Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Mind Games with Rush, Part 2

OK, I am now ready to go through the first part of this transcript.

"A University of Colorado professor..." How about this? How about this story on the heels of Senator Kennedy's speech yesterday at Johns Hopkins? The American left is just something!"

It is too bad i have no idea of the context. I think the first point to be gained here is that a liberal person who does not listen to this guy every day may miss a lot of context because he refers to (presumably) what he had talked about the day before.

In this instance, Rush recently had obviously discussed some speech given by Ted Kennedy, that he probably disliked (I infer this from the generally accepted view of Ted K as a liberal and Rush L as a conservative). I guess he sees whatever Ted said as somehow emblematic of "the left" as he is going to contend about Churchill as well.

This strikes me as Rush using the very "Pygmalian effect" that Mark thinks we liberals use against him. Of course, one would have to define "the left" and who it includes and on what topics these people agree and on what topics they differ from Rush, but he assumes that his shorthand reference is perfectly clear.

Let's move on. The next paragraph seems to consist of just reading a newspaper article aloud.

"A University of Colorado professor has sparked controversy in New York over an essay he wrote that maintains that people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were not innocent victims. Students and faculty members at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., have been protesting a speaking appearance on Feb. 3 by Ward L. Churchill, chairman of the CU Ethnic Studies Department. They are upset over an essay Churchill wrote titled, 'Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.' The essay takes its title from a remark that black activist Malcolm X made in the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Malcolm X created controversy when he said Kennedy's murder was a case of 'chickens coming home to roost.' Churchill's essay argues that the Sept. 11 attacks were in retaliation for the Iraqi children killed in a 1991 U.S. bombing raid and by economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations following the Persian Gulf War."

OK, that was the article. Now back to Rush.

"So here you have a Colorado University professor, the chairman of the ethnic studies department, asserting something that nobody in the US government has, and that is that Iraq was behind 9/11. Not bin Laden, not Al-Qaeda, not Mullah Omar, not the Taliban. It was Iraq, because of the Iraqi children killed in a 1991 US bombing -- and do you know how many children this man says we killed? Five hundred thousand. He says we killed 500,000 Iraqi children in a bombing raid, plus the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the UN following the Persian Gulf War."

Oh boy. It could not be possible that a non-Iraqi group could see the number of Iraqis that died under economic sanctions as a problem worthy of punishment? That might be a possibility, but Rush pushes the listener towards the assumption that Churchill's listing of the US-catalyzed fatalities in Iraq as a factor in the anger of the 9/11 perpetrators means that the Iraqi government was the perpetrator. I don't think this is really an honest argument.

He also is angry that Churchill used the 500,000 figure, which is a pretty acceptable figure used by many, many people. I am very unclear on why he thinks it is an exaggeration. It is also very dishonest for him to tie it to the 1991 conflict first and the sanctions second. People who have followed the conflict and its aftermath know this figure is regularly used to describe the effect of the economic sanctions, not the conflict itself. And this is something that should not discompose Rush. This mostly took place on Clinton's watch, after all. Albright was the one who was asked on national TV if half a million children was too high of a death toll for the economic sanctions and she responded, "well, we think the price is worth it." Even she did not question the figure itself.

Moving on.

He seems to go back to reading the article at this point. (Question to those who listen to Rush on the radio: As he's on the radio, how does he differentiate his own opinions from the stuff he reads out loud? Does it ever confuse you?)

"The essay, written by Ward Churchill, contends the hijackers who crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were "combat teams," not terrorists. His essay says, "'The most that can honestly be said of those involved on Sept. 11 is that they finally responded in kind to some of what this country has dispensed to their people as a matter of course.' The essay maintains that the people killed inside the Pentagon were 'military targets.' 'As for those in the World Trade Center,' the essay said, 'well, really, let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break.' The essay goes on to describe the victims as 'little Eichmanns,' referring to Adolph Eichmann, who executed Adolph Hitler's plan to exterminate Jews during World War II."

Again, I am not clear as to whether this is the article he is reading, written by someone else, or if it is him talking. Also, whether whoever it is directly quotes the Churchill article about the chickens, or paraphrases it.

So far, the information provided by Rush to me has by no means been particularly clear or helpful.

One of the reasons I chose this particular transcript was because i have actually recently read a book on Eichmann and have studied other books on Nazi tactics, propaganda, and politics in the distant past, so it interests me to explore Churchill's analogy and the outrage it has engendered from Rush, and probably many other people.

I will continue this later - perhaps tomorrow, perhaps next week.

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