Aftermath of a Witch-Hunt

July 26, 2007: On Ward Churchill Firing

Five pieces in this email:
1) Call for Op-eds and letters to the editor from
National Project to Defend Dissent & Critical Thinking
in Academia
2) Report from Daniel Kim, Assistant Professor,
Department of English, University of Colorado
3) Message of thanks to supporters from Natsu Saitta
and Ward Churchill
4) Transcript of coverage from Democracy Now!
5) Beneath the Surface interview with Tom Mayer and
Ward Churchill
_______________________________________________

The outrageous decision to fire Ward Churchill comes
on the heels of the denial of tenure to Norman
Finkelstein by the administration at DePaul.  Taken
together, it is clear that “purge” is not too strong a
term to describe what we are witnessing against
dissenting and critical thinking scholars in academia
today, and in particular those whose work challenges
the “official narratives” about this country’s history
and international policy that powerful forces in this
society are determined to maintain and restore. What
is called for at this moment is to seize the
opportunity to bring forward as significant a response
as possible. One way to do this is in the form of Op
Ed pieces and letters to editors. These could register
a significant, even unexpected, response that signals
to faculty, scholars, students and the broader public
that this decision represents a danger, not just to
academia but to society at this time in history, that
cannot and will not be allowed to stand. Most of the
media coverage of the decision gives no hint of the
growing opposition to this attack on critical thinking
and dissent among this country’s faculty, scholars and
public intellectuals expressed in the Open Letter that
we published in the NYRB in April; by the powerful
statements sent to the Regents and to the April
Emergency Forum that have appeared at the
wardchurchill.org and defendcriticalthinking.org,
sites; the articles at Counterpunch,
Insidehighered.org and many, many more.

Please forward any op-eds and letters you write
(published or not) to criticalxthinking@yahoo.com

_______________________________________

Dear Friends, Comrades and Allies,

On Tuesday, after two and a half years of struggle,
the Univ of Colorado fired our colleague Prof Ward
Churchill, one of the most prominent scholars in
American Indian Studies, whose distinguished work over
the past 25 years has deeply exposed COINTELPRO and
the history of American Indian genocide.

There has been a lot of media coverage but little that
reflects what is truly at stake in the case.  We, the
faculty, staff and students who have been fighting on
the ground here in Boulder, held our own joint press
conference with Prof. Churchill and his attorney to
respond to the firing.  Our voices and analysis have
not been represented in the coverage.

I don’t know how long this video will be available on
the web, but here it is from a local TV station:

http://www.9news.com/video/player.aspx?aid=38135&bw=

Our speakers are:

Prof. Emma Perez of Ethnic Studies
Prof. Margaret LeCompte of Education
Prof. Tom Mayer of Sociology
Hadley Brown, UCSU Tri-Exec, Student
Ann-erika White Bird, Students for True Academic
Freedom, Student

You can also see Ward and his attorney, David lane,
speaking at our joint press conference:
http://www.9news.com/video/player.aspx?aid=38132&bw=

The ramifications for academic freedom are clear to
most but one important point that our speakers are
addressing needs special emphasis.  A key part of the
“academic” case used to fire Prof. Churchill is that
he supposedly “falsified” and “fabricated” the history
of indigenous genocide–namely, that he lied when
asserting that the US Army intentionally spread
disease (e.g. via blankets), and that he lied when
asserting that the US Government created the “eugenics
code” of blood quantum (in the Dawes Act).  The Right
is crowing about how these “lies” about the US
responsibility for indigenous genocide have been
confirmed by Tuesday’s firing.  This firing is, as
ACTA has declared, D-Day for a war on Ethnic Studies,
Women’s Studies, and every other scholarly institution
of critical thinking that was carved into the
University by the social movements of the 60s and 70s.

You can also find links to the press conf by the
neocon CU President Hank Brown and Regents’ Chair Pay
Hayes at the 9News page:
http://www.9news.com/news/top-article.aspx?storyid=74224

One of the better local newspaper articles from that
day is here:
http://coloradodaily.com/articles/2007/07/24/news/c_u_and_boulder/news1.txt

Finally, there is no way to thank you enough for your
support from across the country and beyond.  It has
been a hard and uphill road and we know that so many
of you have been with us from the beginning over two
years ago.  Because we have faced so much isolation,
hostility and betrayal here in Boulder, your
solidarity, your letters, your funds, your research,
your organizing have been so crucial to the survival
and persistence of our work in Boulder.  We are glad
and proud to know you’ll be with us as the struggle
moves ahead.

In solidarity,
Daniel Kim, on behalf of the faculty, students and
staff at CU-Boulder fighting at “ground zero” Boulder

Assistant Professor,
Department of English,
University of Colorado

____________________________________

Dear Friends,

Thanks to all of you for your continuing support and
recent e-mails.  We are energized and encouraged to
see how many people realize that yesterday’s 8-to-1
decision of the University of Colorado Regents to fire
Ward Churchill was not about a few footnotes, but
instead about suppressing historical truths and
dissenting speech.   (For a fairly good recap, see
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/25/145254 ;
there will be updates at http://www.wardchurchill.net.)

Some have said it was a sad day for academic freedom.
It is sad when Cindy Carlisle becomes the lone
courageous Regent for saying that the faculty review
panel’s recommendation shouldn’t have been overridden
by CU President Hank Brown.  But did anyone really
expect an elected body in Colorado to suddenly
manifest backbone, when they had been instructed to
fire Ward by Governors Owens and Ritter and the state
legislature, and were under tremendous pressure from
CU’s big donors?

For me, the bad days are when we sit by and let the
attorney general intimidate us into a collective
silence; when we allow torture, disappearances and
arbitrary detentions to become routine; when we insist
that this is a democracy, but refuse to accept any
responsibility for the actions of the government.
The sad days are when our kids are punished or
humiliated in school for refusing to celebrate this
country’s genocidal history; when we get glimpses of
other people’s children being reduced to “collateral
damage.”

In Ward’s case, any pretense of academic freedom, to
say nothing of due process, evaporated when the
charade of a “research misconduct” investigation was
allowed to proceed, with the apparent sanction of so
many “liberal” academics like the National AAUP.   It
was long gone by last week, when CU refused to
investigate the numerous charges of falsification and
plagiarism in the very report upon which Ward’s
dismissal was based.

Yesterday that charade was consummated and today our
amazing attorney David Lane filed suit.  We look
forward to the day when a jury can decide whether the
citizens of Colorado are as willing as the University
to sacrifice the First Amendment for the status quo.

Ward and I appreciate your support in this small piece
of the struggle to keep critical thinking alive,  and
look forward to working with you on this and many
other fronts.

Natsu & Ward, July 25, 2007

_________________________________________________

Democracy Now!
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
Professor Ward Churchill Vows to Sue University of
Colorado Over Controversial Firing

The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado in
Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to fire tenured
professor of Ethnic Studies Ward Churchill on charges
of research misconduct. But Churchill maintains that
the allegations were a pretext to remove him for his
controversial political views. One day after his
firing, Churchill calls the charges a sham and vows a
suit against the school. [includes rush transcript]

The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado in
Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to fire tenured
professor of Ethnic Studies Ward Churchill on charges
of research misconduct. But Churchill maintains that
the allegations were a pretext to remove him for his
unpopular political views. Churchill has written a
number of books on genocide against Native Americans
and the US government’s COINTELPRO program. After
yesterday’s verdict Churchill said he planned to sue
the university.

Churchill has written a number of books on genocide
against Native Americans and the US government’s
COINTELPRO program. After yesterday’s verdict
Churchill said he planned to sue the university.

The controversy dates back to early 2005 when a
college newspaper reprinted Churchill’s three-year old
essay on the attacks on the World Trade Center. He
described the attacks as a response to a long history
of US abuses and called those who were killed on 9-11
as “little Eichmanns” who formed a “technocratic corps
at the very heart of America’s global financial
empire.”

Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi bureacrat convicted for war
crimes who political theorist Hannah Arendt famously
described as embodying the “banality of evil.” Fox
News commentator Bill O’Reilly repeatedly attacked
Churchill for his comparison. Soon after, Colorado
Governor Bill Owens wrote a letter to the university
calling for Churchill’s resignation.

A special panel at the university immediately
conducted an investigation into Churchill’s comments.
They concluded that he could not be fired for his
statements, which were protected by the First
Amendment. However, another panel later determined
that Churchill plagiarized and fabricated material in
his scholarship and recommended his dismissal.

Supporters of Ward Churchill organized a rally before
the Regents delivered their decision to fire Churchill
at 5.30 pm. They had been deliberating behind closed
doors all day.
•    Churchill supporter Ann Erika Whitebird.
Ward Churchill joins us on the phone from Boulder,
Colorado.

•    Ward Churchill. He was just terminated from his
tenured post as Professor of Ethnic Studies at the
University of Colorado, Boulder. Churchill is an
activist and author of a number of books on genocide
against Native Americans and the US government’s
COINTELPRO program.

RUSH TRANSCRIPT
This transcript is available free of charge. However,
donations help us provide closed captioning for the
deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank
you for your generous contribution. ?Donate – $25,
$50, $100, more…

AMY GOODMAN: The Board of Regents of the University of
Colorado in Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to
fire tenured professor of ethnic studies Ward
Churchill on charges of research misconduct, they
said. But Professor Churchill maintains the
allegations were a pretext to remove him for his
unpopular political views.
Churchill has written a number of books on genocide
against Native Americans and the US government’s
COINTELPRO program — that’s Counter-Intelligence
Program. After yesterday’s verdict, Churchill said he
planned to sue the university.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The controversy dates back to early
2005, when a college newspaper reprinted Churchill’s
three-year-old essay on the attacks on the World Trade
Center. He described the attacks as a response to a
long history of US abuses and called those who were
killed on 9/11 as “little Eichmanns” who formed a
“technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s
global financial empire.”

Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi bureaucrat convicted for war
crimes, who political theorist Hannah Arendt famously
described as embodying the “banality of evil.” Fox
News commentator Bill O’Reilly repeatedly attacked
Churchill for his comparison. Soon after, Colorado
Governor Bill Owens wrote a letter to the university
calling for Churchill’s resignation.

A special panel at the university immediately
conducted an investigation into Churchill’s comments.
They concluded that he could not be fired for his
statements, which were protected by the First
Amendment. However, another panel later determined
that Churchill plagiarized and fabricated material in
his scholarship and recommended his dismissal.

AMY GOODMAN: Supporters of Ward Churchill organized a
rally before the Regents delivered their decision to
fire Churchill at 5:30 last night in Boulder. They had
been deliberating behind closed doors all day.
Today we’ll be joined by Ward Churchill on the phone
from Boulder, but first to a clip of yesterday’s
rally. We turn now to Ward Churchill, his lawyer David
Lane, American Indian Movement activist Glenn Morris,
and one of Churchill’s students.

•    ANN ERIKA WHITEBIRD: And the decision to fire Ward
Churchill is really sad for me. He’s the only
professor that I’ve taken a class, where I really felt
empowered as an Indigenous person. And our history,
the history of genocide against our people, the
history, the policy, the US policy of extermination
against our people, the forced sterilization of our
women — that was found out as early as the ’70s — it
was all something that Ward talks about in his books.
So I’m not just talking about the class that he’s
offered, the FBI at Pine Ridge, but, you know, other
classes that he teaches and then the books that he’s
written is really affirming as a Native person.

•    The history that we hear growing up about the
smallpox blankets, it’s not something that you
question. It’s something that is part of our oral
history. And it’s part of the history of other
indigenous peoples. So when I’m here at CU Boulder and
I talk to other students who are Dene or from other
nations, it’s a common understanding.

AMY GOODMAN: That was a student talking about Ward
Churchill. Now, we turn to the ethnic studies
professor, who joins us on the phone from his home in
Boulder. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Ward Churchill.

WARD CHURCHILL: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts today on the morning after
your firing?

WARD CHURCHILL: Well, a period of glaciation, which
was this process of creating the illusion of research
misconduct to cover a firing for political speech, has
come to an end. That process has now run its course,
so there’s a new phase that’s begun, which is, I
suppose, for lack of a better way of putting it, my
period of defensive posture has come to an end and the
offense has begun, kicks off this morning with the
filing of a suit.
AMY GOODMAN: Who will you be suing?

WARD CHURCHILL: Regents of the University of Colorado
for accepting, in full knowledge at this point, a
non-scholarly sham of an investigative report,
creating the pretext. And I say “non-scholarly”
because the university has withdrawn the entire
investigative report from any scholarly scrutiny. They
refuse to allow it to be subject to scrutiny by
competent scholars. And there are research misconduct
complaints in place at this point against the members
of the investigative committee for serial plagiarism,
wholesale falsification, outright fabrication — in
other words, fraud. It’s a fraudulent finding.

So there is no defensible scholarly conclusions that
anything I’ve said in my writing is even inaccurate,
much less fraudulent, or that I committed the
so-called plagiarism. All they’ve got is public
outrage in the form of very well-organized rightwing,
active-style lobbying blocks, and the statements of
public officials, and so on, saying I should be
removed as the basis for removing me.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The amazing thing about this is that
the so-called — the investigation focused on
everything but the apparent reason why there was such
a determination to investigate you. The essay having
to do with 9/11, that wasn’t even a subject,
supposedly, of this investigation, was it?

WARD CHURCHILL: No. And a point to be made there is
that while I was a target, was a target that would
serve as a sort of conduit, in a way, they considered
me to be, and said so, considered me to be kind of at
the forefront of a sort of critical line of analysis,
historically speaking. And they wanted to roll back
that line of analysis altogether, to discredit it, so
that you basically have a return to that triumphalis,
celebratory white-supremacist interpretation of
American history with all of the denial and
falsification that that is known to entail. That’s the
reason, in part. And it’s in large part for the
charade that they have acted out over the last
two-and-a-half years, the going after the historical
analysis, as well as a purveyor of it. And so, this
goes way beyond me. I’m intended to symbolize the cost
and consequence of challenging orthodoxy in certain
critical domains, at least.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And what has been the response of the
press in Colorado? Have any of the newspapers or any
of the press defended your right to speak your mind?

WARD CHURCHILL: Well, yeah. They’ve created this false
dichotomy, in a way: Well, it’s reprehensible, we
disagree with it, blah, blah, blah, but he had a right
to say it, however repugnant it may have been. On the
other hand, he did all these things that constitute
research misconduct. Basically he’s pedaling lies to
the public that cause discontent with the status quo.
And that’s what the issue is. The specific acts of
research misconduct has nothing to do with that
speech.

The press was instrumental in framing that. There’s
been a symbiotic relationship between the
administration at the university and the press all
along. The press really took the lead in drumming up
furor. There were 400 feature articles on my case, or
what is supposed to be my case, in the Denver metro
area newspapers in barely sixty days. Pope died; I had
the front page of the Rocky Mountain News. The Rocky
Mountain News was at the very forefront of creating
the appearance that there was scholarly impropriety
involved in my work and to be able to separate that
set of issues then, the scholarly impropriety from the
speech issues.

AMY GOODMAN: Ward Churchill, we have to go. But in
addition to the lawsuit you’re filing, what are your
plans now?

WARD CHURCHILL: Well, my plans now are to continue to
do what it is that I’ve always done: I mean, being a
professor at the University of Colorado hardly defines
the nature of my life. In fact —

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. I
want to thank you for being with us from Boulder, Ward
Churchill, just fired by the University of Colorado.

_____________________________________________

Michael Slate, host of Beneath the Surface on KPFK,
dedicated his show on Tuesday on Churchill. He
interviewed Ward Churchill and Tom Mayer by phone, and
played an excerpt from a “”Balance” Is The Wrong
Criterion – And A Cover for a Witch-hunt – What We
Need is the Search for the Truth: Education, Real
Academic Freedom, Critical Thinking and Dissent by Bob
Avakian, chairman of the Revolutionary Communist
Party.

Audio of the program can be listened to here:

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