Friday, February 04, 2005

Ramblings of the Deranged I

We noted the immoral and reprehensible Ward Churchill here, here and here. He is the leftist professor at University of Colorado (commonly known as "CU") who referred to the 3,000 who died in the World Trade Center on 9-11-01 as "little Eichmanns." He was scheduled to speak at Hamilton College but a blog-fueled uproar forced that little school to rethink its position. It eventually canceled Ward Churchill's invite by cancelling the whole symposium that his speech would be part of under the lame excuse of "threats" to the College (random email insanity, but it provides cover for the faint of heart).

Colorado governor Bill Owens called for Ward Churchill to be fired, now the CU regents are discussing disciplinary actions against him. Eugene Volokh (link above) has the details and a reasonable discussion of the issues.

Here is The Monk's take: First, if CU is going to fire Ward Churchill for overstepping the bounds of his academic freedom, it should have done so after the 9-11-01 attack comments he made (he uttered his heinous quip on Sept. 12, 2001) or after he wrote this book. CU had its chances to do the right thing without being prompted by the Hamilton College controversy; it failed. I'm not going to go too far into the question of whether or not he should be fired in this post (my short answer is no, let him speak freely and then marginalize him for his heinous views), but I think Volokh and Prof. Bainbridge have the right perspective on this issue.

Second, given that CU should not fire him for expressing his idiocy, the next question is what can CU rationally do to punish him if it is so inclined? It could have taken away his position as department chair (he resigned it instead) because it does not want him as the figurehead of the department. That would have been fair enough . . . but it also should have been done years ago.

But third, there is no value in dishonesty. Therefore if this story is true, Ward Churchill should be fired because he is a fraud. Here is the relevant excerpt:

Churchill has long been a divisive and somewhat feared figure in Indian country, especially among his former colleagues in the American Indian Movement. Some prominent activists involved in earlier confrontations have devoted a great deal of energy to investigating his claim to be an American Indian himself and have found no evidence to support it.

At various times, according to press reports, Churchill has described himself as Cherokee, Keetoowah Cherokee, Muskogee, Creek and most recently Meti. In a note in the online magazine Socialism and Democracy he wrote, ''Although I'm best known by my colonial name, Ward Churchill, the name I prefer is Kenis, an Ojibwe name bestowed by my wife's uncle.'' In biographical blurbs, he is identified as an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees. But a senior member of the band with access to tribal enrollment records told Indian Country Today that Churchill is not listed. George Mauldin, tribal clerk in Tahlequah, Okla., told the Rocky Mountain News, ''He's not in the data base at all.''

According to Jodi Rave, a well-known Native journalist and member of the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Three Affiliated Tribes, Churchill was enrolled as an ''associate member'' of the Keetoowah by a former chairman who was later impeached. The one other known member of the same program, since discontinued, was President Bill Clinton. Rave said that she made this discovery as a student in a journalism class at the University of Colorado. She was also in a class taught by Churchill. When her article came out, she said, he dropped her grade from an A to a C minus.

Suzan Shown Harjo, a columnist for ICT who has tracked Churchill's career, said that aside from the in-laws of his late Indian wife, he has not been able to produce any relatives from any Indian tribe.

Maybe this will give CU an out to rid itself of this stain on its professoriat.

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