Friday, April 29, 2005

Ward Churchill - An Unwitting Champion of Conservative Causes

Kicking someone when they are already down is a deplorable act. It is unsportsmanlike-like, inhumane, amoral and dastardly. It can also be kind of fun and, in the case of Ward Churchill, the former Head of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, giving someone a case of their own medicine. His knee-jerk reaction to the September 11th attacks, an essay called “’Some People Push Back’ – On the Justice of Roosting Chickens”, seemed to me to amount to little more than a desperate cry for attention on his part, so I decided I would humor him a little. Besides that, things have been fairly uneventful around here, and I really have nothing better to do at the moment.

Ward Churchill has come into a veritable windfall of misfortune of late, a windfall sparked by the essay referenced above. This essay, written in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, laid blame for the attacks on American policy and claimed that the casualties of the calamity, the “technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire” were “little Eichmanns [The Nazi bureaucrat that engineered the Holocaust]” who basically deserved what they got for exploiting the undeveloped world. The essay was released on September 12th received little notice outside of the circle of lunatic deviants Mr. Churchill usually dumps his intellectual waste upon. If mainstream America heard about it at all, based upon the amount of press it received at the time, it was probably dismissed out of hand as the incoherent ravings of another fundamentally flawed fruitcake bent on acquiring as much self-aggrandizing publicity as he could possibly garner.

If it was publicity he wanted, he certainly got it and his fifteen minutes of fame has not been kind to him. Before January 2005, few people seemed to have even heard of the guy. He was, at the time the essay was written, the Head of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado – Boulder and a radical champion of American Indian causes, apparently using his alleged Native-American ancestry to give an air of legitimacy to his various crusades. Ironically, the American Indian Movement (AIM), an organization with its own deep-rooted (and based upon history, somewhat understandable) suspicions towards United States government policy, have gone out of their way to distance themselves from Ward Churchill. They have emphatically denied any collusion between themselves and Churchill and publicly called into question his suspicious ancestry by stating ”Ward Churchill has been masquerading as an Indian for years behind his dark glasses and beaded headband. He waves around an honorary membership card that at one time was issued to anyone by the Keetoowah Tribe of Oklahoma.” This allegation is confirmed by John Ross, former chairman of the Keetoowah band of Cherokee Indians, who said that Churchill was given an honorary membership that required no proof of Cherokee heritage, and the honorary membership was bestowed upon 300 to 400 other people including former president Bill Clinton. Richard Allen, a policy analyst with the Cherokee Nation says of the beleaguered professor, “When it comes to Churchill, I've always thought he was a wannabe Indian. His history is a little bit like Forrest Gump.” Apparently, Mr. Churchill’s standing has deteriorated so badly that even the activists he claims to advocate won’t even claim him. Suzanne Shown Harjo, writing for Indian Country Today, has also penned a very informative article questioning Churchill’s ethnicity, the very foundation of his activism, published last February.

The burgeoning spotlight on Churchill has also illuminated several other unflattering aspects of the embattled professor’s character, most significantly his predisposition to allegedly claiming the intellectual property created by others as his own. The earliest example of this so far uncovered was in 1981, when he apparently copied a mirror image of the 1972 Thomas Mails masterpiece "The Mystic Warriors of the Plains", signed it as a Ward Churchill original and printed 150 copies of it. This alleged case of copyright infringement was brought to the attention of CBS4 in Boulder Colorado and led to reporter Raj Chohan, calling Churchill on selling someone else’s copyright protected artwork as his own. Instead of responding to Chohan’s charges Churchill took a swing at the reporter, an assault that was caught on film. The latest accusation came out of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. According to a March 11, Rocky Mountain News article :

In 1991, Churchill edited a book of essays published in Copenhagen, Denmark, which included a piece by [professor Faye G] Cohen on Indian treaty fishing rights in the Northwest and Wisconsin. When publishers wanted to reprint the essay in the United States, Cohen declined to allow her essay to appear, Crosby said.

So, Churchill penned an essay on the same topic under the name of the Institute for Natural Progress, a research organization he founded with Winona LaDuke. In the contributors section of the book, Churchill said he took the lead role in preparing the essay.

Also according to the March 11th Rocky Mountain News article, when Cohen raised objections about the plagiarism of her work, she received a phone call from Churchill in the middle of the night promising, “I'll get you for this."

If the numerous accounts relayed above are reliable, and I believe that they are since in my research I have yet to see Churchill offer anything but rhetoric in defense of himself, we can reasonably deduce that the man is a fraud and a charlatan without enough sense to keep a low profile in order to avoid blowing his charade. So why should we care what he says? Free speech is an integral part of American liberty and he is entitled, in fact encouraged, to express his opinion freely. Though I found his comments, indeed his essay as a whole, absolutely disgusting I have no problem with the fact that he was able to say what he did. His essay, “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens” if nothing else proved that he was right. Chickens do come home to roost and right now the poultry that Churchill released have invaded his yard and are currently shitting on his car.
My problem in this whole affair lies with the University of Colorado for not only employing the fraud, but thinking highly enough of him to make him the Head of Ethnic Studies even though he is not able to grasp the concept that if you do not have Indian ancestry, you are not really an Indian. The fact that they keep this moron tenured is a sad showing of the laughably low academic standards that this institution holds its faculty to and I for one would absolutely refuse to pay them to educate my children there. If my kids want to be instructed by talking monkeys, I’ll see if I can save $800 a credit hour and enroll them in the primate ward of the local ASPCA.
Ward Churchill himself though, should not be silenced. American free speech, and indeed the conservative movement in general, need people like him to continually demonstrate how mindnumbingly stupid and outrageous the far left can actually be.

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