By now you've probably heard about Nicholas De Genova, the obnoxious professor of anthropology and "Latino/a studies" at Columbia University, who reportedly told students at an anti-war "teach-in" that he wishes America would suffer "a million Mogadishus."
He was referring to the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" incident in which 18 American soldiers were killed. He also added, according to the Associated Press account, that "the only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military." He also said that Americans who call themselves "patriots" are white supremacists.
We could certainly stop here and spend all day whacking at this piñata of asininity. After all, anybody who cares about the well-being of non-white Third Worlders might want to rethink calling for a million Mogadishus where nearly 100 Somalis died for every American killed in action.
You have to wonder about a self-declared champion of non-white peoples who's willing to trade 100 million lives to teach America a lesson. And, of course, calling patriotic Americans white supremacists is not merely a slander at white people -no doubt his intended targets -but it's also a base insult to millions upon millions of patriotic non-white people, including not only Colin Powell, but the thousands of blacks and Hispanics who are serving in Iraq right now.
For instance, Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, who came to America as an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, "joined the Marines to pay back a little of what he'd gotten from the U.S.," said his foster parent Max Mosquera. "For him it was a question of honor." Guiterrez was one of the first Marines to die in Iraq. Presumably he didn't feel he was giving his life for "white supremacy."
But again I digress. Suffice it to say De Genova's comments were 20 pounds of manure in a five-pound bag.
What I want to get at are his motivations. In a letter to the Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper, De Genova defended himself, explaining that he didn't really mean to say he wanted a "million Mogadishus" (maybe someone pointed out to him the math I mentioned above). What De Genova really meant to say is that while a million Mogadishus are possible, the war in Iraq is more akin to Vietnam. And, he said, "Vietnam was a stunning defeat for U.S. imperialism; as such, it was also a victory for the cause of human self-determination."