwide.  




This simple argument was called ""not only anti-American,"" but also ""at odds with simple decency"" by the governor of Colorado and was similarly dismissed by practically everyone in the news media. The question is, why? Why did this logical and easy-to-understand argument cause such a furor? 




The answer seems fairly clear: To compare U.S. killings in the rest of the world to the attacks of Sept. 11 removes the United States from the moral high ground from which it launches self-interested attacks on other nations under the guise of assistance to the people of these nations. 




If the United States' actions in other countries are the flip side to the attacks of 9/11, then even though the attacks were still tragic and unjustified, they were at least understandable in a structural sense. That is to say, one can discern the reasoning of the 9/11 attackers, even though one does not agree with the actions they took. 




Churchill was simply analyzing the causal factors of 9/11 in an uncomplicated and easy-to-follow essay, which is in no way treasonous or anti-American. It makes one wonder if people like O'Reilly can read, let alone grasp that not everything Republicans don't like is treason. 




Breezy Willis is a senior majoring in international relations.

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