TDS Update: This afternoon, seven new signatories showed up on the TDS "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition—and one disappeared. For some reason, the "signature" of Ilene Grabel, an Associate Professor of International Finance at the University of Denver, is gone from the list. We've emailed Professor Grabel asking for additional information; as always, we'll keep you posted.
Update (9:46am, 1Aug06): We received email confirmation from Professor Grabel that she did, in fact, have her name removed from the TDS petition, but she did not explain her motivation.
One of PB's regular readers, Rex, has posted a comment here that throws down and dances upon the dearly-held and widely-touted leftist "truth" that Colorado taxpayers only account for 7% of CU's funding; it warrants repeating here (with some typos corrected) on our front page, which we now do (for your edification or chagrin):
The University of Colorado is a Morrill-Land Grant college. It was founded by the Colorado State Legislature in 1876 using federal monies raised through the Morrill Land Grant law (1862). The land upon which the University rests is public. The physical assets of the University by and large have been paid through public monies. Any money granted to the University of Colorado (even with strings attached) becomes public monies. Tuition and fees paid to the University of Colorado, since it is part of the State of Colorado, are by definition user fees. This is a specific type of tax. (check any decent High School Government text book if you disagree, I would suggest MacGruder's since that was what I used when I taught American Government.) Thus they are public monies. In short the University of Colorado was built by the State of Colorado, for the people of Colorado (hence the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates or user-tax rates). All of this investment does not show up in the annual budget of the University since the vast majority of it is held in fixed assets and principle. How much money comes directly from the State of Colorado through annual broad-based state taxes rather than user fees, grant monies, or donations is irrelevant. All monies, past and present, and assets, liquid and fixed, at the University of Colorado are public monies and the State of Colorado is required under its fiduciary obligations to the tax-payers of Colorado to have oversight of CU. That includes employment.
TDS has posted Professor Dean Saitta's Anthropology Today (August '06 issue) editorial on "Higher Education and the Dangerous Professor: The Challenges for Anthropology." Our favorite passage:
[David] Horowitz’ model of appropriate pedagogy is hierarchical and elitist. It evokes an image of tweedy professors filling up empty-headed and easily indoctrinable students with what is presumed to be disinterested, value-free knowledge. Horowitz bases his ABOR campaign on governing documents of the AAUP, but like all historical documents even these carry epistemological and sociological baggage. Witness the 1915 AAUP academic freedom statement that instructed teachers to avoid expressing their opinions until a student has ‘sufficient knowledge and ripeness of judgment to be entitled to form any definitive opinion of his own’ (emphasis added [by Saitta]). Even first principles sometimes need refining in order to keep pace with progress in how we understand the world....ah, Saitta's implicit criticism of the 1915 AAUP statement actually identifies one of most prevalent problems with modern higher education: Activist-academics foisting value-judgements on students while neglecting (quite purposely) to prepare these same students to evaluate facts and opinions critically in order that they might themselves make rational and well-reasoned value-judgments. But then, where would we get Ethnics Studies professors?
Later, in the same paragraph, Saitta engages in some classic understatement (emphasis ours):
Of course, our one non-negotiable professional obligation is to establish a congenial classroom environment in which students can safely express and battle-test their own convictions and biases, no matter how ‘unripe’. As with any profession, some teachers are better at this than others.
Speaking of "critical thinking," the TDS "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition currently [as of this morning; see the TDS Update above for newer info] has 389 signatures, a fifth of which (75) are from professors of the "[your victimhood here] studies" variety. Another interesting factoid: at least 13% (51) of the signers are sociologists. Yet another factoid: only 41 of Horowitz' "100 most dangerous professors" have signed. Still other factoids:
Professors of Engineering who have signed: 0.
Professors of Mathematics who have signed: 0.
Professors of Biology who have signed: 0.
Professors of Physics who have signed: 27. (okay, we made that up; so far, only one London physicist has signed.)
"Independent scholars" of indeterminate credentials who have signed: 16.
Apparent members of something called the SnowStar Institute of Religion who have signed: 7.
Individuals claiming affiliation with institutions outside the US who signed: 36.
From our Sociologists Must Travel In Packs department: Of today's 25 new signatories to the TDS "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition (current total: 379), at least 15 are professors of sociology.
And in an unrelated development (which we'll call our Are You F**king Kidding Me? department), there's a signature from the director of the University of Toronto's recently-formed (and no doubt sorely-needed) Caribbean Studies program. At long last, Canada can be known for something more than hockey and, well, we guess hockey is about it. In any case, we've updated the PB Usual Suspects links-galore page to reflect the latest additions.
At least one of the signatories of the TDS "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition may also be a Chicago voter. PB reader Laurie tells us that Mary E. Cooper, LA Pierce College (currently # 55 on the 340-signer list) has been dead for 15 years—which would certainly explain why we were unable to find any mention of her on the Pierce College website. We're looking into Laurie's claim, and will keep you posted.
Update: We've found a few "Mary E. Coopers" extant on the internet, but the only one we think is likely to have signed the petition is this one in Tbilisi, Caucasus—just a bit of a commute to Woodland Hills, California.
Update II: Kudos to TDS, which has removed "Mary E. Cooper" from its list of signatories (and apparently added nine more. Current total: 348).
Update IV: Laurie admits in our comments section that she herself submitted her deceased mother's name to the TD petition as a test of another commenter's assertion that TDS would only accept the signatures of scholars.
Update V: In our comments section, Laurie points out rather pointedly that our inflated self-importance (as well as our apparent inability to read and comprehend simple English declarative sentences) is showing. Um.... Kudos.
Grant Crowell hooks us up to audio of his interview with Stephen H. Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), who holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California and was on the faculty of John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York for thirteen years. Professor Balch comments extensively on the Ward Churchill case, occasionally talking through his hat (as he does on the subject of Churchill's claim to Indianness), but generally making the sort of common sense statements that have been far too rare in this case.
"I think the outcome was appropriate. When the [CU] provost decided to adopt the recommendation of termination we [NAS] applauded that. So we feel that this was a question of academic integrity, that it was important, actually, to the protection of the rightful freedoms of the professoriate, that the notion of standards be upheld. And Churchill's work was found by a committee of his peers—who probably would have been very happy to find otherwise—to not only be seriously deficient but to be riddled with all sorts of misrepresentations."
The Rime of the Academic Administrator
by Jim Paine
I'm considering signing the Teachers for a Democratic Society's "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition.
Ask yourself: Does CU really deserve to get rid of the remarkable Mr. Churchill so easily (if a process that so far has taken 18 months can be considered "easy")? The administration and faculty of CU have spent at least the last two decades engaging in what TDS co-founder Dean Saitta calls "a well-known track record of serial mismanagement of internal affairs" (Inside Higher Education, in the highly edifying comments section). What Professor Saitta doesn't say (perhaps because he doesn't believe it) is that the hiring of Churchill was one of those mismanaged internal affairs.
It's obvious from the several "why I signed" explanations found here and there on the web that at least some of the signers have no illusions about Churchill's guilt. And yet they sign. It seems to defy logic. There can be only one reason: The signers want to punish CU for its (here's Saitta's phrase again) serial mismanagement of internal affairs.
And I agree. The administration of CU (and of all the other institutions of "higher learning" that employ all those other "little churchills") should be punished, and quite severely, for squandering tax and tuition dollars on such vacuous frivolities as Native American Studies, Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Queer Studies, Black Studies, Women's Studies, Chicano/a Studies, and, most recently, Islamic Studies.
Unfortunately, no formal process exists to discipline directly college administrators who fail in their duties in such a manner. I'm not sure one could be devised. But there is a more informal and fitting process.
The University of Colorado at Boulder should be required to employ Ward Churchill for the rest of his natural life; it should be required to wear the albatross of Churchill's rotting academic reputation around its neck until Churchill himself passes away in his sleep, preferably after celebrating his 101st birthday. CU's administrators should have to wake up every morning for the next few decades knowing just how miserably they failed.
And if I could convince myself that signing the TDS petition would ensure that outcome, I'd do it today. I'd do it twice.
Of the dozen new signatories to the TDS "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition we discovered this morning, we note that Professor Emma Perez has finally joined up. Can the rest of the CU Ethnic Studies department be far behind?
Update: Noj, one of our regular readers, posts an interesting comment: "Are not these petitioners engaging in precisely the conduct they deplore—outsiders with a political agenda attempting to interfere with a university's internal personnel matters?"
Update II: Far be it from us to instruct college professors, but we don't find a "Raponte Aponte" at Indiana University. We do find a Robert Aponte, and we're guessing that's who signed the petition. We've waited at least two days to see if TDS was going to correct the apparent "Raponte" error, but no joy. Oh, and if you're going to make a list alphabetical, it's a good idea to post a note above your keyboard that says "Gordon comes BEFORE Gorgen."
John Ruberry, who runs Marathon Pundit and has covered to perfection the DePaul University vs. Professor Thomas Klocek battle, will be interviewed on WWBC-AM 1510 this afternoon (he's got a link where you can get the internet broadcast live)
The TDS petition got a big boost today—33 new signers (current total: 298), including what appears to be at least half the directors of SnowStar Institute of Religion, three new DePaul University academics, and Ward Churchill's wife, Professor Natsu Taylor Saito. We have, of course, updated our database and included the new additions here; informative links are still sparse, but every entry has at least a handy preformatted MSN Search link.
We wondered a couple of days ago what might have compelled Michael Pyshnov—a scholar whose career seems to have gotten sidetracked by a plagiarizer—to sign the TDS "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition. Our curiosity got the better of us and we emailed Mr. Pyshnov with that very question, to which he promptly and courteously responded:
I signed the petition for following reasons:
1. I agree that Prof. Churchill should not have been fired. I have not read all the proof and disproof of his plagiarism, but, even if he committed plagiarism, firing is not an obligatory punishment for it. For instance, in a rather old but very prominent case, Prof. Marion Perlmutter was found guilty of fraud by Michigan court (she stole ideas of Dr. Carolin Phinney), however, the University did not fire her. I think there are also other, more recent such examples. Therefore, I believe that political reasons played a role. I read the letter of Churchill pointing to the obviously intentional tricks in the procedure that, as I know, academic judges employ to render wrong decisions. (I should add here that the law of colleges and universities allows academic judges to bypass some important requirements of court procedure, in supposition that a university is a competent and fair organization. We now know that such supposition is ridiculous.)
2. There should be different kinds of punishment for plagiarism with respect to what actually was plagiarized. If a published work was plagiarized (i.e. when the true author is known), the plagiarist can not cause a great damage to the true author; in any case, this plagiarism is easily discoverable. But, when, as in my case and in Phinney case, the authorship of the unpublished research is falsified, and falsified by a superior who, by definition, is more trusted, this is a criminal plagiarism. Therefore, although plagiarism is always the same act - falsification of authorship, the punishments could vary greatly. And I have not seen an argument that plagiarism of Churchill was of grave consequences to the true author(s).
3. In 1. and 2. above, I noted why I was not deterred from signing the petition. But, I believe that there is a campaign against Churchill. I believe it is very ugly and openly politically motivated and ended in ruining his life. I believe that political interests swayed the judgement. At this point it is immaterial for me that I might disagree with him politically on a number of points (I think some who signed the petition said this also). I actually don't stand on the Right or on the Left, merely because the good answers to the "issues" are intermixed with very wrong ones on both sides. I care about the Law, unmolested. I believe, and I know from my ordeal, that the Law is being thrown away in savage wars against my civilization. I am horrified at the thought that such wars will inevitably lead to the result that so-called "terrorism" will become the future of Justice on this planet. So, I signed it. And I will, when I can and for as long as I can, at 65 now, add my name and my case to the line where there is a call for returning to the Law as we knew it. This Law considered irrelevant things irrelevant and defended the right of people to live their lives and speak their mind. Last, I add that it is the universities where the most elaborate falsification of the Law is being worked on.
4. On the issue of academic freedom: A teacher must deliver the facts correctly. Then, he can make, as a person academically qualified, any theory or discussion of them. The choice of facts is his; the great advances were made by the interesting, original choice of facts. The requirement for "balanced", "objective", etc. choice of facts is fraud; it is, by the way, a claim of the corrupt, monopolised, corporate mass media. Any presentation is a private view, not a party line.
Of course, you may publish this my answer. (I prefer to see it complete and unchanged.)
Speaking of Academic Freedom (and who isn't?), in "Required Reading for the Skeptic" David French over at Phi Beta Cons marvels at Professor Josh Gunn's essay "Why I Am Not Radical Enough"
There are times when I talk about the radical leftist nature of higher education (and the general oddity of much of the instruction at our nation's universities), and I see the unmistakable signs of skepticism: The furrowed brow, the slight scowl. "Surely," they seem to be saying, "you exaggerate." They hear stories about Ward Churchill or read a few samples of incomprehensible deconstructionist writing and think, "They don't really teach that stuff in the classroom."Yes, you must.
Well, I present to you Joshua Gunn and his essay, "Why I Am Not Radical Enough." This marvelous piece is almost beyond parody. Gunn, a teacher of rhetorical studies at the University of Texas, describes how he has moderated his teaching style now that "we live in an environment that no longer protects academic freedom." You must read it all.
Those zany petition-signers over at TDS now number 265!! Nearly a quarter of the list are from some of the less populated corners of academia, like Black Studies, Women's Studies, Latino Studies, Native American Studies, Peace Studies, Ethnic Studies, Islamic Studies, and Mount Si High School. For those PB readers who can't seem to get enough of the TDS petition, we've opened up a bit of our academic database to generate a webpage with handy informational links for each TDS signatory. Enjoy.
The TDS "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition gets some publicity over at Inside Higher Education, where Scott Jaschik writes a rather clumsy but mercifully brief attempt to present the left's "O, my daughter! O, my ducats!" dilemma over Churchill. As is often the case, the comments to the IHE essay are more interesting.
... meanwhile, Sherman Dorn (Associate Professor, Education, University of South Florida), does a bang-up job eviscerating the logic of the TDS petition. Addressing point 2 of the TDS petition (that the investigating committee's report showed "a near-obsessive interest in dissecting a small number of paragraphs and footnotes from an otherwise "impressive" and "unusually high volume" of academic work, an analysis that virtually guaranteed the discovery of errors, misrepresentations, and inconsistencies even as it reaffirmed the validity of several "general points" and a core of "historical truth""), Dorn responds:
Can one find research misconduct in the details of footnote use? Maybe it's my bias as an historian, trained in linking arguments to primary sources, but I have to say yes. There are two issues here, one of substance and a second of proportionality. As an historian, I should be insulted that someone calls a methodological interest in references "near-obsessive," but I simply find it sad. How else should we work? The second issue is one of proportionality—was there enough "misconduct" given the scope of Churchill's writings? I'm not sure if we read the same report—the scholars' description of errors went to the heart of Churchill's argument about the behavior of the U.S. military, among other things. Nor is this a matter of ordinary mistakes (which we all make) and which most of us are willing to acknowledge. When confronted with the errors, Churchill could have come clean and said, "I was terribly wrong in these instances." But that was not his response.
Incidentally, in another blog entry, Professor Dorn points to some contextual sleight-of-hand in "Spanking Stanley Fish."
From our Probably Just a Coincidence department: The
Update: It's amazing we overlooked this: Snapple points out that Bill Ayers, Diana Oughton's boyfriend way back then, is one of the signers of the TDS petition. Ayers (University of Illinois) was also one of the founders of the Weather Underground. Also of interest: Jesse Lemisch, another TDS petition signatory, says the Weather Underground is making a comeback (he also has some uncomplimentary things to say about Ayers).
The most recent iteration of the TDS petition features 248 signatures, including one apparently from Michael Pyshnov, an erstwhile University of Toronto PhD student who alleges his professor-supervisor plagiarized his research work. We'd find it interesting to see the logic behind his signing the TDS petition.
Incidentally, someone needs to tell K. Jahi Adisa (currently the first name on the list) that all the other signers have listed the institute of higher learning with which they are presently affiliated, rather than the one from which they got a degree. We're sure this was a matter of honest confusion, and not because "University of Connecticut" sounded so much better than "Quinebaug Valley Community College."
Also incidentally, twice as many Hamilton College professors have signed the petition as have CU professors (4 vs. 2).
We missed this Daily Camera guest editorial Saturday: CU instructor Ursula Lindqvist foresees dismantling of CU's Ethnic Studies department
With [Ward] Churchill's dismissal and [his wife and fellow CU professor Natsu Taylor] Saito's impending departure to Georgia State University, the American Indian Studies program at CU is effectively being dismantled. A small program cannot lose two senior scholars in a single year without devastating consequences.Um, maybe Lindqvist didn't read the report, but Churchill has been shown unequivocally to be a plagiarist and an historical fraud. Jettisoning him hurts academic freedom how? From the cheap seats we're sitting in, the scoreboard reads Academic Integrity 1, Fraud 0.
How is this not a threat to academic freedom?
Law Professor Stanley Fish makes the point virtually everyone else seems to be missing about "academic freedom"
[I]n fact, academic freedom has nothing to do with content. It is not a subset of the general freedom of Americans to say anything they like (so long as it is not an incitement to violence or is treasonous or libelous). Rather, academic freedom is the freedom of academics to study anything they like; the freedom, that is, to subject any body of material, however unpromising it might seem, to academic interrogation and analysis.
Academic freedom means that if I think that there may be an intellectual payoff to be had by turning an academic lens on material others consider trivial — golf tees, gourmet coffee, lingerie ads, convenience stores, street names, whatever — I should get a chance to try. If I manage to demonstrate to my peers and students that studying this material yields insights into matters of general intellectual interest, there is a new topic under the academic sun and a new subject for classroom discussion.
We couldn't help but be tickled (and informed) by this image currently on TDS signatory Michael Vocino's blog entry promoting the TDS petition. The slogan is "Smash fascism and racism"; We could suggest something more appropriate to the image: "Just say no to fascism", "Fascism: It's what's for dinner" or even "This is your brain on fascism." What's odd is fascism is a collectivist, ie, socialist, ie, leftist ideology, so why is a leftist like Vocino urging discarding one of the extreme ends of his own ideology—and with such an inept image?
What the image really seems to say is "recycle fascism and racism", which the left's nanny-state aspirations and enforced "affirmative action" have certainly succeeded in doing. This may be, in fact, the only recycling program that actually works.
The TDS "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition continues to steamroll through the weekend, with 219 at last glance (up from 191 yesterday). The 219 academics include 15 non-US signers (who no doubt have a thorough grasp of the concepts and principles involved), three "independent scholars" of uncertain origin (and scholarship, for that matter), and one high school librarian up in Washington.
After two days, the TDS "Unfire Ward Churchill" petition has 191 signers, but still only 37 of David Horowitz' "Dangerous Professors" have joined the gang. It seems that with the exception of DU itself (24 signatories), the farther away from Denver a university is, the more likely its faculty are to sign up. What's at least as interesting is the conspicuous absence of some other notable Denver names on the list, names like George Tinker (Iliff School of Theology) and Glenn Morris (
DUCU-Denver) and Emma Perez (CU), not to mention Churchill coprophage Tom Mayer (CU). We're sure they'll get around to it soon.
Apropos to virtually nothing, we found this undated plea on this website's guestbook log:
Jacqueline LaskyUpdate: Taking a suggestion from Snapple (yes, we're sometimes that foolish) we googled "jacqueline lasky." From this CV we found in our e-meanderings, it appears that Jacqueline Lasky is now Jacqueline B. Palmer-Lasky, doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, and if that's true, then we surmise that the above-quoted guestbook entry is from around 1995 or 1996, when Lasky was working on her bachelor's degree in Political Science at CU. A quick review of the titles of her published papers suggests strongly (albeit sadly) that the comprachicos have completed their job on Ms. Palmer-Lasky, and that one may read her work without fear of encountering actual scholarship. BTW: we learn from this slide presentation on the Presidency (taken from a 2002 class Lasky taught) that "80% of the laws originate from the Executive." We did not know that.
currently in Colorado, orignially from Kailua, HI
I am writing my senior political science honors thesis on the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement. I need as much infor- mation as possible. My advisors are Glen Morris and Ward Churchill, both were involved in the People's Tribunal and are currently in Colorado. Please send me anything and everything that is relavent, both current and historical. I will be back in Hawaii in December/January and would be interested in interviewing people for my honors thesis. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!
BTW: More than a third of David Horowitz' "100 most dangerous professors" have signed the petition (36 of the original 108), which we prefer to see as an indication that more than 70 of the petition's signers were previously unnoticed. We take back what we've said about self-identification; sometimes it's a good thing. Also BTW: We count only six academics from mathematics and other "hard sciences" on the signers list.
Update: The Denver Post has an article about the petition containing a single fact not available here—and that fact is wrong, to whit, the DP's subhead says "Seventy of those tabbed in a book as 'dangerous academics' say CU's acts are a threat to freedom," when in reality, of the 168 current signatories, only 36 are on Horowitz' list.
* Despite the escalating signature count, only 36 of Horowitz' "dangerous professors" have signed the petition so far. We're noticing a growing number of self-described "independent scholars" and alleged academics from other countries (Turkey, Canada, U.K., and Italy among them) are signing.
OT: at least 80 Wisconsin state legistators are calling for the firing of 9-11 conspiracy theorist and parttime Islamic Studies professor Kevin Barrett.
Professor Dean Saitta has commented on our posting of Saitta's email search for willing signatories to an "unfire ward churchill" statement; the comment bears better exposure here on our main page. We quote, in full:
Hi all—I'll do this only once and in the interest of full disclosure. The email accompanying the TDS Churchill statement was written by me for our faculty here at the University of Denver, for whom I serve as Faculty Senate president. It was assumed to be confidential, but shame on me for thinking that anything is confidential in the electronic world. The TDS statement is authored "by committee". It draws on numerous sources including the independent thoughts of the 101. No doubt there are convergences with thoughts expressed in other sources that were not consulted, since people at times do converge in their thinking. I'm prepared to have scorn heaped on both the statement and the prefatory email. If anyone wants to contact me personally for a civil and non-anonymous conversation about the issues at stake here, my email address is email@example.com. My scholarship and teaching portfolio is available for full public scrutiny at the DU Portfolio Community, so that you can better evaluate my "dangerousness" and "postmodern-ness" if not my "aging hippiness". I am deeply conflicted about Ward Churchill’s work and style for many of the same reasons that others are. As an anthropologist who has worked and collaborated with "real" Indians, I'm particularly interested in "indigenous" philosophies of science and history—-the sorts of things that Elizabeth Cook-Lynn is interested in, some of whose work is featured on this website. Elizabeth's thoughts on the Churchill matter, in fact, partly inform the next to last sentence of the TDS statement--specifically, her statement that "Native studies has been badly served by much of what goes on in the academic world". This "bad service" includes not only the work of Ward Churchill, but also the work of the CU investigative committee. As noted, the issues here run very deep if you can get past the fatigues, sunglasses, bad attitude, and problematic scholarship of CU's most famous employee. Very best to all, Dean.
From our Some Small Hope for the Left department: A Colorado Daily letter to the editor re: Ward Churchill (first letter)
So yes, Mr. [Ken] Bonetti is correct that we must remain vigilant in maintaining academic freedom in our classrooms. To that end we must defeat the militant Neo-Con agenda that seeks to transform our colleges into the Neo-Con equivalent of Hamas training grounds. But Mr. Bonetti undermines his cause in coming to the defense of Ward Churchill. Bonetti frequently uses the pejorative “Churchill-haters” to demonize any and all that agree with the position that Ward should be terminated. Then Bonetti slyly suggests that Churchill is a victim of those that “detest free expression, and liberals.”...and another CU professor steps up with a letter to the editor at the Boulder Daily Camera (fifth letter)
Uh, gee whiz, Ken; let's examine the doctrine of free expression. In the scholarly context, without any doubt this means that you are permitted to freely express views based upon valid and reproducible facts. Churchill never did that. He copied others' work and claimed it as his own. He made up false data and reported it as fact. He put forth hypothesis as proven theory while knowingly supporting the flawed theory with lies. In academic terms, Ward Churchill is what we would call a bastard. In a more general sense, he's a worthless bastard.
Uncle Ward is not a “dissident scholar,” he's a liar. Uncle Ward is not a victim of the radical-right; he's a victim of his own demise. Uncle Ward has not been skewered by “dubious logic,” he's been lynched by is own plagiarism. The firing of Uncle Ward was not a “foregone conclusion,” it was a long overdue result.
Sometimes, Ken, the Neo-Cons get it right even when their motives are suspect. Ward Churchill is neither a liberal nor a victim. He is a snake-oil salesman. While that might make him an attraction under the big-top, it doesn't come close to the standards required of a tenured professor.
For 10 years Churchill engaged in the most egregious academic behaviors, fabrication and research misconduct. What has been CU's response? Churchill, until his "little Eichmann essay" attracted public attention, had been consistently rewarded by CU with salary and status. Even now, CU leadership is attempting to cover up its lack of legitimate academic processes, saying "the suggestion that the university's ethnic studies department is in some way responsible for, or deficient, because of the investigation of research misconduct of one of its faculty members is ... unfounded. (From recommendation of the interim chancellor with regard to investigation of research misconduct, June 26, 2006.)
Unfounded? That is hard to swallow. The independent committee investigating Churchill's behavior concluded "there is very little about the present situation that is not foreshadowed by developments across the last 15 years. For us, the indignation now exhibited by some university actors about Professor Churchill's work appears disingenuous, as they and their predecessors are the ones who decided to hire him."
Not only hire him, but promote and reward him. Recall that until January 2005, Churchill was the chairman of the Ethic Studies Department.
What concerns me most for CU is not whether Churchill stays or goes, but whether genuine academic standards will replace the unprincipled pandering to the politics of the moment that have characterized this case from day one.
We somehow missed one of the best and most succinct editorials on the Churchill burlesque, a failure we'll remedy right now: 'Deafening Silence' from the July 7 Daily Camera
We have a simple question for the defenders of Ward Churchill: What do you think ? What's your personal view — as a scholar, an engaged citizen, or simply an individual human being — about the charges of research misconduct leveled against Churchill?
It's astonishing, after so many months, that Churchill's supporters remain almost completely silent on this question. They've renewed their counterattack in the past week, following Chancellor Phil DiStefano's recommended that Churchill be fired and the professor's appeal to the Privilege and Tenure Committee. And once again, they have almost nothing to say about the charges that Churchill fabricated information, plagiarized the work of other sources and committed other serious acts of research misconduct.
While we're uncertain whether the "unfire Churchill" movement is getting anywhere beyond the emailboxes of DU/CU academics, the mostly ignored "Reinstate Professor Thomas Klocek" petition continues to gather steam. (our coverage of the Klocek-DePaul University conflagration is spotty, at best; for a complete (and inarguably the best) coverage, visit Marathon Pundit, and FIRE.)
'The mentor became the tormentor': Rhonda Kelly talks to Grant Crowell about her sister's stormy marriage to Ward Churchill
Rhonda: [I]n 1996- that would have been a year, less than a year after their marriage, Leah came back to Winnipeg to attend some university courses and at that time she had revealed that she was contemplating leaving the marriage because of a marital affair that Ward had- I’m not sure how, exactly, she found out about it but she did, she had confirmed it with the other party....both video and audio of the interview are also available.
Grant: That’s pretty early, that’s just a year after they were married?
'Teachers for a Democratic Society' call for CU to unfire Churchill
An anonymous source tells us an email is currently making the rounds among academics seeking signatories to a statement calling on CU to reverse its decision to fire Ward Churchill.
Here's the full text of the statement as reported to PB (careful readers will note that the statement is an almost word-for-word replication of Churchill's own response to CU's latest action) [update: a second academic source who also received the email informs us that the email had prefatory remarks by University of Denver professor Dean Saitta, which we've added as the italicized portion of the quote below. Saitta appears to have been the author and sender of the complete email]:
Dear Colleagues--We cannot find this statement on the website of Teachers for a Democratic Society (although judging by what is on the site, as well as by its list of members—which includes Dean Saitta—one might easily assume that the statement is at least in conformity with the organization's agenda), so we've contacted the site's webmaster for confirmation that it is, in fact, circulating the statement; we'll keep you posted.
For several reasons I won't go into here I was among those maligned by David Horowitz in his book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. As a consequence of being listed in that book--and given other contemporary assaults on the professiorate by people much smarter than Horowitz-- the diverse and motley bunch that is the “101” have had lots of interesting email conversations about the state of academic freedom in America. This led to the creation of an organization and website called "Teachers for a Democratic Society" (but it could have been called any number of things along that line), and formation of a group to plan a conference on academic freedom to be held at City University of New York in 2007.
We've recently produced the statement about the Ward Churchill affair that I provide below. This statement is looking for signatories beyond the 101. It is starting to circulate within the academic professions. I've sent it to other faculty senate presidents in Colorado who are circulating it among their faculties. It will get sent to the CU administration and local and national newspapers that have been tracking the Churchill story. It will be posted along with signatories' names on the TDS website, and perhaps elsewhere.
I don't know what the sentiment about the Churchill decision is among us. The 101 is less concerned with the specifics of Churchill's scholarship, politics, and allegedly bad "attitude" (something he got hammered for in the CU investigative committee's report) than we are with the threat the decision to fire him poses to academic freedom and activist scholarship in America. Many of the 101 have read the investigative committee's report and found it deeply problematic. I myself have several substantive problems with it that go beyond what we identify in our statement. The statement captures only the main points of unanimity among the 101.
If you would like to sign on to this statement, please let me know and I'll add your name to the list of supporters. Hope everyone is having a good summer.
[address information for Dean Saitta removed]
16 July 2006
To Whom It May Concern:
As members of academic professions committed to the principle of academic freedom, we deplore the procedures and recommendations of the University of Colorado in the case of Professor Ward Churchill. Responding to a public outcry against Professor Churchill's constitutionally-protected free speech, the administration of the University of Colorado appointed a special committee to investigate the character and quality of Churchill's scholarship. The committee recommended his dismissal, a recommendation that is supported by university administrators.
The case against Professor Churchill is flawed on multiple contextual, procedural, and substantive grounds. Some of these are recognized by the university's own investigative committee. The committee's final report communicates a profound "disquiet" about the political motivations for the inquiry. Similarly, it worries about the fairness and legitimacy of a process that has the university's interim Chancellor serving as formal complainant against Professor Churchill while he's also positioned as prosecutor and judge.
In addition to these misgivings about context and process, the report contains other substantive problems. These include (1) an unreasonably broad and elastic definition of "research misconduct"; (2) a near-obsessive interest in dissecting a small number of paragraphs and footnotes from an otherwise "impressive" and "unusually high volume" of academic work, an analysis that virtually guaranteed the discovery of errors, misrepresentations, and inconsistencies even as it affirmed the validity of several "general points" and a core of "historical truth"; and (3) a failure to fully appreciate the "scholar activist" and "public intellectual" roles-roles that, on balance, expand and enrich the academic and journalistic enterprises-that Professor Churchill was clearly expected to fill when hired by the University of Colorado.
The actions of the University of Colorado in this case constitute a serious threat to academic freedom. They indicate that public controversy is dangerous and potentially lethal to the careers of those who engage it. They suggest that professors-tenured and untenured alike-serve at the pleasure of politicians and pundits. They call into question standards of scholarship and peer review at Colorado's flagship institution. They endanger not only those scholars working in that area where historical inquiry, critical social commentary, and political activism intersect-an area that defines the true locus of academic freedom in an open and democratic society-but also those historically disenfranchised "others" who are struggling to have their perspectives and programs represented in, and legitimized by, the academic mainstream.
Thus, for a variety of reasons that go well beyond the scholarship and politics of a particular individual, we urge the University of Colorado to reverse its decision to fire Professor Ward Churchill.
Teachers for a Democratic Society
In her essay "Lesson of Churchill fiasco: Indian studies needs clear standards", Professor Elizabeth Cook-Lynn seems to have a good grasp of the scandal that is Ward Churchill:
What it all means to ethnic studies is fairly predictable, but what it means to Indian studies, always the ''orphan'' of academia as the late Vine Deloria Jr. named it, is much more frightening. For those Indian scholars who have spent the last 30 years developing what they call an ''empowerment model'' of education at U.S. universities across the land and particularly in the West, this Churchill matter has ushered in what might become a shameful period inherent in the predictable and necessary Churchill disgrace....but then falls into the very hole she just identified:
Masquerading as an Indian, professionally engaging in an ''enrollment'' fiasco with a Cherokee tribe, marching in the streets of Denver as a member in good standing of the American Indian Movement, using other scholars' work as his own and interpreting his own version of history from an unfettered imagination, professor Churchill has disgraced himself and the people he presumes to represent. The shame of this fiasco is that the alternative historical narrative of America, which Churchill has claimed as his own research domain, does not have to be exaggerated or falsified. It is there for anyone to see and recount in all its bloody reality.
Indeed, the awful historical experience of American Indians of the last 500 years is a verifiable history of genocide and disenfranchisement and bare survival. The crimes of identity theft and academic lying perpetuated by Churchill are not just a matter of disrespect for an emerging discipline, as the committee suggests. They are in danger of becoming institutionalized if the University of Colorado does not understand that American Indian studies as interpreted through the ideological filter of the colonial paradigm of ethnic studies provides the impetus for such crimes.
I would like to say that the Churchill matter will not affect Indian studies and that the substantial academic work that Native scholars have achieved in the past decades will continue. Yet that is for the future to behold. We in Indian studies have often worried that our autonomous academic disciplinary development over the past 30 years has not been taken seriously by related disciplines, and we therefore have often failed to embrace ethnic studies because of its colonial ambiguity and comparative approach.
Grant Crowell comes through again! Here he provides video (part one and part two) of Ward Churchill's keynote speech at the Mid-Atlantic Anarchist Bookfair. And for those who've seen enough of Professor Churchill, here's part one and part two audio only.
In part one, Churchill spends most of his rhetorical capital manipulating the "German university" model into something that resembles CU Boulder (i.e., an institution that employs frauds, liars, and plagiarizers to babysit the nation's older children).
Another academic boil self-lances
We wanted to dislike this lady, perhaps even make fun of her, but for some reason we just can't. And besides, she has the only report (however brief) we can find of Ward Churchill's keynote speaking engagment at the Mid-Atlantic Anarchist Book Fair recently.
Excerpt (but make sure you read the entire blog entry):
Seeing Ward Churchill speak reminded me of hpw much a wingnut he can be, which of course reminded me of how much of a wingnut i am. Christian Parenti is pompous and i kind of liked it, and no one has ever given a workshop on the zapatistas i have walked away from feeling empowered or good. But oh well.
AP: Churchill appeals dismissal decision
...but the Rocky Mountain News has a slightly more informative report on the appeal
...and we missed this one entirely, but lucky for us Drunkablog didn't: 'Churchill appeals suggestion that CU fire him.' Um..... suggestion?
OT: Now, why did this fellow claim to be an Indian in the first place? [link fixed]
We're hesitant to give this bonehead any more publicity, but on second thought, what the hell: 9/11 conspiracy professor says Osama Bin Laden's "been dead for years"
Back in 2003, the self-described "Progressive Christian" magazine Sojourners unintentionally summarized what ails higher education in "The University of Social Justice" (free registration required)
Universities experience enormous pressure to deliver a marketable product. But higher education is called to be more than a conduit for career-making. Our students are more than clients. Classically, education was meant for the whole person—for "full human flourishing." As University of Chicago professor Martha Nussbaum notes, U.S. higher education has been devoted particularly to the "cultivation of the whole human being for the functions of citizenship and life generally." At the core, universities are more than service providers with privileged clients. We are moral actors shaping the character and justice of society.