Feb 062005
Authors: Ben Bleckley

It is not my intent to offend any family members of the victims of Sept. 11, 2001, or desecrate the legacy of their deaths in any way. Nor do I intend to offend the families of our military who are fighting overseas, forced to "serve" or face jail time.

Freedom of speech is a right our forefathers were first and foremost concerned with – that much can be assumed since it was the First Amendment to the Constitution, our Bill of Rights. Why the majority of Americans have forgotten this is perhaps understandable – our current presidential administration seems to have forgotten some constitutional amendments as well; this certainly includes the fifth and sixth and arguably the fourth through the ninth.

The comments by University of Colorado-Boulder professor Ward Churchill concerning Sept. 11, 2001 in his essay entitled "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" have caused some uproar. Certainly his comparison of World Trade Center employees to Nazi war criminals is extremely disproportionate.

However, his right to freedom of speech should protect him from employment discrimination.

The sixth edition of the Columbia Encyclopedia states that tenure "is designed to make a teaching career more attractive by providing job security; by protecting the teacher's position, tenure also tends to enforce academic freedom" or the "right of scholars to pursue research, to teach, and to publish without control or restraint from the institutions that employ them."

If we as students support the free exchange of ideas that leads to true education, we must accept the ideas that come along with it, even those with which we disagree.

Why would Osama bin Laden kill more than 3,000 Americans? It could simply be that he is an "evildoer" out to make the world a crummy place, or it could be that the United States did something to make him respond violently.

Maybe it was when the United States became a strong supporter of Israel.

Perhaps it was when the United States bombed sewage and water treatment facilities in Iraq, killing half a million children, as Churchill argues in his essay.

In fact, BBC World News reported that this is what pushed bin Laden to terrorism.

"Bin Laden never thought the Saudi regime would ever go to the extreme of allowing American troops inside Saudi Arabia, in the Holy Land," said Saah al Fagih, a representative of the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia in a BBC interview. "It was very turning point for him."

Shortly after the 1991 Gulf War, bin Laden left Saudi Arabia, disowned by his family, to begin fighting the United States by the only means available to him – terrorism.

Terrorism is by no means a practice unknown to America. Minutemen who waited in the hills and trees to shoot British regulars as they civilly marched in formation, the expected practice at the time, were the 18th century equivalents to Al Qaeda. Nor was the Boston Tea Party an especially passive act.

It was U.S. foreign-policy decisions that provoked attacks by Al Qaeda on our overseas embassies, the U.S.S. Cole and the World Trade Center towers. Before we reject the inflammatory remarks by a professor of ethnic studies, maybe the public should read his entire essay. You can read it in the September 2001 issue of "Pockets of Resistance," or online at http://www.darknightpress.org.

But whether the public agrees with Churchill's views or not, he had a right to voice them. I think it is important that he did. So far, all the United States has been able to do is kill another 100,000 civilians in Iraq. If I were bin Laden, I'd be pissed.

Ben Bleckley is a junior English major. His columns run on Mondays in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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