Monday, July 21, 2008

Bousquet: American Association of University Professors should defend Chutch

But as with all the other AAUPers who've voiced support for Churchill, he's speaking only for himself:
Sometime in early 2009, the Denver District Court will begin to hear testimony in Ward Churchill’s lawsuit against the University of Colorado.

It will be a very different national political climate than the one in which Churchill’s reference to Hannah Arendt’s classic study of the banality of evil*, Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) set in motion events that led to his termination on charges of “plagiarism” and “research misconduct.”
Good scare quotes. here comes the left-wing hack with the high-sounding title:
My own views** are consistent with those of the national American Civil Liberties Union, and Eric Cheyfitz, Cornell’s Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters.

Cheyfitz, who examined the investigating committee’s report and testified about it before a UC panel, concluded that the charges were “fabricated” and “fundamentally baseless,” and flow from “problems in the investigating committee’s own flawed

The “research misconduct” charge is that Churchill didn’t provide enough evidence relating to his account of the origins of a 19th-century smallpox epidemic. Whether or not one agrees with Churchill’s account, I found in reading the investigators’
report that I had to share Cheyfitz’s opinion that “what is properly an academic debate about the relationship of Native peoples to United States history was turned into an indictment…. The research misconduct charges disappear when you start looking at them closely.”
Oh, please. That "didn't provide enough evidence" is particularly risible, given the real problem was that Chutch supplied "evidence" (yay scare quotes) enough for a half-dozen different stories.
The use of the “research misconduct” charges to discredit Churchill should be particularly troubling to all of us — as Churchill supporters made clear by promptly filing “research misconduct” charges against the investigating committee, using the same standards for “misconduct” that they employed against him (and which future observers may well find more convincing!).
(I don't think so!)
What I like about Cheyfitz’s analysis, as reported by Daniel Aloi for the Cornell Chronicle, is that it connects the elements of political retaliation in the case to the climate of intellectual fear produced by the larger attack on tenure and faculty self-governance under corporatization:
No idea why there's a colon there.
Cheyfitz said the case against Churchill is “linked up to other witch hunts, like that in the Columbia University Middle East studies department,” where scholars were accused of anti-Semitism because of their critical view of Israel, though they were ultimately exonerated of those charges.
Yeah, exonerated.
“When you couple this with the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, the whole atmosphere of the war on Iraq and the war on terror, and the actions of the Bush administration … to undermine the Constitution, [it can] lead to an atmosphere here people can feel threatened,” said Cheyfitz, noting that the case is not just about Churchill and limiting free speech. . . .
Is it just me, or do arguments like this sound incredibly dated, as if Bill Moyers had risen from the dead to moderate just one more panel on Pimpy McBitlerHurton's stifling of our freedoms?
In any case, Bousquet wants to kill the AAUP:
As the case goes to trial, the question will be: what should organizations like the AAUP and disciplinary organizations like the American Historical Association do?

Whether or not Churchill has asked them for help or not, can they afford to sit on the sidelines?

My personal view is that the AAUP must weigh in on this case.

What do you think?
Update: In comments, Churchill exposer Thomas Brown says what he thinks:

Churchill’s defenses all crumble to dust under close examination. Have a look at the four scholarly articles that accuse Churchill of research misconduct: two by John LaVelle in Wicazo Sa Review, and two by me in Plagiary. All four are readable online.

Neither Churchill nor any of his defenders have published a response to these accusations. Why? Because LaVelle and I have already eviscerated the various excuses, including the ones that Bousquet has advanced in this blog.

I challenge any of Churchill’s defenders to debate either in person or in the pages of Plagiary, but I doubt any will take me up on this offer. The more you learn about Churchill, the more obvious it is that he is guilty of serious misconduct.

Bousquet makes significant errors of fact in this blog. For example, the truth is that the majority of CU’s Standing Committee on Research Misconduct voted to fire Churchill. Of the three faculty committees that heard Churchill’s case at Colorado, every single faculty member on all three unanimously agreed that Churchill was guilty of research misconduct.

Another canard that Bousquet replicates is that Churchill only copy-edited one of the plagiarized articles, and that some unknown person must have committed the actual plagiary. However, Churchill took authorship credit for this article in his annual evaluation at CU, and did not advance the copyediting defense until after he was accused of plagiarism. All of his other defenses are just as easily dismisssed, for those willing to investigate the facts of the matter. None of Churchill’s CU colleagues on any of the committees bought his excuses.

Here are the URLs for the four Brown and LaVelle articles:

— Thomas Brown · Jul 21, 02:12 PM · #

That's going to be tough for Bousquet to ignore.

Update II: The gimpy bastard with the blow-up parrot had it decades ago.

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