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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

American Indian Professor the Ward Churchill Academic Freedom Controversy

1 Prof quits chair over 9/11 (News Story)
2 Text of Ward Churchill's statement
3 Text of Colorado House of Representatives Resolution
4 Text of Governor Owens' letter on Churchill
5 N.Y. college cancels talk (News Story)
6 AAUP Statement on Professor Ward Churchill
Prof quits chair over 9/11
By Howard Pankratz
Denver Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill,
criticized for comparing victims of the September 2001
attack on the World Trade Center to Nazis, resigned
Monday as chair of the school's ethnic-studies
Todd Gleeson, dean of CU-Boulder's College of Arts and
Sciences, accepted the resignation. Churchill will
continue to teach in the department of ethnic studies.
"I believe it is in the best interests of both the
university and professor Churchill that he step away
from his administrative role in the department at this
time," Gleeson said. Churchill's term as department
chair was to expire in June.
His salary will drop to $94,242 from $114,032, said
Pauline Hale, a CU spokeswoman.
In his letter to Gleeson, Churchill said that he is
proud of his administrative accomplishments but that
the present political climate made him a liability in
representing his department and the university as an
He had compared the World Trade Center victims to
"little Eichmanns," after Adolf Eichmann, who managed
the Nazi plan to exterminate Jews.
Earlier Monday, Churchill said in a statement issued
through his wife, Natsu Saito, that he hadn't compared
all of the World Trade Center victims to Nazis, just
the "technicians" who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"I have never characterized all the Sept. 11 victims as
Nazis. What I said was that the 'technocrats of empire'
working in the World Trade Center were the equivalent
of 'little Eichmanns.' Thus, it was obviously not
directed to the children, janitors, food-service
workers, firemen and random passers-by killed in the
9-1-1 attack," Churchill said.
Churchill said he isn't a "defender" of the Sept. 11
attacks but simply pointed out that if U.S. foreign
policy results in massive death and destruction abroad,
"we cannot feign innocence when some of the destruction
is returned."
In the essay "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of
Roosting Chickens," Churchill said the Pentagon was a
military target, "pure and simple."
"As to those in the World Trade Center ... Well,
really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough,
they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a
break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very
heart of America's global financial empire - the
'mighty engine of profit' to which the military
dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved."
Lawrence Pacheco, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mark Udall,
D-Colo., wasn't satisfied with Churchill's
"There were no legitimate targets for the 9/11 attacks.
Thousands of innocent people were killed in New York
City, Washington and Pennsylvania. There is no way to
rationalize those attacks," Pacheco said.
Churchill is scheduled to speak on a panel Thursday at
Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., where his comments
have upset students, residents and relatives of 9/11
Kathy Trant, whose husband, Dan, died in the attacks,
plans to confront Churchill when he speaks in New York
on Thursday.
Dan Trant was a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, which
lost 658 employees.
"I want to ask him why he feels the way he does," Kathy
Trant said Monday. "It is just hurtful, and I think
this man is looking for attention."
Richard Pecorella, whose fiancée, Karen Juday, was an
administrative assistant at Cantor Fitzgerald, said he
is outraged.
"I feel it is almost defamation of character of these
people," he said Monday. "This is not an ethnic issue
or freedom-of-speech issue. This is someone outright
saying these people deserved to be murdered because
they worked for corporate America. And he compares them
to Nazis; that's outrageous."
Churchill's comments have brought calls for apologies
and demands that he be fired.
He lashed out at recent media coverage of his essay,
saying it had resulted in death threats and defamation
of character.
Shoba S. Rajgopal, an instructor in the ethnic-studies
department, said Churchill's resignation isn't pleasing
"He's very sad the whole department is being dragged
down by this," she said. "He did not want the whole
department tarnished. A lot of students are upset about
him stepping down. I suppose there are students who
feel the other way, too."
Speaking Monday night, New York Gov. George Pataki said
he would tell Hamilton College officials they made a
mistake in inviting Churchill.
"I am appalled first that this person with such a
warped sense of right and wrong and of humanity teaches
at a higher education institution anywhere in America,"
the Republican governor said. "But I am equally, or
perhaps even more, appalled that Hamilton College in
this state has invited that person to participate in a
forum. It is wrong. There is a difference between
freedom of speech and inviting a bigoted terrorist
Staff writer Dave Curtin and The Associated Press
contributed to this report.
Staff writer Howard Pankratz can be reached at
303-820-1939 or hpankratz@denverpost.com.
Text of Churchill statement
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Here is the text of a statement distributed to the
media Monday on behalf of University of Colorado
professor Ward Churchill. Spelling and punctuation have
been left unaltered.
Press Release - Ward Churchill January 31, 2005
In the last few days there has been widespread and
grossly inaccurate media coverage concerning my
analysis of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon, coverage that has
resulted in defamation of my character and threats
against my life. What I actually said has been lost,
indeed turned into the opposite of itself, and I hope
the following facts will be reported at least to the
same extent that the fabrications have been.
* The piece circulating on the internet was developed
into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. Most
of the book is a detailed chronology of U.S. military
interventions since 1776 and U.S. violations of
international law since World War II. My point is that
we cannot allow the U.S. government, acting in our
name, to engage in massive violations of international
law and fundamental human rights and not expect to reap
the consequences.
* I am not a "defender"of the September 11 attacks, but
simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results
in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot
feign innocence when some of that destruction is
returned. I have never said that people "should" engage
in armed attacks on the United States, but that such
attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of
unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting
Robert F. Kennedy, said, "Those who make peaceful
change impossible make violent change inevitable."
* This is not to say that I advocate violence; as a
U.S. soldier in Vietnam I witnessed and participated in
more violence than I ever wish to see. What I am saying
is that if we want an end to violence, especially that
perpetrated against civilians, we must take the
responsibility for halting the slaughter perpetrated by
the United States around the world. My feelings are
reflected in Dr. King's April 1967 Riverside speech,
where, when asked about the wave of urban rebellions in
U.S. cities, he said, "I could never again raise my
voice against the violence of the oppressed . . .
without having first spoken clearly to the greatest
purveyor of violence in the world today - my own
* In 1996 Madeleine Albright, then Ambassador to the UN
and soon to be U.S. Secretary of State, did not dispute
that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of
economic sanctions, but stated on national television
that "we" had decided it was "worth the cost." I mourn
the victims of the September 11 attacks, just as I
mourn the deaths of those Iraqi children, the more than
3 million people killed in the war in Indochina, those
who died in the U.S. invasions of Grenada, Panama and
elsewhere in Central America, the victims of the
transatlantic slave trade, and the indigenous peoples
still subjected to genocidal policies. If we respond
with callous disregard to the deaths of others, we can
only expect equal callousness to American deaths.
* Finally, I have never characterized all the September
11 victims as "Nazis." What I said was that the
"technocrats of empire" working in the World Trade
Center were the equivalent of "little Eichmanns." Adolf
Eichmann was not charged with direct killing but with
ensuring the smooth running of the infrastructure that
enabled the Nazi genocide. Similarly, German
industrialists were legitimately targeted by the
* It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military
target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World
Trade Center. Following the logic by which U.S. Defense
Department spokespersons have consistently sought to
justify target selection in places like Baghdad, this
placement of an element of the American "command and
control infrastructure" in an ostensibly civilian
facility converted the Trade Center itself into a
"legitimate" target. Again following U.S. military
doctrine, as announced in briefing after briefing,
those who did not work for the CIA but were nonetheless
killed in the attack amounted to no more than
"collateral damage." If the U.S. public is prepared to
accept these "standards" when the are routinely applied
to other people, they should be not be surprised when
the same standards are applied to them.
* It should be emphasized that I applied the "little
Eichmanns" characterization only to those described as
"technicians." Thus, it was obviously not directed to
the children, janitors, food service workers, firemen
and random passers-by killed in the 9-1-1 attack.
According to Pentagon logic, were simply part of the
collateral damage. Ugly? Yes. Hurtful? Yes. And that's
my point. It's no less ugly, painful or dehumanizing a
description when applied to Iraqis, Palestinians, or
anyone else. If we ourselves do not want to be treated
in this fashion, we must refuse to allow others to be
similarly devalued and dehumanized in our name.
* The bottom line of my argument is that the best and
perhaps only way to prevent 9-1-1-style attacks on the
U.S. is for American citizens to compel their
government to comply with the rule of law. The lesson
of Nuremberg is that this is not only our right, but
our obligation. To the extent we shirk this
responsibility, we, like the "Good Germans" of the
1930s and '40s, are complicit in its actions and have
no legitimate basis for complaint when we suffer the
consequences. This, of course, includes me, personally,
as well as my family, no less than anyone else.
* These points are clearly stated and documented in my
book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, which
recently won Honorary Mention for the Gustavus Myer
Human Rights Award. for best writing on human rights.
Some people will, of course, disagree with my analysis,
but it presents questions that must be addressed in
academic and public debate if we are to find a real
solution to the violence that pervades today's world.
The gross distortions of what I actually said can only
be viewed as an attempt to distract the public from the
real issues at hand and to further stifle freedom of
speech and academic debate in this country.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Here is the text of House Joint Resolution 1011,
supporting victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks,
as adopted unanimously Wednesday by the Colorado House
of Representatives. (Capitalization is at it appears in
the resolution).
WHEREAS, The tragedy of September 11, 2001, marked one
of the darkest days in American history;
and WHEREAS, The terrorist attacks cost more than 3,000
innocent people their lives;
and WHEREAS, The pain of the families who lost loved
ones in the September 11, 2001, attacks is
and WHEREAS, The healing process for those who lost a
family member in the September 11, 2001, attacks is
still ongoing;
and WHEREAS, It is important for the people of Colorado
to aid in and support that healing process;
and WHEREAS, Professor Ward L. Churchill's essay, "Some
People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens"
related to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,
strikes an evil and inflammatory blow against America's
healing process;
and WHEREAS, Professor Churchill's essay contains a
number of statements and contentions that are
deplorable and do not reflect the values of the people
of the State of Colorado;
and WHEREAS, Professor Churchill's essay, which claims
that the victims at the World Trade Center were not
innocent, states, "As for those in the World Trade
Center, ... well, really, let's get a grip here, shall
we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But
Innocent, Gimme a break." And Professor Churchill goes
on to compare the innocent victims of the September 11,
2001, attacks to Adolph Eichmann, the man who executed
Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews during World War
and WHEREAS, The sentiment of these statements strikes
at the hearts of those who lost a loved one in the
World Trade Center attack;
and WHEREAS, The victims at the World Trade Center were
innocent in every sense of the word and should always
be remembered as innocent victims of an unprovoked
attack on America;
now, therefore, Be It Resolved by the House of
Representatives of the Sixty-fifth General Assembly of
the State of Colorado, the Senate concurring herein:
(1) That the General Assembly expresses its heartfelt
sympathy for the victims of the September 11, 2001,
tragedy and their families; and (2) That the General
Assembly commemorates the lives lost during the
September 11, 2001, attacks.
Be It Further Resolved, That copies of this Joint
Resolution be sent to University of Colorado President
Elizabeth Hoffman, the University of Colorado at
Boulder Chancellor's office, the University of Colorado
Board of Regents, and University of Colorado at Boulder
Department of Ethics Chairman Ward L. Churchill.
Text of Governor Owens' letter on Churchill
Tuesday, February 01, 2005 -
Here is the text of Gov. Bill Owens' letter Tuesday on
the subject of the controversy surrounding University
of Colorado ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill.
The letter was sent to the College Republicans at the
University of Colorado and its president, Isaiah
February 1, 2005
Dear Friends:
We have come to a teaching moment at the University of
Colorado. I applaud every person on the University of
Colorado campus who has come to speak out against the
indecent, insensitive and inappropriate comments and
writings of Ward Churchill.
All decent people, whether Republican or Democrat,
liberal or conservative, should denounce the views of
Ward Churchill. Not only are his writings outrageous
and insupportable, they are at odds with the facts of
history. The thousands of innocent people - and
innocent they were - who were murdered on September 11
were murdered by evil cowards. Indeed, if anyone could
possibly be compared to the evildoers of Nazi Germany,
it is the terrorists of the 21st century who have an
equally repugnant disregard for innocent human life.
No one wants to infringe on Mr. Churchill's right to
express himself. But we are not compelled to accept his
pro-terrorist views at state taxpayer subsidy nor under
the banner of the University of Colorado. Ward
Churchill besmirches the University and the excellent
teaching, writing and research of its faculty.
Ideas have consequences, and words have meaning. If
there is one lesson that we hope that all Coloradans
take from this sad case - and especially our students -
it is that civility and appropriate conduct are
important. Mr. Churchill's views are not simply anti-
American. They are at odds with simple decency, and
antagonistic to the beliefs and conduct of civilized
people around the world. His views are far outside the
mainstream of civil discourse and useful academic work.
His resignation as chairman of the Ethnic Studies
Department was a good first step. We hope that he will
follow this step by resigning his position on the
faculty of the University of Colorado.
Bill Owens
N.Y. college cancels talk
Ward Churchill, who quit as department chair over his
9/11 comments, insists he won't resign as teacher.
By Howard Pankratz
Denver Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Hamilton College in New York has canceled the panel
discussion featuring controversial University of
Colorado ethnic- studies professor Ward Churchill,
citing dozens of threats to the college and members of
the panel.
But 9/11 victims' relatives, who decry Churchill's
description of World Trade Center victims as "little
Eichmanns," say their protests were what forced the
school to reconsider.
Vige Barrie, director of media relations for the school
in Clinton, N.Y., said that "more than a hundred"
threats had been received and forwarded to local
The threats came as a result of the controversy that
erupted over an essay Churchill penned the day after
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, comparing workers in the
World Trade Center to Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi whom
Churchill describes as "a technocrat who made sure the
trains ran on time."
Churchill resigned Monday as chair of CU's ethnic-
studies department but will remain as a teaching
professor with a salary of $94,242.
On Tuesday, Gov. Bill Owens suggested that Churchill
resign his teaching post as well.
"Ideas have consequences, and words have meaning,"
Owens said in a written statement. "Mr. Churchill's
views are not simply anti-American. They are at odds
with simple decency. ... His resignation as chairman of
the ethnic-studies department was a good first step."
Churchill made it clear Tuesday that resigning as chair
was as far as he intended to go.
"I didn't want the job (as chair of the department)
anyway, so it's worked out really well," he said,
freeing him to concentrate on what he loves: teaching
and writing. As for the call of Owens, or anyone else
who would urge him to resign, Churchill said
emphatically: "I'm not going anywhere."
"I was doing my job," he said, because the essay is
sparking discourse and debate.
He is being misquoted, he said, and does not advocate
the violence of 9/11. His essay points out that because
the U.S. has a policy, he said, of dominating other
countries, the attacks were inevitable.
Meanwhile, he said, he will continue to do what he
lives for.
"Seeing light bulbs go on and seeing people as a result
of what I do connect the dots, I suppose it's akin to
the birthing process," he said. "I'm almost 60; I'm not
going to be hurtling myself over any barricades."
Tuesday afternoon, a throng of students and reporters
accompanied Churchill between classes on the CU-Boulder
campus. For every student who insulted Churchill as he
passed, more praised him.
"Professor Churchill is a fantastic writer, and I
wanted to be in an atmosphere where normal thought is
challenged," said Shaina Mille, 20, who says she
transferred to CU from New Orleans' Tulane University
because of him.
Other students criticized him.
"I totally support his First Amendment rights," said
Allison Sands, 18, who said she found his comments
"offensive and blasphemous" and that they should not be
supported by CU.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Hamilton College
president Joan Stewart said the school had done its
best "to protect what we hold most dear, the right to
speak, think and study freely. But there is a higher
responsibility that this institution carries, and that
is the safety and security of our students, faculty,
staff and the community in which we live."
Dan English, chief of police in Kirkland, N.Y., said
Hamilton has been compiling e-mails and phone calls.
The department's director of campus safety will be
forwarding them to English's department, the Oneida
County Sheriff's Department or the New York State
English said he hasn't seen the e-mails or heard the
calls, so he couldn't comment on their nature.
Lt. Tim McGraw of the CU Police Department said CU
detectives are aware of death threats against Churchill
and have taken precautions to protect Churchill and
those around him, including his students.
Some of the 9/11 families believe the real reason the
school canceled the event was because of the pressure
relatives brought on the school.
One critic of Hamilton College is Richard Pecorella,
whose fiancée, Karen Juday, was an administrative
assistant at Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 658
employees in the attack.
"I believe that the cancellation of Mr. Churchill was
from all the pressure put on your institution by the
families of 9/11, and it was the moral thing to do,"
Pecorella wrote Stewart on Tuesday. "You want to save
face by implying the death threats stopped this."
Staff writer Amy Herdy contributed to this report
Staff writer Howard Pankratz can be reached at
303-820-1939 or hpankratz@denverpost.com.
AAUP Statement on Professor Ward Churchill Controversy
We have witnessed an extraordinary outpouring of
criticism aimed both at Professor Ward Churchill of the
University of Colorado at Boulder, for his written
remarks describing victims of the attacks on September
11, 2001, as "little Eichmanns," and at the invitation
for him to speak at Hamilton College in New York.
Television commentators urged viewers to write to
Hamilton College to condemn what the professor had
written and the college's decision to invite him. More
than 6,000 e-mail messages were sent to Hamilton
College president Joan Hinde Stewart, who described
them as "ranging from angry to profane, obscene,
violent." The governor of New York wrote a letter of
protest to President Stewart and in a dinner banquet
described Professor Churchill as a "bigoted terrorist
supporter." The governor of Colorado called on the
professor to resign from the University of Colorado
and, one day later, called for his dismissal. Professor
Churchill reports that he and his wife have received
more than 100 death threats. The prospect of violence
at Hamilton College led the administration there to
cancel the visit.
The American Association of University Professors,
since its founding in 1915, has been committed to
preserving and advancing principles of academic freedom
in this nation's colleges and universities. Freedom of
faculty members to express views, however unpopular or
distasteful, is an essential condition of an
institution of higher learning that is truly free. We
deplore threats of violence heaped upon Professor
Churchill, and we reject the notion that some
viewpoints are so offensive or disturbing that the
academic community should not allow them to be heard
and debated. Also reprehensible are inflammatory
statements by public officials that interfere in the
decisions of the academic community.
Should serious questions arise about Professor
Churchill's fitness to continue at the University of
Colorado -- the only acceptable basis for terminating a
continuing or tenured faculty appointment -- those
questions should be judged by a faculty committee that
affords the essential safeguards of due process, as
required by the university's and the Board of Regents'
official policies. Special care must be taken, however,
to avoid applying harsher standards in such a case, or
following less rigorous procedures, because of the
statements made by Professor Churchill about the tragic
events of September 11, 2001. While members of the
academic community are free to condemn what they
believe are repugnant views expressed by a faculty
member, any charges arising from such statements must
be judged by the same standards and procedures that
would apply to statements unrelated to the terrorist
attacks and the loss of life on that fateful day. We
must resist the temptation to judge such statements
more harshly because they evoke special anguish among
survivors and families of the September 11 victims. The
critical test of academic freedom is its capacity to
meet even the most painful and offending statements. A
college or university campus is, of all places in our
society, the most appropriate forum for the widest
range of viewpoints.


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