Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Defiant Colorado Professor

Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado Professor who compared 9/11 victims to Nazis, is still at it. (For background and some thoughts on related free speech issues, see my earlier posts Professor Calls 9/11 Victims Nazis and The Professor and Free Speech.)

The Denver Post reported today on a rally held last night on the university campus at which Churchill repeated his views and swore that he would never back down. Go the article for a photo of the pendejo professor that would make Howard Dean proud. Amid "wild applause" from "hundreds of supporters" he said,

I do not work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. I do not work for [Colorado Governor] Bill Owens. I work for you [referring to the audience].

I had every right and indeed the obligation [to compare 9/11 survivors to Nazis]. I'm not backing up an inch. I owe no one an apology.

He also repeated earlier disclaimers that he really wasn't talking about everybody who died in the 9/11 attacks:

No I did not call a bunch of food service workers, janitors, children, firefighters and random passers-by little Eichmanns. The reference is to a technical core of empire - the technicians of empire....

Churchill had the predictable kinds of supporters in attendance. These included Emma Perez, who succeeded him as chair of the university's ethnic studies department, and American Indian activist Russell Means. Once a man taken fairly seriously in some quarters, Means must be desperate for attention after years in obscurity if he's willing to support a whackadoo like Churchill.

And, sadly, there are the students who are being cheated out of a reasonable education by academics like this particular professor. One student who hasn't yet learned to distinguish between intellectual rigor and dog poop said,

I will be embarrassed if the regents fire him for making an analogy that every student should understand. I'm already embarrassed to be a student here.

Among the many things that Professor Churchill doesn't understand is that he does, in fact, work for the taxpayers of Colorado, at least in part. He also works for those who pay the tuition of students at the university, including taxpayers and private sources who fund scholarships and parents who sacrifice for their children's education. They and the students who come to the university for an education deserve much better than the likes of Ward Churchill.

The University of Colorado should exercise it's legitimate power to fire him, if not for being stupid then at least for helping a student come to believe that comparing 9/11 victims to Nazis is "an analogy that every student should understand."


Blogger sygamel said...

I've always been one to defend free speech regardless of how vile the things being said or represented are (and they are vile here). Churchill is accountable to the taxpayers and tuition-payers insofar as his performance on the job is concerned as this is why he is being paid by the Univ. of Colorado. Therefore, if he gets fired, it ought to be for a performance-related reason, not because he recently said something totally asinine.

7:59 AM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger Francesca said...

No comment really on the whole debacle. I'm just curious about the comment you made about Dean. Sure, both guys are passionate about their message. So what? Seems like Dean got axed because he actually had energy and enthusiasm while Lieberman had no chance because he was as exciting as instant mashed potatoes. What gives?

10:35 AM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger Gindy said...

He should be fired for lying about his background. That will avoid the probable future law suit(Lee first made this point to me). How did professors get such good job security no one else has is beyond me.

11:14 AM, February 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Count me in as a supporter of Churchill. Americans have a nasty and sad habit of not wanting to own up to what "their" government does in their name.

As has been said, if you can dish it out you may one day have to take it. Well, we've been dishing it out for years and the majority of U.S. citizens sit quietly by either ignorant or approving. We are not innocent.

denny, where we're bound

11:41 AM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger sygamel said...

Americans have a nasty and sad habit of not wanting to own up to what "their" government does in their name.The entire argument of the American left in a sentence. Wonderful synopsis.

12:35 PM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Scott, I guess I'm probably an extremist when it comes to believing in free speech. In the case of Churchill, it isn't that I don't support free speech and academic freedom; I just think the quality of his thinking is so deficient as to merit getting fired. From what I've seen in blogs and in the media, almost everyone, regardless of political orientation, thinks the guy is a doofus. Why should a respectable university, which CU is, be expected to employ doofi as professors?

Francesca, that comment was just intended to be a humorous reference to the famous "Dean scream." Dean I respect a lot; this guy, not at all.

1:04 PM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger sygamel said...

I suppose my point is if Churchill's been saying the same things for a while now (which assumedly he has), and the Univ. of Colorado didn't fire him before for "thinking not befitting a university professor", the act of firing him now is transparent and done only because he's embarassed the university with his highly publicized statements. Therefore, it's not about his performance as a professor, because his performance, by your standards Tom, was poor even before two weeks ago.

1:11 PM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

"Why should a respectable university, which CU is, be expected to employ doofi as professors?"

This is pretty much the take I have. I'm also sick of state funded universities employing so many professors who hate America. Don't our students deserve better? I mean, it's one thing if they DO hate America personally....but must they teach that? Am I crazy? Even more disconcerting is that many of these profs with specific bias against America are teaching journalism and history! And we wonder why today's news is so freakin' biased. The art of neutrality and simply presenting facts has gone the way of the Dodo bird. I find it sad.

1:20 PM, February 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

may i boldly suggest that no one here make judgment on churchill unless they have actually read his work and by this i mean more than the essay? it never ceases to amaze me that people are so quick to judge via what others have said which may well come from what others have said and so on. go to the source rather than trust the interpretations of others. if you have not made an effort to do this then i'd suggest you're opinion counts for little.

as to the idea that churchill is anti-american. i think it is more accurate to say that he makes an effort to see through the enemies eyes. in other words, he seeks to explain their perspective and motivations. it is something that the "everyday" american should consider because it is a reflection of truth. it may not be "the" truth but is perhaps a part of the truth.

my point here is that most americans i've known in my life are incredibly ignorant of what "their" government does in their name and with the tax dollars they pay. your understanding of america is likely to be very different from someone on the receiving end of the u.s. military. i'm not just talking about iraq. ask yourself, what do you really know about your government's conduct in other countries during the past 30-50 years.

denny, where we're bound

3:01 PM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger American On Line said...

Ward L. Churchill is a perfect counterweight to this First Amendment abuser: "Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter referred to the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show performance featuring singers Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake as "simulated interracial sex," claimed that college professors make controversial statements to get "laid by coeds with hairy armpits who probably don't like men," and called the presence of "girls" in the military "appalling" -- all in one night of cable news appearances."

4:18 PM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Scott, it's true that I'd never heard of Churchill until recently. Now that's he's emerged from obscurity, he's become the poster child for all that's wrong in higher education in our country. Even if the University fires him only because he's embarrassed them, that will be good enough for me, although it doesn't say much for them.

Esther, I agree. It's no wonder so many journalists are contemptuous of their country and all that it stands for.

Denny, I appreciate your comments and welcome you. It's true that I haven't read anything Churchill has written beyond the essay at issue. I understand that his books are pretty hard to find and that few people have read them, and probably for good reason. And I would gently and respectfully suggest that referring to other people as "ignorant" isn't really an effective tool in argument. As you suggested, I've asked myself what I really know about my government's conduct in other countries during the past 30-50 years. The answer is, a whole heck of a lot. While I may not agree with you, I would submit that it's not because I'm ignorant.

Marty, Ann Coulter and her trademark whacko comments are often amusing and she's not bad on the eyes, but that's about it. However, I strongly believe that she and Churchill share the same freedom of speech that we all have, and that's the way it should be. The big difference is that we don't send our children to her to be educated. Churchill has no right to have a job at the University of Colorado, and they have every right to fire him, which they should. Then he can write a column like Coulter does, assuming anyone would publish it, and he can spout his idiotic views on radio and TV shows, if anyone will invite him.

7:43 PM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger Markkind said...

I'll repeat here what I've said on my own blog, the man should be fired for gross incompetence. If what he has to say is so wonderful and such then let him go on a spoken word tour and charge admission. Insanity should not be funded by tax payers.

And while we're on the subject, down with PBS and NPR!

11:48 PM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

Down with PBS? Down with NPR?

Why? Because they aren't working off the GOP talking points?

Yeah, I know... The "Antiques Roadshow" is really just cover for the weekly American Communists meeting. And "This Old House"... well... I'm not sure. But, they're on PBS so they must be pinko commies too. I mean, what kind of red-blooded American would remodel an old house? Ditto for "The New Yankee Workshop." Everyone knows commies love to build furniture. I'm telling ya, they've gotta be commies! "Scientific American Frontiers." Well, there ya have it. They're pushing science. Obviously we can't have that sort of heresy on TV.

"Car Talk", well... only commies would listen to a stupid radio show by a couple of freakin' automechanics. Everyone knows that true blue Americans only buy brand new cars which never, ever have any problems which might need fixing. The "Splendid Table"? Commies who like to cook. Patriots only eat Soylent Green. "Science Friday"? Well... there's that science thing again. We can't have our kids getting brainwashed with science over the radio!

::: rolls eyes :::

1:01 AM, February 10, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Markkind, I agree with you that Churchill should be booted by the University of Colorado. Then he'd be free to peddle his crackpot opinions in the free market of ideas. I suspect we'd find him standing in a soup line pretty quickly.

I have to agree with Kevin about PBS and NPR. It's true that their commentary is generally liberal, but so what? It's intelligent and well-presented, and I enjoy hearing their views.

5:21 AM, February 10, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

"Down with PBS? Down with NPR?

Why? Because they aren't working off the GOP talking points?"

No, because both spout anti-Israel propoganda. On PBS, Bill Moyers did many stories/documentaries that were anti-Israel, anti-Semitic. Also, keep in mind his movies that you can buy anywhere were funded by us taxpayers unwillingly -- and we don't receive any dividends from their sales. I used to listen to NPR on my commute home but after the 10th or so anti-Israel story, propping up the poor mother of some suicide bomber without giving any voice to an Israeli victim, I decided no more.

Call me crazy, but I don't feel MY taxpaying dollars should be put towards crap hate speech like that. If they feel the need to do programming like that, go to private funds. But give me back my money. I'll be damned if I want my funds going to brainwash people against Israel. But apparently I, like the rest of the US, is screwed on this point.

12:24 PM, February 10, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Esther, I take your point on the anti-Israel bias. Unfortunately, that seems to come with some strains of American liberalism these days. I really can't figure out why that is because it's so intellectually inconsistent. But if you want to hear the liberal view of the world, PBS or NPR seem less offensive than AirAmerica, Hollywood, or the New York Times.

Whether as a matter of principle we taxpayers should be funding broadcasting is another issue. For that matter, I'm not sure why the government funds a lot of other things, such as the NEA. It's certainly a debatable point.

1:16 PM, February 10, 2005  

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