Fundamentalism versus Academic Freedom: More on Ward Churchill

I recommend this excellent commentary from Marc Tyrell about the meaning of the judgment against Ward Churchill by Judge Larry Naves, along with a video concerning the verdict. Readers will know that Marc is certainly tolerant of radical leftists, but no great admirer of their positions, and he has been a steady advocate for applied military anthropology in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, he recognizes the issues that this trial raises for all of us: in certain universities, Marc might be banished if this judgment were adopted and applied; in other universities, I would be the one to suffer the fate. In this situation, Churchill is the first test case. What are we going to do about it?

The point is that regardless of your politics or your feelings about Churchill, Naves’ “judgment” is universally repugnant, only praised by those whose obsessions have driven them to the feed on the bottommost residue of their ideological septic tanks. While the lead legal blog covering the trial argued that Churchill had been denied even a Pyrrhic victory, the fact is that the Pyrrhic victory belongs now to the University of Colorado, its ruling clique, and all academics who support or abide by this decision, since it represents the loss of free speech and academic integrity.

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4 thoughts on “Fundamentalism versus Academic Freedom: More on Ward Churchill

  1. Marc Tyrrell

    Hi Max,

    Thanks for the laudatory words ;-). You’re right, I am afraid of the results of this trial, both for the university system and for society as a whole. This is a pattern of action / behaviour that we, as a species, have seen before and it is a dangerous one – a “self-licking ice cream cone” to quote a few friends of mine.

    I have seen an increasing trend towards, as you put, “ideological septic tanks” – right, left, centre or out in cloud coocoo land – and I am profoundly disturbed by it. As to what we can do about it, I’m not sure – keep writing, teaching and doing our work in opposition to insanity is part of it. I think that it is also critical to hold the principle of agree to disagree and to spread that.



  2. Frenchguy

    I wonder what one could learn from the discrepancy between the jury’s opinions, and the judge’s one.

    Welcome to the land of Democracy.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I think that one thing we can learn is what Russell Means said:

      “This ruling simply confirms what we have observed so often. When given access to the facts, regular people on the street can make clear, reasoned decisions that uphold constitutional values. It is rare, however, to find persons in positions of power who will not bow to political pressure.”

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