I can’t get enough of the unfolding saga of Ward “Little Eichmanns” Churchill, the University of Colorado-Boulder professor who thinks the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Towers were just like the Nazis who butchered Jews.
The latest (thanks, Michelle Malkin): Hundreds of CU-Boulder faculty members have taken out an ad in the campus newspaper, the Boulder Daily Camera, urging the university not to fire Churchill from his $94,000-a-year tenured professor’s position, even though he: a) Isn’t exactly the American Indian he’s held himself out to be all these years; and b) is alleged by other professors to have fabricated some of his “scholarship” (it actually consists solely of advocacy articles and books published by radical presses), including the whole-cloth invention of a supposed massacre of Indians by the U.S. Army in 1837.
No problem, say the CU-Boulder professors: Churchill is a victim of a vast right-wing conspiracy to choke off his academic freedom, so let’s keep him on the job.
Now, as readers of this blog know, I’m all for academic freedom, and as far as I’m concerned, Churchill could call George Bush Hitler (oh wait! I bet he already has!) and still keep his job, as long as he didn’t turn his classroom into a forum for political proselytizing. Churchill’s problems go a little deeper than that. So far, the following has emerged:
1) Despite his Sitting Bull ‘do and persistent use of the pronoun “we” in reference to various incidents of paleface oppression of Native Americans, Churchill is–and looks–about as Indian as Kennewick Man. That is, he’s by his own admission only 1/16th Indian (a single Indian great-great-grandparent!) and an “associate” member of some tribe or other. The American Indian Movement disowns him.
2) According to the Rocky Mountain News (click here and here), Churchill got his tenured faculty post (and guarantee of lifetime job security) at CU-Boulder in 1991–despite his lack of a doctoral degree, which is usually the sine qua non for such a position–by sheer mistake, a mistake that had a lot to do with the fact that everyone at the university was under the impression that he was a lot more Indian than he’s turned out to be.
At the time, Churchill, who has a master’s degree in communications, was teaching at CU-Boulder in a lowly non-tenure-track position and running a tutoring program for minority students. Somehow the university got the impression that he had been offered a competing job as a full professor at California State University-Northridge, whereas in actuality he had merely applied for the position and received a form rejection letter because his lack of a Ph.D. barred him from serious consideration. CU-Boulder administrators decided to snap up Churchill precisely because he was supposed to be an American Indian, bypassing the university’s usually rigorous process of tenure review, which includes review of the candidate’s scholarship by an outside panel of scholars.
The Rocky Mountain News reports:
“Although Churchill’s scholarship is under fire now for alleged sloppiness and fabrication, CU officials in 1990 considered him an expert in American Indian studies who might be lost to another school.
“‘Ward is certainly being courted by other universities as a significant Indian scholar and teacher. It would be a shame to lose him because of a standard which may be irrelevant in this case,’ [then-vice chancellor for academic services Kaye] Howe wrote [Dean of Arts and Sciences Charles] Middleton in an e-mail, referring to Churchill’s lack of a doctorate.”
Isn’t affirmative action great? CU-Boulder’s grant of tenure, and eventually a position as head of the university’s ethnic-studies department supervising scholars with doctorates from Yale, UC-Berkeley, and elsewhere (he’s since resigned, although he’s still a full professor), helped launched his lucrative sideline career as a lecture-circuit radical. He was all set to to make one of his signature firebrand speeches denouncing the U.S. government at Hamilton College in January when the “little Eichmanns” story broke.
My favorite aspect of the Churchill saga, however, is his other sideline business as an alleged art plagiarist. The television station CBS News 4-Colorado has been reporting on Churchill’s 1981 seriograph “Winter Attack,” depicting mounted Plains Indians with their weapons in a snowy landscape. Turns out that the seriograph is nearly an exact mirror image of a pen-an-ink drawing in the renowned artist Thomas H. Mails’s 1972 book, “The Mystic Warriors of the Plains.” Churchill now says he told everyone his seriograph was a copy of Mails’s drawing, but nobody (including a guy who bought the seriograph for $150) can remember actually hearing that from him–and Mails’s son says his late father never granted Churchill permission to use his copyrighted work. (Click to the Say Anything blog to compare the two artworks for yourself.)
And when CBS4 confronted Churchill with his seriograph a coupld, Churchill made his own Winter Attack–on the reporter. Here’s the transcript:
“CBS4 News reporter Raj Chohan: ‘This is an artwork we’ve got called “Winter Attack.” It looks like it was based on a Thomas Mails painting; it looks like you ripped it off. Can you tell us about that?’
“That prompted Churchill to take a swing at Chohan.
“The exchange continued:
“Chohan: ‘Sir, that’s assault, you can’t do that. Can I ask you about this? It looks like you copied it.’
“Churchill: ‘I was just grabbed by the arm. Get that out of my face.’
“Chohan: ‘Sir, we’re allowed to take pictures, this is a public space.’
“Churchill: ‘He’s not allowed to grab my arm.’
“Chohan: ‘He didn’t touch you sir, we’ve got it all on tape. Sir, this is called Winter Attack. It’s an artwork by you. It looks like it was copied from Thomas Mails artwork. Can we talk to you about that please?”
Churchill is raising an interesting defense to the art-plagiarism allegation: I Didn’t Get Caught, So Now It’s Too Late:
“‘And the time it was done, incidentally, 25 years ago, so how did this suddenly become a news item?’ Churchill asked. ‘A quarter century after the fact, in the midst of all this?'”
Uh-Huh. We all know that Ward Churchill, despite his lack of rudimentary academic credentials and evident career as a poseur, is a martyr to the right, so how dare anyone question his resume? Just ask the CU-Boulder faculty. They love him.