Monday, November 13, 2006

"Truth" defended

Pirate Ballerina notes that the giant throbbing brains who held an "emergency summit" at Lawrence, Kansas, in September to discuss a defense of Ward Churchill have finally hashed out a resolution and posted it at the Ward Churchill Solidarity Network (I laugh every time I read that name). As PB points out, it's basically a rehash of the bogus arguments Ward himself has used, but regular PB commenter Noj particularly notes this clause:
WHEREAS the University of Colorado is attempting to fire Ward Churchill based upon pretextual charges of research misconduct which have been "investigated" by a committee of non-Indigenous academics, none of whom are experts in American Indian Studies . . . .
Noj points out that committee member Robert Clinton, though not an indigene, is actually not completely ignorant of Indian law (pdf file).

My favorite whereas, though, is this one:

WHEREAS the University of Colorado’s investigative committee has chosen to reinforce mainstream "truths" concerning the 1837 smallpox epidemic and other matters while accusing Ward Churchill of "disrespecting American Indian oral traditions" despite extensive testimony by Indigenous scholars supporting Professor Churchill’s historical interpretations . . . .

In fact, the committee is as full of shit on this point as Churchill. In accepting Mandan oral tradition about the 1837 smallpox epidemic, the committee said in its report that it relied on

an apparently Mandan perspective on the smallpox epidemic found in a speech said to have been given by Chief Four Bears as he was dying of smallpox in 1837. The text of the speech was preserved together with [a racist jerk going under the name of] Chardon's journal and was later inserted into the appropriate chronological place by the editor of the published volume. Although the authenticity of the speech has been questioned, it seems possible that Four Bears did give such a speech (though perhaps not on the day of his death) and that Chardon was told about it by someone who spoke both Mandan and either French or English. While Four Bears' speech was certainly mediated--translated and transcribed by someone other than its nominal author--it may provide a generally accurate representation of his sentiments. A descendant of Four Bears recited his statement in full in a conversation around 2000 and accepted it as reliable.

In other words, they had no standards of evidence at all. I wrote about this at amazingly boring length when the report came out last June.

So there's Churchill and his defenders on one side, lying about Mandan oral tradition to bash the U.S., and the investigative committee on the other, accepting that same tradition on zero evidence to bash Churchill. History, too, is a ass.

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