Hate Speech vs. Free Speech
The thing that got me interested in Oradour-sur-Glane
was the media coverage, on 10 June 2004, of the conviction of
on a charge of "approval of a war crime." Reynouard
claimed that the victims of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre were
killed because they were helping the French resistance. There
was a great deal of discussion about this on the Internet newsgroups
because the issue of free speech is very dear to the hearts of
most Americans. America is one of the few Western countries that
still allows unbridled free speech, regardless of how such speech
might hurt the feelings of others.
As I write this on February 12, 2005,
America is embroiled in a controversy about the comments of Ward
Churchill, a professor at Colorado University who wrote an article
in September 2001, entitled "Some People Push Back: On the
Justice of Roosting Chickens," in which he said that the
people who were killed in the 9/11 tragedy were not innocent
The similarities between Ward Churchill
and Vincent Reynouard are uncanny. Reynouard is a former math
teacher and Churchill is a professor of ethnic studies. Both
blamed innocent victims for a barbaric attack. It was over three
years before Churchill was called upon to defend his writing,
and six years elapsed before Reynouard was brought to justice.
In both cases, it was the victims or their families who started
the ball rolling. If Vincent Reynouard lost his teaching job
in a French school because of what he wrote, can Ward Churchill
be far behind?
Reynouard was convicted of a crime for
writing essentially the same thing that Churchill did. Will Churchill
eventually be put on trial for expressing an unpopular opinion,
the same way that Reynouard was prosecuted in a French court?
Will our First Amendment rights in America survive this latest
Churchill wrote his comments about 9/11
at a time when many people were expressing the same opinion,
so his essay did not attract the attention of the mainstream
media. There were far more important people, for example, Noam
Chomsky, who were writing about the reasons for the 9/11 attack.
I had never heard of Ward Churchill at that time, and I am sure
that most Americans had never heard of him either.
Churchill's controversial essay can be
found at this web site:
The official story of the 9/11 attack
is that "terrorists" toppled the Twin Towers because
they "hate our freedom." At that time, Americans were
reluctant to challenge the most important freedom in America:
our Freedom of Speech. So Ward Churchill's essay did not cause
an uproar back then, and he eventually expanded it into a book,
entitled "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens."
The reason that Churchill's essay finally
came to the attention of the media, so many years after he wrote
it, is because he was invited to speak on February 3, 2005 at
Hamilton College, a small school in upstate New York. He was
initially invited to speak on a subject unrelated to 9/11. But
one of the Hamilton College students was appalled that his college
was bringing to his campus a speaker who had insulted the victims
of 9/11, which included the student's father. The college then
decided to confront Churchill with his views on 9/11 and asked
Churchill to change the subject of his speech.
The student's objection to Ward Churchill's
views came to the attention of Bill O'Reilly, a very popular
news analyst on the Fox News TV channel. The student was a guest
on O'Reilly's show, and for days after this first TV show about
Churchill's opinions, the story continued, as other people, including
Bill Owens, the governor of Colorado, got into the act. Hamilton
College withdrew its invitation for him to speak, and Churchill
then resigned his position as the Chairman of Ethnic Studies
at Colorado University.
The thing that angered Bill O'Reilly
and so many other Americans was that Churchill compared the 9/11
victims to Nazis, which was O'Reilly's interpretation of Churchill's
statement that the victims were "little Eichmanns."
Churchill did not use the full name of Adolf Eichmann. He just
assumed that everyone knew who Eichmann was. The name Eichmann
became a household word in 1961 when he was put on trial in Israel
for Crimes Against Humanity for his part in the genocide of 6
million Jews during World War II.
What Churchill didn't realize is that
most people don't know that Eichmann was not the Mastermind of
the Holocaust, but rather a low-level technocrat whose job was
to make sure that the trains to the camps ran on time. Comparing
the victims to Eichmann, Churchill wrote that the people working
in the Twin Towers were the "technocratic corps at the very
heart of America's global financial empire." In other words,
they were mere cogs in a big machine, the unimportant little
guys behind the scene, just like Adolf Eichmann who had no authority
in Nazi Germany and was not a decision maker. Ernst Kaltenbrunner,
who was 6 levels above Eichmann in the Reich Security Main Office,
was put on trial at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal
and specifically charged with gassing the Jews. Eichmann was
the head of the Jewish Department in the Reich Security Main
Office, but he was not important enough to make the cut. Eichmann
got the job because he and Kaltenbrunner had been friends from
their school days in Linz,
Austria, the city that was also the boyhood home of Adolf Hitler.
So unimportant was Eichmann that he did not even leave Germany
to escape prosecution until 1950.
So if Eichmann was such small potatoes,
how did he rate a trial in Israel? Eichmann was kidnapped in
1960 from Argentina, where he was a citizen, by the Israeli Mossad;
he was sneaked out of the country on a plane, disguised as an
unconscious patient on a stretcher. There were hundreds of bureaucrats
and technicians who were at the same level in the Nazi hierarchy
as Eichmann. The reason that Eichmann was put on trial was because
he was the man who had typed up the minutes of the Wannseee Conference, the meeting where the
Final Solution was planned on January 20, 1942. In the minutes
of this meeting, a copy of which was discovered in 1947, the
participants had used euphemisms such as "transportation
to the East" when what the men at the Conference had really
meant was the extermination of the Jews in gas chambers. It was
of utmost importance to hunt down Eichmann, put him on trial,
and establish that he had falsified this key document.
After 11 months in custody in Israel,
Eichmann was finally put on trial and he confessed the truth,
which was that the Conference was held for the purpose of planning
the genocide of the Jews. Up to that time, there had been no
documentation found which showed that Hitler had ordered the
killing of all the Jews. The Eichmann trial finally provided
the proof of the systematic plan to exterminate the Jews; that
is why Eichmann is considered by many people to be the second
most important Nazi, next to Adolf Hitler.
Ward Churchill denies that the Nazis
had an official policy to kill all the Jews. To Bill O'Reilly,
this is like saying that 2 plus 2 does not equal 4. German law
states that it is "manifestly obvious" that the Nazis
had a systematic plan to genocide the Jews; this is a fact that
does not have to be proved, thanks to the Eichmann trial.
Churchill assumed that everyone is familiar
with Holocaust denial and that everyone knows that Eichmann was
a low-level technocrat who never personally killed anyone and
never ordered the death of anyone. This mistake on his part got
him into trouble, and when he tried to explain what he meant
by "little Eichmanns" his explanation fell upon deaf
ears. O'Reilly and others in the media continued to call for
Churchill's head because he had compared the 9/11 victims to
Calling an innocent victim a Nazi is
the worst thing that anyone can do. But calling someone a "little
Eichmann" is not the same thing. Eichmann implemented the
transportation of the Jews to the death camps, but he also arranged
the transportation of German Jews to Palestine before the war.
Churchill wrote in his essay that all
Americans are to blame for not stopping the policies of their
government which caused the "terrorists" to "push
back." Vincent Reynouard got into trouble because he wrote
that the victims of Oradour-sur-Glane were connected to the French
Resistance, and that this was the cause of the destruction of
Most people believe that both the 9/11
attack and the Oradour massacre were atrocities that were perpetrated
for no legitimate reason. The German Waffen-SS Army and the "terrorists"
both targeted innocent civilians, simply because both the Nazis
and the "terrorists" were "evil-doers," and
anyone who says otherwise is guilty of "hate speech"
in the opinion of most people.
In France, hate speech is a crime, even
though French citizens technically have freedom of speech. Will
the controversy about Ward Churchill and his opinions about 9/11
finally end American Freedom of Speech, as we know it? Could
Ward Churhill's essay be called "approval of a war crime"
in a court of law, just like the writings of Vincent Reynouard?
By Berny Morson, Rocky Mountain News
July 24, 2007
BOULDER - The first, very long chapter of the Ward Churchill
saga ended this afternoon as just about everybody - including
Churchill - had predicted: He was fired from his job as ethnic
studies professor at the University of Colorado.
The controversy was launched in January
2005 with word of a Churchill essay in which he called victims
of the 9/11 terror attacks "little Eichmanns," comparing
them to Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann. He had written the essay
shortly after the 2001 attacks.
CU officials ruled that Churchill's essay
was protected by the U.S. Constitution.
But the spotlight on Churchill revealed
numerous complaints of academic misconduct that had been raised
by other academics, but never addressed by CU. He was accused
of plagiarism, inventing historical incidents and ghostwriting
essays which he then cited in his footnotes in support of his
On November 10, 2007, Vincent Reynouard
was sentenced by a French court to one year in prison and a fine
of 10,000 Euro ($14,600) for writing a 16-page pamphlet entitled
"Holocaust? The Hidden Facts."
This page was last updated on November