There has been a storm of controversy surrounding University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill. Churchill has been called to task over comments he made in an essay in which he compared victims of 911 nazis calling workers “little Eichmanns.”
To be fair to Churchill I sought out his statement on the matter. Here is what I found to be significant:
“I am not a “defender” of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people “should” engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy.
I have never characterized all the September 11 victims as “Nazis.” What I said was that the “technocrats of empire” working in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of “little Eichmanns.” Adolf Eichmann was not charged with direct killing but with ensuring the smooth running of the infrastructure that enabled the Nazi genocide. Similarly, German industrialists were legitimately targeted by the Allies.
It should be emphasized that I applied the “little Eichmanns” characterization only to those described as “technicians.” Thus, it was obviously not directed to the children, janitors, food service workers, firemen and random passers-by killed in the 911 attack.”
I do not wish to spend a lot of time providing Churchill with his own forum here, but there are some relevant comments to make. Churchill demonstrates moral ambiguity when he says that he does not advocate violence and then compares innocent business people to nazis, to the people who engaged in organized genocide.
You cannot soften your statement by saying that the “little Eichmanns” comment did not apply to children, janitors, food service workes, firemen and random passers-by” and expect people of common sense and conscience not to see the bankruptcy inherent in your comment. Because what you suggest is that everyone not covered by your group is responsible and culpable for engaging in destructive acts with malicious intent.
The stockbrokers who were murdered, the secretaries, personal assistants and CEOs all are deserving of more respect than blanket accusations. Your generalization does not take into account who these people were, you don’t know if they volunteered at the local mission, gave money to charity or engaged in any sort of charitable actions any more than you can claim that they were evil. And that Churchill is what you are doing.
When you compare someone or something to nazis you are saying that they or it are evil and that is morally wrong and intellectually dishonest. Murder is not acceptable and to compare 911 to a military operation is stretching the limit too. If the attacks had been solely against the Pentagon or military facilities it would be one thing, but that did not happen.
There is nothing noble about what these men did and something less than noble in your characterization of the day and the things that happened then.