It will probably come as a surprise to many people, both friend and foe alike, that I am opposed to any attempt to fire Ward Churchill for the essay (now part of a book) that has become notorious in which he denounces his own country as a genocidal empire, supports America’s terrorist enemies, and says that 9/11 was a case of the “chickens coming home to roost.”
We live in country whose cornerstone document is a Bill of Rights that guarantees Americans a right to make fools of themselves if they so desire. State institutions like the University of Colorado are forbidden by our Constitution from firing people for expressing opinions, however offensive, idiotic or evil (and Churchill’s comments on 9/11 qualify as all three). If, on the other hand, as some have charged, Churchill is not really a Native American as he claims, then of course he should be fired for fraud.
Yes, Churchill is a self-declared ally of our enemies in the terrorist war against us. But so are many academic leftists, including those now rallying to his defense. A decent university system with serious academic standards would probably not have hired Churchill in the first place, let alone promoted him to a position of responsibility and honor as the chair of the Ethnic Studies Department. But that does not give the regents of the university the right to fire him because he has embarrassed them now.
The real question is why wasn’t anybody embarrassed before? In 1998, to cite one example, Churchill published a book – Pacificism as Pathology – which was essentially an argument for violent revolution to overthrow America’s democracy. It was dedicated to an American terrorist who blew herself up while making a bomb intended to kill Army recruits and their dates at a social dance at Fort Dix. Why weren’t any of his colleagues or superiors upset about this?
February 9, 2005
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