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A Musical Breakfast

5 February, 2005 (07:25) | Media

After last weekend, I rushed down to campus on Monday to see if the Daily published my letter. It hadn’t. Instead, it published it on Tuesday, along with a little note bitching about me some more. Needless to say, it was a lot kinder (and less image tarnishing) than the letter their managing editor sent me (which he asked me not to pass on to the public… an obviously stand-up move). On Wednesday, they published a letter by Tres Spicher on the same topic with no snide remarks. I know several other friends of mine wrote letters as well, but I doubt they’ll get published. Like their letters, my meeting with the Tri-execs took a back-seat to the Ward Churchill issue (the Daily dedicated their letters section yesterday and Thursdayjust to that issue).

“What’s this Ward Churchill issue,” you ask. Ward Chruchill was, until Tuesday, the chair of the Ethnic Studies department here at the University. On Tuesday, he stepped down, most likely to avoid controversy. On Thursday, the University announced it will take 30 days to decide what his future at the University is. Even the New York Times has covered this story.

Still, while that tells you how big a deal this has become, it doesn’t tell you what caused the issue in the first place. About three years ago, Churchill wrote an essay entitled Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens in which he compared the victims of 9/11 to nazis. His intention was to say that the people who worked in the World Trade Center were part of the capitalist machine and therefore privy to attacks on a capitalist machine. Personally, I think the point is apt, though the analogy might not be the best choice. Consider that the people who participated in the nazi regime were just as likely to be killed in an Allied forces attack as the higher up nazis, then you can assume that postal workers, DMV attendants, and the vast majority of workers at the WTO (excluding service people) would be targets for being cogs in the machine. It’s certainly not the best way to go about saying that you’re putting yourself at risk by participating in a capitalist society with apparent dreams of world domination (through puppeteering).

Of course, this was three years ago, yet it’s only become an issue in the last month or so. Ward Churchill was scheduled to speak at a college in upstate New York, and everyone knows that once you get out of the city, you end up in a slightly less intellectual and urbane area. The local papers jumped on Chruchill, the trip got cancelled, and suddenly, his three year old essay started making waves. The sad part of this is that most of the coverage of this story has completely neglected to give any context to the quotes. And I’m not just talking smaller crappy papers like the Colorado Daily or the University of Colorado Campus Press. Even the New York Times had relatively sensationalized coverage (though, if you got passed their first section, they did have some context). Here’s a link to a Rocky Mountain News article on the subject.

Regardless, I’m disappointed with our media; I’m disappointed with our administration; and most of all, I’m disappointed in the people who have reacted so poorly and with such a mob mentality. Should he have used that analogy? Probably not, but it wasn’t intended to cause any harm, and if you read the rest of his essay, I think his point is an important one.

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  • You should eat a Pop Tart.

    Those things are so sweet…!

  • You should eat a Pop Tart.

    Those things are so sweet…!

  • I can’t afford pop tarts. In fact, I can’t afford much of anything. I’m thinking of going on a forced diet of fignuts and beer.

  • I can’t afford pop tarts. In fact, I can’t afford much of anything. I’m thinking of going on a forced diet of fignuts and beer.

  • i was talking with someone the other night about how the whole ward churchill issue got blown incredibly out of proportion.

    everything i’ve been hearing about the media these past few weeks has made me lose faith entirely. between the incredibly stupid story about your livejournal entry to only selectively quoting ward churchill’s essay and turning it around to making it seem like he was a horrible person who agreed with the 9/11 attacks, the media has lost all my faith.

  • i was talking with someone the other night about how the whole ward churchill issue got blown incredibly out of proportion.

    everything i’ve been hearing about the media these past few weeks has made me lose faith entirely. between the incredibly stupid story about your livejournal entry to only selectively quoting ward churchill’s essay and turning it around to making it seem like he was a horrible person who agreed with the 9/11 attacks, the media has lost all my faith.

  • I think the key with listen to media coverage is to find a variety of sources. If you read stories about the same incident in two or three newspapers, you can start to figure out a better picture of what’s really going on by coordinating the accounts. The bigger problem is when one media source bases its report almost solely on that of another media source, which is what’s happening with the Ward Churchill incident. I suspect a small minority of journalists have actually read his essay.

    Like it or not, trusting the media will only get harder.

  • I think the key with listen to media coverage is to find a variety of sources. If you read stories about the same incident in two or three newspapers, you can start to figure out a better picture of what’s really going on by coordinating the accounts. The bigger problem is when one media source bases its report almost solely on that of another media source, which is what’s happening with the Ward Churchill incident. I suspect a small minority of journalists have actually read his essay.

    Like it or not, trusting the media will only get harder.

  • what’s a fignut?

  • what’s a fignut?

  • One of the problems is that many Americans don’t see Iraqi’s as human beings, so their deaths, the deaths of their children, civilians etc. don’t register…. They only quantify deaths when the victims are white. There was a letter in the Metro yesterday, in response to a recent article, which said:
    Mike Mennonno (“Lesson
    of Auschwitz: It’s easy to be evil,” Feb. 2) is the poster child for knowledge without intelligence. Trying to compare the Bush administration to Nazi Germany and Communist Russia is political opportunism, not to mention ignorant and disrespectful of the tens of millions of victims. -James Sullivan”
    I think it’s hard for some Americans to even begin to understand the Iraqi perspective, especially when they know nothing of our country’s history with that region….
    But are you at all surprised with the media’s response? They’ll report anything, if they think it’ll get people to watch/read/listen….

  • One of the problems is that many Americans don’t see Iraqi’s as human beings, so their deaths, the deaths of their children, civilians etc. don’t register…. They only quantify deaths when the victims are white. There was a letter in the Metro yesterday, in response to a recent article, which said:
    Mike Mennonno (“Lesson
    of Auschwitz: It’s easy to be evil,” Feb. 2) is the poster child for knowledge without intelligence. Trying to compare the Bush administration to Nazi Germany and Communist Russia is political opportunism, not to mention ignorant and disrespectful of the tens of millions of victims. -James Sullivan”
    I think it’s hard for some Americans to even begin to understand the Iraqi perspective, especially when they know nothing of our country’s history with that region….
    But are you at all surprised with the media’s response? They’ll report anything, if they think it’ll get people to watch/read/listen….

  • It’s an expression of disgust.

  • It’s an expression of disgust.

  • I’ve always enjoyed reading about middle eastern history, especially between 1880 and 1940. It was a hotbed of democratic dissent. Why isn’t anymore? Because the US betrayed the region because of rumors of a communist coup spread by the British, despite having refused to support British coups for nearly 40 years. Simply the wealth of art, religion, and pure history in the region is enough to set me at awe every time I even delve into the most meager corner of it. I wish more people had at least a hint of what the world really is.

    As for the media, I’ve been jaded with them for years. Still, the fact that publications I respect were making the same mistakes as publications I wouldn’t blow my nose at pisses the hell out of me. I didn’t expect that.

  • I’ve always enjoyed reading about middle eastern history, especially between 1880 and 1940. It was a hotbed of democratic dissent. Why isn’t anymore? Because the US betrayed the region because of rumors of a communist coup spread by the British, despite having refused to support British coups for nearly 40 years. Simply the wealth of art, religion, and pure history in the region is enough to set me at awe every time I even delve into the most meager corner of it. I wish more people had at least a hint of what the world really is.

    As for the media, I’ve been jaded with them for years. Still, the fact that publications I respect were making the same mistakes as publications I wouldn’t blow my nose at pisses the hell out of me. I didn’t expect that.

  • It was so interesting to read your post, because as I’m not in Boulder anymore, I feel out of touch with everything going on, but I really really want to hear about it.
    What I find fascinating about this whole thing is not that people found what he said offensive, but that they think he should be fired for it. I’ve heard numerous complaints about the tenure system that will make it hard to fire him. But, of course, that’s why the system was invented in the first place–to protect academic freedom. Even if the majority of the administration disagree with what he said, they shouldn’t have the right to fire him. I thought we had freedom of speech. And someone in the role of analyzing society, like a professor, should not have to worry that “offensive” comments will get them fired. Otherwise, what’s the point?
    Sorry, I am in total agreement with you, I just had to rant. And thanks for posting the link. It was interesting to read the article–I just wish that the majority of the people complaining about it read it as well.

  • It was so interesting to read your post, because as I’m not in Boulder anymore, I feel out of touch with everything going on, but I really really want to hear about it.
    What I find fascinating about this whole thing is not that people found what he said offensive, but that they think he should be fired for it. I’ve heard numerous complaints about the tenure system that will make it hard to fire him. But, of course, that’s why the system was invented in the first place–to protect academic freedom. Even if the majority of the administration disagree with what he said, they shouldn’t have the right to fire him. I thought we had freedom of speech. And someone in the role of analyzing society, like a professor, should not have to worry that “offensive” comments will get them fired. Otherwise, what’s the point?
    Sorry, I am in total agreement with you, I just had to rant. And thanks for posting the link. It was interesting to read the article–I just wish that the majority of the people complaining about it read it as well.

  • (petains to what we were talking about last night w/you & DJing) I bet it was the Robbie Williams that really did you in even though that song is awesome.

    And damn you for playing Smoosh, I wanted to play “Rad” this morning.

    😉

    Thanks again for covering my show.

  • (petains to what we were talking about last night w/you & DJing) I bet it was the Robbie Williams that really did you in even though that song is awesome.

    And damn you for playing Smoosh, I wanted to play “Rad” this morning.

    😉

    Thanks again for covering my show.

  • It may be Robbie Williams, but it’s not. It’s Cole Porter.

  • It may be Robbie Williams, but it’s not. It’s Cole Porter.

  • That’s craziness about what’s happening to that professor. I don’t mean to sound hippie-ish, but people need to CHILL. (take a chill pill, man. yeah.)

    9/11 = tragedy. Yes. But people have gone into this american pride FRENZY, and it’s not healthy. It’s obsessive; it’s excessive; it’s got to quit.

    You can hafve pride for your country without plastering the flag all ovr everything you own and tormenting non-americans. (Also, american flags on your gas-guzzling SUV that probably gets 5 miles to the gallon? Irony anything?)

    It’s a shame if his essay kills his career. Sounds like it will, though.

    I hate sheep… because honestly, it’s the sheep that are outraged. OMG HE COMPARED THE HEROIC VICTIMS OF 9/11 TO NAZIS! IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THIS ESSAY ACTUALLY MEANS, I ONLY READ THE ONE QUOTE IN AN ARTICLE! LET’S LYNCH HIM!

    Bagh.

  • That’s craziness about what’s happening to that professor. I don’t mean to sound hippie-ish, but people need to CHILL. (take a chill pill, man. yeah.)

    9/11 = tragedy. Yes. But people have gone into this american pride FRENZY, and it’s not healthy. It’s obsessive; it’s excessive; it’s got to quit.

    You can hafve pride for your country without plastering the flag all ovr everything you own and tormenting non-americans. (Also, american flags on your gas-guzzling SUV that probably gets 5 miles to the gallon? Irony anything?)

    It’s a shame if his essay kills his career. Sounds like it will, though.

    I hate sheep… because honestly, it’s the sheep that are outraged. OMG HE COMPARED THE HEROIC VICTIMS OF 9/11 TO NAZIS! IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THIS ESSAY ACTUALLY MEANS, I ONLY READ THE ONE QUOTE IN AN ARTICLE! LET’S LYNCH HIM!

    Bagh.

  • Word.

  • Word.

  • I definantly feel you on the disapointment. I wander what kind of action ACLU has taken regarding the churchill issue…

  • I definantly feel you on the disapointment. I wander what kind of action ACLU has taken regarding the churchill issue…

  • anonymous

    Well, Mike Mennonno is definitely the posterchild for lacking intelligence. Maybe knowlege, too. His article on Feb. 23rd was such a misrepresentation of evolution that it makes you want to start teaching him creationism, in the hopes that he can at least understand that theory – rather than trotting out the best arguments against it as evidence for it, as he does with evolution.

    As for the whole “it was ok to kill thousands of people in NY because Americans are not nice capitalist pigs” … that’s an argument with which it is difficult to be sympathetic.

  • anonymous

    Well, Mike Mennonno is definitely the posterchild for lacking intelligence. Maybe knowlege, too. His article on Feb. 23rd was such a misrepresentation of evolution that it makes you want to start teaching him creationism, in the hopes that he can at least understand that theory – rather than trotting out the best arguments against it as evidence for it, as he does with evolution.

    As for the whole “it was ok to kill thousands of people in NY because Americans are not nice capitalist pigs” … that’s an argument with which it is difficult to be sympathetic.

  • I have no idea what you’re talking about, MIT boy.

  • I have no idea what you’re talking about, MIT boy.