American Association of University Professors Calls for Ward Churchill’s Reinstatement

On 7 April 2009, the National Council of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) supported Ward Churchill’s pursuit of reinstatement at the University of Colorado (CU). The AAUP approved the following resolution:

“We believe the disputes over Ward Churchill’s publications should have been allowed to work themselves out in traditional scholarly venues, not referred to disciplinary hearings. We believe Churchill should be reinstated to his faculty position at the University of Colorado.”

This is in fact a position that is more in line with what is once again a growing academic consensus that normal academic fora are the best way to address disagreements over research, rather than have committees, charged with the ultimate intention of “disciplining” an academic decide on what is the single truth and the only methodology by which to arrive at it.

That the decision to investigate Churchill’s record for any “misconduct” was politically motivated, and thus part of a premeditated effort to expel Churchill, has been definitively settled by a fair and independent jury. That there should ever have been any doubt about this is quite bewildering given the following statements made to Bill O’Reilly on Fox “News.” The first if from Phil Campos, a CU law professor who took it upon himself to lead a public demonization campaign against Churchill, because his patriotic and nationalist sensitivities had been clearly hurt by Churchill:

CAMPOS: Well, that’s being looked into right now, and rightfully so. My position on this from the beginning has been that that that 9/11 essay was so appalling that it should have led to an investigation of what other things this person was saying…and whether they brought into question his professional competence. (source)

And of course former Colorado Governor Bill Owens:

O’REILLY: One more question for you. You have basically a strategy, and I want to get this right. You’re not going to pay him off, so he’s not going to get the big bucks. You’re going to go through the lengthy process to prove that he did something that you can legitimately fire him [for], and then he goes — “See you.”

OWENS: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. That process is starting. I think it will ultimately result in him being fired. (source)

It should also be noted that the AAUP as the leading representative academic body in the U.S. has consistently defended Ward Churchill’s right to free speech, and criticized CU for its actions against Ward Churchill (see here and here), which it rightly saw as politically motivated (well before a jury finally confirmed that as a fact). These facts are generally lost in the tightly wound whorls of the hate blogosphere, and among some bottom-rung academics who have tried to score career points by attacking Churchill’s record because they cannot stand Indians talking back and reclaiming their history. Thankfully, some people push back, people like Churchill in fact.

6 thoughts on “American Association of University Professors Calls for Ward Churchill’s Reinstatement

  1. The AAUP was critical of CU before Churchill’s case went to court…and in the intervening years it’s not clear to me that they had much to say. At least one positive aspect of the timing of this statement is that it comes before the judge decides on reinstatement, and he may take this AAUP resolution into account, even if informally.

  2. Yes, I did, and I thought that it was simply another installment in the kind of lopsided, acrimonious, and petty commentary that the court case would have rendered utterly irrelevant were it not for Gary Kamiya’s desire to give vent to his sour grapes. It’s an unimportant and insignificant piece.

    Kamiya makes a number of fatal mistakes. One, he quotes John LaVelle. Note that CU did not dare call this “expert” to the stand at any point during the trial, a trial whose substance seems to be utterly outside of Kamiya’s awareness, since all of these issues were already discussed, and severely dealt with there. LaVelle’s own writing on matters pertaining to Churchill is so soaked with venom and exaggeration that his usefulness as a source was discounted and ultimately dismissed by CU itself.

    Secondly, Kamiya takes at face value and as unquestionable everything printed in the CU investigative committee’s report. Had Kamiya been a scholar, or at least followed the trial, he would or should have been extremely timid and apologetic about advancing such a deeply flawed document, with its many pivotal contradictions, and its own falsification.

    Thirdly, and this is where the article completely falls apart — Kamiya completely missed the point of Churchill’s firing. It was never about some footnote. It was about freedom of speech. That is established fact now. Why does Kamiya choose to ignore the facts here?

    I have no idea who Gary Kamiya may be or what work he has done. Ward Churchill, on the other hand, was quite famous for his written work from many years before his illegal expulsion from the university that hired him. I don’t think Kamiya speaks for “scholarship” nor do I recognize his credentials to speak on this matter. Nor does he show any evidence whatsoever — and evidence supposedly matters for Kamiya — that he has read any of Churchill’s work at all, beyond newspaper clippings of what some said that others said about tiny parts of Churchill’s work. Put simply, Gary Kamiya’s article is crap.

  3. Holy shit, what an article!

    Kamiya’s article puts me in mind of a question I once had when I was a naive teenager about why neo-Nazis deny the Holocaust. Surely if one hates Jews, nonwhites, and others, they ought to be celebrating the Holocaust rather than denying it ever happened. Then I realized that they denied it precisely because they found nothing wrong with it, but couldn’t justify their indifference or support to other people.

    The same thing goes with our lovely liberal writer here. He doesn’t give a damn that the U.S. exists as the direct result of the extirpation of its indigenous peoples, but he’d be hard pressed to justify his indifference rationally.

    Lo and behold, here comes the CU Investigative Committee to his rescue: he can justify his indifference because there’s no evidence that it ever happened! Everyone is happy (except for the remaining population of native peoples, but they don’t really count).

    Like Albert Camus’ Jean-Baptiste Clamence (La Chute), Kamiya is a writer who gives the suffering of other peoples only a “courteous, superficial attention”. Unlike Clamence, Kamiya isn’t even close to being sufficiently self-aware to admit it.

  4. Nullifidian, thanks for that great commentary. I appreciate that kind of sharp insight that makes better sense of things than those who simply adopt a tunnel vision and insist that this whole story is all about a footnote.

    Incidentally, I checked your blog and I was amazed: “The Issue Joined” would have probably been the title for this blog, had I learned of the phrase beforehand. I am adding it to my list of links.

    Thanks very much for visiting.

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