Brown to Ward Churchill: You’re fired.

http://insidehighered.com/news/2007/05/29/churchill

Churchill to Brown:

Ward Churchill Response to CU Pres. Hank Brown’s Recommendation to Dismiss

President Hank Brown has quite predictably recommended that the Regents of the University of Colorado (CU) fire me – not, he claims, because of my constitutionally protected statements about 9/11 but because of my scholarship. However, as hundreds of academics around the country have pointed out, CU’s “investigation” has all along been merely a pretext, transparently catering to the political and financial interests which dictate “educational” policy at CU.

Key Facts

1. The evidence has established that the University had received no formal or written complaints about my scholarship when it initiated this “investigation.” All of the allegations investigated were either solicited or brought directly by University administrators.

2. Brown relies on the Investigative Committee’s Report of May 9, 2006, the product of a deeply flawed process conducted by a biased panel which included no American Indians or experts in American Indian Studies. Ironically, the Report itself contains falsifications and fabrications of evidence of exactly the sort it claims I engaged in. A number of these are highlighted in formal complaints filed against its authors by both CU and other professors. The Report simply does not stand up to serious scholarly scrutiny.

3. Even the Investigative Committee did not agree that their conclusions warranted revocation of tenure and dismissal. Only one of the five members of the Investigative Committee actually recommended dismissal. Further, a majority of the Privilege & Tenure (P&T) Appeal Panel recommended only a 1-year suspension and demotion. Yet, Brown disregards the results of CU’s own process to advocate the most severe sanction available.

The P&T Appeal Panel’s Conclusions (April 11, 2007):

The P&T Appeal Panel rejected the Investigative Committee’s conclusions that I “fabricated” evidence concerning the General Allotment Act, the Indian Arts & Crafts Act, John Smith’s role in spreading smallpox, and the Army’s intention spreading of smallpox to the Mandan in 1837.

The Panel acknowledged that:

1. The standards allegedly applied to my work were never clarified, before or during the investigation.

2. It could point to no evidence that ghostwriting is explicitly prohibited by any standards in any discipline.

3. The Investigative Committee charged with conducting a “fact-finding, nonadversarial” investigation was chaired by law professor Mimi Wesson, who – in February 2005 – had compared me to “charismatic male celebrity wrongdoers” like O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson and Bill Clinton, and had already come up with the faulty “traffic stop” analogy the Committee used to justify its conclusions.

The Charges are Evaporating:

According to the Appeal Panel, the only remaining grounds for sanction are:

1. Not providing sufficient evidence that smallpox blankets were taken from an infirmary in 1837, that an Army doctor or post surgeon told the Mandans to scatter; and that 400,000 rather than 300,000 people may have been killed;
2. Citing material I have consistently acknowledged to have ghostwritten; and

3. Publishing an article in Z Magazine from which the editors deleted my insertion of “Dam the Dams” as a co-author; and copyediting an article (in a book edited by a third party) which, unbeknownst to me, may have plagiarized another author.

Even if these charges were true – which they are not – to pretend that they constitute grounds for revocation of tenure and dismissal is ludicrous. No scholar’s work could withstand such fine-tooth combing, and other professors certainly have not been held to similar “standards” by CU.

The Bottom Line:

Long before this investigation, all of my work was reviewed in the tenure and promotion processes of the University. I had published more than 4,000 pages (including over 12,000 footnotes) of scholarly work, and received the University’s top awards and recognitions for teaching, service and scholarship.

Everyone agrees that this “investigation” would not have occurred but for my First Amendment-protected speech. To use minor factual disagreements, citation of ghostwritten material, and editors’ errors as the pretext for firing me simply illustrates that the administrators of the University of Colorado take political and financial pressures far more seriously than academic freedom or the Constitution’s guarantees of
freedom of speech, equal protection and due process.

None of this is a surprise, of course. University administrators have been faithfully working to comply with then-Governor Bill Owens’ February 2005 demand that I be fired. President Brown, his new VP Michael Poliakoff, and Regent Tom Lucero, like Bill Owens, are key players in Lynne Cheney’s American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). ACTA and similar neoconservative groups have received generous funding Castle Rock (Coors), Scaife, Bradley and Olin foundations to eliminate Ethnic, Gender and Peace Studies Programs and to purge higher education of those who think critically, challenge
historical orthodoxy, or otherwise threaten the status quo.

We’ll see if the Regents will allow political and financial pressure to trump academic freedom.

Ward Churchill
Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of Colorado at Boulder
May 28, 2007

Cindy Sheehan, Don’t Go!

Today Cindy Sheehan issued a heartbreaking statement saying goodbye to the anti-war movement. She is right in noting how liberal activists will stand by her side so long as she exempts Democrats from her critique of pro-war politics. But she rightly has not stopped short of indicting both business parties for their investment in this war.

She needs to know that there are many, many of us out here who respect her principled critique. I know how hard it is to take shit, be called whore and any number of terrible things, then to have your fairweather friends disappear. It takes a tough and persistent person to stand up against all the forces arrayed against our movement. It is especially hard for a woman, I think, when so much vituperation against outspoken women is tinged with sexual violence. (Just see my hate mail in the academic freedom section of this blog for a much smaller taste than what Sheehan has had to deal with, I’m sure.)

The burden of standing against these forces should be shared.

Cindy, you are not alone. Look to your left–here we are.

(Here are Sheehan’s remarks):

May 28, 2007 9:59 AM
Subject
“Good Riddance Attention Whore” by Cindy Sheehan
Body: “Good Riddance Attention Whore”
Cindy Sheehan

I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and
especially since I became the so-called “Face” of the American anti- war
movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the
Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such “liberal blogs” as
the Democratic Underground. Being called an  “attention whore” and being
told “good riddance” are some of the more  milder rebukes.

I have come to some heartbreaking conclusions this Memorial Day Morning.
These are not spur of the moment reflections, but things I  have been
meditating on for about a year now. The conclusions that I  have slowly and
very reluctantly come to are very heartbreaking to me.

The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as
long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of
course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a “tool” of the
Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and  my message. How
could a woman have an original thought, or be working  outside of our
“two-party” system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards
that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause  started to erode and
the “left” started labeling me with the same  slurs that the right used. I
guess no one paid attention to me when I  said that the issue of peace and
people dying for no reason is not a  matter of “right or left”, but “right
and wrong.”

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be
left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a
war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It
amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can  zero in like a
laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political  expediency when it
comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their  own party. Blind party
loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs  on. People of the world look
on us Americans as jokes because we  allow our political leaders so much
murderous latitude and if we  don’t find alternatives to this corrupt “two”
party system our  Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what
we are  rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist
corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation
or nationality when I look at a person, I see that  person’s heart. If
someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like  a Republican, then why
do they deserve support just because he/she  calls him/herself a Democrat?

I have also reached the conclusion that if I am doing what I am doing
because I am an “attention whore” then I really need to be committed.  I
have invested everything I have into trying to bring peace with justice to
a country that wants neither. If an individual wants both,  then normally
he/she is not willing to do more than walk in a protest  march or sit behind
his/her computer criticizing others. I have spent  every available cent I
got from the money a “grateful” country gave  me when they killed my son and
every penny that I have received in  speaking or book fees since then. I
have sacrificed a 29 year  marriage and have traveled for extended periods
of time away from  Casey’s brother and sisters and my health has suffered
and my  hospital bills from last summer (when I almost died) are in
collection because I have used all my energy trying to stop this country
from slaughtering innocent human beings. I have been called every
despicable name that small minds can think of and have had my life
threatened many times.

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was
that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out
in a country far away from his family who loves him,  killed by his own
country which is beholden to and run by a war  machine that even controls
what we think. I have tried every since he  died to make his sacrifice
meaningful. Casey died for a country which  cares more about who will be the
next American Idol than how many  people will be killed in the next few
months while Democrats and  Republicans play politics with human lives. It
is so painful to me to  know that I bought into this system for so many
years and Casey paid  the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and
that hurts the most.

I have also tried to work within a peace movement that often puts personal
egos above peace and human life. This group won’t work with  that group; he
won’t attend an event if she is going to be there; and  why does Cindy
Sheehan get all the attention anyway? It is hard to  work for peace when the
very movement that is named after it has so  many divisions.

Our brave young men and women in Iraq have been abandoned there
indefinitely by their cowardly leaders who move them around like pawns on a
chessboard of destruction and the people of Iraq have been doomed to death
and fates worse than death by people worried more  about elections than
people. However, in five, ten, or fifteen years,  our troops will come
limping home in another abject defeat and ten or  twenty years from then,
our children’s children will be seeing their  loved ones die for no reason,
because their grandparents also bought  into this corrupt system. George
Bush will never be impeached because  if the Democrats dig too deeply, they
may unearth a few skeletons in  their own graves and the system will
perpetuate itself in perpetuity.

I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home
and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I
have lost. I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive
relationships that I have found in the journey that I was  forced into when
Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that  have fallen apart since
I began this single-minded crusade to try and  change a paradigm that is
now, I am afraid, carved in immovable,  unbendable and rigidly mendacious
marble.

Camp Casey has served its purpose. It’s for sale. Anyone want to buy five
beautiful acres in Crawford , Texas ? I will consider any reasonable offer.
I hear George Bush will be moving out soon, too. which makes the property
even more valuable.

This is my resignation letter as the “face” of the American anti-war
movement. This is not my “Checkers” moment, because I will never give  up
trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good
old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of  this system. This
system forcefully resists being helped and eats up  the people who try to
help it. I am getting out before it totally  consumes me or anymore people
that I love and the rest of my resources.

Good-bye America .you are not the country that I love and I finally
realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country
unless you want it.

It’s up to you now.

“Happy”? Memorial Day

3758 U.S. troops killed in Iraq.

Countless thousands of Iraqis killed in Iraq.

At least 8 U.S. soldiers killed over Memorial Day weekend.

1 Austin soldier killed over Memorial Day weekend.

At least 650,000Iraqi civilians killed (Lancet Medical Journal, October 11, 2006); 4 million displaced (refugee crisis bigger than Darfur).

And for what? Control of oil; control of the Middle East; not to protect the American people.

100 years of senseless death and destruction:

U.S. deaths (combat and indirect consequence of war) in

Mexican American War: 13,000–clearly a colonialist war

Civil War: 600,000–begins as war for economic dominance by North, ends as war against slavery

WWI: 117,000–a completely imperialist war; no one can argue there were other motives

WW II: 400,000–originally for geopolitical dominance and colonial aims; eventually against fascism

Japanese deaths from U.S. nuclear strikes 1945: at least 200,000

Korean War: 33,000–for geopolitical dominance

Vietnam War: 58,000–for geopolitical dominance

Gulf War I: 300–for oil

Afghanistan: 390–for oil

at least 4000 civilian casualties (more than killed by the 9/11 terrorists)

Remembering those lost should never be happy, and we should mourn the deaths of others, not just Americans.

“The Date” by Kenneth Foster

An incredibly moving poem by a man wrongly scheduled for execution on August 30–for driving a car.

The Date 

the weight
of the date
is back.
i say
the fact of the matter
is that the odds are stacked
against me.
the stats be:
Black is blank
on the slate
(meaning gone),
and the traps of the crooks
were well laid.
i surface the names
of those slain
in the name of a lady
that’s used
in vein
(i spelled it right).
i say
the weight
of the date
is back –
upon my chest.
my shoulders be full already –
the slack not shown,
so i adapt to the burdens
prone to be life endangering/
exact like documentaries.
the memories are very
precise and sat
heavily upon my mind
the way time ticks
and taps at your soul
contracting the fears
and regrets back.
coz the weight
of the date
is intact
once again
on 10-2-06.
no sense
in the defense
of the denial
except for maybe
sociopaths in the back
on benches lying
in wait.
and the weight
of the date
is back
upon me
like never before –
clinging,
clawing,
cutting upon me.
i’ve said it 1,000 times
i’m not safe
‘til i leave the gates;
now the weight
of the date
is back upon me,
but i refuse
to give in.

For more: http://www.freekennethfoster.com

Help Us Save Kenneth Foster

http://www.freekenneth.com/executionalert.htm

 A message from Kenneth:Dear Readers –

Once again, in along line of injustices delivered by this system, another has been added to their list.

After waging battle with courts with one of the strongest cases in Death Penalty history a date of execution was set upon me (on May 1st, 2007 By Judge Maria Teresa Herr) for August 30th 2007.

Though having gotten my death sentence vacated in March 2005 by a Federal Judge, that ruling was appealed, taken back and my following appeals asking for reconsideration was systematically denied. At the same time that my appeal was being systematically denied other cases of men who actually did kill was being heard. Can any of us make any sense of this? The only reasoning that we can get out of this is people with stronger injustices will be even more oppressed. Why? Two reasons:

1. Fear of being proven wrong.

2. Fear of opening a flood gate that’ll help tear down this broke system, the results – My murder.

Currently we are mobilizing for my last 2 steps (in both the odds are greatly against us-not because the issues aren’t legit and solid, but because the system is rigged). Those 2 steps are:

1. Filing an emergency appeal back down to the first court (criminal courts of appeal) allowed through a law under what is called subsequent writs which allows you to cite newly discovered evidence that this court never heard before. We have that through Julius Steen (whose trial testimony this state CCA court heavily relied upon to deny my early appeal) who has come forward and exonerated me (those affidavits can be read on this site). Our position is this:

– no rational juror could convict me if Steen’s testimony was heard.

– His testimony proves my innocence.

Will they want to grant this? NO! But all we can do is try.

2. If this appeal is denied we can only apply for clemency – and that has been a hopeless street. Governor Perry have never once granted clemency to a death row prisoner (even when his own board recommended it). But, we have a unique strategy that we plan to launch to Perry. Though it’s too much to detail here it will be unseen before and intense. If you would like to be kept abreast of this historical process please join my e group where you can receive updates.

For those of you that would like to lend a hand I ask the following of you:

Go to the politician petition on this site and fill some out.

It’s my belief that if this does not become a political issue then I have no chance. I believe that I have the type of case that can force Perry into Clemency.

You can also go to the governor’s petition section and send in one of those.

At this point this is the best people out there can do, but if any of you have a desire to be hands on please do not hesitate to contact me or this web-master.

For anyone that reads my case will know that Texas is about to commit a vile injustice. What is about to happen is beyond extreme – it’s sadistic.

They will try to justify my murder through what their law of parties says. Laws don’t make justice. Once upon a time in Amerika slavery was a law. There was lynch laws. Jim Crow laws NONE of them were right and the Law of Parties statute is not being applied right.

The Death penalty is supposed to be saved for the most heinous of crimes. That’s a lie. And to top it off – the other two men that sat in the car with me (doing just as i was – sitting there unknowingly) are serving sentences in TDC. These contradictions are beyond atrocious.

We will not be silent, we will fight until the end!

I will use this section to give news, journals and poems from time to tim. We ask you to not be silent either, for silence is like approval.

This site shows the man I am today. I have dedicated my life for 10 years now. I will not walk head down. In my own right I have left a legacy – for my family, for my child, for fellow strugglers. The only fear is in being forgotten and others not following the path of struggle i have laid. My murder should act as a flame in the heart of fighters for justice – not a mourning device. Don’t mourn – MOBILIZE!

I’m ready for what’s to come and as long as I have breath I will remain a voice for the reformed and revitalized.

STAND WITH US

Without cease

Kenneth “Haramia” Foster

 

Dispute over Churchill’s claim to Indian identity

See Professor Meranto’s and Professor Cook-Smith’s arguments in favor of firing Ward Churchill below and my response:

(Cloud responding to argument below):

This interesting. Thank you. I don’t really think race-baiting is an
appropriate response to my earlier thoughts. Having been raised on a number
of Indian reservations as the (white) daughter of a public health service
dentist, I may have internalized (but have also fought) a colonizer’s
perspective. But I also witnessed the oppression of Native people, the
dignity of the lives of those around me, and the complex intersections of
identity, politics, history, and economics.

That said, I respect Professors Meranto and Cook-Lynn’s perspectives very
much. I think that the argument about Churchill’s fraudulent claim to Native
identity is important. However, in the current context, it may miss the
point. It matters less in the public eye whether Churchill does or does not
legitimately represent Native studies (and I will leave to one side the
question of whether one has to be an authenticated [by blood or otherwise]
Indian in order to credibly conduct research in this area; my colleagues
Carlotta Smith—whose recent death saddens us—and Erika Bsumek might offer
arguments to the contrary). Of greater significance right now, when his
firing is clearly the result of a politicized agenda carried by right-wing
opponents of area studies and of academic freedom, is that he is a public
symbol of Native studies. Taking down the symbol will do the area damage,
because most people in the wider world are not aware of the particularities
and controversies surrounding his claim to Indian identity. Right or wrong
(and I am willing to acknowledge the good arguments in the “wrong” column),
for many people Churchill is the most prominent stand-in for Native
studies—and he has been able to raise public awareness about the genocide
carried out against indigenous peoples. Many conservative are happily
awaiting the fall Churchill as a way to discredit such knowledge.

During the tenure and promotion process, during his hiring, during
deliberations of his appointment to department chair—those are times I would
have welcomed scrutiny of Churchill’s record and debates over what
constitutes authentic Indian identity. The point is that the current
situation is not one that those seeking to challenge Churchill on ethical
grounds will benefit from if he is fired. It will be a victory for the right
and all of us are at risk. We may be saved from the fox but the wolves are
licking their chops.

d

On 5/28/07 11:16 AM, “meranto@mscd.edu” <meranto@mscd.edu> wrote:

TEACHERS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY LISTSERV

I submit the following regarding your plea for Churchill. This is how a
large
number of Native Scholars feel about the controversy. Please consider our
point of view in your decision. Many of us do not believe the State of
Native
Studies is highly contingent upon what happens in the Churchill case. Those
of
you NOT in Native Studies and who continue to support Churchill do so
because
your “European perspective (colonizer education)” does not allow you to see
it
any other way. I hope you read Dr. Cook-Lynn’s words. I might add that
Churchill and his cohorts have never supported Dr. Cook-Lynn’s work, even
though those of us in Native American studies know without her efforts there
would be no Native Studies. She is the founder of Native Studies (not ethnic
studies).

Dr. Zia (Oneida) Meranto Professor of Political Science Director of Native
American Studies Program Metropolitan State College of Denver 303 556-4859

Recognition and defense of tribal-nation citizenship rights

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn

The future of Indian country is in the land. Yet blood, race and sovereignty
provide the most controversial and heated debates these days. Speakers at
Federal Bar Association meetings don’t talk so much about land theft as they
talk about identity issues and gaming. If that seems unfair, just ask the
Seminoles, or the Cherokees of Oklahoma. A few anonymous comments from the
latest FBA meeting illustrate the banality of what passes for law theory:
”I
really hope tribes can get away from this notion of blood as the essence of
Indian identity.” And, ”There might be some kind of long-term benefit for
Indian country if we can adopt some expansive notion of Indian identity.”
And, ”We need other blood in our cultures.” Taku? Taku?

The ongoing struggle for what can be claimed as tribal-nation citizenship
rights seems to provide a never-ending battleground for ignorance,
self-centeredness, individualism and fraud. In the case for dismissal from
his
university position, Ward Churchill provides a case in point.

Churchill had falsely claimed to be an Indian for decades. He got a
professorship in the ethnic studies department at the University of Colorado
in 1973, perpetrating a fraud through that claim, and got away with it for
years and is still getting away with it. After he made his now-famous
”little
Eichmann” remark, the university has been trying to fire him for inadequate
research credentials but NOT because his claim to Indian identity was
unsubstantiated. In the subsequent investigations, Churchill was not charged
with identity fraud by CU – Boulder in their effort to dislodge him from his
position, yet that is what critic John P. LaVelle, professor of law at New
Mexico School of Law, as well as countless other Native scholars throughout
the United States, contend it was.

This failure on the part of CU to charge this academic with fraud reveals
how
little is understood of American Indian citizenship protocols and how
without
sympathy, such protocols are held by those in academia and elsewhere.
Substantial investigations have shown that Churchill has no citizenship in
any
Indian nation and possesses no blood quantum or a blood relative to tie him
culturally, politically or legally to a tribal legacy. Yet the charges
against
him ignore that particular aspect of his case, the aspect that is of utmost
importance to indigenous rights activists, scholars and tribes.

One reason for the failure to sustain the charge of fraud against Churchill
is
that fraud, we are told, not only has to be based in deception but it also
has
to cause harm, and there must be documentation showing to whom it is
harmful.
There is no doubt that Churchill’s claim was based in deception (many
researchers say he duped the university into giving him a professorship
through his unsubstantiated claim to Indian legacy, in spite of his
inability
to produce citizenship papers from any officially documented tribe in the
United States), but that deception was a matter of indifference to CU.

Tribal citizenship has been recognized by the tribes since time immemorial,
but certainly since 1934 and even before, and formalized ways to identify
tribal citizens have been based in codified tribal law. Think what you want
about the system. It exists and awards a political standard to those who
qualify. It is possible that CU may not have even asked for credentials at
all. The academic dilemma brought about by the Churchill case has
underscored
the fact that universities have been lending their supposed credibility to
such fraudulent behaviors in violation of the law.

This may be the perfect moment for Indian Studies scholars throughout the
country to demand that American universities stand by the side of the
indigenous populations of this country in defense of First Nation
citizenship.
The defense of citizenship is one of the most important functions of any
sovereign nation. But make no mistake. If we choose to defend tribal-nation
citizenship rights at American universities, we will have a fight on our
hands. The truth is, there is a powerful stream of thought in our society
that
persists in believing that American Indians are just some kind of romantic
and
savage and doomed race condemned to vanish without citizenship rights,
neither
American nor tribal, without land and Native legacy. This thinking has been
at
the heart of the Churchill dilemma; and Churchill himself, while claiming a
position of advocacy historian to Natives, has been blindly influential in
shaping this absurd notion.

The Churchill case should offer insights into this ongoing threat and we
must
come to some agreements about what we expect of the academies of learning in
this country. That is what Indian Studies is all about and we have much to
gain from the careful study of this particular moment. It is not about
”right-wing pressures.” It is not about the ”relentless pursuit of and
punitive approach” toward a man who made unacceptable statements. It is not
about speaking out on controversial issues. We all do that.

It is about whether or not tribal citizens in America stand as members of
the
nations-within-a-nation against fraud and aggression. There are few rules
for
these kinds of influential offenses against us, but the lack of precedent
does
not mean that we cannot find meaning in this case. When indigenous
citizenship
rights in America are threatened, as they often are, we are all harmed.
Change
could, miraculously, come out of this fiasco, but only if we stand on the
principles that defend tribal-nation citizenship.

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Crow Creek Sioux, is professor emerita of Native
American
Studies at Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Wash., and visiting
professor at Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz. Her new book is ”New
Indians, Old Wars,” from the University of Illinois Press. She makes her
home
in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Dr. Zia (Oneida) Meranto Professor of Political Science Director of Native
American Studies Program Metropolitan State College of Denver 303 556-4859

—– Original Message —– From: Dana Cloud <dcloud@mail.utexas.edu> Date:
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 9:39 am Subject: [The Dangerous 101] Please consider
re:
Ward Churchill

TEACHERS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY LISTSERV

Dear President Brown and Provost Poliakoff:

I am writing once again regarding my urgent concern over your
impendingdecision regarding the fate of Professor Ward Churchill. It is my
strongly held belief that Churchill and his work have been vital to the
field
of Native American/Indian studies in the United States. In spite of
severalerrors of fact or citation revealed during the unprecedented scrutiny
of his writings (a scrutiny not applied even during his promotion to full
professorand department chair), the basic thrust of his work–which is
largely accurate–has been to educate the public regarding the history of
AmericanIndian experience since the founding of the Anglo colonies on our
continent.

Any politically motivated committee could find errors in almost any
scholar’s
work. The point of published scholarship is that one would be accountable to
the broader intellectual community, whose further researchserves to correct
the record and move knowledge forward. Being wrong in the process of
marshalling evidence in support of one’s claims is not usually a firing
offense among scholars and, as in the case of Galileo, what counts as
“wrong”
is often a political matter.

I beg you to keep in mind that the timing and content of this scrutiny of
Professor Churchill demonstrates its political character. The
conservativeorganization American Council of Trustees and Alumni has
reported
that Ward Churchill is only their first major target; they foresee many
more.
It was after their politicized charges that the University of Colorado felt
it necessary to search for evidence condemning Churchill allegedly on the
basis of his scholarship– even though it is clear that your committees’
effortsarose out of offense at his remarks after 9/11.

As wrongheaded as I may find those remarks (although his argument that U.S.
actions generated anger and resistance, including terrorism, seems
sustainable to me), it is the right of every intellectual as a scholar and a
citizen to speak his or her mind on matters of importance. Offensive public
speech and action–from the Boston Tea Party to the integration of
publicschools to veterans and their families coming out against the war in
Iraq–constitute a fine tradition in building a democratic public life and
spurring significant social progress.

If you proceed to fire Ward Churchill, you will have set an incredibly
chilling precedent redolent of McCarthyism. Any number of fine scholars with
unpopular but necessary (at least in a democracy) critical ideas and
controversial new knowledge will be vulnerable after your decision. You may
not personally be motivated by political censorship, but many
organizationsacross this country (including ACTA and David Horowitz’s
groups)
are awaiting your signal. They will swiftly and surely take your lesson as
one in how to shut up critical intellectuals. If the strategy of miring
administrations and scholars in the most minute details blinds us to the
political, historical, and intellectual contexts of these efforts, any
inadvertent footnoting error or misremembering of sources, any claim that is
honestly mistaken, or any politically brazen public statement may mean the
end of a career for some wonderful, bright, productive, and brave
colleagues.

Thus, I urge you to think very carefully about the issues I have raised as
you make your decision. What you do now has implications far beyond
thenarrow
details of one scholar’s work. If you dismiss Professor Churchill,you will
be
acting against the spirit of democratic inquiry and academic freedom. The
credibility of the claims of Native Americans to the recognition of their
histories is at stake. So are the futures of many intellectuals whose work
is
crucial to the vibrancy of our public life and future knowledge.

I thank you for considering my thoughts.

Earnestly,

Dana L. Cloud Associate Professor Department of Communication Studies
University of Texas CMA 7.114 1 Longhorn Station A1105 Austin, TX 78712

(512) 471-1947 dcloud@mail.utexas.edu