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February 08, 2005

Martyrdom Lost

Churchill's critics have always been at risk of turning him into a martyr. As long as his scholarship was beyond reproach, Churchill could later claim to have been drummed out for speaking truth to power, or some such nonsense.

Paul Campos, himself a law professor at CU, has done some spadework on that front this morning ("Truth Tricky for Churchill"):

Academic freedom must be protected, which is why I'm continuing to write about this matter. A version of academic freedom that protects Churchill from appropriate sanctions isn't sustainable either as a political or an ethical matter....

To the extent that Churchill was hired because he claimed to be a Native American, he would seem to be guilty of academic fraud. But the situation is worse than this.

Campos goes on to cite Thomas Brown at Lamar University who claims (and documents) that Churchill made up an 1837 smallpox attack by the US Army in order to defend himself in court, in regards to yet another Columbus Day Parade episode. (Note to Ward: it's now 1493. It's a round, round world.)

Make no mistake. Brown is documenting actual academic fraud, passively aided and abetted by a politically monolithic academic community that wants to believe.

Campos also cites University of New Mexico law prof John P. LaValle. LaValle also considered Churchill guilty of academic fraud. His most well-known journal article, "The General Allotment Act "Eligibility" Hoax," is not on line. It did appear in Wicazo Sa Review, a university-published journal, although not a peer-reviewed one.

I was able to find an earlier book review from American Indian Quarterly, (Winter96), which is peer-reviewed. Since it's not online, I'll quote from it here. In it, LaValle shows that Churchill simply makes up claims concerning the General Allotment Act, and quotes other researchers out of context and out of century.

Suffice it to say that while the True Believers won't be impressed, there's plenty of evidence that Churchill is little more than a bully, good with insults, but with the facts, not so much.

UPDATE: Instead of including the article in an Extended Entry, I've made it a separate blog posting. Should I receive any complaints from the copyright holders, I'll go ahead and email a copy to anyone who's interested.

Posted by joshuasharf at February 8, 2005 08:00 AM | TrackBack

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