Ward Churchill and the Weathermen Bombers: Was Wardo There, or Was Wardo Square?
The drug guru Timothy Leary once joked, "If you remember the Sixties, you weren't there."
My question is, does Ward Churchill remember the Sixties?
Was Wardo a terrorist who taught the Weather Underground how to make bombs; or was Wardo a terrorist wannabe, a poseur who fabricated a legend about his bombmaking days in order to bolster his radical credentials?
On January 18. 1987, The Denver Post published an interview with Professor Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado.
According to the article (which seems to be based on an interview with Churchill and quotes him directly), after Churchill returned from serving in Vietnam, he began hanging around at the Chicago office of the SDS [Students for a Democratic Society], where "he ran into Bernardine Dohrn, an attractive leader of the Weather Underground, a radical group that favored the bombings of buildings and confrontations with police in their fight against racism, the Vietnam War and the ruling class."
Churchill claims that he taught the Weathermen how to fire weapons and how to make bombs. The Denver Post quotes Churchill, who taught the Weathermen: "which end does the bullet go, what are the ingredients, how do you time the damned thing."
Bernardine Dohrn is now married to William Ayers, another member of the Weather Underground. Ayers' girlfriend in 1970, Diana Oughton, was one of three Weathermen killed on March 6, 1970, when a bomb they were building blew up in a Greenwich Village brownstone.
A few days before the bomb exploded, Dohrn had announced a "declaration of war" against America. After the bombmakers were blown up in the accidental detonation, Dohrn and Ayers went underground.
Here are the released FBI files on Diana Oughton.
The terrorist Weather Underground were making a nail bomb that they planned to detonate at a dance so that they could murder soldiers and their dates at Fort Dix.
According to The Denver Post, Ward Churchill gravitated away from the Weathermen after the bombing.
An Emeritus Professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Jesse Lemisch, writes that Ward Churchill later rescinded his claim of teaching the Weathermen to make bombs. [Footnote #15]
But maybe Churchill wasn't telling the truth when he rescinded his boast.Dohrn and Ayers, now professors, are signing a petition to "unfire" Professor Ward Churchill.
The support of two prominent and unrepentant Weathermen for Churchill suggests to me that they don't view him as a poseur who only pretended to teach bombmaking.
Did Churchill teach terrorists to make bombs, or is he just a poseur who made a false claim to bolster his radical credentials?
I don't know the answer, but the incident demonstrates that Churchill is a liar: either he told a spectacular lie when he boasted of training the Weathermen in bombmaking, or he told a spectacular lie when he retracted his "boast."
In footnote 13 of his article, Professor Lemisch quotes a 1973 book by Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS, on the attitude of the Weather Underground about white people and even about white babies:
"The Weatheranalysis held that whites were virtually useless in the world-wide confrontation going on, and except for a few brave streetfighters like the Weathermen, they were all corrupted, bought-off tyrants. Logically, then, the death of a white baby is a positive revolutionary action, and indeed the Weathermen actually held abstract debates at the [1969 Flint] "war council" about whether killing white babies is ‘correct', a Weatherman at one point shouting out to the audience, ‘All white babies are pigs.' From there it was only a step to Dohrn's ecstatic speech about the Charles Manson gang . . . "
[Sale, Kirkpatrick. SDS. Cited by Jesse Lemisch]
In his article, Lemisch describes the Weathermen's ideological perspective about white people:
"It is worth recalling that abuse of explosives was only one of many Weather errors. The chamber of horrors would have to include Dohrn's remark at the 1969 Flint Michigan SDS "War Council" concerning the murders committed by the Charles Manson gang in Los Angeles: "Dig it: first they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into the victim's stomach. Wild!?"11 This bring us to Weather's "white skin privilege" line.
WHILE RECOGNIZING THE ROLE OF RACISM in America, the white skin privilege analysis placed Weather in opposition to whites in general and to the white working class in particular, towards whom Weather was dismissive and contemptuous. It saw whites as complicit and corrupted beneficiaries of racism and imperialism who had sold out and were therefore to be opposed, perhaps killed, rather than addressed, educated, and recruited, with a program relevant to their situation. "Fight the People," said Ayers and early Weather.12 Ayers recalls his thoughts concerning white skin privilege at the time of the climactic 1969 SDS convention (139). The Revolutionary Youth Movement (i.e., Weather), he says, saw racism as
providing privileges and material benefits . . . to white people, mystifying many and winning their allegiance . . . white skin privilege was . . . a real and effective bribe against consciousness and struggle . . . white people are mostly brainwashed. We lucky few will wake them up . . ."
When Ayers writes that violence is the only thing that can "wake up" white people, he reminds me of what Ward Churchill calls the 9-11 terrorists' "'reality therapy' approach" to Americans:
"Either way, [the 9-11 attacks were] a kind of "reality therapy" approach, designed to afford the American people a chance to finally "do the right thing" on their own, without further coaxing. Were the opportunity acted upon in some reasonably good faith fashion – a sufficiently large number of Americans rising up and doing whatever is necessary to force an immediate lifting of the sanctions on Iraq, for instance, or maybe hanging a few of America's abundant supply of major war criminals (Henry Kissinger comes quickly to mind, as do Madeline [sic, Madeleine] Albright, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton and George the Elder) – there is every reason to expect that military operations against the US on its domestic front would be immediately suspended."
The Weathermen were not just against America's decision to go to war against the North Vietnamese. They wanted the North Vietnamese to win the Vietnam War. After the United States pulled out of Vietnam, two million Vietnamese were killed by the communists, according to David Horowitz.
Horowitz blames the agitation of the far left for the American pull-out and the deaths of millions of Vietnamese. Horowitz points out that communist governments ruin the economies of countries they rule:
"After America was forced to withdraw from Southeast Asia because of the turmoil leftists like you promoted at home, 2 million innocent peasants were slaughtered by your Communist allies—more than had been killed in all 13 years of the war that Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon waged to prevent this bloodbath from happening. By the way, if you want a measure of what you have inflicted on the peasants of Vietnam, think of South Korea, which was rescued from a similar fate by US Cold Warriors who were not obstructed by anti-war protestors like you. South Korea is now one of the richest nations in the world and its leading dissident has been elected prime minister, although in 1950 it was a dictatorship and its per capita income was lower than Cuba’s. In contrast, twenty years after the Communists conquered Vietnam, the country of New Left dreams is a ruthless dictatorship and one of the poorest nations on earth (because that it was what Marxist progressives do: they ruin economies, which they haven’t got a clue how to run, and make people unbelievably poor in the process). In the meantime, Cuba, the New Left’s favorite socialist paradise, is poorer than it was in the Fifties and is ruled by the longest surviving dictator in the world."