Saturday, January 07, 2006

Interviews with Ward Churchill

Joshua Frank has the first two parts of a three part interview with Native American scholar and activist Ward Churchill up over at BrickBurner. Churchill was the target of the most vitriolic smear campaign since 9/11, with jackboot Bill O'Reilly devoting nearly as much time to denigrating him as to uncovering the nefarious conspiracy against Christmas, a sustained attack over an incredible 41 day period in February and March of last year.

The majority of the right wing bile was directed against an essay he wrote called Some Push Back, which was later expanded into a short book On the Justice of Roosting Chickens (which won Honorable Mention for the Gustavus Myer Human Rights Award in 2004). These works challenged the pervasive meme that there was no rational explanation for why the US was attacked on 9/11. Some on the right wing saw this as the perfect opportunity to use Churchill to slander the entire left by intentionally confusing explanation with justification and even advocacy. Later attacks further muddied the water with wild claims of plagiarism and assertions that Churchill was not really Native American.

In part 1 of the interview, Churchill responds in detail to the trumped up charges of plagiarism that were used to discredit him and to the ways in which liberals and the left internalized and helped enforce the right wing spin.

In part 2, Churchill discusses the attacks on his ethnic identity as a predictable racist reflex that he has tried to use to highlight some of the recurrent themes in his own work.
So, naturally, after recovering from my initial surprise when the "great controversy" erupted back it January -- it took me about a week to do so -- I immediately began to consider how it could be used not only to demonstrate the ongoing ubiquity and virulence of white racism in the U.S., but as a lens through which to focus attention on some of the more insidious ways in which it asserts itself. It follows that my strategic objectives have been what they always are: to use the nature of the attack on me as a means of forcing cognition of something a lot of people simply do not want to cognate, and thereby to further the realization of what somebody, my apologies for not remembering who, once quite aptly described it as a "transformative consciousness."
Update 1/15: Part 3 of the interview is now up here. And Churchill has a new book out, Since Predator Came.

I wrote about the Churchill case earlier here (scroll down).

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