Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The "little Eichmanns" crowd rears its ugly head again

After the events of September 11th, 2001, the attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon along with the abortive attack on the White House (Flight 93), faux American Indian Ward Churchill penned what has become something of an infamous essay: "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens." Loosely written and poorly argued, the basic premise of this essay was that 9-11 represented a more than fair--and entirely predictable--response to America's actions in other parts of the world, especially those in the First Gulf War (in Iraq) and with regard to the Israel/Palestine situation.

Churchill went to great lengths to defend the actions of the hijackers responsible for 9-11, insisting they were not cowards in the least, but brave men who "manifested the courage of their convictions, willingly expending their own lives in attaining their objectives." Further, Churchill--though he didn't even know the identities of these men at the time of his essay and certainly had not spoken to any of them--insisted they were not driven by "Islamic Fundamentalism" in the least, that they could not be called "fanatics" of any sort.

The people that died at the hands of these "brave soldiers of justice" or however Churchill might have phrased it were not, none of them, "innocent civilians" either. The people in the World Trade Centers were as guilty as those in the Pentagon because of what Churchill assumes they did for a living (my boldface):
True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire – the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to "ignorance" – a derivative, after all, of the word "ignore" – counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.
The last line proved to be the most memorable and most cited one in Churchill's essay. In it, Churchill is very clearly saying the people in the WTCs got what they deserved, comparing them to Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi colonel responsible for organizing parts of the Holocaust who was ultimately tried, convicted, and hanged by the state of Israel.

There is a deeper issue here that Churchill tries--and fails--to interject into his piece with the term "little Eichmanns," Namely, it is the idea of the banality of evil expressed by Hannah Arendt in her book on the Eichmann trial, Eichmann in Jerusalem. That idea concerns how great tragedies in history like the Holocaust occurred because of people like Eichmann, people who were of a more or less average and every day character who simply went along with what they were told to do, in service to their state or leader.

Churchill imagines such a characterization can be made about the people who worked in the WTCs in general, that these people were fundamentally responsible for the supposed horrors perpetrated by the U.S. Government because they in essence funded those actions, by virtue of their participation in the financial industry.

It is a silly argument, to be sure. Churchill has no sense of history--apparently unaware of the Cold War in total and the role it played in setting up the fault lines of the current world--and even less sense of the global financial industry. Moreover, we know the hijackers were motivated by their religion and very much were fanatics. Certainly, they--the hijackers--believed their actions were justified as a response to perceived U.S. actions against the Muslim world, but these were not brilliant men; they were indoctrinated, brainwashed as it were, in service to a cause. In short, they were just tools in the hands of jihadists like Osama bin Laden.

Yet more than a decade later, arguments like those of Churchill's continue to find purchase in the minds of other supposed intellectuals, who operate under the misguided belief that only the United States is responsible for its actions, that the rest of the world--especially the Muslim world--only reacts and thus has no culpability for things like acts of terror.

Princeton professor and United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, from just five days ago, writes this--in his article "A Commentary on the Marathon Murders"--about the Boston Bombings:
Aside from the tensions of the moment, self-scrutiny and mid-course reflections on America’s global role is long overdue. Such a process is crucial both for the sake of the country’s own future security and also in consideration of the wellbeing of others. Such adjustments will eventually come about either as a result of a voluntary process of self-reflection or through the force of unpleasant events. How and when this process of reassessment occurs remains a mystery. Until it does, America’s military prowess and the abiding confidence of its leaders in hard power diplomacy makes the United States a menace to the world and to itself. Such an observation is as true if the more avowedly belligerent Mitt Romney rather than the seemingly dovish Barack Obama was in the White House. Such bipartisan support for maintaining the globe-girdling geopolitics runs deep in the body politic, and is accompanied by the refusal to admit the evidence of national decline. The signature irony is that the more American decline is met by a politics of denial, the more rapid and steep will be the decline, and the more abrupt and risky will be the necessary shrinking of the global leadership role so long played by the United States. We should be asking ourselves at this moment, “how many canaries will have to die before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?”
The victims of the Boston bombings are, in this case, mere "canaries," a description that invokes the "canary in a coal mine" metaphor. Thus for Falk, the bombings are just more evidence of the unjust actions of the United States in the Muslim world, particularly as regards Palestine (a point Falk makes earlier in the piece). The victims are unimportant, except as symbols of such injustice.

Georgetown adjunct professor and former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, from a mere three days ago, writes the following--in his article "U.S. leaders’ fingerprints are on the detonators"--on the same subject:
While the Tsarnaev brothers apparently conducted the Marathon bombings in Boston, the detonators of those bombs also have the fingerprints of most Democratic and Republican politicians all over them, and those men and women are in a measure responsible for each and every one of the Boston casualties. Why? Because once again it is blatantly obvious from the evidence the authorities have presented to date that the attackers were motivated by what the U.S. government does in the Muslim world and not because of our freedoms, liberties, and gender equality. So before President Obama and Secretary Kerry, Senators McCain and Graham, and most of the mainstream media swing into intense lying mode — which amounts to “those murderous Muslims are crazy and hate liberty” — here are several contact points with reality worth keeping in mind...
Unsurprisingly, the "points" he goes on to provide reference Israel and the "Jewish lobby" as a part of the problem. But the larger point is that--like Churchill and Falk--Scheuer sees these bombings as "just deserts," as "chickens coming home to roost." They are responses--in the minds of these "scholars"--to U.S. actions and must be viewed in that light, alone. Those actually responsible for these attacks possess no agency, while the U.S. government does. The typical citizen--fair game and cannon fonder in this view--is culpable because the typical citizen allows the U.S. government to do what it does. Once again, despite references to Muslims and Jews, religion as a role is minimized. Scheuer even goes as far to allow that the degradation of women in many Muslim societies is just a "social view," essentially saying that concerns over such things are pointless and silly:
And all this in the name of a secular democratic movement that surely exists in the deranged-by-feminism brains of Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice but to no considerable extent anywhere in the Arab world.
"Deranged-by-feminism brains." That's nice, isn't it? Between such antiquated social views and such obvious anti-Semitism, is it any wonder that these men have all found common cause with Islamic fundamentalism? Both of the above pieces were picked up by the Foreign Policy Journal, a good place to go for 9-11 conspiracy theories that blame the Jews.

But this kind of stuff is still accepted, even praised, in academia. It's justified as a different point of view. The overt anti-Semitism is ignored, excused, or rebranded as "anti-Zionism." The obvious misogyny of Scheuer will be equally ignored, as well.

When Falk speaks of "American decline," he makes a fair point insofar as there is such a decline. But that decline is internal, not external, and he--along with people like Scheuer and Churchill--are the poster children in this regard, who confuse their masturbatory expulsions with critical analysis, who justify their own bigotries via accusations and finger-pointing, and who suppose they can see the future when they do not even understand the past.

Both Scheuer and Falk assume the Boston bombings are a continuation of a conflict with the Muslim world, one that will grow more violent, meaning more and more such incidents are likely. But Churchill assumed the same thing after 9-11 and that never actually came to pass, even though al Qaeda promised that 9-11 was just the beginning. If these men are right, if their analysis has any value whatsoever, one would have to ask "why now?" On this, they are silent. Because they're actually clueless.

Cheers, all.


  1. Pro-Israeli commentators had complained for years about Falk, who is a major persona in UN Human Rights Council, but as usually happens, were dismissed. Now, after these statements, US is calling for his firing from his position.

    In other news, a couple of days ago Kerry compared the victims in Boston to those killed on Mavi Marmara (i.e. IHH members who attacked IDF soldiers when they boarded the ship). The rot, unfortunately goes far deeper than Falk and Churchill. They can be easily dismissed because their views are so obviously reprehensible and idiotic. How many statements and views which are no less idiotic, but only less obvious invade the media and the academia in US and Europe?

  2. Can I plug myself again :-)
    My paper got onto a cover of a major scientific journal
    Since then it featured in almost two dozen scientific news articles

    Strangely, my blog traffic had suddenly seen a spike in activity :-)

  3. Plug away, Dm. That's very cool stuff. I'd like a nanofiber running shirt... :)

  4. Thanks. If you want to read a bit more (since the paper is behind the paywall), I posted a short description on my blog