The worst professor in North America has been fired. Yesterday, regents of the University of Colorado voted 8-1 to dismiss Native American activist and ethnic-studies “scholar” Ward Churchill. This is the same Ward Churchill who famously described the victims of 9/11 as “little Eichmanns” who’d been targeted as a “technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire.”
Following the uproar over those comments, an investigation by the Rocky Mountain News revealed that Churchill was a fabricator as well as a hateful kook. In order to promote his ethnic bona fides, for instance, he claimed to be Native American — despite the fact both his parents are white. University investigators found that his published work on native American history was rife with errors and plagiarism. And it was on that basis that he was terminated this week.
Churchill has become something of a folk hero since his obscene rant against the victims of 9/11, and his supporters are now claiming that he is being victimized for his controversial political views. I’d suggest that those cheerleaders review a copy of the university’s latest findings in regard to Mr. Churchill’s ethnic-studies scholarship — as well as the damning May 9, 2006 investigative report upon which the regents have relied. They show that Mr. Churchill was a dishonest scholar who, when confronted with his fabrications, lamely fell back on the vague claim that he was relying on native American “oral history.”
Mr. Churchill says he will now sue the University of Colorado to get his job back — on the theory that the real reason he was fired was his repulsive (but First Amendment-protected) beliefs. I expect his suit will fail. But it is worth noting that, even if Mr. Churchill lapses into well-deserved obscurity, something of his fraudulent academic record will continue to infest our libraries and the Internet.
In 1994, for instance, Mr. Churchill published an essay in which he claimed the U.S. military used smallpox-contaminated blankets to wage biological warfare against American Indians of the northern plains — killing more than 125,000 members of the Mandan tribe in the process. At the time, the claim was accepted as yet another example of white brutality against natives — and the story was widely circulated. But subsequent scrutiny of Mr. Churchill’s scholarship shows the story is baseless. As one critical scholar noted, “[Mr.] Churchill has fabricated a genocide that never happened. It is difficult to conceive of a social scientist committing a more egregious violation.”
Mr. Churchill may be out of a job. But, sadly, the pernicious nonsense he spread will be with us for many years to come.
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