Thursday, February 10, 2005

Russell Means on the Churchill Affair

I've now heard Denver talk show radio host Peter Boyles's interview with Russell Means, who might be called the dean of American Indian activists. Boyles does a much less effective job than with his Churchill interview. He is by turns patronizing, querulous, and borderline insulting.

In answer to a question asking his opinion the Churchill affair, Means responds that it's the tip of the iceberg" of a larger assault upon academe and the intelligentsia by an emerging "totalitarian" wave.

On Churchill's status as an Indian: Means is completely impatient with allegations that Churchill is not an Indian. "If he's a fake, I'm a fake."

Boyles won't let it go--snorts, guffaws, browbeats, baits Means, laughs when Means gets ticked off. Boyles reels off a list of individuals--about four--who impeach Churchill's status as an Indian. Means doesn't find them credible. From an interview standpoint, Boyles has asked the question. He's not satisfied with Means's answer, so he just keeps going. "So-and-so, is so-and-so a liar?"

The amazing thing is that apparently Boyles had a good relationship with Means before this train wreck of an interview. I can't imagine that he got anything from the interview worth the human capital expended. What a disappointment.

1 comment:

Zu said...

I don't think either of them did a good job in the interview. Boyles was insulting and then Russell Means began invalidating his entire argument when he started comparing people who thought Ward Churchill's ancestry was suspect to Nazis or South African apartheid leaders. And apparently if you voted for George Bush, you're against freedom of speech.

I think that the fact that he is an Indian is actually damaging to his work because he rails against American policy while saying our enemies are heroic. I'm of Polish decent. If I published a book or article calling EVERY German soldier a murderous Nazi because they were part of the government, my credibility would be called into question. Did I write that because it was true? Because it was part of a theory on individual guilt as part of an army? Or did I write it because my ancestors were brutalized by the German army and I want to portray them as evil?