Ward Churchill

(Image by Flickr user Steven Rhodes used under a Creative Commons License)

(Image by Flickr user Steven Rhodes used under a Creative Commons License)

1. Ward Churchill is an asshole.
2. He was actually correct in saying, in his notorious essay “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Chickens Coming Home to Roost” and subsequent interviews, that the idea that the victims of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 represented some sort of cross-section of American life or the American public (much asserted following the attacks) was inaccurate.
3. His position that the 9/11 attacks were in part a result of American foreign policy seems to me indubitable.
4. His implication that the victims of 9/11 got what they deserved was unconscionable, and in fact invokes exactly the moral calculus that leads to the aggressive foreign policy Churchill despises.
5. Academic freedom is absolutely paramount, if we are to have historians or other professors and thinkers who are capable of, and encouraged in, expressing any opinion that their research or their conscience deems appropriate.
6. Ward Churchill’s firing was undoubtedly primarily provoked by his political views and statements, which was a blow against the academic freedom which permits that free and open exchange of opinion, provided the professor discharges his duties as an educator in accord with his institution’s expectations.
7. His victory in the lawsuit today was a victory for the vital institution of tenure and for academic freedom.
8. He’s still an asshole.

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19 thoughts on “Ward Churchill

  1. Pingback: Ward Churchill Wins, Awarded $1

  2. Freddie, two thoughts:

    9) Ward Churchill pretends to be a Native American and justifies this with lots and lots of really long, boring essays about blood and heritage. They are bloody painful to read.

    10) Churchill has been rightfully accused of plagiarism which, for any honest academic, is certainly enough to make him a pariah and to makes his dismissal more than justified.

    11) Nobody should be made to read Churchill’s painful writing. I can only imagine how tiring he must be in person. Oh, and he plagiarized stuff.

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  3. By all means, if he’s plagiarized then nail him for it. But painful writing? From an academic? Inconceivable!

    I write as an alumnus of Hamilton College, which not only was at the center of the Churchill brouhaha but also forced its president to resign for self-plagiarization.

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  4. Plagiarism, depending on the context, is indeed a fireable offense. But Churchill wasn’t actually fired for plagiarism, and even the University seemed to acknowledge that the idea he was is kind of laughable. He was fired for his opinions, and that’s wrong, and a blow against academic freedom.

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  5. There should be a special place in hell for boring plagiarists. For goodness’ sake, if you’re going to steal, steal the good stuff.

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  6. Pingback: Conventional Folly » Ward Churchill beats the system

  7. Ridiculous:

    3. His position that the 9/11 attacks were in part a result of American foreign policy seems to me indubitable.

    Unless you’re putting all the weight of this on the hedge words (“in part”; “seems to me”).

    “Indubitibale” would be correct only if “in part” is read so as to take all the ordinary meaning off “American foreign policy.” That is, we wouldn’t have been attacked if we hadn’t had preponderant power in geopolitics. That’s a trivial conclusion to make.

    The more weighty idea is that we have meddled in the internal affairs of Arab/Muslim countries and so created a “backlash”–the chickens coming home to roost of Churchill’s famous screed.

    This is true–in part–but it doesn’t explain anything. For example, we have meddled more and longer and with more distastrous consequences in Latin America and still are not subject to such attacks or to such animosity from them.

    The missing element is of course Islam. So, yes, “in part” we caused the attacks just by being there and by leading the West. But the other “part” of the explanation lies in the history of Islam itself.

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  8. Churchill puts the blame on us for the 9/11 attacks; you support him “in part.”

    The “part” that makes us culpable is trivial; the “part” that really explains why we were attacked is found in the history of Islam.

    Therefore, it is very “dubitable” that the 9/11 attacks are the result of our foreign policy. The clearest explanation has nothing to do with that.

    If not, then what, exactly, have we done that would logically result in 9/11? I can’t find anything myself.

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  9. Churchill puts the blame on us for the 9/11 attacks; you support him “in part.”

    No, I don’t; and you either have very poor reading comprehension, or you’re being dishonest. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s other mouthpieces have been abundantly clear– they attacked the United States largely because of our foreign policy. That this is their reason is in no sense a justification. As for the idea that that’s not why they “really” did it, the idea of a terrorist lying about his aims– when achieving his aims is absolutely dependent on the public knowing what they are– is absurd.

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  10. This case was never about academic freedom or the 1st amendment. It’s solely about Ward Churchill massive ego, and the attention he wants and needs.

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  11. Let’s review:

    Churchill’s “little Eichmanns” remark

    [There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . .

    Well, really. Let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire – the “mighty engine of profit” to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to “ignorance” – a derivative, after all, of the word “ignore” – counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it. ]

    expresses his idea that “the 9/11 attacks were in part a result of American foreign policy,” with which you agree “in part.”

    I can’t see how the following is related to my comment at all:

    the idea that that’s not why they “really” did it, the idea of a terrorist lying about his aims– when achieving his aims is absolutely dependent on the public knowing what they are– is absurd.

    I was not talking about their “aims” at all. I was talking about the causes of 9/11, which is what your original statement was about.

    I disagree that the causes are not to be found in our foreign policy—like you say.

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  12. expresses his idea that “the 9/11 attacks were in part a result of American foreign policy,” with which you agree “in part.”

    Roque, it’s the same old thing with you: do you want to be a troll, or do you want to talk? If you want to talk, we can talk. If you want to troll, flame away. But if you choose the latter, you have to stop misrepresenting what other people’s arguments are. I am saying that I find it simply unarguable that part of the motivation of 9/11 was American foreign policy. I have said, here and elsewhere, that a reason is different from a justification.

    Likewise, the evidence that this is true is that Al Qaeda has said again and again that it is true; and we have no reason not to believe them. Indeed, they have every reason, as terrorists, to accurately reflect on what their motivations are, and no reason whatsoever to lie about it.

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  13. Freddie: I don’t think we disagree on anything all that substantial. Possibly there’s just a misunderstanding here. What bothers me is that Churchill’s and your (¿?) explanation ignores bin Laden’s (1998) own explanation/justification/motivation. Churchill (and you?) omits all reference to Islam. I would modify your statement, so that it read, “his position that the 9/11 attacks were in part a result of American foreign policy seems to me to distort history so as to shift the blame because it omits Islam from all consideration.”

    I honestly can’t find where I’ve misrepresented you. I don’t want you to think I’m a troll, though. This discussion may be result of a simple misunderstanding. Maybe not:

    You agree with Churchill that our foreign policy caused the 9/11 attacks or that the attacks were the result of our foreign policy, i.e., that it’s “simply unarguable that part of the motivation of 9/11 was American foreign policy”.

    The foreign policy specifically mentioned in the Churchill screed is having a “global financial empire” that “translates” into “starved and rotting flesh of infants.” Is this the kind of foreign policy you’re referring to?

    Bin Laden himself (1998)refers to our “occupying” the Arabian peninsula, attacking Iraq (the strongest Arab nation), serving the “Jews’ petty state,” and generally leading the crusade to destroy Islam. These events can only be understood as causus beli by adopting an Islamic world-view. The bin Laden (1998) document is otherwise permeated with religion and religious motivation and/or justification. This is why I say that the reference to our foreign policy errors is a mistake.

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  14. The issue isn’t in the firing — it’s in the hiring. How does someone who engages in such obviously disingenuous arguments as Churchill does get hired to begin with? The academic profession is supposedly a stringent one, yet clowns like this guy always seem find a place to roost. At least in the case of Churchill’s clownshoes idealogical opposite, Alan Dershowitz, we’re talking about someone with a modicum of celebrity.

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