Ward Churchill Fired

The American academy, and the American society, is poorer today, as we continue to stifle academic free speech, even that which is as meticulously documented and backed up as Ward Churchill’s (I dare anyone to read his footnotes to any of his serious articles, follow the citations up, and then claim that his arguments are unfounded).

Churchill was fired from his position yesterday at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He’s suing, which he should, but hopefully the rest of the country, including those who disagree with him, will wake up and realize that the new McCarthyism is the same as the old, and it is still unacceptable.


5 thoughts on “Ward Churchill Fired

  1. White Spade says:


    Perhaps you might offer what you actually like about Ward Churchill’s scholarship.

    Or were you simply out to voice support for a targeted intellectual?

    I’ve read only one piece by him and I did not find it to be rigorous scholarship. He was dismissive of Nietzsche with the breeziest pejoratives. (Sadly ironic, as there is probably no other recent (European) thinker who opened the door wider for the postmodernists and various multiculturalist phalanxes.)

    I also detected a sharply pungent note of eugenics in his quasi-mystical musings on certain Native American conceptions of time and the like. In fact the entire article struck most of us who read it as a screed against anyone and everyone who had yet to recognize the grand achievements of any and every “native” from both North and South America, e.g., Incan brain surgery techniques that were “far more sophisticated” than those coevally used in Europe.

    There are also claims that Churchill was not entirely honest about his enrollment or involvement with Native Americans and their schools.

    My feeling is more that Churchill is a pissed-off Vietnam veteran whose intellectual capacity has been clouded over by intense resentment. He and bell hooks often overstep into hysterical hyperbole; the result is that the worthy insights into historical power relations they offer end up being dismissed out of hand by the vast swath of students whom they rub so very much the wrong way.

  2. I won’t spend my time on it, though I do in fact agree with much if not almost all of Prof. Churchill’s writings. That is not the point. However, an eloquent essay written in by Famous Native Americanist Professor Gary Witherspoon in the industry journal Inside Higher Ed does a better job than I could anyway. [link

  3. White Spade says:

    Thanks for the link, Erik, but the article again failed to convince. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like “Indigenous peoples” scholars working in the U.S. nurse a fanciful monolithic image of Native Americans as the most peaceful, technologically advanced people the planet has ever been blessed with. (I, for one, would like to know why tribes became necessary, or, human sacrifice for that matter. But I’ll leave off on that…)

    I don’t know the issues involved well enough to comment on specific episodes in “history” that are raised.

    An interesting attending question, though, is why HAVEN’T other inflammatory scholars like the UT-Austin professor who made some insensitive remarks about the targeted civilians in the towers (especially in light of Kellner’s claims that a “right-wing cabal” even managed to usurp the Philosophy department there of all departments), or Peter McLaren, who, impressive lexical jousting and all, courts controversy in his own inimitable way as often as most of us hit the gym, been targeted with the same intensity by this nebulous right-wing project Witherspoon and so many others discern?

    Someone needs to dig a little deeper – beyond the banal right-wing plot accusations. The Left, as anyone who survived the Clinton 90s knows, certainly ain’t no monolith; there’s still space for legit dissent from within, too.

  4. I won’t respond to this in detail. I find your arguments here deeply offensive. That’s not important however. What precisely strikes you as unconvincing in the picture Witherspoon, Churchill, and a raft of others, including well respected academics – paint of indigenous peoples. And why the quotes around ‘indigenous?’

    Settler triumphalism, when it is forced to acknowledge the basic humanity of indigenous people, always makes two claims: (1) We, the settlers are just as good as the indigenous, a word which has no real meaning, and (2) Anyone who defends the indigenous are guilty of stupid romanticization.

    No actual knowledge or scholarship seems to be necessary to make these accusations, just a smug assurance that one belongs to the winning team.

  5. White Spade says:

    I think you’ve cast my points in black and white opposition, perhaps. I may not have written clearly, as well. I certainly don’t deny the intrusion of Europeans, it’s just that I think there are a couple of problems: 1) the sense of anyone’s “indigenous right to land” (a notion which is not clear from within the Native Americans own existing worldview at the the time of the invasion); and 2)the history of (at times, internecine) tribal warfare amongst the different groups. Unless that was a fabrication, too.

    I put indigenous in quotes because it is an academic creation, not something clearly narrativized by the various peoples themselves at the time. It casts a lot of disparate groups into one category in an awkward way.

    Really, tell me that you do not find Witherspoon’s characterization of indigenous peoples in America just a bit reaching and romantic, and I’ll gladly shut up. My suggestion was that maybe W.C. had stepped on a few too many toes somehow, and it wasn’t simply reducible to a right-wing hatchet job, i.e., thoughtful persons outside the right-wing may have been troubled by either his remarks on the towers or his claims of Native American upbringing/knowledge or something else. Is this possible? Or is the Left solidly united behind these remarks? One can defend the indigenous without casting them as entirely innocent, peaceful persons, can’t one?

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