[Marxism] Ward Churchill testifies

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Mar 24 07:47:06 MDT 2009

The Churchill Case
Fired prof takes the stand
Fights to regain his post
By Kevin Vaughan
The Denver Post

Ward Churchill took his fight to regain his professorship to the witness 
stand Monday afternoon, defending his views on the Sept. 11 terrorist 
attacks and asserting that his academic practices were entirely routine.

Churchill portrayed himself as the victim of an ever-changing 
investigation, one that denied him the right to question witnesses, and 
an overzealous media machine that hounded him in the pursuit of hundreds 
of stories.

And he defended the controversial essay that started the furor 
surrounding his scholarship, one in which he called World Trade Center 
victims "Little Eichmanns" — a reference to an infamous Nazi. He said he 
did not believe in terror, nor in cheerleading the Sept. 11 attacks. 
Instead, he said, he was expressing the idea that they were the 
"perfectly predictable" result of U.S. foreign policy.

"I had a real simple proposition: That if you make a practice of killing 
other people's babies for personal gain, comfortability, quality of 
life, that eventually they're going to give you a taste of the same 
thing," Churchill testified.

Churchill is fighting to win back his job at the University of Colorado.

Although university officials concluded that his views were protected by 
the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, he was fired in 2007 after 
an investigation found that he had "committed serious, repeated and 
deliberate research misconduct," including plagiarism and 
misrepresentation of materials he gleaned from other sources.

Churchill contends he was fired not for his academic work, but for his 
political views.

"We leaned over backward"

Monday's testimony began with Michael Radelet, chair of the sociology 
department at CU's Boulder campus, who was one of the five members of 
the committee that investigated Churchill.

"We leaned over backward to give professor Churchill the benefit of the 
doubt, to give him all the due process we could, to give him a break 
where a break was needed," Radelet said.

But he said the investigators found repeated instances of academic 
fraud, and they concluded at one point that Churchill "simply made up" 
an allegation that explorer John Smith intentionally spread smallpox 
among the Wampanoag tribe in the early 1600s.

Later, Tink Tinker, a professor at the Iliff School of Theology and a 
member of the Osage Nation, and Russell Means, an Indian activist and 
lecturer, both offered unqualified support for Churchill.

The courtroom was packed — at one point, 81 people had crowded in, some 
standing along the back wall — with the anticipation that the former 
professor would testify.

"I call Ward Churchill to the witness stand," attorney David Lane 
announced at 2:17 p.m.

Churchill carried with him an eagle feather wrapped in a red cloth — he 
later said "it means I defend the people" — and a stack of books. Lane 
asked Churchill whether he preferred to be called "professor."

"I prefer professor, but doctor will do," said Churchill, who has an 
honorary doctorate. "I'm entitled to that."

Disputing the panel's findings

Wearing blue jeans, cowboy boots and a brown blazer, Churchill ran 
through his professional background, the controversy surrounding his 
essay, and the conclusions of investigators that he stole the work of 
others and misrepresented the materials found in books that he cited as 

He rejected the assertion that he was guilty of plagiarism, arguing that 
in one case he merely edited an essay for inclusion in a book without 
realizing that four paragraphs of it were lifted from a piece written by 
a Canadian professor and that in another, he actually wrote a piece that 
was published under another author's name.

He said that kind of ghost writing is "very common" in the academic world.

On his writings about smallpox among American Indians, Churchill 
testified that it is "common knowledge" that the U.S. government 
intentionally spread the disease and that numerous sources support the 
basic tenets of his assertions.

At one point, Lane asked Churchill whether the instances in question, 
which he termed a few paragraphs, should call into question the veracity 
of his 4,000 pages of scholarly work.

"No," Churchill replied. "It affects nothing but details."

A few minutes before 5 p.m., Judge Larry J. Naves called it a day with 
Churchill in the middle of addressing his writings on two federal Indian 
laws. His testimony is expected to resume at 9 a.m. today.

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