The University of Colorado’s
governing board fired a professor whose essay likening some Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack victims
to a Nazi leader provoked national outrage and led to an investigation of
Ward Churchill, who had vowed to sue if the Board of Regents
took action against him, said immediately after the 8-1 vote was announced
Tuesday: “New game, new game.”
Three faculty committees had accused Churchill of
plagiarism, falsification and other misconduct. The research allegations stem
from some of Churchill’s other writings, although the investigation began after
the controversy over his Sept. 11 essay.
“The decision was really pretty basic,” said
university President Hank Brown, adding that the school had little choice but
to fire Churchill to protect the integrity of the university’s research.
“The individual did not express regret, did not
apologize, did not indicate a willingness to refrain from this type of
falsification in the future,” Brown said.
Churchill’s essay mentioning Sept. 11 victims and Nazi
leader Adolf Eichmann prompted a chorus of demands for his firing, but
university officials concluded it was protected speech under the First
Brown had recommended in May that the regents fire Churchill
after faculty committees accused him of misconduct in some of his academic
writing. The allegations included misrepresenting the effects of federal laws
on American Indians, fabricating evidence that the Army deliberately spread
smallpox to Mandan Indians in 1837, and claiming the work of a Canadian
environmental group as his own.
But the essay that thrust Churchill into the national
spotlight, titled “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting
Chickens,” was not part of the investigation.
That essay and a follow-up book argued that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks were a response to a long history of U.S.
abuses. Churchill said those killed in the World
collapse were “a technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s
global financial empire” and called them “little Eichmanns.”
Churchill has said Eichmann was a bureaucrat who carried out
policies like the Holocaust that were planned by others but was still
responsible for his own actions.
Churchill wrote the piece shortly after the attacks, but it
drew little notice until 2005, when a professor at Hamilton
College in upstate New
York called attention to it when Churchill was
invited to speak there.
In the uproar that followed, the regents apologized to
“all Americans” for the essay, and the Colorado Legislature labeled
Churchill’s remarks “evil and inflammatory.”
Bill Owens, then governor of Colorado,
said Churchill should be fired, and George Pataki, then governor of New
York, called Churchill a “bigoted terrorist
School officials concluded Churchill couldn’t be dismissed
because he was exercising his First Amendment rights. But they launched the
investigation into his research in other work.
A faculty committee and an interim chancellor recommended Churchill
be fired. When a second committee reviewed the case, three of its five members
recommended a suspension. The other two said he should be fired.
Churchill remained on the university payroll but had been
out of the classroom since spring 2006, first because he was on leave and later
because the school relieved him of teaching duties after the interim chancellor
recommended he be fired.
“I am going nowhere,” Churchill told reporters,
calling the academic investigation “a farce” and “a fraud.”
Churchill’s attorney, David Lane,
said that the decision was retribution for Churchill’s Sept. 11 remarks and
that he would file suit on Wednesday.
“For the public at large, the message is there will be
a payback for free speech,” Lane said. “It sends a message out to the
academic community generally that if you stick your neck out and make
politically inflammatory comments, you will be dragged through the mud for two
years and you will ultimately have your tenure terminated.”
– Associated Press
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