Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ayers: Churchill case is "political witch hunt"

That was unexpected. Colorado Daily:
When it comes to being an academic under fire, ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers can empathize with fired University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill.

Currently a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Ayers’ 22 years of teaching did little to prepare him for the media firestorm that enveloped him during last year’s presidential election. . . .

Ayers, who’s coming to CU next week to appear with Churchill at an academic-freedom rally, still finds himself explaining his radical past — although he stops short of apologizing for his actions.
Regrets, I've had a few . . .
“I did break the law,” Ayers said in an interview with the Colorado Daily on Tuesday. “I did take account for breaking the law. I was punished in the ways that the law found
appropriate." . . .
Guilty as hell, free as a bird.
Yet for some vocal critics, it’s far from over.

Many continue to label Ayers an “unrepentant terrorist” because of the Weather Underground’s bombing campaigns in the '60s and '70s — accusations the onetime fugitive dismissed, saying they merely reveal his critics’ own political agendas. . . .
On Chutch:
“I don’t think anybody can raise a question that Ward Churchill was singled out and gone after because of his comments after 9/11 — because of his politics,” Ayers said. “It was a political witch hunt. That’s what happened to him.”
Cue up Ayers tape 107:
“The university is a particular space in a society like ours where we have to not only entertain, but expect the widest diversity of ideas that go way outside what’s conventional,” Ayers said. “Without teachers who are willing to raise alternative views, investigate other possibilities, think beyond the box of convention ... we’re doomed as a society and we’re going backwards rapidly without (them).”

The pattern of repressing such free thought in the university creates a ripple effect throughout the rest of academia, Ayers said.

“If Ward Churchill can be brought down from his accomplishments and successes, what chance do I have if I’m a teacher in Denver?” Ayers said.
Brought down from his what now? (like the mighty water buffalo).
In the end, Ayers defends not just Churchill’s writings and ideas, but the very notion of dissent.
Cue Ayers tape 212--"He's a rebel":
“I’ve lived a kind of life of dissent my whole adult life,” Ayers said. “I think dissent is essential to democracy and I think that in order to be an active citizen, you have to move beyond the stance of, ‘Whatever my country does is fine,’ and you have to move into a direction of saying, ‘I want my country to live up to the best ideals of its history and its values.’

“And that requires us to dissent again and again and again."
(h/t "Hank")

Update: Churchill bitter-ender Maximilian Forte responds (if that's the word) to Pirate Ballerina's assessment of his recent arguments in defense of Wart. The Straw Man Army marches in, and the invective flows. Read it yourself, but just one point. Pirate Ballerina yesterday:
Astonishingly, Forte later equates Churchill’s invention of people who never existed in order to bolster his historical fabrication to Brown’s use (in one of his refutations of Churchill’s defense) of an imaginary college student to demonstrate the immorality of Churchill’s historical misdeeds.
Forte replies:
Astonishingly, nowhere in the CU Investigative Committee’s report is there any charge of Churchill making up historical characters, and then making up their dialogues. These people attack “fabrication,” by engaging in outright fabrication. And when you need to advance your cause by spewing lies, what does it say about your cause?
Of course, as is clear from the quote, the pirate with the astonished parrot never said the investigative committee's report accused Churchill of "making up historical characters." Thomas Brown did. Can't wait to see PB's reply.

Update II: Oops, as Leah points out in comments to PB's post, the investigative committee did indeed find that Churchill invented at least one character: the "post surgeon" at Fort Clark who supposedly told smallpox-infected Mandan to "scatter," thus spreading the disease. It's covered in pages 70-73 of the committee's report. The point above stands, though.

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