top
Newswire
Calendar
Features
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories:
Ward is a dick part II
by anti-ward
Thursday Feb 10th, 2005 2:02 AM
Ward's fake scholarship. Bob Black also tore Ward a new asshole on the quality of his writing
The Genocide That Wasn’t: Ward Churchill’s Research Fraud

Thomas Brown

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Lamar University

Beaumont, TX 77710

browntf [at] hal.lamar.edu



Abstract:

This is a work in progress that I am making available due to the current interest in Ward Churchill’s writings. I show that Churchill has committed research fraud, and very possibly committed perjury as well. This article analyzes Churchill’s fabrication of a genocide. Churchill invented a story about the US Army deliberately creating a smallpox epidemic among the Mandan people in 1837 by distributing infected blankets. While there was a smallpox epidemic on the Plains in 1837, it was entirely accidental, the Army wasn’t involved, and nearly every element of Churchill’s story is a total invention. My goal here was to show how and why Churchill engaged in such blatant fraud, and why no one has challenged him on it until now.

--

Did the U.S. military ever carry out a genocidal assault on American Indian peoples by means of biological warfare—i.e., distributing infected smallpox blankets? Few historians would dispute that during the Plains Indian wars, selected U.S. military forces did perpetuate massacres that can easily be construed as genocidal in intent. Furthermore, it is well-established that the British general Lord Amherst at least considered distributing smallpox-infected goods to Indians in 1763—with explicitly genocidal intent—and that his plan was carried out independently by his subordinates.

But did the U.S. military ever deploy smallpox blankets? Ward Churchill says they did. In a series of essays written during the 1990s, Churchill gradually elaborates his story of the origins of the smallpox epidemic that broke out on the northern plains in 1837, which probably killed at least 20 to 30,000 people. Churchill charges the U.S. Army with deliberately infecting the Mandan tribe with gifts of smallpox-laden blankets, withholding treatment, and thus causing an epidemic that Churchill says killed more than 125,000 people.

Ward Churchill’s habit of plagiarism and research fraud was well-documented by John Lavelle.[1] Churchill’s tale of the Mandan genocide is but one more example. The first goal of this article will be to set the historical record straight, by comparing Churchill’s deliberately falsified version of events against the evidence, and by attempting to determine the actual cause of the 1837 smallpox epidemic. More crucially, I want to examine the political and cultural influences that lead to frauds such as Churchill’s, and to ask why Churchill’s fantasies take root among scholars who should know better.

Ward Churchill’s Version of the Smallpox Outbreak among the Mandans

Churchill first advanced his tale of the Mandan genocide in 1992, in the context of “a brief supporting a motion to dismiss charges” against Churchill and other activists, who were being tried for having disrupted a Columbus Day parade in Denver the year before. In Churchill’s trial brief, he claimed immunity from the state laws under which he was being prosecuted. Churchill made the argument that protesting the parade was tantamount to combating genocide, and was thus his legal duty under international law. Towards that end, in his trial brief Churchill described several historical examples of genocide against Indians, including this one:[2]

At Fort Clark on the upper Missouri River…the U.S. Army distributed smallpox-laden blankets as gifts among the Mandan. The blankets had been gathered from a military infirmary in St. Louis where troops infected with the disease were quarantined. Although the medical practice of the day required the precise opposite procedure, army doctors ordered the Mandans to disperse once they exhibited symptoms of infection. The result was a pandemic among the Plains Indian nations which claimed at least 125,000 lives, and may have reached a toll several times that number.[3]

The only source that Churchill cites in support of this contention is Russell Thornton.[4] It is enlightening to compare Thornton’s rendition with Churchill’s. Thornton locates the origins of the epidemic in “a steamboat traveling the Missouri River” (94):

Steamboats had been traveling the upper Missouri River for years before 1837, dispatched by Saint Louis fur companies for trade with the Mandan and other Indians. At 3:00 P.M. on June 19, 1837, the American Fur Company steamboat St. Peter’s arrived at the Mandan villages after stopping at Fort Clark just downstream. Some aboard the steamer had smallpox when the boat docked. It soon was spread to the Mandan, perhaps by deckhands who unloaded merchandise, perhaps by chiefs who went aboard a few days later, or perhaps by women and children who went aboard at the same time.[5]

Note the discrepancies between Churchill and Thornton. Thornton locates the site of infection at the Mandan village, not at Fort Clark. Nowhere does Thornton mention the U.S. Army. Nowhere does Thornton mention “a military infirmary in St. Louis where troops infected with the disease were quarantined.” Nowhere does Thornton mention the distribution of “smallpox-laden blankets as gifts.” On the contrary—Thornton clearly hypothesizes the origins of the epidemic as being entirely accidental.

Citing Thornton, Churchill holds that “the pandemic claimed at least 125,000 lives, and may have reached a toll several times that number.” But Thornton counts only 20,400 dead from a variety of tribes, plus “many Osage”, and “three fifths of the north-central California Indians (probably an exaggeration)”. In other words, Thornton counts no more than 30,000 dead at most.[6]

Considering that Churchill wrote this initial story as part of a trial brief, it would appear that he may well have committed perjury, which is a felony under Colorado law.[7]

Churchill would go on to invent new details for his story. Churchill published his 1992 trial brief as part of an essay collection in 1994. In 1998, Churchill revisited his Mandan genocide story in a new collection of essays, A Little Matter of Genocide. Churchill addresses the Lord Amherst affair of 1763, in which British colonial forces may have indeed distributed smallpox-infected goods to Indians in New England. Churchill argues that Amherst:

…was by no means a singular incident, although it is the best documented. Only slightly more ambiguous was the U.S. Army’s dispensing of ‘trade blankets’ to Mandans and other Indians gathered at Fort Clark, on the Missouri River in present-day North Dakota, beginning on June 20, 1837. Far from being trade goods, the blankets had been taken from a military infirmary in St. Louis quarantined for smallpox, and brought upriver aboard the steamboat St. Peter’s. When the first Indians showed symptoms of the disease on July 14, the post surgeon advised those camped near the post to scatter and seek ‘sanctuary’ in the villages of healthy relatives…there is no conclusive figure as to how many Indians died…but estimates run as high as 100,000.[8]

In this version, Churchill elaborates on his initial version, adding new details. A new character appears: the post surgeon. Churchill implies that this character strategically encouraged the Indians to scatter and thus spread the disease. Churchill has also downgraded his outside estimate of the number of victims to only “as high as 100,000.”

Another example of Churchill’s difficult relationship with the truth can be found in a footnote. [9] Here Churchill charges Howard Peckham with “suppressing” the Amherst story during the 1930s. What Churchill fails to explain is how a historian in the 1930s could possibly have suppressed a story that has been in print since 1851, when Francis Parkman first reported it. Churchill attributes the suppression story to Donald Grinde, another neo-Indian historian.[10] One wonders how Churchill—a supposedly expert author of a book on Indian genocide—could be so totally ignorant of such a well-known source as Parkman.

What Really Happened?

Churchill’s tale of genocide by means of biological warfare is shocking. It is also entirely fraudulent. The only truth in Churchill’s version of the pandemic is the fact that a smallpox outbreak did occur in 1837, and that it was probably carried into the region on board the steamboat St. Peter. Every other detail of Churchill’s story must have come from his imagination, because his own sources contradict him on nearly every point.[11]

None of the sources that Churchill cites make any mention of “a military infirmary…quarantined for smallpox.” None of the sources Churchill cites make any mention of U.S. Army soldiers even being in the area of the pandemic, much less being involved with it in any way. Churchill’s own sources make it clear that Fort Clark was not an Army garrison. It was a remote trading outpost that was privately owned and built by the American Fur Company, and manned by a handful of white traders.[12] It was not an Army fort, nor did it contain soldiers. Not being an Army fort, it did not contain a “post surgeon” who told Indians to “scatter” and spread the disease. Churchill’s own sources make all of this abundantly clear.

According to Churchill’s own sources, the only government employee present anywhere in the region was the local Indian Agent, who according to eyewitnesses did not distribute blankets or anything else at the time of the pandemic, “as he has nothing to give his red children.”[13] The government agent functioned to serve the interests of the trading company, and had no independent incentive to infect the Indians.[14]

Journals and letters written by the fur traders who did man Fort Clark make it clear that they were appalled by the epidemic, in part because they had Indian wives and children and were thus a part of the Indian community. The traders also had economic interests in keeping the Indians healthy. The trader Jacob Halsey—who himself contracted the smallpox—lamented that “the loss to the company by the introduction of this malady will be immense in fact incalculable as our most profitable Indians have died.”[15] Obviously the traders had no incentive to wage biological warfare on their own families and their “most profitable Indians”, much less put their own lives at risk.

Churchill claims that vaccine was deliberately withheld by “the army”, but this is once again pure fabrication on Churchill’s part.[16] The very source that Churchill cites in support of this fabrication contradicts him, describing how “great care was exercised in the attempt to eliminate the transfer of the smallpox” by the traders, and how “a physician was dispatched for the sole purpose of vaccinating the affected tribes while the pestilence was at its height.”[17]

Contrary to Churchill’s claims, there was no post surgeon to tell the Indians to scatter. The trader Halsey complained that he:

…could not prevent [the Indians] from camping round the Fort—they have caught the disease, notwithstanding I have never allowed an Indian to enter the Fort, or any communication between them & the Sick; but I presume the air was infected with it…[18]

What if the U.S. Army had been active in the region? Given the opportunity, would Army officers have had any motive to use biological warfare against the Mandans? Five years earlier, in 1832, Congress passed an act and appropriated funds to establish a program for vaccinating Indians on the Missouri River.[19] Given this Congressional mandate to protect Indians from smallpox, given the lack of hostilities between the U.S. military and the Mandans or any other Plains Indians at that time, and given the military’s lack of presence in the area of the Mandans at the time, Churchill’s version of events does not seem at all plausible, even in the context of counterfactual speculation.

Churchill’s sources make it abundantly clear that the disease’s vector was not Churchill’s mythical smallpox blankets given as gifts. Not a single source mentions any such blankets. The disease’s vector was the trader Jacob Halsey himself, who arrived on the St. Peter already infected. The disease was entirely accidental, and as unwelcome by the local whites as by the Indians.[20]

The Mandans do seem to have developed suspicions about the traders as the source of the disease. But the contemporary Mandan grievances did not involve the Army or even mention it. Furthermore, Churchill does not cite Mandan oral history. He cites documentary sources that radically contradict his version, and that show Churchill to have fabricated all of the crucial details.

Legitimating Indianness in Terms of Oppositional Identity

One has only to read the sources that Churchill cites to realize the magnitude of his fraudulent claims for them.[21] We are not dealing with a few minor errors here. We are dealing with a story that Churchill has fabricated almost entirely from scratch. The lack of rationality on Churchill’s part is mind-boggling. Why would a tenured professor decide to make up data—perhaps the most scandalous possible abuse of the academy’s norms—especially when in the Amherst affair, Churchill had a verified example of precisely the type of incident he wanted to invoke for his polemic purposes? How did Churchill expect to get away with a fraud that is so easily detected simply by reading the sources he cites in his own footnotes?

The answer comes into focus when you consider that Churchill is not writing for a scholarly audience. He originally wrote this story to inflame the emotions of a jury. Churchill publishes the bulk of his essays in small left-wing presses or in obscure journals that lack a rigorous peer review. He is writing for a non-specialist audience that takes him at his word. Mainly, Churchill is writing for other Indian activists, and for the broader reading population of leftists.

In Indian activist circles, prestige and legitimacy often accrues to those who most successfully express an oppositional identity. The way the equation works within the movement is that the more opposition you express, the more Indian you become. Anti-white racism within AIM is largely perpetrated by people—such as Churchill—who are insecure in their own Indian identity. Hence Churchill indicts the U.S. Army by fabricating a new, even more disturbing atrocity, thus raising the stakes on Indian grievances, in order to garner acclaim as a real Indian activist whose legitimacy is beyond question. Given the movement’s anti-intellectual environment, few are likely to bother tracking down Churchill’s citations, especially considering that his core audience is already primed to believe such accusations against the U.S. government.[22]

Conclusion



Is it conceivable that one could become a holocaust denier by denying a holocaust that never happened? Is it possible in today’s political climate to deny a non-existent genocide, and retain your reputation within the academy?

Ward Churchill has carefully framed his smallpox blanket canard in precisely these terms. Anyone who would speak truth to fraud must be willing to face Churchill’s trademark firestorm of ad hominem accusations. Churchill accuses his white interlocutors of being neo-Nazis, his Indian interlocutors as being hang-around-the-fort sellouts.[23]

It is obvious how research fraud harms the academy, which is why it is the ultimate sin among scholars. But do frauds such as Churchill’s also do damage to the efficacy of Indian political activism, especially activism on behalf of historical memory?

Ultimately, yes. Ward Churchill has attained status as the most prominent voice currently articulating Indian political interests to the broader left. When Churchill’s credibility is shredded—a process begun in the pages of Wicazo Sa Review by John LaVelle, one that is being continued in this article, and one that will certainly not end here—what will be the result in the way the broader polity views Indian issues—especially considering that many interested readers were first introduced to Indian issues through the writings of Ward Churchill?

The fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” comes to mind here. True historical instances of genocide may well become delegitimated by the promiscuous promulgation of mythical genocides such as Churchill’s. The triviality of Churchill’s falsifications comes into sharper focus when you consider that he originally invented his story of the Mandan genocide in order to evade an indictment that carried a maximum penalty of a $1500 fine and six months in jail.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] LaVelle, John. “The General Allotment Act ‘Eligibility’ Hoax: Distortions of Law, Policy, and History in Derogation of Indian Tribes.” 14 Wicazo Sa Review 251 (Spring 1999).

[2] Churchill, Ward. 1994. “Bringing the Law Back Home: Application of the Genocide Convention in the United States.” Indians Are Us? Culture and Genocide in Native North America. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, p. 11.

[3] Churchill, 1994, p. 35.

[4] Russell Thornton, American Indian Holocaust and Survival, 1987, pp. 94-96.

[5] Thornton 1987, p. 96.

[6] Thornton, p. 95. The estimate of 20,400 total dead was calculated by adding up all of Thornton’s estimates for each individual tribe. “Probably an exaggeration” is part of the quote from Thornton—his own words.

[7] See Colorado Revised Statues, 18-8-503.

[8] Churchill 1998, A Little Matter of Genocide, p. 155.

[9] Churchill 1998, p. 261, fn. 132.

[10] Grinde claims to be of the Yamassee tribe, which went extinct several centuries ago.

[11] Churchill gets the dates all wrong as well. According to Chardon’s diary, the steamboat arrived at Fort Clark on June 18, not June 20 (p. 118).

[12] Francis A. Chardon, Chardon's journal at Fort Clark, 1834-1839; descriptive of life on the upper Missouri; of a fur trader's experiences among the Mandans, Gros Ventres, and their neighbors; of the ravages of the small-pox epidemic of 1837, Freeport, N.Y., Books for Libraries Press [1970], p. xv. All of the “forts” in the vicinity were in fact privately-owned trading outposts.

[13] Chardon, p. 188, entry for June 20, 1837.

[14] see introduction to Chardon

[15] Chardon, p. 395.

[16] Churchill, p. 155, “A little matter of…”.

[17] E. Wagner Stearn & Allen E. Stearn. 1945. The Effect of Smallpox on the Destiny of the Amerindian, pp. 83, 87-88.

[18] Chardon, p. 394.

[19] Michael K. Trimble. “The 1832 Inoculation Program on the Missouri River.” Disease and Demography in the Americas. Ed. by John W. Verano & Douglas H. Ubelaker, 1992; E. Wagner Stearn & Allen E. Stearn. 1945. The Effect of Smallpox on the Destiny of the Amerindian, pp. 73-74.

[20] Stearn & Stearn (p. 81) relate a story of a Mandan chief stealing an infected blanket from the steamboat. The trader Chardon tried to retrieve the infected blanket by promising to exchange it for clean ones. However, the source cited (Zenas Leonard’s narrative) does not contain this story, nor do the Stearns themselves seem to give the story much credence. Even if true, the story still directly contradicts Churchill’s claim that the army deliberately distributed infected blankets.



[22] Re the movement’s anti-intellectual environment, see Paul Smith and Robert Warrior, Like a hurricane: the Indian movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee, New York : New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton, c1996.

[23] Churchill 1994, p. 12.
by .
Thursday Feb 10th, 2005 8:13 AM
If someone actually read Churchill's essay in question here, he does not pin the epidemic among the Mandan entirely on the Thornton reference.

There are a lot of primary references that he cites within the book that also back up his description. When you read this critique by Brown, you sort of have to take his word for it that Thornton is the only reference.

One long piece about this is : Evan Connell's 'Son of the Morning
Star".

This is what Churchill makes much bigger use of, and he only adds Thornton in addition in a footnote.

Brown is being dishonest when he says that Churchill was pinning it all on one flimsy source.
by ¿
Thursday Feb 10th, 2005 10:44 AM
http://www.nativeweb.org/pages/legal/amherst/lord_jeff.html

Try reading the letters and all the sources and I belive this will

remove all doubt about the smallpox infection!!

So anti ward maybe YOU should do YOUR homework!

all that time writing your argument and it's proven wrong in a few

sentences HA HA.
by RWF
(restes60 [at] earthlink.net) Thursday Feb 10th, 2005 10:51 AM
http://www.counterpunch.org/wise02092005.html

["Didn't We Get Rid of Those People Years Ago?"
Reflections on Empire and Uppity Indians
By TIM WISE

I should have known better than to listen in to the conversation immediately to my left, sitting as I was in the Northwest Airlines World Club, in Detroit. Unlike most of the folks who have paid their $450 for an annual membership--which entitles one to little more than some free booze, cheese, crackers and coffee, along with a comfy chair between flights--I am hardly, after all, the typical "business traveler." I usually spend my time in such places, hastily composing one or another radical screed (like this one), while waiting to fly somewhere to deliver a speech that will, in some small way, move forward the cause of social transformation.

This is not the purpose for which the guy talking about mutual funds in the cubicle next to me, is here.

But this time, I couldn't avoid hearing the discussion between the two men, appropriately white and with matching blue suits and red power ties, whose familiarity with a bottle of scotch had apparently reached intimate proportions.

They were ruminating on the recent goings on at the University of Colorado, where Ethnic Studies professor, Ward Churchill is under siege for an article he composed back in the immediate aftermath of 9/11; an essay in which Churchill sought to explain that a nation really ought not be surprised when its policies abroad--which have resulted in the slaughter of millions of innocent civilians--cause some in those nations to "push back" and seek to exact a similar collective death upon the people of that first country.

While Churchill's essay was indelicate in places, it was hardly more so than any of the bloodthirsty things said by representatives of the state or the denizens of talk radio around that same time--folks who were itching to level Afghanistan, turn the Arab world into a parking lot, or, as Bill O'Reilly put it, put a bullet to the heads of any Afghans who weren't sufficiently supportive of our ousting the Taliban for them.

I remember reading Ward's missive at the time, and being bothered by the "little Eichmanns" reference (for those who worked in the World Trade Center), not because I thought Churchill actually believed these folks deserved to die, but because I knew the statement would be taken out of context and used to smear not only him, but the larger left of which we are both a part. In other words, Ward was perhaps guilty of naiveté, assuming that people are far more capable of discerning nuance and irony than they really are.

But to the two men in the World Club, he was guilty of a lot more than that. To them, Churchill's most egregious crime was not having died, "like all the other Indians."

I shit you not. One of the men, fuming about the article that now has Ward facing down the barrel of a Board of Trustees looking for any reason to fire him, despite tenure, turned to the other and said: "Just when you thought we'd killed all the Indians, one pops up talkin' some shit like this, and reminds you that we didn't finish the job after all."

White guy number two laughs, in fact, damn near spits Dewar's and soda all over the leather barca lounger he's plopped down in, finding this affable romanticizing of genocide to be the funniest fucking thing he has apparently had the luxury of hearing, at least since the last time he and his buddies sat around in a sports bar, farting, and trading jokes about fags, or some such thing.

I was stunned, because just one day before, I had speculated, only half-seriously, during an interview with KPFK in Los Angeles, that this anti-Indian sentiment might lay beneath some of the vitriol aimed Ward's way. After all, the attacks on him have seemed so personal, so vicious, so much worse than even the histrionics normally leveled at white leftists like Chomsky, or Parenti, or Zinn, who said much the same thing about 9/11 after that fateful day. The bombast has seemed to include an unhealthy dose of racial resentment--absolute rage--at the notion that a person of color and an Indian no less, should dare to condemn the American empire.

"Didn't we get rid of those people years ago?" One can almost hear the refrain, as if broadcast from a loudspeaker.

"Goddamit, be silent," comes the stare from others, or the words themselves.

"Don't make us go all Trail of Tears on your ass. Don't make us send out those smallpox-infected blankets again. Remember, we still got some of that stuff in a vial at the Centers for Disease Control. Do NOT make us break that shit out, 'cuz we'll do it."

"Oh the ingratitude! Here we are, honoring your ancestors by naming sports mascots after your people, and this is how one of yours repays us? Oh, hell no, not today Chief!"

Even having concluded that racism was part of the reason for the overwrought reaction to Churchill, I was utterly unprepared to hear my suspicions confirmed in such a manner; probably because I've grown so accustomed to white people lying about their racist views, going out of their way in fact to deny them, at least around others. As such, I couldn't even think of what to say. My inclination was to ask for the guy's business card, pretending to have liked his comment, and then send his address and phone number to the American Indian Movement, so they could harass his pretty white ass for a few months. But in the end, all I did was glare, a gesture the meaning of which I'm sure was lost on them both, lubricated as they were on second-rate blended whiskey.

And while these two guys might not be representative of the masses of people so driven to distraction by Churchill's commentary, I have little doubt but that, like the rest of the teeming hordes out to see him fired, they regularly shrug off comments about civilian deaths being justified, when made by representatives of their own side. More to the point, they glibly accept, as a consequence of war, the deaths themselves (not merely talk about them) as justified, as in Iraq, where even the lowest of low-ball estimates places the numbers of these around 15,000, and where the highest reach above 100,000.

So what? they might say, in a tone and manner little different from that echoed in the caves of Afghanistan that have served as a home for bin Laden all these years.

They surely are not bothered by pundit Ann Coulter's recent comments, to the effect that we should "nuke North Korea," so as to "send a message" to the rest of the world, and because it would be, in her words, "fun."

They are not bothered by the comments of nationally syndicated talk show host Jay Severin last year, to the effect that the U.S. should tell the Arab world that unless "they" stop killing our troops in Iraq, we will drop nuclear weapons throughout the region, destroying all of the holiest sites of Islam, and killing ten million people, without batting an eye.

They were not bothered when former Secretary of State Madeline Albright rationalized the deaths of a half million children in Iraq as a result of Western sanctions, by saying that those deaths had been "worth it."

Dead people of color, the world over, or right here in the U.S., whose ashes they step over every time they walk out the door of their homes, mean nothing to them. Their deaths are cause for no tears, no contrition, no recompense, and certainly have never served to disqualify those responsible (or those who applaud the carnage) from positions of authority, in colleges, or government. Nor will schools now move to block dear Madame Albright from speaking on their campuses, as happened to Ward; nor will Ann Coulter find herself a pariah for fantasizing about the incineration of folks whose only crime was to be born North Korean.

But Ward Churchill, who has merely laid out the facts about America's murderous ways around the globe--facts that have not been disputed even once by any of his critics--is to be silenced. Those who do the deed are cheered, re-elected and get buildings named after them. Those who merely tell of their exploits and suggest that perhaps there may be consequences, get crushed.

This is what happens, in a nation built on lies from the beginning; whose empire has been constructed on the sands of self-delusion; whose inability to tell the truth about itself has now become the stuff of farce. Our lack of self-awareness, not to mention the way in which Americans pride ourselves on how little we know about the world, and how reflexively patriotic we can be, would all be funny were it not so miserably pathetic, and ultimately so dangerous.

The sickest irony of the entire episode with Churchill is this, of course: namely, if there is anyone whose views and actions lead to the inevitable conclusion that the civilians in the World Trade Center were legitimate, if unfortunate targets, it is the President of the United States. It is he, whose doctrine of "preventative" warfare, assumes by definition that it is acceptable to target buildings that house offices tied to the government and military apparatus of one's enemy, which, indeed the WTC did, and which of course describes the Pentagon in its entirety.

It is Bush whose "shock and awe" invasion of Iraq was planned, even though all agreed that thousands of civilians would die in the process. And if such a mentality is acceptable for Americans--one that reduces innocent civilians to mere collateral damage and shrugs at their untimely demise as if they were the sad but inevitable consequence of modern warfare--then surely we must extend the same courtesy of barbarism to every nation or group on earth with a bone to pick.

So the squealing of those on the right when it comes to Churchill--persons who wholeheartedly endorse the notion of America's right to bomb other nations, even if innocents will be killed, and knowing full well that they will be--does nothing so much as call to mind the line from Shakespeare, that "methinks the lady doth protest too much." Or perhaps the psychological concept of projection, whereby the patient displaces their own sickness onto others, finding in them the very flaws and pathologies to which the patient him or herself has been given over.

We're sort of like the national equivalent of a child, whose mommy and daddy are trying desperately, against all hope, to maintain the child's belief in Santa or the Easter Bunny, or even the tooth fairy. And we rage against any who seek to dispel the myths out of a desire to protect our children's "innocence." While such deceptions are perhaps excusable when dealing with the fantasies of real children, one would hope that a nation run by full-grown men and women would ask a bit more of itself; would find truth more valuable a commodity than innocence; would recognize that, as James Baldwin explained, "Those who insist on maintaining their innocence, long after that innocence has died, turn themselves into monsters."

And so we have: a monster that sees no evil and hears no evil, unless it comes from the despised "other," and who in the process perpetrates its own version of the thing daily.

Tim Wise is the author of two new books: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (Soft Skull Press, 2005), and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (Routledge: 2005). He can be reached at: timjwise [at] msn.com]
by cedric red feather
(eaglesong07 [at] yahoo.com) Monday May 8th, 2006 8:17 AM
I read many of Ward Churchills books and newspaper stories about him. 1ST I am a Mandan Indian, tribally enrolled at Fort Berthold, ND. 2ND I am a Nueta Waxikena(Mandan Turtle Priest), 3RD I graduted from Minot State University,(BA) amd I am also a Purple heart Vietnam veteran. I feel Ward Churchill's story about the smallpox is true and correct, but it wouldn;t change anything. It has only revealed the hate and anger among the so-called scholars of american history. Thank you for allowing me to comment. cedric red feather
by TW
Monday May 8th, 2006 10:41 AM
...to see someone like you succumb to the hypnosis of patriotism. Anyone who gets serious about US history discovers they have been ruthlessly lied to via government-mandated historical "education." Basically, the entire corpus of historical lore used to justify 'exceptionalism' is a massive mind-boggling lie, 'exceptionalism' being the exact thing that all but annihilated your own culture. It is bewildering to see someone like you apologizing for any of it