It matters because Churchill is not alone, because he stands for a small but aggressive wing of academia at war with the belief that history is reconstructed by sifting through credible evidence to reach fact-based conclusions. To them, history is politics by another name. This mentality has been on vivid display in court for two weeks, where the former University of Colorado ethnic studies professor is suing CU. At times, the testimony has achieved a looking glass quality — and never more so than on Wednesday, when Professor Michael Yellow Bird of the University of Kansas returned to the stand.Churchill watchers all know this, of course, but it's nice to see it in the Post, at least as a counter to Mike Littwin.
Yellow Bird spent much of his testimony asserting that academics are free to embellish history — maintaining, for example, that they frequently "invent possibilities" and "treat them almost as a fact, yes." But he did stop short of openly saying that fraudulence was fine. Yet as his testimony drew to a close, CU attorney Patrick O'Rourke pounced with a Perry Mason moment: Hadn't Yellow Bird once told a CU faculty committee that a "fabricated, made-up account promoted truth"?
As O'Rourke asked, a transcript of Yellow Bird's statement to the committee was displayed on a screen. The professor hesitated, then admitted, "Yes."
Why so much coverage of Churchill? Because if he wins, so do all the other enemies of academic integrity — like Yellow Bird.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Vince Carroll on why the Churchill case matters: