Monday, March 07, 2005

Genocide for Dummies

Little Chomskies

I've watched the Real Time with Bill Maher interview with Ward Churchill twice, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but I certainly can't ignore it.

Please watch the clip here and give me your thoughts below.

Maher brings on Churchill, who either is heavily sedated or adopting a victim pose, and tries desperately to have his guest make the incendiary point that the stock traders in the World Trade Center were complicit in genocide and therefore culpable for their own murders.

How does Churchill make this connection between selling IRAs over the phone and genocide? Granted, I'm on the Do Not Call List, but I'd draw the line somewhere short of their murder.

Those young brokers, he says, were actually "technocrats" (shudder), engaged in a "technical function" whose "by-product is eviseration and mass annihilation." You see, they help to "maximize profits by displacing labor into the sweatshops of Malaysia." Hence, they're "little Eichmanns."

A little self-disclosure here. When I got out of college I trained on Wall Street to be a broker, and spent time in downtown Manhattan dialing for dollars, trying to land wealthy clients (my degree of success should be self-evident.) We were the sales force on America's used-car lot of equity financing during the 80's economic boom, but I don't recall gassing any Kurds or hacking away at any Tutsis.

And a word about Malaysia. Sporting one of the world's most phenomenal airports (Kuala Lumpur International), home of the Petronas Twin Towers, and the country of origin of most hard drives, disk drives, and memory chips, Malaysia is a high-tech success story with an incredible infrastructure and a GDP per capita much higher than China, Thailand, Indonesia, or the Philippines. Doesn't seem to be much genocide in those Malaysian sweat shops.

So Churchill is either a rube, a fraud, a poseur, a dunce, or a little of each. As for Maher, he praises Churchill for "walking out on the edge" and calling attention to the fact that some people hate America for "valid reasons" - (this got heavy applause.) Maher is an intellectual in his own mind.

But maybe I'm biased given my past life creating global collateral damage over the phone. How did you interpret these performances?