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Wednesday, February 23, 2005
"I never wanted to be a poster boy for academic freedom. You can't give an inch. If you let this one down, you've lost it all."
Visiting University of Colorado professor
He said if you read his essay, he called the "technicians" in the World Trade Center "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who actually did not kill any Jews but made it possible for the trains to run on time and for the Holocaust to take place.
It's obvious, Churchill said, that he did not mean to say children, janitors, firefighters and innocent bystanders were part of that group. Instead, he said, he was referring to investment bankers and others who make the killing of innocents by the U.S. military and U.S. policy possible.
Churchill did address the issue of his ethnicity, admitting that he is not Native American.
"Is he an Indian? Do we really care?" he said, quoting those he called his "white Republican" critics.
"Let's cut to the chase; I am not," he said.
His pedigree is "not important," Churchill said: "The issue is the substance of what is said."
He went on to explain that the issue of whether he is Native American has been blown up by sloppy reporting and reporters quoting other reporters.
His speech drew mostly positive reaction from those who attended. But Tyrone Hogenauer said he was disappointed.
"I thought he was going to talk on free speech," Hogenauer said.
Instead, Churchill talked about himself and attacked his critics the way they are attacking him, Hogenauer said: "It's a sad thing."
UH student Kirsten Chong said her professors assigned her to listen to the speech.
Chong said that because she is native Hawaiian, she agrees with some of what he said.*
DENVER » University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman warned lawmakers yesterday against rushing to punish a professor who likened some Sept. 11, 2001, victims to Nazis, saying a misstep could land the university in court and make the embattled teacher "a very wealthy man at our expense."
Furious lawmakers threatened to take state funding away from the university over an essay by Ward Churchill, a tenured professor of ethnic studies, who wrote that some "technocrats" killed in the World Trade Center were like Adolf Eichman, who orchestrated the Nazi holocaust.
Gov. Bill Owens has said Churchill should be fired, but Hoffman told a caucus of Republican legislators that the professor's future has to be handled the right way.
"If we approach this issue wrong, not only will every regent be sued personally, but every administrator will be sued personally and professor Churchill will win his lawsuit with triple damages and be back on the faculty, a very wealthy man at our expense," Hoffman said.
The university has launched a review of Churchill's writings and speeches to see if he overstepped academic freedom and should be dismissed. But Hoffman said public debate about firing him only clouds the issue.
"The more talk there is about the need to fire him, the more difficult it becomes for us to do that, if that's what we decide to do," she said.
Republican Sen. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, who introduced a resolution last week urging the university to fire Churchill, did not return a message.
Lamborn said he had been meeting with regents to discuss the resolution because he wanted to avoid any "unintended consequences."
Hoffman said the law protects public employees' right to free speech, "no matter how odious it might be."
Some members of the Board of Regents have suggested reviewing the university's policy of granting tenure, essentially a lifelong appointment. Owens has said lawmakers might want to consider setting statewide standards for when tenure is granted, instead of leaving it to universities.
Hoffman told lawmakers that tampering with tenure would be a mistake that could drive away other faculty members and make it difficult to hire new ones.
"They need to know we have not engaged in a witch hunt," Hoffman said. "We're taking a careful and measured approach."
Thursday, February 24, 2005
» Kirsten Chong, a University of Hawaii student, was misquoted as saying that Colorado professor Ward Churchill was "humorous" and didn't pull "any punches," and that she agreed with much of what Churchill said. She said only that because she is native Hawaiian, she agrees with some of what he said.
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