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"Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. … It's fun to shoot some people."

This quote from Marine Lieutenant General James Mattis provoked varying degrees of shock, dismay, disgust, and anger. His commanding officer felt compelled to give him counsel about the art of making public statements. Upon further reflection however, it became clear that Mattis actually made sense, albeit in a very twisted way.

What else would a decorated leatherneck say? The purpose of the Marines, the purpose of every branch of the United States military, is to kill people. The military isn’t college, vocational school, or a reformatory for wayward youth in need of discipline. The Marines, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force all exist to kill people when called upon to do so by our government.

As awful as they were, General Mattis’ words caused less of a stir than the words of one Ward Churchill. Until recently Churchill was Chairman of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado. He no longer holds that position because his words made some people very, very angry.

In an essay entitled, “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,” Churchill attempted to make Americans understand why people around the world hate them and their government so much. Simply put, it is because the United States is responsible for so many deaths around the world.

In his essay Churchill called victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon “little Eichmans,” a reference to Adolf Eichman, architect of the Nazi machinery of death. Churchill later clarified his comments, saying that only the movers and shakers among the dead were Nazi like. The professor’s words were insensitive, and more provocative than they needed to be. Of course, in a nation that exhorts us to love it or leave it, Churchill would have been the villain of the week no matter how he phrased an opinion critical of our government.

Churchill’s goose was cooked when the right wing propaganda and phony outrage machine got wind of his remarks. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News was particularly upset. He exhorted his viewer minions to rant and rail against Hamilton College, where Churchill was scheduled to speak. Hamilton cancelled the event after some of the angry white men summoned by O’Reilly and his ilk threatened violence.

Bill O’Reilly is an odd person to express outrage over what he calls hate speech. Here’s what he said on his show of March 31, 2004:

“I don't care about the people of Fallujah. You're not going to win their hearts and minds. They're going to kill you to the very end. They've proven that. So let's knock this place down . . we know what the final solution should be.” 

Churchill learned the hard way that using provocative words may get attention, but if those words criticize the powerful they are regarded in a worse light than the war crimes that kill thousands of human beings around the world. O’Reilly very nearly got his wish for a final solution in Fallujah. American troops killed an estimated 6,000 people before destroying that city and making it uninhabitable.

While unfortunate hyperbole brought about violent language and very nearly violent deeds at one college, students at a Christian university engaged in a sickening homage to bloodlust. The College Republicans at Jesuit-run Marquette University raised money for an organization called “Adopt a Sniper.” The aforementioned charity raises money to “Help real snipers get the real gear they need to help keep us safe.” In order to help get real gear for real snipers students sold bracelets bearing these lovely words: “1Shot, 1 Kill, No Remorse I Decide.” Fine words at a school run by the Society of Jesus.

Politicians of all stripes are outdoing themselves to get Churchill fired from his job and run out of town on a rail. Like the College Republicans at Marquette these same people argue in favor of violence as long as the U.S. military is the only group doing the killing. No remorse. I decide.

The corporate media who propagandize Americans with photos of Iraqis voting in a rigged election will whip us into a frenzy about a college professor whose name few of us knew. They refused to tell us about torture in Guantanamo and the phony case for occupying Iraq. Israel is on the verge of attacking Iran with the permission of the United States, and we hear nothing about the horror that act will bring to the world and to the American people. Murderers are in charge at the Justice Department and the State Department but college professors who are too eager to be provocative must get the heave ho.

Churchill should change professions. He should write memos explaining how to get away with torture and he should tell lies about the threat of mushroom clouds. He could run United States foreign policy and no matter how many people he killed, he would always stay employed.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in   Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City.  She can be reached via e-Mail at [email protected]. You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at


February 10 2005
Issue 125

is published every Thursday.

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