Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Churchill, Quaddafi, Saddam--together at last!

Last week Glenn Reynolds, Belmont Club and others pointed to a statement by the National American Indian Movement claiming that amiable chucklehead and 70s TV star Ward Churchill is not, as he purports to be, an American Indian. Today, in an utterly unsurprising development, CU's Paul Campos (link from Instapundit) says in the Rocky Mountain News that there are also serious questions about Churchill's past scholarship. This aspect of the story, as anyone who's looked into Churchill's career could predict, will only grow.

What I don't think anyone in the blogosphere has sufficiently noted, though, is national AIM's long and colorful history with both Churchill and the Colorado AIM movement of which he is a leader--a wild Marxist-Leninist roller-coaster ride during which each camp excommunicated the other multiple times for deviating from the party line and accused the other of, basically, every crime in the book.

First things first. A typically verbose 1998 Colorado AIM manifesto intent on defending Churchill's Indian bona fides also provides at least a hint of how Churchill weaseled his way into CU:

As to community recognition, Churchill has been active in several [sic]. In Boulder,where he has lived the last twenty years, Churchill's record speaks for itself.He was hired as an Indian by the 'committee of the Boulder Valley SchoolDistrict's Title-IV Indian Education Project in 1977. He was hired as an Indian by the all-native staff of the American Indian Educational Opportunity Program at the University of Colorado Boulder campus in 1978. "He has always been accepted as an Indian by the Indians in this town," says Norbert S. Hill, Jr., an Oneida and former director of the Educational Opportunity Program, now head of the Boulder-based American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Hill cites that Churchill has been repeatedly honored by the Oyate Indian Student Organization at University of Colorado over the years. "I don't agree with him on a lot of things," Hill concludes, "but I've never known anybody who worked harder for Indian rights.
No doubt. So, what was this "Opportunity Program?" How did it determine Churchill's Indian ancestry? Or did it? And what was the "opportunity" it presented to Churchill? Finally, how did Churchill move from this program into a tenure-track position? We know he didn't get a degree from CU.

These are all interesting questions, to me at least. Far more interesting is the fact that national AIM's antipathy to Churchill goes way back, at least to 1986, when, in typically Trotskyite fashion, the Colorado AIM chapter, of which Churchill and Russell Means were (and are) co-directors, and National AIM split over--of all things--Nicaragua: the Denver chapter supported the Musquitos against the "genocidal" Sandinista government; brothers Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt. national AIM's leaders-for-life, supported the government over the Indians.

Things got worse in 1993, when Means, Churchill and Glenn Morris (best known for organizing the fun-filled anti-Columbus Day demonstrations every year in Denver) published an “indictment” in which, speaking for the Colorado chapter, they accused the Bellecourts of myriad betrayals of AIM's revolutionary principles. This document, despite its dreary and back-biting rhetoric of "liberation," is fascinating reading. Its many, many charges against the Bellecourts range from credit card scams, embezzlement, and "espionage" to seizing "dictatorial authority," sucking up to the American government by accepting its money, and (here's a twist) abetting "genocide" against indigenous peoples.

The Bellecourts, according to the indictment (I'm not going to keep putting that word in quotes), have over the years returned such compliments in spades, repeatedly calling Churchill and Glenn Morris "white men" and "police agents."

All this lefty schismaticism would merely be funny if not for a couple of the indictment's charges. These concern the International Indian Treaty Council, national AIM's "diplomatic arm," which was "the first Indigenous organization recognized by the UN as a consultative status Non-governmental organization in 1977." Somehow, though, despite its no doubt crushing schedule of UN consulting, the IITC has been a very busy little organization in other areas as well. The Colorado AIM indictment (I suspect Churchill's hand in these quotes) hits a high spot or two:

In 1990, Libya announced it was preparing to bestow a human rights award, carrying with it a substantial cash subsidy, to AIM POW Leonard Peltier. Vernon Bellecourt, in a separate trip to Libya, intervened with Libyan officials, arguing that the award was being cast "too narrowly." A compromise was then effected whereby IITC, or a mechanism it created for such purposes, would receive and administer the cash award--reputedly $1 million, U.S.--on behalf of a number of indigenous rights organizations, including the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC). To date, LPDC has received no such funds. In statements to the press, Bellecourt has indicated that LPDC and other indigenous organizations are "free to apply" for funds which may then be granted, subject to approval by a specially-constituted board in which he plays a prominent role. This situation self-evidently represents a perversion of the Libyan intent in making the award, converting their gesture into an instrument of financial coercion used by Bellecourt in his efforts to impose his will on the Movement as a whole.
Jeez, how low can you get? Good old Libya, to express its compassion for and solidarity with the struggles of indigenous peoples everywhere, gives a $1 million "human rights award" to AIM, and what happens? The Bellecourts scarf it all up, and Churchill and his pals get nada! Admit it, you'd be mad too. But in the indictment Churchill has an even more interesting example of the brothers' maladroitness: their habit of pissing off people who just want to help:

Through the IITC, cordial diplomatic relations were developed by 1979 with the Baath Socialist Party of Iraq. Through this relationship, substantial contributions were made to AIM and to the struggle for the return of the Paha Sapa (Black Hills) under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. In 1982, although he occupied no official position within IITC and had received no other authorization to do so, Vernon Bellecourt made public statements "on behalf of AIM and IITC, extolling the Ayatollah Khomeni of Iran. Insofar as Iraq was, at that time, in a state of war with Iran, Bellecourt's ill-conceived pronouncements resulted in an immediate suspension of Iraqi support to IITC, AIM and the Paha Sapa land struggle. Whatever personal benefits Bellecourt may have gained as a result of this conduct, Iran provided no compensatory support to the Movement. The whole fiasco represented a net loss, both politically and financially, to our liberation sruggle.
Rats! A net loss to the liberation struggle! But I wonder what "substantial contributions" these nitwits were getting from Saddam, don't you? Churchill doesn't say. All that matters is that those fathead Bellecourts got Saddam mad at AIM. Ward would never betray Saddam like that! (And as far as I can tell, he hasn't.)

There's much, much more on the protagonists' various websites, including accusations of murder, but for the moment I can stand no more. The upshot of all this? Churchill, Means, Morris, Colorado AIM, the Bellecourts--some of them are criminals, all of them are radical leftist thugs, and any claims any of them make about anything or anyone, including Ward Churchill, should be regarded with extreme scepticism. Given Campos' revelations I probably shouldn't say this, but--a pox on both their houses!

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