Thursday, February 10, 2005
On this day:

Ward Churchill and the Poisoning of Academia

Profesor Ward Churchill. Should the taxpayers of Colorado pay for what amounts to endorsement of mass murder? CBS News: Prof: More 9/11s May Be Necessary
A professor who likened World Trade Center victims to a notorious Nazi suggested to a magazine that more terror attacks may be necessary to radicalize Americans to fight the misuse of U.S. power. In an interview Ward Churchill gave with Satya magazine, he was asked about the effectiveness of protests of U.S. policies and the Iraq war, and responded: "One of the things I've suggested is that it may be that more 9/11s are necessary." The interview prompted Gov. Bill Owens to renew his call for Churchill's firing. "It's amazing that the more we look at Ward Churchill, the more outrageous, treasonous statements we hear from Churchill," Owens said. "I don't believe I owe an apology," Churchill said Friday on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" program — his first public comments since the University of Colorado began a review that could lead to his dismissal. Meanwhile, Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., and Eastern Washington University canceled plans for Churchill to speak on campus, citing public safety concerns. Stephen Jordan, president of Eastern Washington University, declined Friday to say whether specific threats had been made. Churchill defended the essay in which he compared those killed in the Sept. 11 attack to "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized Nazi plans to exterminate European Jews. He said the victims were akin to U.S. military operations' collateral damage — or innocent civilians mistakenly killed by soldiers. "I don't know if the people of 9-11 specifically wanted to kill everybody that was killed," he told Zahn. "It was just worth it to them in order to do whatever it was they decided it was necessary to do that bystanders be killed. And that essentially is the same mentality, the same rubric." In an interview published Saturday in the Rocky Mountain News, Churchill added, "This was a gut response opinion speech written in about four hours. It's not completely reasoned and thought through." Churchill said his speech had been misinterpreted. "I never called for the deaths of millions of Americans," he said. The furor over Churchill's essay erupted last month after he was invited to speak at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. The speech was later canceled. Churchill, who recently resigned as chairman of the ethnic studies department but remains a tenured professor, said he would sue if he were dismissed. Satya identifies Churchill as a Cherokee and a longtime native rights activist. The magazine's Web site says, "One of Churchill’s areas of expertise is the history of the U.S. government’s genocide of Native Americans—the chronic violation of treaties and systematic extermination of North American indigenous populations."
Front Page Magazine: The Record of a Radical By Jacob Laksin
Less well known is the fact that [Ward Churchill] has long advocated political violence—and has apparently practiced what he preached. He has also falsified his own personal history (apparently including his ethnicity and combat status) and twisted history to accuse white Americans of genocide. Indeed, on at least two occasions, Churchill has been accused of throttling speech he does not endorse by violent means. In 1993, following his ouster from the radical group the American Indian Movement (AIM), Churchill reportedly retaliated by spitting in the face of AIM’s elderly leader, Carol Standing Elk, while a younger accomplice broke her wrist. In a less violent but equally offensive example of “direct action” ten years later, Churchill—who has repeatedly invoked his right to free speech as all-purpose defense against his critics—was acquitted on charges of obstructing the Columbus Day parade in Denver. Likeminded judges, it seems, accepted Churchill's protestations that a parade celebrating Columbus was tantamount to “hate speech.” Further evidence of Churchill’s enthusiasm for violence is afforded by an interview he gave to the leftist Satya magazine. Asked to pass judgment between “animal activists” who prefer non-violent methods to protect animals and their more violent comrades—who favor breaking into laboratories and burning down property—Churchill endorsed the latter. Dismissing his questioner’s formulation as “absurd,” Churchill explained that the destruction of property was justified. “Defining violence in terms of property—that basically nullifies the whole notion that life is sacred. People who want to elevate property to the same level of importance as life are so absurd as to be self-nullifying.” [...] Taking shrewd care to dissociate himself from charges that he is a militant revolutionary, Churchill, a self-described Marxist, has nevertheless maintained that he is committed to the destruction of the American “empire.” “Ultimately,” Churchill explained in the same speech, “there is no alternative that has found itself in reform; there is only an alternative that founds itself—not in that fanciful word of revolution—but in the devolution, that is to say the dismantlement of Empire from the inside out.” Churchill again confessed to his appetite for destruction in an April, 2004, interview with the Brooklyn-based leftist magazine Satya, wherein he told his interviewer, “I want the state gone: transform the situation to U.S. out of North America. U.S. off the planet. Out of existence altogether.”
SF Gate: Colo. Prof. Says He Mourns All Killed 9-11 By DAN ELLIOTT
"If someone were to ask me, 'Do you feel sorrow for the victims of 9-11,' of course I do," he said. "Let's begin with the children. Yes, they were innocent. And I mourn them. But they were not more innocent than those half-million Iraqi children." [...] Churchill said he did not mean to say the World Trade Center "technocrats" were Nazis but were, like Eichmann, bureaucrats who participated in an immoral system. "He did not necessarily agree with the goals of the Nazis with regard to the Jews, but he performed his functions brilliantly," Churchill said. "This is Eichmann: He's integral. The Holocaust could not have happened without him."
CNN: Professor resigns after 9/11 essay prompts protests -- Ethnic studies chair will retain teaching position -- A University of Colorado professor who provoked a furor when he compared victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks to Nazis has resigned as a department chairman but will retain his teaching job, the university said.
"While Professor Churchill has the constitutional right to express his political views, his essay on 9/11 has outraged and appalled us and the general public," interim CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano said.
School May Fire Professor for 9/11 Comment By CATHERINE TSAI Chicago Tribune: A contemptible professor's rights
It's impossible to feel sympathy for a character as vicious and stupid as Ward Churchill, so we won't bother trying. [...] [Ward] Churchill compared the victims to Adolph Eichmann, one of the Nazis chiefly responsible for the Holocaust, because their work supposedly helped finance America's alleged atrocities abroad. They failed to grasp their complicity, he insisted, "because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions," heedless of "the starved and rotting flesh of infants." Of course, that lunatic description hardly applies to the flight attendants, firefighters, busboys, secretaries and janitors killed in the terrorist attacks. And if you can argue that stockbrokers contribute to and profit from America's alleged crimes abroad, you could say the same thing about university professors. Does that mean they deserve killing? The college president, in the face of an avalanche of complaints, insisted on honoring the invitation but gave up when threats of violence became too great. Those who issued the invitation say they didn't know about the article when they invited Churchill, who teaches ethnic studies, to talk about American Indian issues. In light of the new information, the school can hardly be faulted for deciding not to furnish a forum for someone with such vile opinions. A private institution like Hamilton has every right to choose not to inconvenience itself for the sake of someone whose views it finds contemptible. But it's worth remembering that the 1st Amendment's free speech guarantee is not about protecting the expression of popular ideas--it's about permitting unpopular, infuriating and even thoroughly despicable ideas. Those, after all, are the ones most likely to be suppressed if the majority had its way. That point apparently escapes some politicians back in Colorado, who were not happy to find the state has been paying the salary of someone with these views. Gov. Bill Owens has urged the University of Colorado to fire Churchill, who has already given up his job as chair of the ethnic studies department. State Sen. Tom Wiens objected to having "someone on our state payroll who believes" what Churchill does. But repellent though Churchill's views are, they should not be grounds for firing a university professor. The spirit of academic freedom requires ample space for scholars to entertain and advocate controversial and even outrageous ideas. Unless the professor has failed to fulfill his obligations as a teacher and scholar, he should be retained in his post, regardless of his personal opinions. The state doesn't have to operate a university, but if it does, it can't punish or reward academics according to the acceptability of their political views. That is not easy to stomach when the views are as vile as these. But as state Sen. Peter Groff said, "Democracy and freedom are hard work."
John Bono at Minion of the Great Satan asks:
How did: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Turn into: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and tenured professors shall be guaranteed a paycheck, regardless of which acts of mass murder they endorse.?
Via Ramblings Journal: American Indian Movement: "Ward Churchill is not a real AmerIndian." Front Page Magazine: The Little Injun That Could by Ann Coulter
In light of the fact that Churchill's entire persona, political activism, curriculum vitae, writings and university positions are based on his claim that he's an Indian, it's rather churlish of him to complain when people ask if he really is one. But whenever he is questioned about his heritage, Churchill rails that inquiries into his ancestry are "absolutely indefensible." Churchill has gone from claiming he is one-eighth Indian "on a good day" to claiming he is "three-sixteenths Cherokee," to claiming he is one-sixty-fourth Cherokee through a Revolutionary War era ancestor named Joshua Tyner. (At least he's not posing as a phony Indian math professor.) A recent investigation by the Denver Post revealed that Tyner's father was indeed married to a Cherokee. But that was only after Joshua's mother – and Churchill's relative – was scalped by Indians. [...] Churchill is not in the tribal registries kept since the 1800s by the federal government. No tribe will enroll him – a verification process Churchill dismisses as "poodle papers" for Indians. In 1990, Churchill was forced to stop selling his art as "Indian art" under federal legislation sponsored by then-representative – and actual Indian! – Ben Nighthorse Campbell, that required Indian artists to establish that they are accepted members of a federally recognized tribe. Churchill responded by denouncing the Indian artist who had exposed him. [...] In the early '90s, he hoodwinked an impecunious Cherokee tribe into granting him an "associate membership" by telling them he "wrote some books and was a big-time author." A tribal spokeswoman explained: He "convinced us he could help our people." They never heard from him again – yet another treaty with the Indians broken by the white man. Soon thereafter, the tribe stopped offering "associate memberships."