ON THE JUSTICE OF ROOSTING CHICKENS Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality by Ward Churchill a Book Commentary by James Jaeger
Ward Churchill is the controversial professor of American Indian Studies and chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado/Boulder (see http://www.colorado.edu/EthnicStudies/faculty/w_churchill.html). He is currently lecturing around the country, having been made popular by Bill O'Reilly's wrath.
Perpetual American Conflicts and War
In his book, Churchill has compiled possibly the most extensive chronology of wars and military actions by the U.S. ever made.(1) He maintains that in each case these actions were not to promote freedom and democracy, but to remove it. To support this he says the U.S. -- from the taking of land from the Indians to the taking of oil from the Iraqis -- has been involved in a long-term campaign of aggression that does little other than support and promote elite business interests. Further, he says that the American people are in a similar position as were the German people just prior to the rise of the Third Reich. He thus calls on Americans to recognize the negative/genocidal effects they have had on Others through out their history and through out the world before it is too late. He describes the event that happened on 9-11 as partial pay-back, but a pay-back that runs far short of what we actually deserve. To this, Churchill wonders why AMERICANS didn't ask the following salient questions (as the rest of the world HAS BEEN asking):
"Why should 'they' hate 'us'? The very question is on its face absurd, delusional, revealiing of an aggragate detachment from reality so virulent in its evasivness as to be deemed clinically pathological . . . the sole legitimate query that might have been posed on 9-1-1 was -- and remains -- How could 'they' possibly not hate 'us'? From there, honest interrogators might have gone on to frame two others: Why did it take so long for 'them' to arrive? and Why, under the circumstances, did they conduct themselves with such obvious and admirable restraint?"
In the Chronology of U.S. Military Actions (some 35, detailed, pages long) Churchill then goes on to clinically describe what happened on 9-1-1, probably from "their" point of view:
"On September 11, 2001, the al-Qaida network, citing among other things the ongoing U.S. policy of genocide towards Iraq as its reason, employs three '300,000 pound cruise missiles' to 'degrade' the U.S. military's 'command and control infrastructure' in Washington D.C., as well as its economic counterpart at the World Trade Center in New York."
More alarming, Churchill implies that a violent rebellion or war against the U.S. government/corporate Úlites may be what it takes to remove those in power if things go too far, as they did in pre-Nazi Germany.
"Those today who are serious in seeking to come to grips with U.S. militarism would do well to heed the lessons provided by the experience of their German predecessors. Leashing the North American Reich will not be attained through petition campaigns, candle-lit vigils, marches, rallies, mass demonstrations or any other such state-sanctioned method of "swaying" policy formation/implementation. It will not be attained through electoral efforts to "throw the bumbs out" of office or in support of the "lesser of two evils" (the result of which is always and by definition an endorsement of evil), by litigation in judicial fora integral to the offending entity, or by lobbying for the enactment of new laws. Still less will it come through the writing of better books, poems, and movie scripts . . . (or) establishing alternative radio stations. . . If any or all of these "lines of action" combined were in the least threatening to the stability of the status quo, they'd simply be declared illegal on their face, or, as has often happened, militarily-repressed long before they reach the point of inflicting discernable damage."
The Responsibility of "Good Americans"
Churchill wraps it up by saying: "If Good Americans' will not finally undertake the steps necessary to euthanize the genocidal instrumentalities of U.S. power projection, those on the receiving end will henceforth increasingly assign themselves the job, using any and all means available to accomplish it. That they wield a right to do so is a fact made incontrovertible by the magnitude and duration of the suffering inflicted upon them, not just by U.S. governmental/military/corporate Úlites, but by the unending ranks of average Iowa farm boys who have so willingly pulled the triggers, launched the missiles and dropped the cluster bombs (or performed the technical functions necessary to converting the systematic starvation of brown-skinned children into the finance capital and lush stock dividends of the U.S. economy). Should it prove necessary that the right of the victims be translated into a program best framed as "two, three, many 9-1-1s," Good Americans, all whining pretenses to wounded innocence notwithstanding, will be entitled to no more complaint than were their Good German counterparts before them."
Churchill is being extreme, but as an "American" Indian he has every right to be seriously disgruntled by the way "the White Man" used deceit and military force to unethically pillage land from his ancestors -- not to mention rape and murder them in such quantities that it can only be called genocide. But as the years pass and little or no change is effectuated (i.e., government continues to expand, the debt and trade deficit grow, citizens are not adequately protected on the macrocosmic or microcosmic levels, wealth disparity grows, the stock market flounders, scientific/technological breakthroughs are out-sourced and off-shored to other countries, energy policy is irresponsible, we continue to be involved in perpetual wars, a critical mass of other nations become upset with U.S. unilateralism and/or arrogance), as these things persist -- and to the degree they persist -- I am tending to agree with Churchill's assessment that, at some point, state-sanctioned methods of change may not work.
A Program of Non-Violent Activism
But not all is lost. We don't have to march up the steps of the Capitol, enmasse, and hang members of Congress.(2) There are at least three other steps that can be taken to (help) "leash" the increasingly totalitarian government/military/corporate cartel. They are, in rough order of priority, the following:
1. By direct citizen referendum, cause a new Constitutional amendment to come into being, such amendment limiting the term of Congressmen and Senators (AND their staffs) to no more than two consecutive terms, of 4 years each, in office. Originally the Framers set up the Constitution with no term limits because there was a paucity of people in the nation. Also distances were far and travel was onerous. Thus, the Framers felt it was better to leave the term open-ended so that desirable citizens would be more likely to take on the job of representation and be secure that they would not have to leave virtually as soon as they arrived. Plus, in those days, it took much longer to get anything done, thus longer terms made sense. But those days are over. We have plenty of citizens now, travel is easy and business flows at the speed of light. Nevertheless, the fact that only 1/3rd of the Congress comes up for vote each time is strong evidence that the Framers DID intend that there be a turnover, a turnover that would create a BALANCE of freshmen, sophomores and seniors in Congress. In other words, they did NOT intend that the Congress be comprised of ONLY seniors, as it is today, with such incumbents remaining for many, many terms, not to mention the staffs who remain there even longer. Given this state of affairs, the People are thus helpless to effectuate real change in U.S. policy, policy that could avert the all out violent revolt or global war that may/will be brought down on the U.S. unless something is done. If the rest of the world decides to "put our ethics in," it is important to note that, throughout history, asymmetrical warfare (i.e., the tactic of terrorism) USUALLY accomplishes its ends and the Empire falls. Thus, the U.S. would, in all probability, not survive such an event. The "American Experiment" would be over -- a failure.
2. The next thing that can be done is to counter the media and motion picture industry's consolidation with a program of greater diversity and a resurgence of independent TV stations and productions (3) as made viable by distribution over the broadband Internet (4) and constructive reform.(5) To the degree the mass media, and the MPAA studio/distributors as a subset, are consolidated in but a handful of corporate entities, and these entities are dominated by a narrowly defined control group (management) that monopolizes distribution channels, it is inevitable that the public will suffer an ongoing news vacuum and be subject to special interest agendas. Thus "the People" will be unable to recognize national problems in time to take legal and moral action. (see http://www.jaegerresearchinstitute.org/articles/stupid.htm)
3. The third thing that can be done, after communication has been restored to the People by a return of their voting power and information flow, is a gradual reduction of the primary source of the military's financing. This source is, of course, the endless flow of fiat money created through the Federal Reserve System(6), a system many argue is unconstitutional because the Framers, aware of how power accumulates, set up an INELASTIC, specie-backed currency as part of the checks and balance in addition to the system's three branches of government. Now that this safeguard has been removed (in 1913 by the New York money-center bankers), an endless military-industrial complex and government expansion is possible, because, as soon as those entrenched in power (like congressmen with no term limits) see that they can vote, for their own use, the citizen's treasury -- there will be inevitable abuses. Among these abuses are such things as U.S. terrorist acts of commission and omission on civilian populations, such as what was done at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to show Josef Stalin who was boss (NOT to end the War as the U.S. propaganda machine put out, as the Japanese were ALREADY willing to surrender). Other abuses are use of military power to completely destroy the water, sanitation, and electric grid of Iraq and then enforce an embargo resulting in the deaths of a million people, half of them children under the age of 12, "a toll described by various U.S. officials as "worth the price" if those "who hate freedom" will come to accept the advent of a "new world order" in which "what we say, goes." -- as Churchill puts it.(7)
A Program of National Atonement
This book is very depressing because it gives the picture that there is going to have to be an all-out, armed rebellion on the part of the American People if they are to avoid the fate of the German People OR the eventuality that the "Others" in the rest of the world are going to terrorize the United States into oblivion and/or drag those same "innocent" Americans into another world war which will result in far more than 40 million casualties. BUT Churchill gives an alternative that he feels could allow the U.S. to redeem itself for its past and thus avoid further terrorist attacks or war. This alternative is set forth by the philosopher, Karl Jaspers, in his "schematic of culpability." The points in the Schematic entail that the U.S. recognize and atone for its crimes on four levels: criminal guilt, political guilt, moral guilt, and metaphysical guilt.(8)
1. The first level of CRIMINAL GUILT is for The People to recognize that states, corporations and other such entities do NOT commit crimes. Crimes are committed by various INDIVIDUALS that conceive, employ or serve such entities. Thus such individuals need to be brought before an impartially-composed international court. In the case of the U.S. crimes against humanity, the state is not qualified to sit in judgement upon itself because it has sanctioned such crimes. By the same token, judgement cannot be made by the immediate victims of such crimes because such judgement will not be impartial.
2. The second level of atonement is to handle POLITICAL GUILT, meaning the collective responsibility of the Citizens who sat by yet did nothing to EFFECTIVELY see to it that their government effectively adheres to the rule of law, both domestic law AND international law. There is a continuum of guilty in this level, from those who actively supported a governmental crime to those who actively opposed it, however NONE are totally "innocent." Again, such should be judged in an impartial court and the victims of the "guilty" American citizens need to be addressed with material reparations and compensation.
3. Third is the matter of MORAL GUILT whereby it may not be possible to prosecute all people who have committed offenses in connection with the State, but as Churchill puts it, "Each individual is thus personally responsible for his/her acts, 'Including the execution of political and military orders,' and thus socially/morally accountable for them." Excuses -- "I was just doing my job" or "I was just following orders" or "it's just human nature" -- are all invalid. "Justifications" like this are an attempt to avoid moral guilt and should not be tolerated. Thus public stigma is associated with such people and they must bear the consequences of existential confrontation with themselves as a result of their deeds or lack of effective action.
4. The last level is the matter of what Jaspers termed METAPHYSICAL GUILT. These people may not be directly guilty, however they are guilty because they averted their eyes and pretended that nothing was happening -- sitting by while crimes against humanity, have been, and still are being committed in their name -- the name of the "innocent" American people, people who would say, "Oh I had no idea what was happening, I saw nothing in the (media-controlled) news." Such people will read this book commentary and yet do nothing to further their knowledge on the subject; take effective and responsible action for their government, or even forward this to those who may. As Churchill says: "Therein, incontestably lies the guilt shared by all who opt to remain alive while Others are systematically subjugated, dispossessed, tortured and murdered. Those who would reject such criteria out-of-hand might do well to bear in mind that they join company thus with Carl Schmitt, a leading light among the Nazi legal philosophers, who was among the first to pronounce them "beneath attention." Others, seeking to neutralize the implications by equivocation, insisting that while a Jasperian schemata "makes good sense for Germans," the "good offsets the bad" where America and Americans are concerned, should be aware that this is precisely the argument ordered by Germany's "New Right" -- neoNazis, by any other name -- with regard to the Third Reich itself."
Some Positive News:
Okay, now here's the good news: Churchill says that if the American People gained a sufficient degree of awareness of their negative effects and were willing to proceed down the path of Jasper's wisdom/atonement, they would be in a better position to put ethics in on (individuals in) their government and thus make future attacks unnecessary. I agree. If the U.S. is to remain a superpower, and deserve such power, it must take responsibility for any and all actions it participated in on its way to zenith. With great power comes great responsibility. Even as a proud American citizen, I, for one, cannot ASSUME that my country and government have always taken the legal, ethical and moral paths, or that they are doing so today. And neither should you. The Framers of the Constitution provided in that Constitution the wherewithal for the People -- independent of their current government -- to review and evaluate the performance of that entity which they have chosen and allowed to govern them: not just for an elite few, but for the common majority. If in the event that government needs adjustment, or individuals in same need discipline from time to time, then it is the duty and responsibility of THE PEOPLE to make such adjustments and administer discipline as necessary to carry out the obvious purposes and intentions setforth in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This ability is what places American Citizens in stark contrast to the German Citizens of the former Third Reich. This ability should not be wasted.
21 April 2005
(1) For those interested in separate and corroborating sources, see DOSSIER ON AMERICA at http://www.jaegerresearchinstitute.org/articles/dossie2.htm
(2) The United States has refused to ratify many elements of international public and humanitarian law and has often claimed a "sovereign right" to self-exemption from compliance, such as in the case of the 1948 Convention of Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Additionally, the U.S. routinely fails to comply with may other international laws, among which are the International Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and the International Treaty Banning the Use, Production, Stockpiling and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines of 1998. While an international tribunal is being convened on Saddam Hussein for failure to comply with UN resolutions and genocide, it might be a good idea to at the same time convene an International Criminal Court (ICC) on various present and former U.S. officials for similar and identical crimes. Although the list of eligible candidates is extensive, terrorist attacks on the U.S. would probably stop if THE People were to bring to trial at least the following: former Secretary of State Madoline Albright on the basis of her statement that it was "worth the price" that 500,000 children were starved to death in Iraq as a result of the 10-year U.S. enforced embargo on the country. Other candidates are Christopher Hitchens; former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger; and currently "serving" North Carolina Senator, Jesse Helms. Churchill says that "Prosecution of these major U.S. criminals before the ICC would pave the way for a series of such trials, targeting as in the Nuremberg proceedings representative defendants drawn from each of the interactive "classes" of American offenders -- governmental, military, corporate, scientific and so on -- comprising the elite decisionmaking stratum of America's New World Order."
(3) See MY BEEF WITH BIG MEDIA by Ted Turner at http://www.jaegerresearchinstitute.org/articles/stupid.htm
(4) See MID Business Plan on alternative distribution of motion pictures over the broadband Internet at http://www.mecfilms.com/mid/plan
(5) See the Film Industry Reform Movement (FIRM) at http://www.homevideo.net/FIRM
(6) See THE CREATURE FROM JEKYLE ISLAND by G. Edward Griffin, a review at http://www.realityzone.com/creature.html
(7) See ON THE JUSTICE OF ROOSTING CHICKENS, available at http://www.amazon.com
(8) See GERMAN GUILT by Karl Jaspers and MORAL RESPONSIBILITY IN THE HOLOCAUST by David H. Jones, both available at http://www.amazon.com
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