The Black Book of U.S. Imperialism:
Ward Churchill's Roosting Chickens
Review by Jeb Brandt, The Indypendent Jan. 9 2005

As with his prior books, particularly Pacifism As Pathology, Churchill reserves a special spite for the self-styled progressives who acknowledge some, or even all of imperialism’s horrors in order to demonstrate the ultimate justice of the system. Undercutting his critique is the strange satisfaction he finds in the idea of “two, three, many 911s” should we not rise to his standard of effective dissent.

That might make sense if millions of Americans weren’t horrified with the path the country is on or that the most obvious beneficiary of terrorism isn’t consistently the most reactionary elements of every society that has faced it. Some people got their karmic backlash on September 11. Some of us were collateral damage.

None of that matters to Churchill because he writes off not just “America” as an enterprise ever-drowning in its original sins, but the “unending ranks of average Iowa farm boys who have so willingly pulled the triggers, launched the missiles and dropped the cluster bombs.”

For all his righteous anger, the tragic flaw throughout his entire history as provocateur author is to discount, or at least seriously downplay, the possibility that everyday people can rise above the mendacity of our rulers.

If Iowa’s farmboys are beyond hope, even Churchill’s most damning evidence is little more than justification for the cynical paralysis of passive support for terrorism. Flipping America the bird might be satisfying, but it fails to engage the matrix of conflict within America or see any positive path those taking responsibility for the crimes of empire can engage. As Arundhati Roy recently put it, “Anti-americanism is the anti-imperialism of fools.”

In a sense, the Gitlins and Churchills of the world deserve each other. They agree that the only options for allegiance are between the same “us” and “them” that Bush served up.


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