Shooting The Messenger


forthcoming in 30 Am. Indian L. Rev. 477 (2006).


This essay reviews Ward Churchill’s "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality" (2003).

One of the most talked about — but least read — books of recent years, "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" documents a long history of U.S. wars, invasions, and violations of international law on the way to concluding that when the terrible events of 9/11 took place, the U.S. deserved and should have expected retribution. In popular language, we "had it coming."

As the reader may recall, when Hamilton College rescinded Churchill’s invitation to speak in the winter of 2004, it set in motion a cascade of events including further such cancellations, efforts in Colorado to dismiss him from his tenured position, and nightly discussion on Fox News.

The review evaluates Churchill’s argument that the U.S. is an outlaw nation, as well as his "little Eichmanns" corollary that the investment bankers and stockbrokers who perished in the conflagration were complicit with the U.S. war machine and thus legitimate targets of the Muslim suicide bombers. It breaks his argument down into its component parts or premises, shows which ones are moral and which ones factual, and evaluates each one’s plausibility and cogency.

The review also addressed the author’s treatment at the hands of Colorado authorities and the implications of that treatment for academic freedom.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Human Rights Law | Indian and Aboriginal Law

Date of this Version

October 2006

This document is currently not available here.