Today we have yet another example of spoiled, petulant university faculty abusing the virtues of progress and invention:

DENVER — The University of Colorado’s regents have scheduled a special meeting to consider a professor’s essay that said victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks deserved to die because they were a willing part of “the mighty engine of profit.”

The essay by Ward Churchill, chairman of the ethnic studies department and a longtime Indian activist, was written in the aftermath of the attacks. Its contents became known when he was invited to speak at Hamilton College in Syracuse, N.Y.

Following the attacks, Churchill wrote an essay, “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,” that hailed the “gallant sacrifices” of the “combat teams” that struck America.

He said although the victims were civilians they were not innocent. He went on to describe the World Trade Center victims as “little Eichmanns,” a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s plan to exterminate Europe’s Jews.

It fascinates me how little people like this comprehend that the “mighty engine of profit” is the whole reason that they live so comfortably in the world’s most prosperous nation. All they see is their own axe to grind writ large.

The ability to take basically unrelated events and principles and apply one’s own personal issues and hatred to them is, perhaps, a fundamentally human trait, and not an aberration. That does not, however, make it okay, and does not make it true.

When I read stuff like this (OMG dramah!), I have to step back for a moment and seriously consider whether it’s intended as satire. Unfortunately, that sort of subtlety seems more or less absent from our culture, maybe because radicals on both sides have no sense of humor to speak of. Blunt parody like The Onion is required to get through to these people, and even then it doesn’t always succeed. Also, as life comes to imitate art (or slapstick), it’s getting harder to tell truth from fiction even in the mainstream media.

I presume that Churchill’s comparison of World Trade Center victims to Adolf Eichmann was intended to be a clever political statement, the sort that makes Chomskyites nod sagely with a tiny smile on their lips. From a purely literary point of view, the Nazi comparison is extremely passé (not to mention extraordinarily inaccurate since most people don’t really understand Nazism or fascism in general), as people on the internet — where it is known as Godwin’s Law — have known since 1990. Yet people on the left keep using this analogy (even long before 9-11), devoid of any actual meaning, and frankly it’s pretty tedious.

If you want the reader to keep paying attention instead of throwing the book down for the dog to chew and going to microwave a Hot Pocket, you have to be more original than that.

Plus, I’m a little confused that a leftist would compare the people in the World Trade Center to Nazis. I thought they were all supposed to be Jews controlling the world with their mad tyte money skillz. Or did the Jews all stay home that day because they knew the planes were going to hit? I forget. The tinfoil hat theories are too complicated for me.

UPDATE (2/1/05): Professor Churchill has resigned from his position as Department Chairman, although will retain his teaching position. Hamilton College has also canceled a panel discussion that was to feature him, after receiving death threats against the Professor and other college staff. While I cannot condone death threats, it is appropriate that Churchill be censured for his remarks.

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