Friday, July 27, 2007

Slowly I turned . . .

CU professor of religious studies Ira Chernus strains to find a peg:

It's appropriate that Churchill was fired just after the release of the last Harry Potter book. Both generated huge media circuses, because they are both what the public always craves: stories full of colorful characters, some good and some evil, in a plot that creates nail-biting excitement because there must be a definite winner. There can be no compromise between good and evil. But no one knows which side will win until the very end.

Is Ward Churchill Harry Potter or is he Voldemort? That's what make it such a great media story. You can have it either way. The mainstream media don't really care.
But there's dope, er, hope!

My university can be a great one. But its administration and Regents have made the task a lot harder. They've let the university be turned into a media circus tent blown by the political winds, chasing a chimera of certainty more elusive than any wind [niiiiiice]. It may look like free speech, academic creativity, and the University of Colorado have been dealt a mortal blow. But remember, you've only read the first book.
Chernus, his bioline tells us, is author of American Nonviolence: The History of an Ideal and the forthcoming Monsters to Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin. Not that it's required for a professor of religion, but: how much you want to bet he doesn't believe in God?

Here come the letters! In the Colorado Springs Gazette:

We should not be afraid of people like Churchill in a free country. We might even say that rabble rousers, despite their frequent insults [hey, I'm a pedophile!], are refreshing and positively necessary contributors to honest and open debate. They force us to look at things from perspectives that are often outside the bounds of polite discussion. This is not a bad thing.
Dean somebody or other ominously remarks:

The CU Board of Regents has sent an important message: Watch what you say.

At the Post/News citizen-journalist site Yourshlub, "The Subversive Liberal" opines sensibly:

[Churchill's] supporters try to use examples of the criminal justice system. Pointing out that if evidence is obtained illegally it is tossed out. This wasn't a criminal investigation however. And his speech only made people look at his academic record more critically and they didn't have to look far to find enough evidence to prompt a serious investigation by the University. This flawed logic apparently gives Churchill a pass for all his unethical behavior because he has written something controversial and that's what prompted the University to scrutinize his work.
Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent tells of how he saw "firsthand an example of Churchill's research method, the most egregious contempt for fact or truth I've ever encountered." It concerns "bad-jacketing" in Churchill's account of the FBI and the Black Panthers, Agents of Repression:

I was particularly interested in the role of one Panther leader who oversaw the torture and murder of [fellow Panther] Alex Rackley. In my research I came across passing references to this Panther having served as a government agent. Tracing those references inevitably led to one source: Ward Churchill.

Specifically, the led to a passage in a book Churchill coauthored entitled Agents of Repression. Churchill wrote there that the Panther, "as it turned out, had been a paid FBI informer for a period of time never disclosed by Bureau." (The passage appears in a section titled, "Fabrication of Evidence," meaning fabrication by the FBI.)

That statement is footnoted. It refers to a paper written by late Panther leader Huey Newton that in fact presents no evidence that this Panther was a paid agent.

So I e-mailed Churchill to ask him the basis for the claim. He wrote back on Dec. 2, 2004.

"I've no official paper naming [the Panther] as an FBI operative. The case for his having been a provocateur is entirely circumstantial, but overwhelming," Churchill wrote.

That may sound like an admission of error. It wasn't.

Keep reading.

PB links to a piece by KC Johnson of the fine Durham-in-Wonderland blog on the Churchill case:

Churchill was hired through a "special opportunity" position, designed by the university to help "recruit and hire a more diverse faculty." He had an M.A. from little-known Sangamon State University and no Ph.D at all. As documents from the time noted, his qualifications included only two items: strong lobbying from Evelyn Hu-DeHart, the chair of the Ethnic Studies program, and the now-disputed fact that "Ward is a Native American," meaning his hire would contribute "to increasing the cultural diversity on campus."

In a 2006 report that she prepared for Williams College, she contended that as "the opportunity to hire [under-represented minority] candidates is only as good as the pool," elite institutions needs to change their pool. Ph.D. programs from Ivy League schools, or from institutions such as Stanford or Michigan, might not have enough "diverse" candidates to go around. As a result, they need to target less prestigious institutions, such as Churchill's Sangamon State . . . .
Sangamon State! Slowly I turned . . .

Update: Hu-DeHart! Hu-DeHart! Raaaaaaaaaahhhhhh, Hu-DeHart!

Update II: In the august pages of Counterpunch, Churchill's frau, the disgusting Natsu Saito, pretends to care about anything but her smoked-and-dried little self:

Some have said it's a bad day for academic freedom. . . .

For me, the bad days are when we sit by and let the attorney general intimidate us into a collective silence; when we allow torture, disappearances and arbitrary detentions to become routine; when we insist that this is a democracy, but refuse to accept any responsibility for the actions of the government. The sad days are when our kids are punished or humiliated in school for refusing to celebrate this country's genocidal history; when we get glimpses of other people's children being reduced to "collateral damage."

Nutso, the schtick is wearing very thin.

(via the man with the styrofoam peg-leg)

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