Couch Commando

No Country for Old Churchill

Posted in Shouting Fire: Stories...Free Speech by LaurenStheTA on February 15, 2010

Ward Churchill: Awesome hair, questionable research practices.

Ward LeRoy Churchill is a writer, political activist and was a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder until 2007. Much of his work focuses on the treatment of Native Americans by the United States government. In September 2001, Churchill wrote an essay titled On the Justice of Roosting Chickens and argued that the 9/11 attacks were provoked by United States foreign policy and called financial workers in the towers members of the “ongoing genocidal American imperialism.” After speaking at Hamilton College on this essay in 2005, administrators at the University of Colorado at Boulder ordered an investigation into his supposed research misconduct.

I think that the University of Colorado was simply pacifying the public by launching an investigation on Churchill. If there had been a problem with what he was writing and publishing, the university should have launched an investigation long before 2005. While the university may have had legitimate reasons to raise questions about his research, they did so in a way that made them look like they were persecuting their own staff member to appease the public. In short, I do not think that the University of Colorado would have been out of line by launching an investigation – but they were not timely, and that makes all the difference in terms of intention.

I also believe that Churchill was completely within his rights to speak on a subject like 9/11. Professor, public intellectual, community leader or not, free speech is for everyone – not just those who we consider to be elite academics. Dissent, while at first glance is often considered negative, is an integral part of free speech and should be protected. People have the freedom, and sometimes the platform, to speak their minds. Those who choose to, or who are brave enough to exercise that right should not be retaliated against.

Newton, Cleaver, and...Churchill.

I would not have personally fired Ward Churchill. In the long run, much like Michael Moore, I believe that Churchill is doing more good than harm (as well as a little bit of preaching to the choir). He definitely has beliefs and a willing audience for those beliefs. Though we may take his literature with a grain of salt, he is doing something to change the status quo, and as a professor, that is not something to be overlooked.

Also, he looks like this guy. No country for old Churchill.

While David Horowitz is a critic of Churchill’s teaching methods, I don’t think Churchill is in the wrong. A good professor teaches what he thinks is most “true” or “most accurate”. A great professor teaches what he thinks is most “true,” “most accurate,” and then some – including the opposing view points. That being said, I’ve had plenty of good professors, and a few great professors. Much like being smart consumers of the media, students should also be smart consumers of their own education. As we discussed in class, everyone has an agenda – and professors are certainly not excluded from this group. I believe it is the responsibility of the student to assume that they are being taught the professor’s interpretation of the subject matter. If the subject is important enough or interesting enough, the student will eventually continue their research and form their own educated opinions.

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