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Pirateballerina is now in possession of the complete email version of Professor Saito's "Update" as well as the documentation (listed and linked at the end of the email) to which it refers:
BEGIN SAITO'S EMAIL "UPDATE"
Dear friends and colleagues,
My apologies for not keeping you updated on a more regular basis regarding the ongoing efforts to discredit and/or fire Ward Churchill. Although the national media coverage has abated, the local media continues to attack Ward relentlessly and much of our energy has been absorbed into the current phase of the University's "investigation."
There are a number of recent developments:
Status of the "Investigation":
As you know, in response to the political pressure brought on the University in late January, Interim Chancellor Philip DiStefano formed an ad hoc committee to examine Ward's "every word," to see if he had crossed some mythical boundary of free speech. In late March the ad hoc committee concluded the obvious - that what Ward had written or said publicly was all constitutionally protected expression.
In the meantime, however, it was open season in the media, where all manner of allegations have been thrown about. At first we attempted to respond to them, but soon realized that (a) Ward's responses were not being reported accurately, if at all, and (b) as soon as one round of spurious allegations was rebutted, another took its place. It is an endless game, pursued by forces with apparently endless resources.
Not surprisingly, the University felt it had to take some action against Ward in retaliation for his political positions, regardless of the First Amendment and principles of academic freedom. The Interim Chancellor's committee thus declared it had an "obligation" to investigate the allegations which had emerged and referred several of these to the University's Standing Committee on Research Misconduct (SCRM). The SCRM is currently reviewing charges of "academic and ethnic fraud" (discussed in more detail below) and is scheduled to make its initial report by June 23. The SCRM can decide to send any of these allegations to the Privilege and Tenure Committee for further investigation and possible punitive action, including dismissal.
Ward has continued to teach, finishing not only the spring semester but teaching a condensed "Maymester" course as well. He won a 2005 teaching award, voted on by students, but its sponsor (the alumni association) is withholding the award "pending the outcome of the investigation," despite the fact that the allegations have nothing to do with teaching.
Illegitimacy of the SCRM's Current Investigation:
On its face, the continuation of this investigation in any form is unconstitutional, arising as it does from the University's blatant
attempt to suppress Ward's constitutionally protected speech. The pretextual nature of the inquiry is further illustrated by the fact that the current allegations are (a) factually unsupported, (b) all based on conduct well over a decade old and, in some cases, previously investigated by the University itself, and (c) come from political adversaries of extremely questionable credibility (to be charitable).
I take the liberty of quoting recent e-mail correspondence from Noam Chomsky to a CU employee which I think embodies the response the University should have made under the circumstances:
Without reservations, I support Churchill's right to free speech and academic freedom, and regard the attack on him as scurrilous-and by now craven cowardice as well, as the state authorities and other critics pretend that the issue is (suddenly) his academic credentials and ethnic origins. That's a real disgrace.
As for his work, I've never read this article [on 9/11] and have no interest in doing so-in fact, would not do so as a matter of principle in the present context, for reasons that go back to the Enlightenment origins of defense of freedom of speech. I was interviewed by Colorado newspapers, and told them basically what I've just written. I was then asked what I thought of his earlier work, and told the truth: that I found it serious and important, stressing again that these comments have precisely nothing to do with the outrageous events now underway.
I have no idea what the plagiarism and other issues are, [but] if the charges were serious, they would have been brought up before. For what it's worth, there's no indication of that in anything of his I read-that is, nothing more than is standard in scholarship. . . . .
Such matters are sometimes raised in the context of political persecution, by cowards who are desperately seeking to conceal what they are really doing. Seems pretty transparent in this case. Why now and not before?
Professor Noam Chomsky, e-mail correspondence of April 13, 2005
Needless to say, the University has not chosen a principled response of this sort. Despite the illegitimacy of the current process, Ward has
submitted to the SCRM a detailed response to each allegation. He has not yet released these responses publicly, preferring to give the
Committee a chance to consider them before they are tried in the press. I have, however, attached an excerpt of Ward's cover letter to the
Committee and some summary responses to the specific allegations.
The Allegations Currently Being Investigated:
Most offensive, of course, is the charge that Ward fraudulently misrepresented his American Indian identity in order to gain credibility for his scholarly work. First, it must be noted that in 1994 the same political adversaries (these are the people who also accuse Ward of being an FBI agent, a CIA operative, etc.) raised the same issue. At that time the University determined that Ward had legitimately self-identified as an American Indian for employment purposes.
So, the very existence of the current investigation raises interesting questions - is there a different standard of identity for research and employment? If so, what is it? Who gets to decide? And if one isn't informed of the standard to be applied, how could one fraudulently avoid compliance? The University has refused to answer these questions, apparently leaving it up to a randomly selected faculty committee to function as a racial purity board.
Again, the facts which are a matter of public record are being blatantly ignored. Ward has identified as American Indian since he was a small child, based on his family's understanding of its history. He has been recognized as such by the Indian community in Denver, as well as much broader American Indian communities, for decades. (One only need view his speech at CU broadcast on C-SPAN to see this.) And he is an enrolled associate (not honorary) member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, a status which requires confirmation of Cherokee descent by the Band's genealogist.
One of the many disturbing consequences of the University deciding that it can adjudicate one's "race" has been the toll taken on the United Keetoowah Band. Initially they responded accurately to inquiries - saying that Ward was an associate member - but were then bombarded by reporters and subjected to an unrelenting e-mail campaign of harassment. Eventually they attempted to allay this pressure by disavowing Ward. This forced him to counter with evidence of his enrollment which, in turn, pushed them into changing their position yet again. (Ward's statement on this question is attached.) In the meantime the Band's already meager resources have been diverted, preempting their delivery of social services and causing turmoil and division. Apparently this is acceptable "collateral damage" in the eyes of those attempting to silence Ward.
The SCRM is investigating two sets of "academic fraud" charges. One is misleadingly labeled "plagiarism," and I've attached a summary of Ward's responses on these claims.
The other is allegedly about Ward's interpretation of the U.S. Army's participation in the spreading of smallpox to Indians and about the implementation of "blood quantum" requirements pursuant to the 1887 General Allotment Act. Ward has provided the Committee with plenty of facts to back up his analysis but it's important to note that this is at most a dispute over historical interpretation, not fraud.
More significantly, these charges are part of an insidious attempt to discredit a particular line of criticism of the sanitized version of
American history which is generally taught. Ward, of course, is one of the most prolific scholars in this field; if his scholarship can be discredited, anyone who takes a similar position with respect to the U.S. government's treatment of American Indians will be vulnerable as well.
During this process, CU-Boulder's Department of Ethnic Studies has come under continuous attack. Our faculty, staff and students have been subjected to all manner of harassment, much of it explicitly racist. We have been targeted by local politicians as well as the likes of David Horowitz. Throughout this process, no University official has stepped forward to condemn the racism directed at the Department or to provide us with any support. I've attached an Open Letter from the Department describing some of this and including a sampling of the e-mails we have received.
Adrienne Anderson, a CU instructor in environmental studies and ethnic studies, has been terminated and her classes cancelled because of her success in exposing the environmentally devastating misconduct of corporations CU is closely affiliated with.
The City of Longmont has harassed and tried to fire one of its employees, Glenn Spagnuolo (not coincidentally one of our co-defendants
in the Columbus Day protests), for statements made on a radio talk show in connection with his support of Ward.
One of our students, Dustin Craun, is being prosecuted for attempting to read a statement on behalf of CU students at the February 3 "open meeting" of the CU Board of Regents. (By way of contrast, other CU students who recently chained themselves outside the Chancellor's office to protest sweatshops are not being prosecuted.)
Most significantly, Shareef Aleem, a Denver activist who was forcibly prevented by the police from speaking at the same Regents meeting is charged with felony assault and faces a 16-year prison term. My final attachment is Shareef's statement on this matter; Ward and I urge you to actively support Shareef's defense in any way you can.
The Big Picture
As Ward has said from the beginning, this is not about him; rather, he is the current target of opportunity in a much broader assault on freedom of political expression and action. Karl Rove is well known for his strategy of attacking the enemy's strongest point, not its weakest, and Ward is a strong one. If he can be silenced, who won't be?
In one sense it's part of the larger attempt to discredit all of the political movements of the 1960s and '70s which directly challenged the status quo. Young people who want to be politically active today are being told that all of those efforts failed; that only approved and symbolic (i.e., ineffective) forms of protest will be allowed.
It is also part of a pervasive movement to undermine critical thinking in educational institutions. Governor Owens and numerous Colorado legislators are active in Lynne Cheney's American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) and in David Horowitz' attempts to stifle "liberal" professors in the name of students' rights to "academic freedom." Academics around the country are being targeted, as evidenced by the recent "investigations" of Professor Joseph Massad and other Middle Eastern scholars at Columbia. As we have examined the purging of other intellectuals, the same patterns emerge - widespread media frenzy, endless rounds of unfounded allegations, a process designed to wear down those who advocate critical perspectives and discredit them by any means necessary.
The University of Colorado has capitulated to political pressure and there is no sign that it will not continue to do so. We cannot take any comfort in the fact that the University has acknowledged that Ward Churchill's speech is constitutionally protected. It is, in fact, far more dangerous to allow dissent to be silenced through the subterfuge of investigating various "frauds." The pressure continues; those who fueling the attacks, such as our local Clear Channel radio station, seem to have unlimited resources to spend on this campaign. So, we fully expect to face yet another "investigation" after the current allegations have been refuted -- at which point you'll likely be getting updates about our federal lawsuit.
The good news is that we have had amazing support at CU, in the Denver community, and around the country. Despite well-organized rightwing campaigns, Ward's e-mail has consistently been more supportive than not. Our students and the Ethnic Studies Department have remained strong despite all of the attempts to divide us. Tens of thousands of people have signed petitions of support, thousands have written letters, and numerous organizations of academics have denounced CU's investigation of Ward. Despite nothing but negative media spin, everywhere we go there is evidence of strong grassroots support, from security personnel to parking lot attendants, waiters, and random people on the street. As a Delta skycap told me last week, "you don't have to be clairvoyant to see through the bullsh*t."
Again, thank you for your interest and support. If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact
Natsu Taylor Saito
June 3, 2005
1. Excerpts from Ward Churchill cover letter to Standing Committee on Research Misconduct.
2. Ward Churchill Response to Statement of the United Keetoowah Band.
3. Ward Churchill Statement on allegations of "Academic Fraud"
4. Open Letter from Department of Ethnic Studies
5. Statement of Shareef Aleem
END SAITO'S EMAIL "UPDATE"