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September 11th Families for Ward Churchill By: Roberta Leguizamon
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Apparently the relatives of those who perished on 9/11 would rather a far-Left professor call their relatives "little Eichmanns" than have Republicans featured eight seconds of 9/11 footage in a campaign commercial. There is no other way to interpret the tepid response of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows to Ward Churchill’s hate speech.

In March of 2004, the campaign to reelect President George W. Bush ran a number of advertisements in which images from September 11 were used to remind Americans of the tragedy of that day, and of our leader’s steadfast stewardship through the heartache to come. Yet, just hours after the first commercial began to run, members of September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows began appearing on news programs, damning the president for using the deaths of their loved ones for political gain. Newspapers for the next several weeks touted the purportedly "non-partisan" antiwar group’s opposition to Bush’s – and any other politician’s – use of images from that horrific day in his re-election campaign.

"To use these images of a scene of destruction and murder in a political campaign is inappropriate at best, and politicians from across the spectrum should know that there is bipartisan opposition among 9/11 families to this type of offensive exploitation," said Andrew Rice, who lost his brother in the hijackers’ attack on the World Trade Center, in a March 5, 2004 Peaceful Tomorrows press release.

"My son was murdered on September 11th," said Bob McIlvaine, whose son, Bobby, was working at the Twin Towers, according to the March 5 press release. "To argue that using footage of the wreckage of the towers to further someone’s political career is ‘tasteful’ really needs to be rejected outright, and I condemn it. Instead of playing on people’s emotions with images of that day, the president would do right to cooperate more with the independent commission investigating the 9/11 attacks so we can learn the truth about what happened on that day and why."

The same press release protested the fact that "the Republican National Committee has set the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City to fall one week before the anniversary of 9/11." In other words, Peaceful Tomorrows objected to Bush making any mention of 9/11 – the most important event of recent American history, let alone his first term – or of his own leadership in the face of terrorism, during his re-election campaign.

So why are the members of this same group – who were so outraged by the mere mention of the deaths of their relatives in a heart-wrenching TV commercial – nearly silent about University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill’s reference to their kin as "Little Eichmanns"? By any reasonable standard, comparing the victims of 9/11 to Hitler’s right-hand man is a far more egregious assault on decency than the respectful treatment paid the event in the Bush ads. Surely claiming that those who willingly worked as part of America’s capitalist enterprise were legitimate targets for enemy combatants constitutes "offensive exploitation" of the deaths of innocent men and women.

On February 16, 2005, Peaceful Tomorrows posted on its website an open letter from Michael Faughnan to Ward Churchill, titled "My Brother, the ‘Eichmann.’" Early in his letter, Faughman, whose brother Chris was killed on 9/11, states what would appear to be a strong condemnation of Churchill’s hideous comments:

Mr. Churchill, what I want you to see is the human face behind the rhetoric. Human beings are not symbols, and your essay’s dehumanization of the victims of 9/11 reduces them to mere symbols — drones in a capitalist machine. In this way, you are guilty of what you claim to condemn, that is the dehumanization of individuals. It is the inability to see the human face of ‘the other’ that allows the horrible violence in this world to continue.

Later in the letter, Faughnan adds, "Regrettably, you, like many of those who are zealously attacking you — political leaders, talk-show hosts, those who profess their views around the office water cooler — disgracefully use the victims of 9/11 to advance your own cause. In the view of this family, your grossly inappropriate characterization of Chris and the other 9/11 victims has been surpassed in vulgarity only by the misinformed advocates of aggression who used those beautiful innocents who perished on 9/11 as propaganda for immediate and misguided violence and destruction."

In other words, Ward Churchill and George W. Bush are equally offensive. Moreover, by berating the Bush neoconservatives’ allegedly using 9/11 "for immediate and misguided violence and destruction," Faughnan makes Bush out to be a far graver threat to the world.

Later in his letter, Faughnan offers Churchill both a commiserating ear and easy agreement with Churchill’s political agenda. "From what I understand after reading your essay," he writes, "you wish to give the American people a view of the suffering of the Iraqi and the Palestinian peoples, and provide insight into why the attacks of 9/11 may have occurred. This is noble and legitimate. We do need to see and understand the consequences of the actions of our government and the exportation of our culture, and also do what we can to right the wrongs that have been committed."

"Behind the painful rhetoric you use," Faughnan continues, "I sense a nobler goal, the desire to tell the American people that we must be aware of ourselves in the world, take responsibility and work to understand and change the wrongs that have been committed. If this is your greater message, my brother Chris would have agreed with you whole-heartedly."

So Churchill shouldn’t have used the exact wording he did (saying 9/11 victims were capitalist whores deserving fiery death), but were they alive, the victims of those Islamist attacks would side with Ward! After the most laudatory condemnation in recent memory, Faughnan dubs Ward Churchill the official voice of the 9/11 victims.

After reading Faughnan’s confusing letter of both anger and respect, Michael Lopez-Calderon, who was researching the silence of Peaceful Tomorrows for his own essay, sent an email to Peaceful Tomorrows Co-Director Colleen Kelly, saying, "I am trying to ascertain whether your organization’s posting of ‘An Open Letter to Ward Churchill: My Brother, the Eichmann,’ by Michael Faughnan, constitutes an official criticism of Ward Churchill’s specific remarks about ‘Little Eichmanns’ in the WTC, or simply an exercise in providing a variety of competing perspectives."

In response, Ms. Kelly said that while the letter reflected the views of many members of her organization, it was not an "official stance" of Peaceful Tomorrows. She also sent Calderon a copy of a letter she wrote to "News 4" in Colorado, which read in part, "While I find Professor Churchill's statements regarding the ‘little Eichmans’ [sic] repugnant and blatantly false, I would defend his right to make them. His line of reasoning would presume that unless a tax resister, all Americans are in part responsible for our foreign policy. That's worth debating."

In addition, Kelly sent Calderon a letter from Adele Welty, the mother of a firefighter killed on 9/11. Similarly, Welty wrote: "The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech to everyone, not only those with whom we feel in agreement. That amendment is there for a reason, to protect us, in a nation of such diversity, from being victimized for our beliefs and the expression of those beliefs. When we threaten those with whom we have a disagreement, with violence and death, we undermine the very institutions that are in place to keep us free. We become a lynch mob, getting rid of a frightening irritant. We do not educate, we do not learn. We are diminished."

Of course, the First Amendment guarantees Churchill the right to vent hate speech against innocent victims within his own country, just as it gave President Bush the right to discuss 9/11 in his re-election campaign – but the September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows seemed uninterested in rights at the time. Similarly, where is their condemnation of Churchill’s exploitation of the deaths of their loved ones to advance his own political agenda? Unlike Bush, Churchill did not praise those who died….

In truth, Peaceful Tomorrows generally encourages people to use their personal grief as a pretext for the advancement of political agendas – provided that those agendas are leftists. Members of the group regularly attend political rallies and protests, particularly against the Bush administration and the War on Terror. They have backed the ACLU’s attacks on the Patriot Act and taken up the cause of militant Palestinians against Israel. They stand in solidarity with the "people of Iraq" and condemn the U.S. for bringing untold horrors to that country’s citizenry, accusing the United States of leading a profit-motivated global war on civil liberties.

On November 2, 2004, as Americans were heading to the polls to elect the next president, Peaceful Tomorrows issued a statement that read, in part, "We will call attention to all threats to civil liberties, human rights, and other freedoms in the U.S. as a consequence of war and our government's responses to terrorism, recognizing that it is our duty to defend those principles in our own lives and in our own communities." The rhetoric of Peaceful Tomorrows (PT) often resembles that of many of the progressive organizations with which PT has allied itself, including: Voices in the Wilderness, United for Peace and Justice, Peace Action, Pax Christi USA, and Global Exchange, all of which roll happily along on the "Blame America First" and Blame Israel" bandwagons.

For example, when Peaceful Tomorrows member Anne Mulderry accepted the 2003 Miranda Peace Award in Terni, Italy, on December 8, 2003, she said of the War in Iraq, "What others may view as a policy decision, we see clearly as the murder of innocent people. Death among the civilian population in Iraq will be immediate: the result of bombing that kills indiscriminately."

On March 19, 2005, PT member David Potorti, whose brother was killed in the 9/11 attacks, told a crowd at an Fayetteville, NC:

"It is to this larger human family of victims that I pledge my allegiance, and declare that I will not support the killing of children who are just like my children, the killing of parents who are just like my parents, and the killing of brothers who are just like the brother I lost at the World Trade Center. I will not respond to terrorism by becoming a terrorist. And I will not support a war, fought in my name, that terrorizes the people of Iraq, terrorizes our troops, and terrorizes the world. Today, I pledge my allegiance to the victims, and join my friends on this stage and in this audience and around the world who say stop this war, bring the troops home now."

But where is Peaceful Tomorrows’ sympathy for the families of the hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children murdered by Saddam Hussein’s bloodthirsty regime?

Among the most blatant hypocrisies of Peaceful Tomorrows relates to the group’s funding. As stated clearly on the PT website, "Peaceful Tomorrows is a project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization." The Tides Center is an offshoot of the Tides Foundation, a left-wing funding powerhouse that promotes a multitude of far-Left agendas.

In other words, there is nothing "non-partisan" about Peaceful Tomorrows, and that fact explains why they more harshly condemned their own president than a far-Left ideologue who called their deceased relatives Nazis who deserved what they got.


Roberta Leguizamon earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University and is a Contributing Editor to Frontpage Magazine.


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