Rights: Harebrained radicals can express opinions
Ward Churchill, an America-hating Cherokee, became a professor at the University of Colorado, coordinator of the university’s American Indian Studies and associate director of its Center for Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America.
Pretty good for a fellow with just a master’s degree, and that from what was then Sangamon State University, a small school that has since become the University of Illinois at Springfield.
In light of his other works, it is not surprising that Churchill has humiliated his employer by writing an essay saying, in effect, that the United States was only getting its just deserts when it was attacked on 9/11.
The essay is not new, but it hit the news last week because of Matt Coppo, a student at Hamilton College in New York. When it was announced that Churchill would give an address at Hamilton, Coppo brought attention to Churchill’s disgusting statements. They were of special interest to Coppo, because his father was killed in the World Trade Center.
Churchill’s essay had said, among other things, that the Americans killed there were “little Eichmanns,” referring to Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi who assisted in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews.
Churchill reached his conclusion by way of some twisted logic having to do with the Trade Center workers never having protested imperialist activities of the United States.
He also wrote that the Sept. 11 attacks were in retaliation for the deaths of Iraqi children in a bombing raid by the United States in 1991. The essay calls the hijackers who crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon “combat teams,” not terrorists. And it says the people killed in the Pentagon were “military targets.”
Now people are calling for Churchill’s job. He has martyred himself by resigning all his University of Colorado offices except professor, and university officials say he won’t be fired for exercising his First Amendment rights.
In truth, despicable and silly as his statements were, he should not be fired for them. Voltaire is credited with saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That applies here.
Still, all of this demonstrates an inconsistency in academia. Not everyone gets the freedom that the University of Colorado is giving Churchill. When the president of Harvard University said he believed men did math better than women, all of Liberaldom came crushing down on him.
Apparently, the degree of freedom a college person has to express his opinion depends on the nature of the opinion.
One other thing: While it is true that a professor, or anyone else, should be allowed to give his viewpoints, where is it written that universities must fill their ivy-covered halls with radicals and boorish loudmouths?
Published in Editorials on February 6, 2005 12:18 AM