[Marxism] FW: Vine Deloria refuses honorary degree
JCraven at clark.edu
Thu May 27 11:01:14 MDT 2004
<mailto:DesireeAllen-Cruz at ctuir.com>
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 12:42 PM
Subject: Vine Deloria refuses honorary degree
Subject: Taking a Stand (leaders)
The Denver Post
Scholar: CU "honor" no compliment
By Diane Carman
Denver Post Columnist
Tuesday, May 25, 2004 -
Vine Deloria Jr. doesn't shrink from controversy.
The retired University of Colorado-Boulder history professor and author
of several books, including the bestselling "Custer Died for Your
Sins," testified for the defense in Russell Means' 1974 Wounded Knee
trial. He stood up to the state of Washington in the 1970s over the
bloody Indian fishing-rights conflict that finally forced the federal
government to reaffirm long-ignored treaties. And he has famously
criticized Christianity, which he calls "a religion at the end of its
So when the University of Colorado regents selected Deloria to receive
an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree this year, they were
prepared for him to be outspoken. But probably not at their own
Last week, the man Time magazine called one of the 11 most influential
thinkers of the 20th century refused the honorary degree. "It's no honor
to be connected to these people," he said. CU has demeaned itself.
"I am greatly disturbed by the actions of university officials and the
board of regents in such a transparent coverup of the alleged scandals
in the athletic department," he said in a letter to CU president
Elizabeth Hoffman." As a scholar, I am dismayed at the use of language
to obscure the facts and the intent to continue practices that reflect
badly on the university."
The final straw, he said in an interview, was the regents "recognizing
the parents of the football players and not saying a word about the
women who really suffered." He called it "an outrage."
Regent Susan Kirk was disappointed. "It's his right to decline," she
said. "But the bestowing of an honorary degree should be bigger than the
smaller issues we face from time to time."
To Deloria, though, the issues are huge. He said CU's effort to duck
responsibility in the recruiting scandal is just another example of a
shameful and increasingly common practice in America.
"Nobody in this society ever gets punished except the people at the
bottom, he said. "We're running amok in Iraq, but it turns out nobody
knew what was going on" in Abu Ghraib prison. "The Catholic Church has
all this pedophile abuse, and none of the bishops knew what was
happening." Similarly, he said, coaches and administrators at CU claim
they didn't know about the use of sex, drugs and alcohol to attract
football recruits. "That's no excuse. They should know what's going on.
None of them is willing to accept the blame." Deloria said that hiding
behind plausible deniability "only serves to increase the cynicism of
the people that higher-ups will always weasel out of their
responsibilities." The 71-year-old member of the Standing Rock Sioux
tribe clearly respects the significance of an honorary degree.
In March, when the regents announced that he had been selected, he
turned it down because he didn't think he'd done enough to deserve it.
"They talked me into accepting it," he said. But as he watched the
behavior of the CU administrators and regents, he said he went from
humbled and honored to ashamed.
"A university is supposed to reflect the highest values and beliefs that
our society can achieve ...," he wrote to Hoffman. "The recent actions
indicate that the university is groveling in the mud, displaying a
lower standard of ethics than the citizens of the state."
Deloria said he mulled his options for two days before sending the
He's proud of his career as a scholar. He didn't take the action
"Then I remembered Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus. I
felt embarrassed that I even had doubts about objecting to the coverup.
She had a lot more to lose than I ever did and more courage than I'll
"So to hell with the degree." He's taking a stand.
Diane Carman's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. She can be
reached at 303-820-1580 or dcarman at denverpost.com .
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