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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Report about KHOW show last Friday

On Friday afternoon(Jan 28) KHOW’s “Caplis and Silverman Show” did a live broadcast from the University of Colorado at Boulder. “The Caplis and Silverman Show” is a 4 hour, weekday, call-in program. Their stated purpose for being on the campus was to seek the termination of Professor Ward Churchill.

Dan Caplis

Craig Silverman

Both men, one an avowed Republican and the other a former state Prosecutor, had spent the previous week stoking outrage among their fans against the Indigenous Peoples and their allies who were either acquitted or had their charges dismissed. Those charges stemmed from their efforts to confront the Convoy of Conquest which rolls through the streets of Denver to celebrate Christopher Columbus.

Though neither of them had been to the trial, they portrayed the acquittals of the first 8 defenders as a case of jury nullification. They based their opinions on a remark that the jury foreman made to a local reporter. When asked about it while appearing on their program, the jury foreman explained the other factors that went into his decision, not just the evidence of ethnic intimidation. That clarification seemed to be an obstacle in advancing their agenda so it was an explanation they chose to ignore- instead choosing to stick to the “ethnic intimidation” line in order to whip up more antagonism against the Indigenous Peoples and allies who were acquitted.

In both talk show jocks’ biographies, they make claim to being experienced trial attorneys. One look at their neatly coiffed hair and tailored suits is enough to determine that both men have enjoyed careers that have made them wealthy and established players in Denver “Civil Society.” So why is it that they gave the impression that the jury foreman was the only person responsible for acquitting the first 8 defenders and wouldn't comment on the other factors that went into his decision? Surely, both talk show jocks knew that there were also 5 other jurors who arrived at the same decision. At least one juror stated that the prosecution never proved it’s case but that was never repeated on their show. Was it simple ignorance of the judicial process on their part, or could it also have been a case of deliberate deception?

Neither of the 2 talk show jocks would permit callers to discuss the genocide that Columbus was personally responsible for. Their position was that the first amendment protected the Convoy organizers right to celebrate the genocide of Indigenous Peoples. If Indian people took offense, then they should stop being so sensitive because “freedom of speech” was guaranteed to everyone, no matter how offensive their words, and once you started censoring one person where do you draw the line?

When told that celebrating the man and colonialism(as the convoy organizers have admitted to) incited a strong negative reaction among Indigenous Peoples and damaged their children as well, both talk show jocks claimed that it was not incitement. Caplis and Silverman dismissed the idea that Indigenous Peoples had a reason to confront the Convoy of Conquest. Take one more look at their pictures and determine if there might be some reason for them to deny that the celebration of genocide against Indigenous Peoples should offend anyone, even Indigenous Peoples themselves. Better yet, see if you notice any distinguishing characterstics that bestow upon them(in their minds at least) the moral authority to determine what is offensive and who is allowed to be offended.

Dan Caplis

Craig Silverman

Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman were on the Boulder Campus in an attempt to get Ward Churchill fired for an essay he wrote over 3 years ago. Oh yeah, Ward Churchill also happened to be one of the acquitted 8 defenders that Caplis and Silverman had been railing against in the prior week.

On the Thursday before they arrived on the Boulder Campus, the 2 talk show jocks used their program to promote the next day’s appearance, in which they would demand that Ward Churchill be fired from his position as a professor. Caller after caller phoned in to express their support and vowed to stand with them on Friday afternoon.

“The Caplis and Silverman Show” began broadcasting from the Alfred Packer Grill at 3 p.m. On hand to greet them were about 80 supporters of Ward Churchill. There to support Caplis and Silverman were 3 men in their 50’s and about 5 College Republicans. The College Republicans had a table with a petition to fire Ward Chuchill(presumably, all 8 Caplis and Silverman supporters signed it).. Behind their table was a sign that read “Fire the Auschwitz Loving Lunatic!!.”

Ward Churchill was their first guest, calling in from Ohio. Caplis and Silverman employed the standard tactics of other talk show jocks. They asked questions and then interrupted when they were not getting the answer they wanted. They made transparent attempts to spin the answer they had just received into one in which they could express outrage over.

This was the typical level of their “discourse.”

C & S”Mr Churchill, you want innocent Americans to get killed by mustard gas, don’t you?”

W.C”I wrote that mustard gas might be used, in a retaliatory act, if U.S foreign policy doesn’t change.”

C&S”So you that’s what you want isn’t it? For innocent Americans to get killed with mustard gas.”

W.C”That’s not what I said. Are you guys going to be adults about this or are you going to play dumb the whole time?”

C &S”I think that answer speaks for itself. Churchill is afraid to admit that he wants innocent Americans to get killed by mustard gast.”

At one point, thinking they had found a way to find a contradiction, Caplis & Silverman asked Ward Churchill if he had ever killed anyone in his life. They expected him to say “no” at which point they were going to try and argue that he advocates violence(which he stated he does not) but had never personally killed anyone(Yes, that was actually the level the 2 talk show jocks were reduced to operating at) When Churchill answered that he had been in special forces in Vietnam, and answered their question in the affirmative, Caplis & Silverman changed their “gotcha” question to”I mean, have you killed anyone since you came back from Vietnam?”

And so it went for the better part of an hour. Caplis and Silverman were clearly on the losing side despite their best attempts to muddy the waters. At times, they would interrupt Churchill or attempt to talk over him. This would cause the crowd to erupt with chants of “Let him speak” or “Freedom of speech.” If the talk show jocks would persist in their interruptions, the crowd would begin booing loudly, effectively drowning out the voices of the talk show jocks. This would cause the talk show jocks to claim their freedom of speech was being trampled on by the students.

After Ward Churchill exited the program, the talk show jocks had guests and callers to fill out the rest of the program. When presented with ideas they did not agree with, they would hang up on the callers. When guests held opposing views, they had their microphones cut off. It was petulant behavior from 2 men who had been claiming that “freedom of speech” was paramount in their lives. Their actions were more like those of spoiled little boys than of the thoughtful prognosticators they pretend to be.

Craig Silverman seems to fancy himself as some sort of moderate democrat. He is a relatively tall, standing around 6’4 but does not really cut an imposing figure because of his high pitched, tinny voice(he sounds as if he has just inhaled helium) He admonishes Indigenous Peoples for “wallowing in their victimhood” while, in the next breath, he goes on to talk about how 1/3 of his people were killed in the Holocaust. He invokes Auschwitz and prattles on about his work on behalf of victims rights whenever given the chance. Silverman also is supposed to possess a great legal mind. This may be true(his ignorance of the legal issues that resulted in the acquittal of the 8 defenders notwithstanding) but he displays a profound ignorance of the history of this land.

During Friday’s program, Silverman claimed that prior to Septermber 11, 2001, the largest act of mass homicide had taken place when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred Murrah Building. What was revealing in that statement was that Silverman doesn’t know anything about the policies of the United States government that resulted in massacres of Indigenous Peoples that surpass that of Timothy McVeigh. In fact, David Stannard has listed at least 250 nations, of Indigenous Peoples, that have been completely exterminated on these lands. None of this knowledge has managed to find it’s way into Silverman’s knowledge of this land.

The other half of this duo, Dan Caplis, is a skinny, skittish, easily frightened man who is quick to see danger and threats from everywhere. At one point, after being jeered by the crowd on Friday, Caplis claimed that the crowd(vocal college students sitting at dinner tables) was “violent and bloodthirsty.” No one was standing within 15 feet of him, no one was throwing anything at him, no one was threatening him with bodily harm. The crowd was booing him because of an insulting remark he directed at them. That they responded with boos was cause enough for Caplis to hysterically claim that the crowd was “bloodthirsty and violent.” If Caplis believes that jeers are the equivalent of bloodthirsty violence, then one can begin to understand how skewed his perspective really is.

At one point, a student asked to sit with the talk show jocks so as to share his views which ran counter to theirs. He was allowed to sit down and participate for all of about 2 minutes before Caplis asked that his microphone be cut off. This student, understandably upset by the blatant hypocrisy of the talk show jocks, stood up and denounced them. The easily startled Caplis jumped to his feet and, ever the alarmist, told his fans that an act of violence had just occurred. There was a bemused CU police officer watching the exchange and he never moved to intervene let alone arrest the student on any charge. It was just another instance of the excitable Caplis trying to win public support by falsely claiming to be, get this, a victim of an imagined act of violence against him. Not even a real act, but one that existed only in Caplis's overactive imagination.

By this point, the crowd had tired of their antics and began to drift off. Though they were entertaining at first, in a bumbling sort of way, their act became repetitive and increasingly shrill. The incongruity of watching 2 wealthy, privileged attorneys with their own talk show calling for the dismissal of a professor on the grounds that his speech was offensive, while simultaneously cutting off callers and removing guests who’s views they did not like, all the while claiming to be victims, ceased to be amusing.

Driving back to Denver, we heard the final caller to “The Caplis and Silverman Show.” He was “Bob from Hawaii.” He identified himself as an American Indian and a military veteran. Bob reminded Caplis and Silverman that the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas had been fighting terrorism since 1492. Caplis and Silverman responded in the predictable way.

They hung up on him.

Next October, these 2 talk show jocks will once again use their show to champion the Convoy of Conquest and denounce Indigenous Peoples and their allies for opposing it on the grounds that "freedom of speech" should reign supreme. In the meanwhile, they will be doing their best to get Ward Churchill fired because they find his words to be offensive.


At 3:49 PM, Blogger LadyPriory said...

Just a question--why do you post their pictures and describe them in such minute detail?

At 8:22 PM, Blogger LadyPriory said...

It was a serious question, because it would almost appear that you are describing them in such detail--height, weight, voice--for a reason that could perhaps be construed as less than honest.


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