March 09, 2005
So, with the end of CU's Canterbury Tales of Hoffman approaching, it's time to choose a new President.
The RMA has decided to offer its services to the Board of Regents as a - screening - service. We'll be taking applications, and in the spirit of the blogosphere, debating them openly over at Adult Supervision, our group blog devoted to this process.
Stop by, take a look, comment, hell apply. You never know - you might win a chance to be the next President of CU!
Big Shoes to Fill
The Rocky Mountain Alliance of Blogs has been solicited for its endorsement of a candidate to replace Elizabeth Hoffman as president of the University of Colorado. On Monday during his radio show, the eminent Hugh Hewitt submitted his name in candidacy. On Tuesday King Banaian of SCSU Scholars also submitted his name in candidacy, specifically requesting the RMA’s endorsement.
The RMA, as the premier representative of Colorado’s new center-right media, will issue its official endorsement for the new CU President on Monday, March 21. The RMA will take into consideration all available posted information on candidate qualifications and is not immune to various forms of flattery and other inducements. Hugh Hewitt is the apparent front-runner due to greater name recognition, but King Banaian has offered more detailed plans and - more importantly - is willing to become a Denver Broncos fan.
Other candidates are invited to submit their names for consideration but will be judged on a first-come, first-served, “as time permits” basis. Thank you for your participation.
Serious candidates may apply by sending an e-mail to Jim of Thinking Right (firstname.lastname@example.org).
March 08, 2005
Back in the Good Old Days, at Virginia, we used to fret about something called "creeping (galloping) State-Uism." Virginia was the non-State U State University. We didn't want to be a State U, we wanted to be The University. I actually had friends who rooted against the school's athletic teams.
We had a pep band, like the scramble bands from Up No'th. Never mind that our governor was frequently apologizing to West Virginia's or Maryland's governor for some joke. ("Will the car with West Virginia tags 'SAT 400' please report to your vehicle...") When some alumnus donated the money for a marching band a few years ago, it was not only a sign of how the University had failed to perpetuate its culture, it was Gallavanting State-Uism.
Flash forward to 2005. In the last couple of years, it's become clear that Colorado's branding initiative has yielded a football helmet. And now, the brand is so tarnished that if you tried to polish it, it would break apart like some relic from the Titanic. Sex scandals, recruiting scandals, alcohol scandals, money scandals, CU Foundations, summer camps. Hey, Just Win, Baby.
Hugh wants to run for President of CU on a "Beat Nebraska" platform, which just goes to show that Harvard's own brand is a little over-rated, too.
What we were afraid of back at Virginia? We were afraid of becoming Colorado.
March 07, 2005
It appears as though Ward Churchill's people have acquired their first scalp, collateral damage though it may be.
March 04, 2005
The Open Letter From Closed Minds
Hoffman and the Faculty
CU President Betsy Hoffman yesterday set the stage for a recommendation of action against Ward Churchill, or at least, played for time. She made an - impassioned - defense of academic freedom in front of the faculty, but made the point that the investigation had gone beyond speech into the possibility of actual misconduct.
She's trying to placate the faculty, and at the same trying to head off a lawsuit in the event that they do try to fire Churchill. She's playing politican, not leader, and her stock has fallen far too low for her to get away with it at this point. Even Rocky columnist Mike Littwin, no fan of the governor, wrote that Hoffman had badly overplayed her hand in her testimony yesterday at the state capitol.
Hoffman's been flailing recently, trying to save her job, even as it becomes more and more clear that the university has been out of control on all levels for decades. For that reason, House Minority Leader Joe Stengel issued a press release calling for Hoffman to resign. That's almost certainly a necessary but very insufficient condition for fixing the school.
February 28, 2005
CU Exit Strategy
I laid off the Ward Churchill blogging last week, mostly because it looked like the week's big story, the Great Hawaiian I'm Not an Indian Admission, blew over the day after. Then, of course, it turns out he forged a painting and took a swing at a reporter who asked him about it.
This week, it's the return of the inmates, as CU professors demand an end to the investigation, and the administration begins making noises about a settlement. This is what an "exit strategy" brings you, and it ain't pretty.
Meanwhile Jim "Strawman" Spencer is hard at work turning Churchill into a mildly outspoken martyr who just got in over his head. Sure, the department's tenuring of someone as blatantly unqualified as Churchill is rare. But it could only have happened in a series of departments so beset by groupthink that nobody bothered to challenge what was happening.
Spencer also joins the profs in trying to limit the issue to free speech. I don't care even for that case in this event, but the fact is that Churchill now stands accused of offending academia even on its own, more insular, terms. He has, evidently, deliberately distorted the plain meaning of texts, made stuff up, stolen other stuff, lied about himself, his past, his ethnicity, bullied students and newspapers who dared to ask questions.
The professors call this a "distraction." I'm sure it is.
Last word goes to reader Merlin Klotz:
The position of academics who suggest that "it is going to be extremely difficult, if academic freedom is on the block, for us to hire and keep good faculty members" rings hollow if good faculty members are reduced to only those that support multiple forms of academic fraud. On the contrary, the very best in faculty candidates would be embarrassed to be associated with an institution that supports in its very principles the standards of ethics and truth set by Mr. Churchill.
February 22, 2005
President Hoffman Speaks
Just came from a Republican House caucus meeting, where CU Regent Tom Lucero and CU President Betsy Hoffman both spoke. Both knew there was press in the room, so both knew their talks were on the record.
Probably the most interesting moment came when one representative asked about the man/woman imbalance at college, with almost all schools having many more women undergrads than men. Hoffman replied that CU has a 51/49 male-to-female ratio, so they hadn't entered that world yet. "And," she continued, "in a school with a stronger science and math component, you're less likely to see that sort of imbalance."
She did not offer to explain, nor was she asked, why that might be the case. Nevertheless, she's not the only one to notice.
Hoffman also spoke about the Ward Churchill affair, going over the very strong tenure procedures that exist at the school, and once again proving that the problem is almost never one of process, and almost always one of judgment.
President Hoffman did spend a fair amount of time reminding us of CU's contributions to the state as a research institution, both in space and in medical research. Example: I remember having a discussion recently where the subject of blindness cause by macular degeneration came up, and I winced at the mention. CU has a drug - Macugen - poised for final FDA approval which will help reverse its effects and become the leading treatment.
In all the controversy - and it's been considerable this year - it's easy to lose sight of exactly why we do care about the school.
February 18, 2005
From today's Rocky, more interviews with the foxes guarding the henhouse a few years back:
The idea of placing Churchill in communications came from then-Dean of Arts and Sciences Charles Middleton, the former department chairman, John Bowers, recalled Thursday.
Does anyone still not get the idea of groupthink? There didn't have to be a conspiracy. All they needed was complete uniformity of opinion on the matter of genetic diversity.
"And I agree with that. I'm not saying that critically," he added.
No doubt. Nothing reinforces the true believer's faith like contrary evidence.
"We were always trying to add diversity to the faculty," Middleton said. "But the qualifications for faculty appointments always govern the parameters within which we can consider somebody."
We followed the rules! Yes, of course you followed the rules. Nobody's saying you didn't sign all the right papers. They're saying that you got to the point where an ideological commitment to ethnic bean-counting led to a complete suspension of judgment.
And there were a few other faculty members who, like Churchill, lacked a doctorate.
Yes, I'm sure there were. I'm sure that there were exceptional intellects who lacked this or that qualification. They're expected to make up for their weaknesses with other strengths. We tolerate all sorts of weaknesses in people we admire because we value other strengths, but you don't pattern yourself after those weaknesses. Churchill is like the football player who's slow and makes up for it by being small. And even now, the coach can't admit he can't remember just what he was thinking when he put him on the squad.
February 17, 2005
KNUS-710 is running ads for something called "zero-rez," which always sounds to me like a promo for Ward Churchill's ancestral homeland...
Speaking of which, the Rocky has now apparently decided to treat Ward Churchill like my dog treated the only rabbit he ever caught. In rapid succession, then, there were abundant warning signs. Anyone who can make Vernon Bellecourt sound like a reasonable man has pretty much pegged the lunacy meter. Note to MSM: be careful with this guy; he's been voted "Most Likely to Overstate his Claims" several times. There's a lot of internal politics we don't quite get here.
In the meantime, none of the parties involved can seem to remember exactly what process led them to suspend all judgment in giving this guy tenure. I applaud the academy's willingness to make exceptions for exceptional people lacking credentials. But if you're not going to focus on inputs, you'd better take a long, hard look at the outputs before you do that.
And former Senator Ben Campbell is upset that the position didn't go to a real Indian instead. I'm more upset that it didn't go to a real scholar.
February 16, 2005
Stop the Branding, Get Back to Teaching
Cold Spring Shops has an excellent post on the rot in academic scholarship. I would just repeat that the faculty has managed to free itself from any meaningful oversight. We can talk about fixing the tenure process all we want, but I have an increasingly uncomfortable feeling that the problem is tenure itself.
The venerable Harvey Mansfield has a masterpiece on fixing the curriculum up at the Claremont Review of Books.
MSM - Not Dead Yet
The Rocky - including reporter Charlie Brennan, who I thought shied away from asking some tough questions early in this story - is all over CU this morning like a cheap suit.
A fuller accounting of how Churchill got tenure in the first place is available, as well as some rumblings of a lawsuit that Owens had thought might be in the offing. And now the CU Foundation is resisting an audit, practically begging the legislature to pry open their books.
A couple of quick points. First, this is what we want and expect from the MSM. They have the resources to do the job right if they want. Frequently, if the subject isn't themselves, they want.
Second, note to the CU Foundation: this might not be the best time in the world to pick a fight over independence. When the secret fraternity greeting is "Drinks and Hookers for Everyone!" and the secret handshake is clinking glasses, I'd say you're better off at least looking contrite. Ron Tupa is a left-leaning legislator with ambitions for higher office. He's your friend, not your enemy.
For discussion: what outside force will cause academia to reform?
February 15, 2005
The Liberal Case for Sacking Churchill
Paul Campos makes the liberal case for sacking Ward Churchill:
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.
If only the MSM could be as self-critical about its privileges.
I would disagree that affirmative action is necessary for alternate viewpoints to be heard. Whites can teach effectively about Indian history, and (actual) Indians about the westward expansion, for that matter. Campos believes that intellectual diversity is what matters, but he wants to hold onto the idea that affirmative action can promote, rather than stunt it.
February 14, 2005
Brand U - II
You know your brand has a problem when it starts showing up in Scrappleface.
"Venezuela, an oil-rich land of 25 million citizens, has suffered for years under the vagaries of democracy and capitalism," said an unnamed professor at the University of Colorado (C.U.), "but Mr. Chavez has ushered in a new golden age of Venezuelan glory...
February 13, 2005
The folks over at Division of Labour have uncovered this case of academic freedom as applied to conservatives in Colorado:
When considering how to handle the Weird Churchill matter, it might be instructive to see how the Colorado public university system dealt with a similar matter in 1997. Luis Chavez, an Hispanic faculty member at Pikes Peak Community College, wrote a satirical proposal for an academic program “Gringo American Studies.” Citing court papers, the Rocky Mountain News reported that the proposal "parodied academic minority studies programs and addressed racial/ethnic issues by applying the minority studies format to a study of 'Gringo American' culture."
I could find no statement from the AAUP on this incident.
Via No Left Turns.
February 12, 2005
Summers V. Churchill
Some comment has been made of the differing reactions by academia and faculty to the Lawrence Summers case and Ward Churchill's. Reader Eric Johnson, an attorney who's also a CU Law School alum, sent this off to the AAUP:
Does it not bother you at all when considerations of academic
and got this rather snippy response from Ruth Flower of the AAUP:
We did talk about intervening on behalf of Summer's academic freedom; but no one was firing him or disciplining him, or threatening to kill him. People were just disagreeing with him. If that's all that was happening in Ward Churchill's case, there wouldn't be a problem, would there.
Leave aside for a moment the spectacle of a woman professor objecting to supposed sexual stereotyping by threatening to faint. I spoke to a CU professor about the two, and when I brought up Churchill, in very measured tones, I was assured that nobody else on campus agreed with him. When I brought up Summers, I got a slightly snappish, "Oh right, he said women can't do math," which isn't at all what he said, and if she could do math, she would know that.
Still, there's a lot to unpack here. Johnson points out that she didn't address at all the questions of Churchill's blatant dishonesty. While their initial statement on the matter came when the only thing at issue was his politics, since then, enough has been uncovered for the AAUP to at least release a statement admitting that those would be ligitimate grounds for dismissal. They could add all the "due process" and "if proven" clauses they wanted.
Moreover, one of the tenets that the AAUP has agreed to is that professors shouldn't introduce extraneous, irrelevant political material into their classrooms. Given the nature of Ethnic Studies, I suppose they'd claim that the orbit of the moon was relevant, but any sensible reading of that clause would put Churchill well over the line.
I do think that the whole death threats thing is a little overblown. Churchill himself has never complained about them, at least in part because his students were making them up. But really, professors have been saying stupid things for decades, and truly outrageous things since 9/11, and the only ones getting killed are by the Islamofascists.
Remember that Churchill and Summers were both administrators, and Churchill has had to give up his administrative position. In that sense, academic is being consistent. However, it's obvious where their heart is.
Other than that, there seems to be an assumption that tenured professors can humiliate and embarass their universities with abandon, all the while commanding $95,000 salaries, and trading on the names of those very universities to get book deals and speaking engagements. I'm sorry, I simply don't see where academic freedom plays a role in destroying the institutions that nurture you.
Hey, I Knew Thomas Jefferson...
Jim Hu over at Blogs for Industry has been busy checking out Churchill's resume, and finds that he is claiming to have received a university Thomas Jefferson Award for Civic Contributions. The university seems to think otherwise.
As a grad of Mr. Jefferson's University, I have some problems with taking his name in vain like this. Obviously, I'd also have problems if it were true, but that's another matter...
February 11, 2005
He became affiliated with activist groups upon his return to Illinois and began teaching the radical Weather Underground how to make bombs, the Post story said. He started working for the American Indian Movement in 1972.
This is apparently a reference to the same 1987 Post article that both reader (and CU Law alum) Eric Johnson, and JW have asked me about. (Hat tip to the Camera, which sent me the KHOW link.)
A couple of things stand out from the original article, among them his apparent disgust at his students inadvertantly blowing themselves up. It would seem he wasn't much of a teacher then, either.
While I guess we shouldn't be too shocked at former radicals, even violent ones, showing up on campus, we may also take this with a grain of salt. For Churchill, this kind of involvement just proves his leftist bona fides, so he's got a clear incentive to embellish. And a proven talent for it.
February 10, 2005
One of the news stations was reporting earlier that Governor Owens was toying out loud with having the legislature rewrite the tenure rules. This is kind of a big stick, but I suspect it's one that's better mentioned than used. Kind of like Bill Cosby's dad's "The Belt."
I do think the tenure system has gotten completely out of hand, and needs to be reformed. I also think that there's about zero chance that the nation's faculties will do this themselves. So in the end, the only enforcement that the Adult Supervision has is the legislature. Eventually, when Amendment 23 and TABOR squeeze out public higher education funding, even that stick may be gone.
Still, I think it's better to allow the market a chance to work. Moving ahead solo is just going to make it hard to recruit faculty. I also have little confidence in the ability of the legislature to craft laws that will actually work, and that the faclty won't be able to undermine through inaction or outright sabotage. If enough brands get damaged by maniacs like Churchill, there's a chance reform might happen.
This, like any good Reformation, is a long-term project.
February 08, 2005
Joe McCarthy Moment
Tonight was Ward Churchill's Joe McCarthy moment. (What was that? French Horns.)
CBS had a live feed that worked about as well as their news department ever does, and KOA carried it. I hope other stations around the country picked it up. I hope as many people as possible heard this man's ravings. I hope they have it on MP3. He came across as even more condescending, self-righteously indignant, and arrogant than even the worst of his writings could convey. Anyone with even an ounce of faith in the American people knew in a heartbeat that Wardo was Toasto. It's why the First Amendment guarantees freedom of bleat, and also why we shouldn't be paying for any more of his.
By the end, in response to a Columbus "You over here on a Fulbright?" Day Parade question, he was blathering about how human rights and international treaties and the 9th Amendment mean he gets to put a fist in your mouth if he likes it.
There were some humorless comments about how it was obvious that he didn't mean janitors or firefighters or babies or innocent bystanders or anyone other than Cantor-Fitzgerald bondtraders when he was talking about "little Eichmanns" and how some people have suggested it wasn't a very good metaphor but he disagreed because you could go out and find your own but this one was his and he thought it was obvious what "Eichmann" stood for but he guesses now that some people, like, just don't get it. Well, we’re all a little hostile now and then; some of us can sublimate, others can’t adjust. You know how it is...
I was in the car, and I did hear the start of the talk. He said, and I'm paraphrasing a little, but not much, that "I do not work for the state of Colorado. I do not work for the Board of Regents, at least not in the way that they think I do." And he went on to explain that his academic work is subordinate to his politics.
The good part is that now everyone knows just what he means, and just how ugly it is.
The bad part is that not enough people understand how pervasive it is.
"Sorely Lacking in ... Scholarly Integrity"
Source: American Indian Quarterly; Winter96, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p109, 10p
WARD CHURCHILL. INDIANS ARE US?: CULTURE AND GENOCIDE IN NATIVE NORTH AMERICA. MONROE, ME: COMMON COURAGE PRESS, 1994. 381 PP., NOTES, INDEX. $14.95 PAPER.
Indians Are Us? is a collection of commentaries on American Indian political and social affairs, written in the truculent tone that readers have come to expect from writer Ward Churchill. Like its predecessors, Fantasies of the Master Race and Struggle for the Land, this latest Churchill project consists largely of polemical pieces hastily compiled from obscure leftist publications.
Through the course of all his writings, Churchill gradually has emerged as a spokesman of sorts for those persons derisively referred to as Indian "wannabees"-individuals with no American Indian ancestry or tribal affiliation who nonetheless hold themselves out to the public as "Indians" by aggressively inserting themselves into the political affairs of real Indian people. Churchill's appeal among the "wannabees" lies both in the boldness with which he expresses contempt for Indian tribes, and in the scholarly facade he gives his anti-tribal propositions; indeed, many Churchill fans appear to have been won over by the mere fact that Churchill's books contain an abundance of endnotes. By researching those copious endnotes, however, the discerning reader will discover that, notwithstanding all the provocative sound and fury rumbling through his essays, Churchill's analysis overall is sorely lacking in historical/factual veracity and scholarly integrity.
In Indians Are Us? this problem is best illustrated in Churchill's recurring denunciations of the right of Indian tribes to determine their own members. Tribal self-determination is, of course, an inherent attribute of tribal sovereignty, cherished and fiercely guarded by Indian people against all efforts to deprive tribes of this fundamental right. What is intriguing about Churchill's assault on tribal self-determination is that Churchill launches his attack, ironically, under the guise of championing Indian rights, invoking, in the process, an altogether remarkable revisionist depiction of the history of relations between Indian tribes and the United States government. Thus, in his essay "Nobody's Pet Poodle," Churchill characterizes Indian tribes in the following disparaging manner:
These entities' membership rolls originated in the prevailing federal racial criteria of the late 19th century. The initial U.S. motive in quantifying the number of Indians by blood was to minimize the number of land parcels it would have to assign native people under provision of the 1887 Dawes Act .... Tribal rolls have typically been maintained in this reductionist fashion ever since .... [p. 92]
This peculiar wholesale condemning of Indian tribes by reference to the universally hated 1887 General Allotment Act (or Dawes Act) -- assigning blame, as it were, to the victims of nineteenth century federal Indian policy -- derives from Churchill's insistence that the General Allotment Act imposed an eligibility "standard" of"one-half or more degree of Indian blood" (p. 62) on Indians seeking land parcels under the Act. According to Churchill, this insidious "standard" was then imitated by-tribes, in puppet-like fashion, in formal enrollment procedures "as a matter of U.S. policy implementation" (p. 333). And so, according to Churchill, Indian tribes today deserve to be violently opposed for implementing tribal citizenship standards that, in Churchill's scheme, are nothing more than a mirror-image of the oppressive General Allotment Act's "formal eugenics code" (p. 333).
The main flaw in this federal/tribal conspiracy theory is that it rests on -- and propagates -- demonstrably false information concerning the contents and impact of the General Allotment Act. Contrary to Churchill's claims, the General Allotment Act did not require Indians to be "one-half or more degree of Indian blood" in order to be eligible for land allotments. Churchill's asserted General Allotment Act "standard" does not exist anywhere in the text of the Act. This, in turn, explains why Churchill never once provides a citation to any provision of the General Allotment Act (25 U.S.C. subsection 331 et seq.) wherein that dubious "standard" can be found.
While the General Allotment Act itself simply does not define "Indians" (i.e., those whom the Act renders "eligible" for land allotments), a provision of the Code of Federal Regulations implementing the Act specifies that such eligibility depends on whether the applicant is a recognized member of an Indian tribe or is entitled to be so recognized.
Such qualifications may be shown by the laws and usages of the tribe. [C.F.R. subsection 2531.1(a)] Thus, the General Allotment Act's "standard" is not the "formal eugenics code" asserted by Ward Churchill. Rather, that Act -- like nearly all federal legislation in both historic and modern times -- defers to membership in an Indian tribe as the core criterion for triggering the law's applicability to individuals.
As disturbing as Churchill's use of invented historical information to cast aspersions on Indian tribes plainly is, his additional attempts to "validate" this false propaganda by misrepresenting the views of fellow writers is even more disconcerting. In attempting to prop up his insupportable claims about the nonexistent "eugenics code" of the General Allotment Act, Churchill invokes two sentences from historian Patricia Nelson Limerick's acclaimed book The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. Churchill writes:
As the noted western historian, Patricia Nelson Limerick, has observed: "Set the blood-quantum at one-quarter, hold to it as a rigid definition of Indianness, let intermarriage proceed...and eventually Indians will be defined out of existence. When that happens, the federal government will finally be freed from its persistent 'Indian problem.'" [p. 42]
Churchill then interjects:
Ultimately, there is precious little difference, other than matters of style, between this and what was once called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem." [p. 42]
By placing the quotation from Patricia Nelson Limerick in the midst of his incendiary pronouncements about the "genocidal potential" of the "Indian identification criteria" purportedly contained in the General Allotment Act (and allegedly mimicked by tribes), Churchill makes it appear as though Limerick herself is likewise bemoaning this asserted federal "usurpation" of tribal enrollment under the 1887 legislation.
In reality, however, Limerick is not commenting on the General Allotment Act at all. Rather, she is describing a 1986 proposal of the Reagan Administration to reduce overall federal spending by restricting eligibility for Indian Health Service benefits to Indian tribal members with "at least one-quarter Indian blood" (Limerick, p. 338). As Limerick explains in the very paragraph from which Churchill extracts the two quoted sentences, tribal leaders universally opposed and successfully rebuffed the Reagan proposal precisely because it "threatened to crack the bedrock of tribal self-determination" by making "Indianness a racial definition rather than a category of political nationality" (Limerick, p. 338).
Obviously, these remarks would make no sense at all if Limerick herself were to maintain -- as Churchill insinuates she does -- that this "bedrock of tribal sovereignty" had been successfully "cracked," and "Indianness" successfully subverted, a full century earlier, through tribes' wholesale adoption of the 1887 General Allotment Act's dreaded "eugenics formulation." Thus, Churchill's out-of-context manipulation of the quotation from Patricia Nelson Limerick can be viewed as nothing other than a deliberate attempt to mislead his readers.
Equally astonishing is Churchill's misrepresentation of Russell Thornton's painstaking scholarship. Once again, to artificially validate his own hostility toward tribal membership procedures, Churchill (p. 93) asserts the following: "Cherokee demographer Russell Thornton estimates that, given continued imposition of purely racial definitions, Native America as a whole will have disappeared by the year 2080." Churchill then cites to nine pages from Thornton's definitive American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492.
Nowhere in those nine pages, however, does Russell Thornton make an assertion even remotely resembling the grim, sensational forecast that Churchill attributes to him. In fact, Thornton is decidedly optimistic about the future of Indian tribes throughout the chapter containing those nine pages. The chapter begins, "Since around the turn of the twentieth century American Indians have made a remarkable population recovery as a result of their greatly improved demographic situation" (Thornton, p. 159). Under a heading entitled "A Look to the Future," Thornton points out that "American Indians are thriving today demographically" (Thornton, p. 182) . Thornton continues:
If this rate of growth from 1970 to 1980 continues to the year 2000, the size of the American Indian population then will surpass 4 million .... But, it will likely not continue .... One projection is that the American Indian population will not increase to around 4 million until the year 2020... It is also projected, however, that the American Indian population will increase to almost 16 million by the year 2080 .... [Thornton, p. 182]
Clearly, Russell Thornton's comments concerning various estimates of the future population of American Indians all point to an anticipated increase in that population in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, Ward Churchill, for his own purposes, cites Russell Thornton as authority for an antithetical proposition never put forward by Thornton and implicitly repudiated, in fact, in Thornton's text-i.e., that the American Indian population is in danger of suffering a dramatic decrease in the twenty-first century. A more perverse rendering of the plain meaning of an author's text would be difficult to imagine.
There is no escaping the conclusion that in Indians Are Us? Ward Churchill misrepresents the writings of both Russell Thornton and Patricia Nelson Limerick in order to create a false appearance that these acclaimed scholars corroborate and partake of Churchill's hostility toward Indian tribes. In reality, neither Thornton nor Limerick has ever maintained a disrespectful attitude toward Indian tribes in general or toward the enrollment methods employed by tribes in particular. Indeed, the anti-tribal posturing that Churchill cunningly assigns to Thornton and Limerick is decisively negated by both authors in those very same passages, no less, to which Churchill cites! Numerous other problems plague Ward Churchill's treatment of historical and political issues in Indians Are Us? -- so many problems, in fact, that readers would be well advised to independently investigate the veracity of any inflammatory/defamatory assertion made by Churchill before relying on it or repeating it. Several red flags can be briefly noted:
In the book's "Acknowledgments," Churchill engages in scurrilous name-calling of prominent, widely respected Indian leaders. Among the Indian rights advocates and grassroots community organizers mocked and maligned by Churchill are U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Washington lobbyist Suzan Shown Harjo, and American Indian Movement leaders Vernon Bellecourt, Carole Standing Elk, and Fern Mathias.
The original "Declaration of War" was adopted unanimously as a resolution by both the National Congress of American Indians, representing more than one hundred fifty Indian nations, and by the Lakota Summit, representing all forty Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota nations and bands in the United States and Canada. Thus, as originally conceived, drafted, and adopted, the "Declaration of War" articulates the overwhelming consensus of Indian tribes that the commercial abuse and exploitation of Lakota ceremonies by non-Indians no longer will be tolerated.
Ward Churchill neither requested nor was granted Center for the SPIRIT's permission to reprint either the "Declaration of War" or the "Alert." However, that considerable impropriety alone pales by comparison with a much more serious transgression, namely, Churchill's decision to strategically alter the "Declaration of War," distorting it to conform to his own anti-tribal bias.
Thus, the original "Declaration of War" expresses indignation toward non-Indians who have formed "imitation 'tribes'" (emphasis added) like the so-called "Bear Tribe" and the "Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society," whose non-Indian "members" systematically exploit the spiritual traditions of Indian tribes for profit; Churchill's version of the resolution, on the other hand, omits the crucial word "imitation," making it appear as though the resolution were expressing resentment toward Indian tribes themselves, as such. Likewise, Churchill's version omits an entire "whereas" provision of the true resolution, wherein emphasis had been placed on the fact that the exploitation of Lakota traditions "has reached epidemic proportions in urban areas throughout the country." Presumably, this provision was deleted because it detracted from the false inference advanced by Churchill's version of the resolution, viz., that the exploitation of Lakota traditions emanates primarily from Indian tribes themselves, as such.
In short, Churchill's ersatz version of the "Declaration of War" is a strategically manipulated and subtly distorted device, which could be used to undermine rather than support Indian tribes in their efforts to safeguard their sacred traditions and culture. Yet another noteworthy problem in Indians Are Us? is Churchill's harangue in "Naming Our Destiny" against popular use of the word "tribe." "[T]o be addressed as 'tribal,'" Churchill insists, "is to be demeaned in a most extraordinarily vicious way" (p. 295). The persuasiveness of Churchill's case against the word "tribe" is decisively undercut, however, by Churchill's reliance on his contrived, indefensible position concerning the nonexistent "eugenics code" of the 1887 General Allotment Act, as critiqued previously in this essay. And so, Churchill's argument that "the preoccupation with 'blood lines' connoted by the term 'tribe'" (p. 296) is rooted in "a system of identifying Indians in accordance with a formal eugenics code dubbed 'blood quantum' which is still in effect at the present time" (p. 333) is as fallacious and unavailing as the tribal sovereignty-bashing conspiracy theory on which that argument entirely depends.
In a section of "Naming Our Destiny" entitled "'Tribes' versus 'Peoples,'" Churchill endeavors further to rationalize his antipathy for the word "tribe" by invoking "the definitive Oxford English Dictionary," which in one obscure definition, according to Churchill, defines "tribe" as a group in the classification of plants, animals, etc., used as superior and sometimes inferior to a family; also, loosely, any group or series of animals. [p. 294] Churchill then excerpts definitions for the word "people" from the Oxford dictionary and, curiously, from a 1949 edition of Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, to decree that the word "people" in all ways is preferable to the word "tribe," since "tribe" embodies an "expressly animalistic emphasis . . . . . . . . . . . . It follows that when indigenous peoples are passed off as tribes . . . they are effectively cast as being subhuman" (p. 298).
Of course, Churchill never explains why he so fervently insists on vesting in English dictionaries the ironclad authority to dispose of an issue of self-naming that for Indian people is a matter exclusively for the tribes themselves to decide. Be that as it may, it is instructive to examine a few of the wobbles in the eccentric spin of Churchill's treatment of language.
First, Churchill's disdain for the word "tribe," by his own avowed reasoning, should extend with equal force to the word "family," since each of these terms may denote a general category in the classification of plants, animals, and other living organisms, within the science of taxonomy. Likewise, since the word "community" may denote any interacting population of life forms (human and/or nonhuman) in the language of scientific ecology, Churchill logically should be just as disgusted by any reference to human beings per se as constituting a "community." Clearly, if a person actually were to be repulsed and enraged whenever words like "family," "community" and "tribe" were used in ordinary conversation-and merely because these terms, like most words, have multiple, divergent meanings-then such a person would be in need of psychological treatment for what would amount to a debilitating disorder in interpersonal communication.
Second, Churchill summons forth his sundry dictionary definitions in a noticeably lopsided manner. For instance, Churchill chooses not to divulge the fact that Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary lists a definition for the word "peoples" that has as much "animalistic emphasis" as Churchill's comparably obscure definition for the word "tribe." This omission is especially noteworthy because Churchill admits that he in fact consulted this very same dictionary-Webster's Ninth-in order to "cross-reference the 'old' definitions obtained [in the 1949 Webster's] with those in newer iterations of the same dictionary, to see whether there have been changes" (pp. 332-333). According to a definition in Webster's Ninth suppressed by Churchill, "peoples" may be defined as "lower animals usu. of a specified kind or situation... 'squirrels and chipmunks: the little furry [peoples].'" In addition, Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language calls to mind yet another amusing "nonhuman" meaning for the word "peoples." According to this particular Webster's (not concededly referenced by Churchill), the word "peoples" may denote "supernatural beings that are thought of as similar to humans in many respects... 'kobolds, trolls, and such [peoples] are not to be trusted.'" Thus, it appears that Churchill's pedantic argument against the word "tribe" rests not on any objective analysis of dictionary definitions at all, but rather on a highly manipulative process of selectively disclosing those definitions that would appear consistent with Churchill's antitribal thesis, while carefully concealing those definitions that would seem to contradict that thesis. So much for the manifest silliness of competing (and, in Churchill's case, cheating) in a game of Trivial Pursuit with "definitive" dictionaries to ascertain by what name Indian tribes will be permitted to identify themselves.
But beyond all the tedious game-playing and semantic trickery in "Naming Our Destiny," there remains unresolved a very serious implied question: By what mechanism does an abstraction like "Indian self-determination" get transformed into real selfempowerment for Indian people?
As demonstrated in this essay, Ward Churchill expends a great deal of effort in Indians?Ire Us? espousing the counter-intuitive thesis that Indian tribes themselves are an obstacle in the struggle for Indian self-empowerment, and should be aggressively disavowed and devalued, therefore, in all political discussions bearing on Indian self-determination. Of course, the very fact that Churchill strives to "prove" his case against Indian tribes by falsifying the historical record, misstating the views of fellow scholars, issuing distorted versions of public documents, and shrewdly manipulating language is enough to dissuade any sensible reader from taking Churchill's anti-tribal propaganda seriously. Still, the goal of clarifying and affirming the integral role of Indian tribes in the dynamic of Indian selfempowerment is extremely important and challenging -- much more so than is the relatively easier task of dismissing Ward Churchill's obfuscation of this profound topic.
For there can be little doubt that for most Americans, Indian tribes will always be an enigma. After all, Indian tribes are organized around distinctive values that in many ways are incompatible with and even diametrically opposed to the values that inform the political nation-states of the modern West, including, most emphatically, the United States. These unique tribal values -- an emphasis on the well-being of the entire tribal community rather than the self-interest of the individual; on a nature -- centered spirituality rather than an acquisitive materialism; on an ethic that treats one's homeland and the earth itself as a mysterious, living, dignified presence rather than as a lifeless repository of exploitable resources -- are what constitute the very core and substance of Indian tribes.
Tribal sovereignty, in turn, is the collective endeavor of all the members of an Indian tribe to maintain, nourish, and reinforce that fragile, living constellation of tribal values which comprises the tribe itself, rooted in a unique, spiritual relationship with the land that has been passed down from generation to generation, since time immemorial, through closely guarded tribal kinship systems. Tribal members carry on this heroic task of exercising tribal sovereignty --that is, of safeguarding the survival of the tribe itself, as such --under the most difficult of circumstances because of the enormous pressure to conform to an alien and often hostile system of values that constantly is being exerted by a dominant, non-Indian society ill-equipped to comprehend, let alone appreciate, the beauty and significance of the values inhering in Indian tribes.
Genuine self-empowerment for Indian people, therefore, is inextricably attached to the dignity accorded Indian tribes themselves as such, for real Indian self-empowerment is made manifest only when Indian tribes are granted their due respect as sovereign nations, with an inherent, inalienable right of tribal self-determination. Any attempt to dislodge the principle of Indian self-determination from the sovereignty inhering in Indian tribes as such is, in reality, an attempt to tear asunder and destroy the unique tribal values that make up the very essence of Indian people's continuing existence as Indians.
The inherent right of Indian tribes to determine their own members is, of course, the most critical factor in the process whereby Indian self-determination is transformed into Indian self-empowerment, for if non-Indians can succeed in usurping this fundamental tribal prerogative and themselves seize control of the right to ascertain who is and who is not an Indian, then by their sheer numbers these non-Indians will quickly overwhelm whatever tenuous political power real Indian people have retained in American society. In this disastrous scenario, non-Indians will rapidly supplant tribal values with their own invasive non-Indian values, in accordance with dominant societal norms permitting and even encouraging individuals to accrue political power by any artifice whatsoever -- including that of opportunistically and capriciously defining themselves to be "Indians."
Just such a blueprint for disrupting Indian political affairs and disempowering Indian people would appear to underlie the architecture of anti-tribal propaganda in Indians Are Us? -- a kind of Trojan horse wheeled to the gate of an unsuspecting American public, cleverly disguised in what Ward Churchill calls "a language of American Indian liberation" (p. 291).
In view of America's entrenched ignorance of the legal and political concerns of Indian tribes, the publication of a grossly misleading and misinforming book like Indians Are Us? constitutes a regrettable setback in Indian people's struggle for social justice. There is no doubt, of course, that many of the topics ostensibly covered in Churchill's book deserve serious public attention: the trivializing of Indian identity by sports teams; the exploitation of Indian spirituality by the men's movement and the New Age movement; the propagation of degrading Indian stereotypes by the entertainment media; the targeting of Indian political activities by clandestine military operations. All these problems must be squarely confronted if grave injustices suffered by Indian people are ever to be acknowledged and remedied.
However, Indian people stand to benefit only if these momentous issues are addressed with an unsparing honesty that openly concedes the extent to which Indian tribes as sovereign nations have been and continue to be brutally defamed, demeaned, discredited, undermined, and otherwise victimized by those whose overt and/or covert political agendas necessitate the subversion and ultimate destruction of Indian tribes. With its pervasive hostility toward Indian tribes and its constant twisting of historical facts crucial to an intelligent assessment of tribes' legal and political needs, Indians Are Us? compounds and exacerbates what are already formidable popular misconceptions concerning Indian law, policy, and history.
The renowned scholar of Indian law Felix Cohen wisely warns us that "confusion and ignorance in fields of law are allies of despotism." As Cohen well understood, and as history abundantly testifies, there is no political arena in which confusion and ignorance take a more terrible toll than in the oppression bearing on American Indian people's five-centuries-long struggle for basic human rights. With this essential realization in mind, supporters of Indian rights should insist that any serious discussion of Indian issues be, at the very least, compassionate and respectful toward Indian tribes, as well as fundamentally truthful in recounting the brutal treatment that tribes have been forced to endure historically. By this minimum standard of integrity, Indians Are Us? is a bitter disappointment indeed.
BY JOHN LAVELLE
JOHN LAVELLE IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CENTER FOR THE SPIRIT (SUPPORT AND PROTECTION OF INDIAN RELIGIOUS AND INDIGENOUS TRADITIONS) IN SAN FRANCISCO, AND WAS THE 1994-95 INDIAN LAW FELLOW AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA SCHOOL OF LAW, VERMILLION.
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....
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.
The AAUP on Tenure
Both tenure and the exclusion of extramural statements appear to have gone through mission creep of a sort, with the AAUP becoming both progressively more strident in defense of professors' privileges. Such a development isn't unique: trial lawyers give hundreds of millions of dollars ever elections cycle in order to preserve the Right to Sue as We Know It.
Kudos to the Greeley Tribune ("Challenge the Value of Tenure") for looking into the sources and roots of tenure as we know it. While professors may look nervously at that cup of hemlock every time the tenure system is questioned, in fact the current system has its basis in a 1940 American Association of University Professors Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, itself a restatement of a 1925 Statement:
College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution
Which leads to this interpretation in the same document:
If the administration of a college or university feels that a teacher has not observed the admonitions of paragraph (c) of the section on Academic Freedom and believes that the extramural utterances of the teacher have been such as to raise grave doubts concerning the teacher’s fitness for his or her position, it may proceed to file charges under paragraph 4 of the section on Academic Tenure.
February 07, 2005
Somebody Please Call the CU CRs
...so that they can distribute copies of Iowahawk's latest tomorrow night outside Glenn Miller Hall?
OPENING TITLE SEQUENCE
And it only gets better...
February 06, 2005
Jim Hu down at Blogs for Industry is doing yeoman work trying to compare Ward Churchill's pre-tenure output to those of his peers-at-the-time in the Communication Department. Churchill's CV isn't on line, so for a guy whose field is Communications, he seems pretty tight-lipped about a number of issues.
Anyway, it looks like it might be a closer thing than I had previously thought - that maybe Churchill's number of pre-tenure refereed publications isn't quite so out of line. Nevertheless, it does seem to be the lowest among those being compared. And he still doesn't have a Ph.D. at the time.
Sometimes, the timing is just too good.
I was leaving the Job Fair on Friday, looking for companies interested in hiring a soon-to-be-minted MBA/MS Finance degree-holder, interested in investment analysis (buy-side), able to do his own applications programming and with a background in math and physics (ahem). I ran into a classmate of mine who asked me to fill out a survey relating to DU's new branding initiative.'
So it goes.
The more I think about it, the more Twitchell's article makes sense. So what does it mean?
To summarize, Twitchell is claiming that colleges and universities simply aren't in the business that we assume they're in. We assume that they are in the education business. They assume they're in the alumni-producing business. We would like to see the outputs. They would like us to see the inputs.
Well, there are some things we can do, even with the inputs. If you use a brand-name analysis, it's clear that CU's brand name has been so thoroughly tarnished by serial football-related, financial-related, and now idicocy-related scandals, that it feels it has to do something to redeem itself. That something may very well be to throw Ward Churchill under the bus, and I can't say I object.
As an aside, to those who wish to preserve the tenure system as-is, on the grounds that conservatives would fare worse under a system that punished unpopular speech, I can only reply that the current situation of 95% Democratic affiliation in the social sciences and liberal arts occurred entirely under the current tenure system. The tolerance of speech codes, newspaper-stealings and -burnings, ripping down of Republican or conservative group flyers, leftist anti-semitism, and outright violence against pro-Israel, millitary recruiters, and conservative speakers, has all happened under a rubric of preserving students' rights. Perhaps there are still enough administrators and faculty committed to process over ideology that conservatives have time to organize and use those rules to restore a semblance of balance, but that would have to be proven.
In any event, the university's willingness to consider dealing with Churchill suggests that sustained, combined pressure by alumni, parents, and parents of in-state high school seniors could, over time, have an effect. The information about a school's speech codes and campus atmosphere is out there now for a certain amount of comparison-shopping. That I want my child exposed to liberal politics doesn't mean that I want them bombarded and surrounded by them.
What isn't available, unfortunately, are the outputs. GMAT, LSAT, GRE, and MCAT scores. Admissions to grad schools, where the outputs are measured and reported. Starting salaries. And so on.
Here again, I think there's room for innovation. When Bill James got frustrated with the Elias Sports Bureau's disdain for releasing simple statistics, he started a fan-based project to collect and report pitch-by-pitch statistics on every major-league game in the country. It was so successful that Elias eventually had to relent, and begin publishing the stats that the seamheads wanted for their analyses.
Something similar could happen here. Alumni, who have access to the alumni lists, will want to know how much those degrees really are worth. Eventually, someone will put together some comprehensive surveys of the test scores and starting salaries of the alumni from a few hundred universities, and begin publishing annual lists. Schools will complain they're not accurate, at which point they'll be challenged to produce their own statistics. Given the current climate of distrust of anyone who has information but won't release it, it won't take long for a few school, aware that they're being under-rated by this report, to start putting out and trading on their own data. At that point, the wall crumbles for all but a few schools.
I'm sure that even now, someone is setting up a survey...
February 04, 2005
Hear for Yourself
Via reader Gregg Howard.
The publisher Alternative Tentacles has a website peddling CDs of Ward Churchill's 2003 appearance in Oakland, CA. The CD is called "Pacifism as Pathology," which is a cute way of saying that the "Peace" movement isn't made up of peaceful people.
In "Solidarity", Churchill exhorts his listeners (to a smattering of applause) to follow-up on the 9/11 attacks.
In "Exemption is Over", Churchill calls the attacks "correct," and coolly assesses the replaceability of the Cantor-Fitzgerald bond traders, all of whom were wiped out on that day.
Anyone who saw the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald interviewed after the attacks, and saw the way he choked up talking about those men and women, knows that he cared about them as people. Which is more than you can say for Mr. Churchill.
Apropos a comment on the Oh That Liberal Media posting I made several days ago, I did another search for refereed publications by Mr. Churchill. It turns out that in 1980, an article did appear in a University of Iowa collection; Mr. Churchill also did present a paper in 1989 at a conference here at CU, and edited a two volumes of scholarly papers on indiginous affair for a publisher based in Copenhagen. My thanks to the commentor for pointing me to WorldCat.
I'm unsure if the paper at the Denver conference would technically count as a peer-reviewed publication, but it's certainly at a major state university.
Still, six publications at age 43, even accounting for losing a year or two to Vietnam, is not an exceptionally large number. Remember, the lack of a PhD is a handicap to be overcome, so one should expect more, not fewer, than the pre-tenure average.
UPDATE: Blogs for Industry has listed four pre-tenure works by Mr. Churchill. He received tenure in 1991, so no matter how productive he's been since then, only pre-1992 publications could possibly have been taken into consideration for that decision
Marxism and Native Americans, Agents of Repression, and COINTELPRO papers were published not by a university press, but by a self-proclaimed radical publisher, South End Press. Critical issues in native North America I counted as a refereed pre-tenure publication; it's listed as the Copenhagen-based publication.