This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," September 8, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Well, from Princeton University Professor Richard Fox who blames America for the 9/11 attacks and the Boston marathon bombing, to domestic terrorist Bernadine Dohrn who bombed America repeatedly and wound up teaching at Northwestern University Law School. Throughout our nation, college professors, some of them self-described anarchists, are teaching our students to hate America. Few of those professors are ever publicly challenged on those lessons until tonight as we bring you part one of my exclusive interview with former University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill.
KELLY (voice-over): He made national headlines for suggesting the 9/11 victims deserved to die. A respected university professor calling nearly 3,000 murdered Americans quote, "Little Eichmanns" comparing them to an infamous Nazi.
WARD CHURCHILL, FORMER UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO PROFESSOR: They made the system work by which profit is maximized at the expense of starving and dying children and other people in the third world as a matter of business as usual.
This total immoral technical function being performed. That's Eichmann-like in my mind.
KELLY: That's how America first came to know the University of Colorado's Ward Churchill. Born in 1947, Churchill came of age in the '60s. He was drafted by the Army in 1966, spending close to a year in Vietnam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened over there?
CHURCHILL: Carnage is what happened over there. Was it genocide? Well, we can debate that one. But it was certainly a genocidal process.
KELLY: He returned from the war a radical and an enemy sympathizer.
CHURCHILL: I woke up one morning in 1968 shortly after arriving and realized I was on the wrong side.
KELLY: Back stateside, Churchill quickly joined the Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, a hardcore antiwar organization boasting members like Bill Ayers. Ayers, another '60s radical, would later become a domestic terrorist, founding a group that bombed the State Department, Pentagon and more than a dozen other buildings, all in protest of the war and other far left causes.
Churchill admits that around this time he taught Ayers' group -- then known as The Weathermen -- how to make bombs and fire weapons.
CHURCHILL: I had trained Weathermen, you know, it's pretty basic kind of training. I did workshops with pacifists on the mystification of an assault rifle. OK? You can't be pacifist if you're not capable of inflicting violence.
KELLY: In 1978, Churchill began lecturing on American-Indian studies at the University of Colorado. By the '90s, he had received tenure. And then came September 11, 2001. Hours after the attacks with smoke still smoldering amidst the carnage, Churchill penned an essay on the justice of roosting chickens.
Full of rage about what he called past American war crimes, Churchill compared the victims to Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, a man who sent millions of Jews to the gas chamber, suggesting the dead Americans had helped grease the wheels of an immoral U.S. foreign policy.
Quote, "As to those in the World Trade Center... Well, really? Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Give me a break. They formed a technocratic core at the very heart of America's global financial empire."
It was an accusation he would later repeat in an HBO documentary.
CHURCHILL: If there is a better or more efficient way to impose consequences on the little Eichmanns composing technocratic core on American empire, I'd really like to hear it.
KELLY: His incendiary writings went unnoticed for years until New York's respected Hamilton College invited him to speak in 2005. The essay resurfaced and outrage followed.
BILL O'REILLY, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR" HOST, 2005: I mean, this guy -- this is just cruel. To say these people deserved it. They were little Nazis, which is what Churchill says that these people in the World Trade Center at the Pentagon were little Nazis. And you know, there's -- one of their sons is at Hamilton. How brutal is this?
KELLY: Hamilton College rescinded the invitation. In the meantime, Churchill's own employer besieged by angry alumni and faculty, started looking into Churchill's comments. The university concluded this was protected speech. But not long after, it accused Churchill of unrelated academic misconduct. He claimed the charges were a ruse to fire him.
In July 2007, the university cut him loose. Churchill's attorney filed suit portraying the professor as the victim of a witch hunt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an absolute mob mentality. Bill O'Reilly was all over Ward Churchill, Rush Limbaugh all over him.
KELLY: Two years later the jury ruled for Churchill, awarding him, though, just one dollar in damages. The judge overturned the verdict in Churchill's favor. Churchill appealed and lost every challenge.
In the five years since, he's been mostly writing, never retracting his inflammatory statements.
Now living in Atlanta, Churchill still believes America is a force for evil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So who's the new evil empire?
CHURCHILL: Well, you're sitting in it.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KELLY: Ward Churchill is the former University of Colorado professor. Thank you for being here.
So, the day of the 9/11 attacks you wrote an essay and referred to the 9/11 victims as Little Eichmanns, writing, quote, "If there was a better more effective or, in fact, any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the Little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the Twin Towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it."
How could you draw a moral equivalence between 3,000 dead Americans and a murderous Nazi like Adolf Eichmann?
CHURCHILL: Well, first off, I did not make a reference to 3,000 Americans in that connection. I made a reference to what I described as a technocratic core of empire which was particular group within that 3,000.
KELLY: The folks in the Twin Towers?
CHURCHILL: Twin Towers, there is also a body count at the Pentagon that day. So, we have two separate groups here. But within that, there are various subgroups. And I'm not quite sure that you could describe a food service worker or a janitorial staff or passers-by as being part of a technocratic core of anything. So, self-evidently I was referring to a particular subgroup or particular subgroups.
KELLY: OK. So, you exclude the firefighters, the police, the janitors, the folks who were not working in the financial services industry.
CHURCHILL: Yeah. There is some definition you can apply to them that would make them technocrats, I'd have to revise that, but I can't think of one.
KELLY: OK. Then let's talk about the folks to whom you do assign some blame or who you were suggesting, in some way, deserved the attack. How? How on Earth could you say that?
CHURCHILL: Essentially in the same way that the United States government and the military have designate these as legitimate targets. We're talking about command and control infrastructure, we're talking about the ability of an opposing power, a hostile power.
KELLY: Our military doesn't target civilian facilities. They may target dual facilities that serve both the military and other purpose, but they do not intentionally target civilians as the terrorists did to us on 9/11.
CHURCHILL: Quite the contrary. You have actual projections that are made prior to strikes as to what quantity of collateral damage will be. So, it's done with full knowledge that there's going to be civilian casualties.
KELLY: But we try to avoid them, we try to avoid civilian casualties.
CHURCHILL: What does that mean? What exactly does try to avoid them mean when you're attacking a target in full knowledge that you're going to inflict a so-called collateral damage and you think that is an acceptable price to pay?
KELLY: I wanna get to what specifically you said...
CHURCHILL: This is...
KELLY: Wait, one second and I'll give you the floor. What specifically you said about the financial workers who were in the World Trade Center, because when I read your words written on the day of the attack, I mean, while the bodies were still smoldering, it sounded like you had a distain for these Americans.
And this is what you wrote, "To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in, it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely it was because they were too busy braying incessantly and self-importantly into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance into the starved and rotting flesh of infants."
You sound like not only do you blame them but that you dislike them.
CHURCHILL: What I'm saying is for effect, in essence, the message is this is what it feels like to be treated this way.
KELLY: What was there's in (ph) -- why do you draw a distinction between them and the firefighters, them and the police, them and the janitors?
CHURCHILL: Because they are proactively involved and knowingly involved, lending their proficiencies to process which is served by the U.S. Military, which is served by this projection...
KELLY: The process is making money -- the process is making money.
KELLY: That's every American with a job does. That's what you did when you worked at the University of Colorado, pulling in six figures a year, you made money. And the American military is funded by taxes from individuals and businesses.
CHURCHILL: You make money one way or you make a money another way. There are ways to make money which are criminally sanctioned.
KELLY: But, Professor Churchill, you're too smart to believe that. The American military is funded by taxes. My taxes, your taxes, taxes paid by the folks who worked in the World Trade Center, money is fungible. And we all funded those actions, not just those folks, you too.
CHURCHILL: Did I say I was innocent? Yeah, I understand. My taxes go into that. And I resist it, I reject it, I oppose it, I do what I can to bring it to a halt, which is probably not sufficient because I have not been successful.
KELLY: Let's talk about the Little Eichmann's reference, because that's one of the pieces of what you wrote that got people so upset. Adolf Eichmann, you describe as him as technocrat, in within the Nazi Army.
CHURCHILL: Bureaucrat would work, too.
KELLY: The Nuremberg trials found him in charge of the extermination program against the Jews. He was the one in charge of the final solution, which was, eliminate all the Jews. They don't think he was a technocrat of any sort. And so, for you to compare these dead Americans to one of the worst, most bloodthirsty Nazis of World War II, incensed a lot of people.
CHURCHILL: Well, I don't know whether if you've read the Nuremberg proceedings, I have, and that's not what they said. They said...
KELLY: You know what I read?
CHURCHILL: ...in charge essentially of the logistical apparatus and the programs, the formulation of the programs and implementation of the programs for the roundups and so forth. Reinhard Heydrich was in charge of the final solution.
KELLY: So, he was just a paper pusher as far as you're concerned.
CHURCHILL: Essentially, that's correct.
KELLY: OK. But what I did read was his own words, because he, the viewers should know, actually escaped after the war and took refuge in Argentina under a different name before he was ultimately captured by the Mossad, the Israeli forces and put to death, the only man in the history of Israel to be put to death by execution.
But what he said while he was hiding in Argentina is as follows, number one, he said, quote, you know, "I called my men into my Berlin office and formally took leave of them. If it has to be, I told them, I will gladly jump into my grave in the knowledge that 5 million enemies of the Reich have already died like animals."
He went onto say, quote, "To sum it all up, I regret nothing, I recognized Hitler joyfully and I still defend him. I will not humble myself for repenting ay way. I must say truthfully that if we'd killed all the 10 million Jews, I would say, good, we have destroyed an enemy." Doesn't sound like a paper pusher.
CHURCHILL: You, kind of, left a critical piece out of your account of what happened with Eichmann...
KELLY: I think this is sufficient ...
CHURCHILL: Excuse me. I'm responding.
KELLY: Go ahead.
CHURCHILL: OK. There was a trial in between the point that he was taken by the Mossad from Argentina and the point in Israel, he was hanged. And in that trial they never found Adolf Eichmann guilty or even really attempted to prosecute Eichmann for killing a single Jew. He did say, we based on the fact that he made it possible for that to happen.
KELLY: You're making a distinction between actually turning on the gas and ordering it.
CHURCHILL: He made it possible for that to happen without directly --
KELLY: Of course he did.
CHURCHILL: Yes, that's my point on the Little Eichmanns.
KELLY: I mean, it's very clear what he did. I mean, he was the one who recommended the use Zyklon B for the gassing of the Jews, and took steps to supply all of it to the camps.
You can't say he doesn't have blood on his hands just because he wasn't the one who turned on the gas when he made sure it got there. That's the man you're comparing the dead Americans to.
CHURCHILL: Thank you. You just made my point perfectly. You do not have to be the one who turned on the gas if you're making it possible for the gas to be there and someone to turn the knob.
KELLY: OK, fine.
CHURCHILL: If you're part of that process lending your proficiencies to making it more efficient, you are culpable in the process, you're guilty.
KELLY: So, you see a moral equivalence between the man who did that and said, I'm happy, I gladly jump into my grave knowing that all these Jews have died like animals. That's the same thing, the same mentality, as the victims of Al Qaeda in those trade -- those Twin Towers had. That's your point?
CHURCHILL: And so far as you lend you proficiency, knowingly to a process that result the mass and maceration and miserable death of third world brown skinned children for profit, profit maximization, it's not mysterious.
CHURCHILL: OK? When you do that, you're part of that process which is a process of just routinely and continuously inflicting carnage on others, identifiable others.
KELLY: Just like Adolf Eichmann.
CHURCHILL: Yeah. Essentially you're the moral equivalent of Eichmann.
KELLY: On the other hand, you know, you thought that the dead Americans were just like the Nazis. However, you had nothing but praise for the 9/11 hijackers. You call them courageous, even gallant.
KELLY: Al Qaeda? The guys who flew those jets in the Twin Trade Centers?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: In three minutes Professor Churchill answers that question. And then I'll ask him about an apology to the 9/11 families. And wait until you see what happens.
KELLY: Well, you just heard former University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill standing by his comments about the 9/11 victims. A disturbing window into the thinking that festers on certain college campuses in America to this day.
In this part of our exclusive interview with the professor, he discusses the terrorists who murdered nearly 3,000 Americans. And wait until you hear the difference in tone. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KELLY: You thought that the dead Americans were just like the Nazis, however, you had nothing but praise for the 9/11 hijackers. You call them courageous, even gallant.
KELLY: Al Qaeda? The guys who flew those jets into the Twin Trade Centers?
CHURCHILL: Yeah. Now, if you ask me do I actually believe that or do I believe that I'm still making the point? This is what it feels like when people who are sitting at computer consoles 1,500 miles away firing cruise missiles into your cities are called heroes.
KELLY: That, you're talking about -- I know, you're talking about our military now. You have nothing but disdain for them, I realize that.
CHURCHILL: The whole thing was an exercise in --how does it feel when it is done to you? And it is defined, extrapolated, explained, crowed about in exactly the same kind of terms that the United States does continuously with regard to the infliction of comparable damage on other people elsewhere.
KELLY: But you understand that Al Qaeda routinely kills civilians? This group ISIS routinely kills civilians, and that's the purpose...
CHURCHILL: Are you asking me if I'm a supporter of Al Qaeda?
KELLY: That's -- you certainly sound like you like them.
CHURCHILL: No. I sound like the Pentagon briefer...
KELLY: That you have the courage of their conviction. They're gallant.
KELLY: And then you went onto say, and I quote, "... honest interrogators might ask why did it take them so long to arrive and why under the circumstances do they conduct themselves with such obvious and admirable restraint?"
KELLY: I mean, professor, our viewers are gonna hear that and think that you're a lunatic.
CHURCHILL: Yeah. Exactly like most of the rest of the world hears the stuff that's coming out from the United States official sources and media pundits thinks we're lunatics, homicidal lunatics.
KELLY: You feel for the plight of these civilians who the American military has killed. Many would argue inadvertently, you argue always intentionally.
But you yourself -- you yourself poured salt in the wounds of the victims of 9/11 and their families. So, how can you claim the moral high ground when it comes to causing pain, causing destruction when you at the most vulnerable moment did the very same thing to them?
CHURCHILL: Which is exactly the point again. This is done day in, day out continuously.
KELLY: You're pointing to somebody else. I'm talking about you, professor. Take responsibility for your own actions.
CHURCHILL: My responsibility is to do exactly what I did, which is to show you what it feels like. If you're too dense to get it, OK. But I would assume that there are people out there who are not.
KELLY: Let me ask you this...
CHURCHILL: Including some victims family members, I might add.
KELLY: What about them?
CHURCHILL: I got communications from them and I also have them on file saying, yeah, I get it now.
KELLY: Yeah. I'm sure they think you're a peach. Did you have to be so glib about it? Did you have to be so callous?
CHURCHILL: It wasn't a personal thing. They don't think I'm a peach, maybe they do. I wouldn't know. What they had did was understand the point.
KELLY: Did you have to be so glib about it?
CHURCHILL: I don't know. You might ask Norman Schwarzkopf. I'm presenting in a same faith it happens -- that's exactly the answer.
KELLY: Again, deflecting to someone else. Will you apologize to anyone?
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KELLY: Tomorrow, he answers the ultimate question about the current threats to America. Don't miss it.
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On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality is a 2003 book written by Ward Churchill and published by AK Press. The "Roosting Chickens" of the title comes from a 1963 Malcolm X speech about the John F. Kennedy assassination, which the rights activist called "merely a case of 'chickens coming home to roost.'"
Churchill used the term "Roosting Chickens" in a short essay, "'Some People Push Back': On the Justice of Roosting Chickens", first published on September 12, 2001. In that article, Churchill claimed that the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States were "acts of war" by the "Islamic East" in defense against the "crusades" waged by the "Christian West" (e.g., Arab–Israeli conflict and The First Gulf War) throughout the late 20th century.
The original essay
The original Some People Push Back essay was written one day after September 11, 2001.
In Churchill's original Some People Push Back essay, he alleged that some practices of the U.S. armed forces violate widely accepted Principles of Warfare:
- 1991 US "surgical" bombing of [ Iraq's ] water purification and sewage facilities, as well as other "infrastructural" targets upon which Iraq's civilian population depends for its very survival.
- ... this sort of "aerial warfare" constitutes a Class I Crime Against humanity, entailing myriad gross violations of international law, as well as every conceivable standard of "civilized" behavior -- the death toll has been steadily ratcheted up by US-imposed sanctions for a full decade now. Enforced all the while by a massive military presence and periodic bombing raids, the embargo has greatly impaired the victims' ability to import the nutrients, medicines and other materials necessary to saving the lives of even their toddlers.
- All told, Iraq has a population of about 18 million. The 500,000 kids lost to date thus represent something on the order of 25 percent of their age group. ... In effect, an entire generation has been obliterated.
Since he claims that it was the U.S. who started violence in the first place, he argues that it is not unimaginable that "some people push back".
As a result of what he believes to be the nefarious effects of American foreign policy and global capitalism, Churchill argues that some of those targeted in the attack of the World Trade Center were not technically innocent civilians:
- As for those in the World Trade Center... Well, really, let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire—the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved - and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to "ignorance"—a derivative, after all, of the word "ignore"—counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in—and in many cases excelling at—it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.
The essay was followed by the book On the Justice of Roosting Chickens in 2003.
After a foreword by Chellis Glendinning, the book is divided into three parts:
- The Ghosts of 9-1-1, an expanded version of Some People Push Back.
- That "Most Peace-Loving of Nations", a long and detailed list of military interventions and covert actions conducted by the US government.
- "A Government of Laws"?, an equally long list of instances where Churchill alleges that the US has contravened international law, particularly United Nations resolutions.
Neither piece was widely publicized at the time, though the 2003 book does indicate that the Nazi references in the earlier essay were already controversial. The Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights gave Churchill's volume an honorable mention in December 2004.
Churchill's remarks about World Trade Center victims became the center of considerable attention and controversy in January 2005 when Hamilton College of Clinton, New York invited him to give a speech. As a result, the speech was cancelled, citing "credible threats of violence". Churchill's "little Eichmanns" drew ferverous condemnation from media pundits, who called for his resignation and deemed him unfit to teach. The University of Colorado Board of Regents publicly apologized for Churchill's writings about the September 11, 2001 attacks. Following this media controversy, Churchill was investigated for plagiarism, alleged to have committed academic misconduct, fired, and filed a lawsuit against CU. Churchill won the wrongful dismissal claim and was award $1 in damages by a jury that was vacated by the judge. Churchill's final appeal was denied on April 1, 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.