In connection with my post for yesterday, “Misunderstanding and Misrepresenting the Charges Against Ward Churchill,” I was delighted to get extra ammunition and free advertising from what appears to be a smear blog whose primary obsession is Ward Churchill, and whose intended aim seems to be the ceaseless production of libel and slander while sleeplessly policing the Web for any possible Churchill sympathizers who deserve a smacking. I say I was delighted, because it is a charmingly American phenomenon: apparent victims of cerebral palsy taking up blogging with such rabid passion. As always, my clinical diagnoses may be mistaken: this may be a veterinary issue, and the problem may simply be distemper.
Let’s look at how a bad argument is made, produced off the cuff. Churchill’s detractors have not only diminished in number, but it seems also in intelligence levels. Let’s begin:
Forte’s main point seems to be that Professor Thomas Brown (who, if we remember correctly, was not on CU’s committee investigating Churchill) in a comment to a blog post over at the Chronicle of Higher Education accuses Churchill of habitual fabrication…
Let’s stop there. Thomas Brown, as I explicitly did say, submitted material to the CU Investigative Committee. I did not say that he was on the Committee. This is what happens when remedial reading lessons get neglected for, say, 30 years.
Forte goes on to define “habitual” for those third-graders following the case…
Apparently the third-graders have been too busy on Pirate Ballerina producing spit balls for Churchill to actually pay any attention.
and then dismisses this straw man with a Cheyfitzian “[a]nd yet, the CU Report only came up with seven select instances, with reference to over 12,000 footnotes.” Well, once they discovered the bodies of two or three boy scouts under John Wayne Gacy’s house, did they really need to find another 11,997 to know what he was?
Hilarious. And is Brown now a straw man? The CU Investigative Committee combed through every page of Churchill’s work, and found only seven questionable items. The blogger above suggests that they stopped when they had enough. Where does it say in the Investigative Committee’s report that they found many other questionable items, but felt no need to investigate them because seven was enough? The answer: nowhere. And the foolish idea that any police force would stop looking once it found three bodies, and would look for no more, is the kind of thinking that is the by product of an unhealthy love affair with crystal meth.
(Making Forte’s argument even more specious is the fact that he doesn’t even bother to confirm that the author of the CHE blog comment is actually Brown.)
Since that blogger is an authority on specious arguments, I will say that I am not really Max Forte. Perhaps when Thomas Brown Googles his own name, and discovers that someone posted under his name, then he can stand up and proclaim innocence. Until then, “Thomas Brown” is Thomas Brown, especially when making use of Thomas Brown’s actual arguments and previous work. Apparently the attack blogger is so embarrassed to see Brown get a taste of his own medicine, that an escape route had to be fabricated: maybe he isn’t Thomas Brown. Hilarious again.
Astonishingly, Forte later equates Churchill’s invention of people who never existed in order to bolster his historical fabrication to Brown’s use (in one of his refutations of Churchill’s defense) of an imaginary college student to demonstrate the immorality of Churchill’s historical misdeeds.
Astonishingly, nowhere in the CU Investigative Committee’s report is there any charge of Churchill making up historical characters, and then making up their dialogues, that is not then contradicted by other parts of the same report. These people attack “fabrication,” by engaging in outright fabrication (as they did in their comments below, and on that same libel blog following this post — even fabricating a comment that is made to look as if I posted it). And when you need to advance your cause by spewing lies, and the lies are proven as such, what does it say about your cause?
One of our rotating quotes is from Friedrich Nietzsche: “‘The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it with faulty arguments.” Mission accomplished, Forte.
Thank you. But you misunderstood Nietzsche — unsurprisingly — as you should have seen your clear reflection in his words. You can attack Churchill if you like, but don’t lose your marbles in the process. Hopefully, we can look forward to critics who have a greater sense of dignity. If not, then…