Letters to the Editor
Band of brothers: Laura Bond's "Iraq and Roll," in the February 3 issue, was the best article I have read in Westword for months! It gave a real feeling for the horror of war. I'm glad that the members of Lucid Dissent found comfort in music. Rock on!
Pay to play: I find it quite disturbing that Westword would spend five full pages on glorying mercenary musicians! These people who go over to Iraq to fight for American corporate interests and against democracy are cheaply paid professional killers and the enemy of world peace. Why aren't these bastards singing about the innocent, sovereign citizens they killed without mercy! These killers are not in Iraq to protect my freedom, nor my democracy; they are purely fighting for the corporate welfare of Halliburton, Bechtel, the Carlyle Group and other very evil entities.
Share and share alike: I thought Laura Bond's story was a good profile of people in my generation. I can clearly tell she is steadfastly against this war, or any war, any time. She profiles those of us who are on the differing political and social spectrum, but shows that we are just as normal and share a lot more similarities than we all thought. We are not all robots.
So for "Iraq and Roll," I salute you.
CU soon: In the February 10 issue, I was very surprised to see no article on the situation at CU regarding Ward Churchill, free speech, tenure and our impeachment-worthy governor. Instead, just an op-ed piece by Patricia Calhoun. I hope Westword plans on covering this controversial issue and all the Pleasantville-like busybodies trying to get rid of liberals from society.
Cross words: Plaudits and kudos are due to Patricia Calhoun for her plum essay titled "Separation of Churchill and State." One can only imagine the pressures of press-time deadlines on the creative mind when confronted with a complex story such as that which surrounds the fast-breaking Ward Churchill Show. She is wise to eschew the easy, silver-tongued chapped lips of Peter Boylesed media judgment in favor of a wider view of the subject.
So how does one successfully capture the multi-dimensionality of such a high-profile brouhaha? By framing it within the context of a more obscure free-speech issue, as evidenced by the banishment and actual destruction of copies of Rudolfo Anaya's acclaimed book Bless Me, Ultima, that's how. If small minds in small towns can silence great works, then one wonders why the big brains of our flagstone institution can't put an end to mediocrity. But failing that endeavor, it's no big surprise that instructors such as Adrienne Anderson end up bearing the cross.
The rest is history: As Kenny Be's #15 Most Wanted Heartstopper in the February 10 Worst-Case Scenario (I'm blushing as I write this), I'm sure you'll find my thoughts fascinating and on point. That's my life's ball and chain: being irresistible and brilliant!
On to more serious matters: Patricia Calhoun's concluding thought on Ward Churchill was disturbing. "Revisionist history"? You can charge Churchill with a lot, but the example given about Nuremberg and citizens' obligation to compel their governments to follow laws is in no way revisionist. His essay lacked tact; however, his point was clear. (His attempt to be pejorative was unneeded. Why use a fascist parallel when U.S. capitalism has a clear history of terrorism?) I think it's important to simultaneously stand up for free speech and defend Churchill's main point, as unoriginal but sadly true as it is.
One question: Where's the condemnation when Ann Coulter says it would be "fun" to nuke North Koreans? Or when former Secretary of State Albright says killing over 500,000 Iraqi children due to sanctions is "worth it"? Maybe we should listen to what Churchill has to say, not merely defend his right to say it.
Ruling the roost: Ward Churchill's ancestors butchered the Aztecs' enemies in their imperial Tenochtitlan genocide upon the meso-American indigenous people in El Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Rica.
Whose chicken is roosting?
The revision thing: I got a few much-needed laughs out of what Calhoun wrote.
A question: When she said, "He should have won the award for revisionist history," could she be more specific? I may be getting nitpicky, but isn't it more accurate to say that Mr. Churchill was promoting some sloppy and far-fetched analogies -- i.e., equating World Trade Center workers to Eichmann himself, or the Nazi atrocities to a sinister and secretive American foreign policy that has historically sometimes (oftentimes?) been hypocritically at odds with the principles of freedom and democracy?
via the Internet
Patricia Calhoun replies: To read Westword's coverage of Ward Churchill, start with "Civil Wars," a February 1994 cover story available in our online archives at www.westword.com. As for "revisionist history," I was referring to Churchill's own shifting history rather than his academic works.
Free to be you and me: I don't understand tomes such as Adam Cayton-Holland's February 10 What's So Funny that invoke the First Amendment with regard to Ward Churchill (and his situation isn't remotely comparable to the one in Norwood). The First Amendment has been upheld in this case: Churchill has not been arrested, nor has any lawsuit been upheld against him.
That's the First Amendment: It protects individuals against government reprisals and legal action. It does not protect someone from having others use their same rights to express their displeasure, nor does it protect anyone from having personal appearances canceled. Churchill's essay has been published in several places (including a book whose sales I'm sure will benefit from the controversy) and is readily available on the web, so the canceled appearance hasn't silenced him. As far as the University of Colorado firing him, there are precedents for this, already pointed out by several pundits. What he wrote can be challenged academically and can be viewed as hate speech.
The reality, folks, is that the First Amendment protects us from the government, but it doesn't protect us from others exercising their right of free speech and it doesn't guarantee our right to public appearances, nor does it guarantee any career/economic rights.
War of the words: Adam managed to say exactly what was circling around in my head these last couple of weeks about the Churchill hoopla! Thanks for the words.
The price of free speech: I read Adam Cayton-Holland's rant on freedom of speech. I believe, as apparently he does, that this freedom is close to an absolute, if not 100 percent an absolute. Nevertheless, when we "speak" (by whatever mode we choose), we have to realize that our speech has consequences. Always ask yourself, when there is a reaction (of whatever nature) to your speech, "What did you expect?"
After all, no one stopped anyone from expressing their opinions in the examples cited in What's So Funny. But actions do have consequences. I think the "speakers" involved were naive if they expected any reaction other than what they got. Freedom of speech does necessarily include the consequence of being called an idiot and being treated like a jerk if that's what your speech engenders.
Park Ridge, Illinois
With reservations: I agree with Cayton-Holland's piece, but we taxpayers shouldn't have to shell out $100,000 a year for Churchill. He can say whatever he wants to, but we don't have to pay him. He ought to move up to the Rosebud with Means and beat his drum up there with the rest of the "wronged" Indians.
via the Internet
A chance for change: What to say about Cayton-Holland's What's So Funny that might begin to change our nation? This total state of ridiculousness -- this neo-McCarthy era, as he calls it -- is even more unreal because of the voices that are speaking against it and the total lack of listening to what people are saying. With our current fascist-behaving government, voicing our opinions doesn't count for a damn thing. Are we really doomed to repeat the mistakes of the '40s? "It soytanly appears that way, Ollie." Forget that forced silence -- let's be the change. Thank you, and continue using your voice, Adam.
Ruth Suli Urman
Mission aborted: A toast to Westword, Ms. Calhoun and Kenny Be for exercising the First Amendment and free thinking with the January 27 Worst-Case Scenario, "EmbryObituaries & Immemorials." If Dubya's evangelicals and the Catholic Church pulled their heads out of their archaic assholes and preached safe sex instead of abstinence, there would be a greatly reduced need for abortion. Furthermore, the tight-assed right wing should be concerned about their precious tax dollars going to support unwanted and undesirable people throughout their unwanted lives.
Snip snip: Like last week's letter writer Marc Halpern, I have fond memories of the now-defunct barbershop into which the Cherry Cricket has expanded. Napoleon's was a colorful place -- a real old-time barbershop -- right there in slick Cherry Creek. Halpern said that the barbers were John and John, and that one of the Johns was from Morocco. I got the last haircut at Napoleon's before its Waterloo last June 30, and I continue to get haircuts from its longtime owner, Michael Madsen.
So I gave Madsen a call to get a little history of the barbershop. He told me that Napoleon's was fifty-some years old and that he worked there for the last thirty. He also pointed out that the barbers at Napoleon's weren't John and John. They were Michael and Michael, and the other Michael wasn't from Morocco. He was from Pakistan -- or at least that's what he told people.
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