Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Impact of Cindy and Ward

The dual events over the Memorial Day weekend, of CU President Hank Brown calling for the firing of Ward Churchill, and Cindy Sheehan announcing she's through with being an activist, underscore the sad state of oppositional and dissident activity in this nation.

First, Ward Churchill: I continue to believe that Churchill can do some fine research, particularly on the subject of government repression, as exemplified in a recent article on Richard Held Sr. and Jr. he did for Z magazine. But Brown's beef, as well as those of many Boulder faculty committee members, has been more about Churchill's unwarranted attacks on others accusing him of plagiarism and research misuse, as it has been about his ill-considered comments on 9/11. Churchill's snide comments on all those who critique him scarcely help his cause. It's interesting to note that the local comment boards at sites like the Denver Post are almost completely anti-Churchill. There are still a few activists in Boulder who support him, but the near-universal exasperation with him is an indication that one important attribute for any activist has to be "plays well with others." If you come across as defensive and arrogant, no one will listen to what you have to say.

As for Cindy, how can one disagree with most of her farewell screed? The Democratic Party does indeed lack the guts to seriously challenge the war, and the American people do indeed care more about American Idol winners than world events. Maybe some people think that Cindy gave up too easily, but as a concerned political buff with an interest in world affairs, I often feel that I need a crash helmet for the number of times I hammer my head against a brick wall. The problem does not begin or end with the unprecedented stubbornness and arrogance of the Bush administration. That problem is exceeded by the willful ignorance of American citizens, who seem to relish in going out of their way to avoid important news in order to obsess on Lindsay Lohan's latest arrest. A society built around info-tainment certainly does not deserve democracy.

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