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Ward Churchill speaks on which settler invasion wrote the book on Apartheid

Tucson Tohono O'odham
Ward Churchill spoke in Tucson on Friday and Brenda Norrell has posted the footage. Watching the ex-CU professor speak, I can’t help but think about the university students’ loss. They’re missing the lamentably rarefied perspectives he offers of course, but more important, the inspiration gained from such an engaging luminary.

Throughout his lectures, Churchill likes to put questions back at his audience. He understands, if I can presume to project his rationale, that a mentor’s role is to bounce ideas around, and be sure his students have minds open enough to let them resonate. It’s also a sign of someone fully confident with what they are teaching. Churchill gives you the impression he’s interested in the best argument you’ve got, and I believe him, but in reality he’s going to have few peers up to the task.

When it’s time for Q and A, Prof. Churchill calls it mud-wrestling, and welcomes all shots, “even spit wads.” He draws the line at brick bats, because he says, one might bounce off his head and hit somebody else. He warns, as if he’s had practice, “because someone might get hurt. I can assure you it won’t be me.”

I wished at that moment that Tucson was not so far from Churchill’s curiously vile detractors, who attended his trial in Denver, and who hold bitch fests online about every Churchinalia for reasons unspecified. I predict they’re remunerated; the love-to-hate pretext is wearing thin, these yahoos are pro-Israeli tea-baggers. So there’s no Drunkablog or Pirate Ballerina there tonight to take the “perfessor’s” challenge. Although wouldn’t such an exchange have been simply tedious? I recall this dismal attempt mounted against “Wart” by a couple CU college Republicans, it was just embarrassing. Have Churchill’s online critics ever confronted him in person I wonder? They can spout off in the safety of anonymity, and that’s about it.

Churchill’s speech to the predominantly Anglo and O’odham border activists was about the bigger issues behind the border wall. The theme of the gathering was Apartheid in America, and Churchill demonstrated how South African Apartheid came of the successful colonial methods practiced in the United States. These were the strategies employed by the Germans in taking and settling the Eastern Front during WWII, and of course the goals of Israel in Palestine.

Churchill described how settler invasions vary from colonial administration. In the latter case, the colonizers can go home, in the former, they stay. Another distinction is critical, the settlers aren’t moving to a land and becoming part of the social system, they remain citizens of the occupying force. They bring their identity and the foreign system with them, to apply against the people indigenous to the land. The process involves two steps: displace enough of the natives to make room for yourselves, but leave just enough to serve as a labor pool, for all the building that is required of empire building. You’ve need of only a portion of the original population, to do the manual labor required of developing the land, but eventually you need them to die off. The Nazi strategy in Poland was to eleminate a great deal via war, then another mass through starvation, ill health and exposure. Methods mirrored today in Gaza. As a USA example, Churchill sited the average life expectancy of a Native American on a reservation in 1975. The age was 44.6 years old. That’s 1/3 less that the G-Pop average, equivalent to thinning the population by a third.

To cut to the quick, Churchill asked his audience how they felt about social challenges like sexism, racism, ageism, classism. All were basically in accord as being against. What’s the problem, Churchill asked. If so many are against these things, why do they persist? Then he threw imperialism into the mix, which had not been mentioned. Churchill said we cannot adequately address the others until we have a clean conscience about the land taken from America’s First Peoples. This must be the priority. First Peoples, First Nations, First Priority.

Below is the video of Friday’s Tohono O’odham event in Tucson. Take note also of the excellent speeches which followed the keynote, by Ofelia Rivas and her brother in particular.

Click ON DEMAND, then select the “Live Show Fri Nov 13 2009 06:20:55 PM” or watch it at Livestream/earthcycles.

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