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View Diary: Ward Churchill wins lawsuit against Colorado (177 comments)

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  •  His original article... (12+ / 0-)

    ...was even a valid point, if controversial. His argument was that American citizens are responsible by proxy for all the war and death caused by their government and shouldn't be surprised when events like this happen.

    •  Agreed, and it strikes me that (12+ / 0-)

      hardly anyone has actually read the article in question.  Now, Churchill used intentionally inflammatory language to make his point, which is too bad because he actually has one: the paradigm of what it means to be "guilty" of a state's crimes changed after Nuremberg, and by those standards the American public bears some level of guilt for the state's imperialist policies.  Why he had to cloud that point with deliberately inflammatory rhetoric, I don't understand (although if he hadn't we probably never would have heard of it, much less read it.)

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 06:18:43 PM PDT

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      •  Little Eichmanns... (8+ / 0-)

        ...was inflammatory, but useful to his point. Eichmann didn't get directly involved in the Holocaust, he just "did his job" as efficiently as possible, what Churchill argues the American public is guilty of.

        •  Can't entirely agree, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk, musing85, Aunt Martha

          not because I think the parallel is necessarily off-limits, but because Churchill treats it as a rhetorical flourish more than an argument, per se.  The style and language of the essay isn't intended to spur discussion, but to provoke reaction.  I understand that the essay is polemical rather than academic, but if you're going to be a provocateur, you have to be prepared for the potential backlash.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 06:25:34 PM PDT

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        •  It's not inflammatory. It's profoundly amoral. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          markw, dufffbeer

          Comparing people who are, through passivity or lack of knowledge or even lack of interest, not doing all they can to better the world with an executed war criminal isn't inflammatory, it erases the distinction between those culpable of murder, those culpable of conspiracy to murder, and those who are culpable of insouciance.  Erasing that leads dumbfuck professors to find it easy to applaud the deaths of those people randomly placed in tall buildings as deserved, which it is not, and absolves those who caused the deaths as some sort of avenging angels.  It's profoundly amoral.

          "30-plus Republicans have irrevocably tethered their wagons to the Bachmann crazy train. Excellent." -- Bob Cesca

          by Inland on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 07:36:22 PM PDT

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          •  I wouldn't call it amoral: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dufffbeer

            I agree with your assessment somewhat, but Churchill is making a moral critique, not a relativist one.  

            As such, I'd consider it immoral.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 07:59:51 PM PDT

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          •  Amoral? (0+ / 0-)

            Here's a thought experiment.

            China invades the USA.

            We all would agree that killing the actual Chinese invasion force would be fine. (Right?)

            So, lets say that there are teams of Chinese who don't actually kill anyone, but they steal weapons and give those weapons to the invading force who uses them to kill people. OK to kill those people?

            What about people in China who manufacture weapons for the Chinese to use to invade the USA? OK to kill them, since it certainly saves American lives by impeding the Chinese war effort?

            Now, how about random Chinese citizens who pay taxes in order to support the manufacture of guns and the sending of millions of Chinese forces to invade us. OK to kill them? What's the difference between them and the weapons manufacturers, except degree of contribution to the war effort?

            Do you see the problem here? How do you resolve the moral issues?

            •  Um. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              markw, dufffbeer

               Churchill wasn't saying that the people of the WTC were regrettable collateral damage of war.  He was saying they deserved to die.  That they were culpable.  That they were Eichmanns.  Not Eichmann's servants or secretaries or gardeners or some random taxpayers who get killed when an Allied bomb drops on Eichmann.  

              Churchill can't see a moral distinction between a war criminal hanged for orgainizing a genocide and someone who was at the WTC to empty wastebaskets or place trades on the NYSE.  Or between those who did the killing.  It's fucked up.

              "30-plus Republicans have irrevocably tethered their wagons to the Bachmann crazy train. Excellent." -- Bob Cesca

              by Inland on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 08:17:03 PM PDT

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              •  You didn't answer my question (0+ / 0-)

                I wasn't arguing that they were "regrettable casualties of war", I was arguing that it's difficult to understand "moral" behavior when you're in a war.

                How far removed from the actual people doing the damage does a person have to be to be safe from being attacked?

                Like I said, a person invading a country holding a gun and shooting people, it's ok to kill them. What about the people who merely made the gun, knowing it would be used for such a purpose? What about the people who paid taxes, knowing that the taxes would be used to make the gun to illegally invade another country?

                •  That's why people pretend there's a "war". (0+ / 0-)

                  I was arguing that it's difficult to understand "moral" behavior when you're in a war.

                  That's why people pretend there's a "war" when they want to do something questionable to someone far, far removed from the "battlefield" and can't be assigned any personal culpability.  Al qaeda was a pretty good example of that, pretending to be coming to the defense of an occupied Saudi Arabia, among the other things in the grab bag.

                  "30-plus Republicans have irrevocably tethered their wagons to the Bachmann crazy train. Excellent." -- Bob Cesca

                  by Inland on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 03:59:23 AM PDT

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            •  I'd go with international humanitarian law here (0+ / 0-)

              Do you see the problem here? How do you resolve the moral issues?

              The principles of proportionality and noncombatant immunity work pretty well for me. Insofar as its possible while prosecuting a war, avoid killing civilians (noncombatant immunity).

              So the random Chinese taxpayers (and the people in the Twin Towers) are not permissible targets, and efforts must be taken to avoid harming them.

              The people manufacturing the weapons are not acceptable targets when they are outside an arms factory. An arms factory itself is a significant military target, and if its not possible to destroy it without killing civilian workers inside, then their deaths could be justified. But the force used has to be proportional to the value of the target (proportionality).

              As for the teams of Chinese who don't engage in combat, but steal weapons...are they uniformed soldiers? If so, they're legitimate targets the same as combat forces. If they're civilians, they're subject to noncombatant immunity, and efforts must be taken to avoid harming them. Under the proportionality principle it might be possible to justify targeting them if the military value was high enough (ie, if victory could be assured by interdicting their supply of weapons to combat forces).

              Churchill's argument, which rejects both principles, is a rationalization for terrorism and a justification for war crimes. It's basically the argument Hamas makes to justify attacking Israeli civilians.

      •  Is there really anything wrong with (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, Hastur, pico, LaFajita, Larsstephens

        "inflammatory rhetoric"? And is what he said really inflammatory? Tasteless to some, I am sure, but not earth shaking.
        The stench made of this far exceeds the crime

    •  Yeah, the CIA... (0+ / 0-)

      even has a word for it: Blowback.

      There's also a great book by Chalmers Johnson by that same name.

      "The only thing I would trust Dick Cheney on is if I had a dead hooker in my hotel room." --Jon Stewart

      by DemBrock on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:41:22 PM PDT

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