2.21.2005

Anatomy of a free-speech backlash: How did it come to pass that a little-read 2001 essay by Ward Churchill simmered undetected for years until his opinion that the victims of the 9/11 attacks were complicit "little Eichmanns" ended his teaching career at UC-Boulder last month? The Chronicle of Higher Education untangles a series of events that begins with a 1981 armored car robbery and picks up steam with conservative blogs, Bill O'Reilly, and thousands of angry rightwingers. And here's the essay at the heart of it all, Churchill's "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens." The title invokes Malcolm X--killed 40 years ago today-- who said the assassination of JFK was merely "chickens coming home to roost." (Via Arts & Letters Daily.)

Also: Speaking on Democracy Now!, Churchill explains his "little Eichmanns" comment:
Well it goes to Hannah Arendt's notion of Eichmann, the thesis that he embodied the banality of evil. That she had gone to the Eichmann trial to confront the epitome of evil in her mind and expected to encounter something monstrous, and what she encountered instead was this nondescript little man, a bureaucrat, a technocrat, a guy who arranged train schedules, who, as it turned out, ultimately didn't even agree with the policy that he was implementing, but performed the technical functions that made the holocaust possible, at least in the efficient manner that it occurred, in a totally amoral and soulless way, purely on the basis of excelling at the function and getting ahead within the system that he found himself. He was a good family man, in his way. He was loved by his children, participated in civic activities, was in essence the good German. And she [Arendt] said, therein lies the evil. It wasn't that Eichmann was a Nazi or a high official within Nazidom, although he was in fact a Nazi and a relatively highly placed official, but it was exactly the reverse: that given his actual nomenclature, the actuality of Eichmann was that anyone in this sort of mindless, faceless, bureaucratic capacity could be the Nazi.

1 comment:

sweetems96 said...

We had to read that essay in my english class because it is a good example of logical Fallacies. I think it's a load of shit, really. But the freedom of speach is a nessacary right, otherwise nothing would get accomplished socially. The small backtracks are worth the advancements.