Academics claim to despise censorship, but the truth is we do a remarkably good job of censoring ourselves. This is especially true in regard to affirmative action. Who among us can claim to have spoken up every time a job candidate almost as preposterous as Churchill was submitted for our consideration? Things like the Churchill fiasco are made possible by a web of lies kept intact by a conspiracy of silence.Hear, hear! Ward Churchill is much less interesting himself than what his career says about academia today.
The University of Colorado hired Churchill onto its faculty because he claimed to be an American Indian. Anyone who has the slightest familiarity with research universities can glance at his résumé and state this with something close to complete confidence.
Churchill thus represents the reductio ad absurdum of the contemporary university's willingness to subordinate all other values to affirmative action. When such a grotesque fraud - a white man pretending to be an Indian, an intellectual charlatan spewing polemical garbage festooned with phony footnotes, a shameless demagogue fabricating imaginary historical incidents to justify his pathological hatreds, an apparent plagiarist who steals and distorts the work of real scholars - manages to scam his way into a full professorship at what is still a serious research university, we know the practice of affirmative action has hit rock bottom. Or at least we can hope so.
....Tenure and academic freedom are hard to defend if they don't provide us who benefit from them with the minimal degree of courage necessary to say, when confronted by someone like Churchill, enough is enough.
If even the extraordinary protections of tenure don't lead us to condemn a fraud of this magnitude in unmistakable and unapologetic terms, then we don't deserve them. What else is academic freedom for?
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Paul Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado exposes the perfect hypocrisy surrounding the whole Ward Churchill fiasco.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 12:50 PM