Monday, January 31, 2005

Ward Churchill, due to speak at Hamilton College this week, resigns as department chair amid furor over 9/11 remarks. He said, "the present political climate has rendered me a liability in terms of representing either my department, the college, or the university." His resignation comes a couple of days after an editorial in the Denver Post which asks, "If Churchill is so out of sync with the chancellor and the campus, we have to wonder why is he chairing an academic department at the University of Colorado?" Principles of academic freedom and free speech certainly protect his job as a professor at the University of Colorado, but his opinions are repugnant.

Churchill's opinions haven't changed since the original essay, published on the web right after 9/11/01 - as reported in the Rocky Mountain News, "In a 2004 interview, he made the remark, 'One of the things I've suggested is that it may be that more 9/11s are necessary' for Americans to realize the long-term ramifications of some of the country's policies and practices." As also reported in this article, Hamilton may be acting disingenously about whether officials there knew about Churchill's essay. "Barrie, the Hamilton spokeswoman, said 'When Ward Churchill was invited, last summer, no one here was aware of those 9/11 comments.' But the small liberal arts college was aware when it started advertising his appearance, sponsored by its 'Kirkland Project,' a program 'for the study of gender, society and culture.' It states that the title of Churchill's talk is to be 'Some People Push Back' - the very title of his controversial essay." (On the other hand, the title was probably suggested by Churchill, who didn't necessarily share the text of the essay that the title came from).

Another dubious indication about the way the event was originally planned was that it was billed as a panel discussion on the "Limits of Dissent," including Churchill, Hamilton philosophy professor Richard Werner, and another University of Colorado ethnic studies professor, Natsu Saito, who as it happens "is married to Churchill, although that relationship is not noted on the Hamilton program."

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