Urgent: Open Letter in Defense of Ward Churchill–Movement Makes Last Stand

The mobilization in defense of Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado, Boulder has reached a critical stage. The President of the University is set to decide Churchill’s fate very soon. Standing up against witch hunting and for academic freedom, a large movement has emerged to defend Churchill. This movement has planned rally and forum, attended by scholars and activists from across the country, in Boulder on April 28.

It is imperative that friends, colleages, and media outlets supporting academic freedom be involved in spreading the word in this last push to stop the dismissal of Churchill. Please consider publishing any or all of the content in the attached documents below. They include an open letter in support of Ward Churchill, signed by dozens of prominent intellectuals, a solidarity statement from noted historian Howard Zinn, and a letter from a Boulder professor explaining why, no matter anyone’s personal assessment of Churchill’s person or scholarship, the principle at stake here is of enormous significance.

The time is now to send a message to the administrators of the University of Colorado System:

G.P. “Bud” Peterson, Chancellor University of Colorado- Boulder
Phone: 303-492-8908
17 UCB, Regent 301
Boulder, CO 80309
e-mail chanchat@spot.colorado.edu

Philip DiStefano, Faculty, Exec Vice Chancellor & Provost
Office: 303-492-5537
17 UCB, Office of the Chancellor
Boulder, CO 80309
We must support Churchill, because an injury to one is an injury to all.

Open Letter:  open-letter-by-prominent-intellectuals-in-support-of-ward-churchill.pdf

Letters of solidarity from Howard Zinn and other distinguished professors:

Statement in Support of Professor Ward Churchill
by Historian Howard Zinn

I have declared my support of Ward Churchill because to defend him is to defend the principle of academic freedom, the idea that no one should lose his or her job or status in education because of factors outside of teaching and scholarship.  Those factors — political, ideological — are evident in his case, and they are joined by a mean-spiritedness which does not belong in an academic or any other environment.  The attack on Ward Churchill comes at a time in our nation’s history when constitutional rights are under attack by the national government, when war threatens the lives and well-being of all,  and therefore we need the marketplace of  ideas to be as open as possible.  If we want to live in a democracy we must protect that openness. That is why defending Ward Churchill has an importance far beyond his particular situation.

Howard Zinn
Professor emeritus, Boston University

Statement in Support of Professor Ward Churchill
by Professor Richard Falk

All of us who value academic freedom should now stand in full solidarity with Ward Churchill.  The outcome of his case at the University of Colorado is the best
litmus test we have to tell whether the right-wing’s assaults on learning and liberty will stifle campus life in this country.  Never in my lifetime have we in America more needed the sort of vigorous debate and creative controversy that Ward Churchill’s distinguished career epitomizes. We all stand to lose if his principled defense fails.

Richard Falk
Milbank Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University;
Visiting Distinguished Professor (since 2002), Global Studies,
University of California, Santa Barbara

Statement in Support of Professor Ward Churchill
by Professor Peter N. Kirstein

If one looks at America today, one sees the thunder of the right as a strategic threat to higher education. Ward Churchill’s persecution and silencing before his scheduled appearance at Hamilton College, and the possibility of the revocation of his “continuous” tenure is symptomatic of the persecution of progressive faculty. It is essential that American Association of Unviersity Professor guidelines be addressed to reverse this execrable auto da fe. “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results…” American Association of University Professors, “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.”  I have been persuaded by both the AAUP C.U. president and other analyses that the alleged academic misconduct of Professor Churchill was either scant or non-existent. I have seen nothing that would suggest he should be fired. The 1970 Second Interpretive Comment of the 1940 Statement also pronounced: The intent of the statement is not to discourage what is “controversial.” Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster.

Also suspension cannot be levied unless there is an imminent threat to the individul or to others. That is the ONLY basis of a suspension according to many A.A.U.P. documents such as the ninth “1970 Interpretive Comment” of the “1940 Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure,” the “1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings” and the revised 1999 “Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure.. I was suspended for an anti-war e-mail to the Air Force Academy and I know the literature quite well.  C.U. would do well to fully apply this epochal statement and other A.A.U.P. academic freedom policies to the current controversy over Professor Churchill’s status as a tenured full-professor. My statement, however, is my own.

Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University
Vice-President Elect, A.A.U.P. Illinois Conference

5 thoughts on “Urgent: Open Letter in Defense of Ward Churchill–Movement Makes Last Stand”

  1. This horse says you are full of Academic Crap.

    Advanced degrees achieved in Oratorical Whore-ology.

    You represent nothing approximating Real Academia.

    Your students – yes – laugh behind your backs.


  2. I was asked to resign my position because of trumped up charges. The reality of it all was I was teaching High School U.S. History in a very conservative politically powerful Catholic Community. I was told that I could not teach Roe v. Wade because it was too controversial in this high school. I apparently offended the Catholic Church and its members. I was told to be very careful on touching base with any religious history period. I asked, “How should I go about teaching the Protestant Reformation?” I was told, “you better do it very carefully, because you have upset some very political families in the Catholic Community.” On another incident, I spoke out in defense of our Native American students in this high school. It was said in a staff meeting, “we do what is necessary with these Indians until they go back to the reservation.” I said, “this is not the attitude that should be taken in regards to Native American.” I was told bluntly, with the principal leaning into my face, “maybe I should take you inside the halls of a Native American school so you can see what they are really like.” In the same breath was told, “their parents and grand parents don’t want them here, so we do what is necessary.” I ask, “how do you know what they want for their children.” Needless to say, my situation at this school went down hill from there. I also brought up bullying that was being done to minority groups in this school. This also landed me even farther into trouble and my job on the line. I brought up how an African American was being harassed so bad that his family had no other choice then to send their son back to Arizona to go to school. You talked about injustice, the injustice is not just in our university, it is in our public school system.


  3. Powerful contribution–I know that our public schools have these academic freedom issues and are sites of oppression and indoctrination. Thanks for posting!


  4. Dana
    If we all know that our public schools have these issues, then why are we not doing something about it? Who do you call, who do you write to? This is not democracy. Where is the separation of church and state? I have wrote the president, but no response. What are we teaching our youth if they see that injustice can happen and nothing can be done. What about the students that are bright enough to see this happen. What are we saying to them, when we say we know but we do nothing to change it. Obama said, “it is time for a change.” I ask where is the change when everyone is to afraid to speak up and speak out because of FEAR of not having their job. I ask other teachers why they never spoke up and the answer was simple. We can’t because what is happening to you will happen to us. We live in fear. What would I be teaching if I did nothing? My son’s see this injustice, they see the prejudicism. I spoke out and lost my job. Did I do the right thing? Yes, I did if not just for the sake of my children. I taught them, if you see a injustice in your life, it is you that can make the difference. I could of not looked myself in the mirror and say I had to put up with it for the sake of this or that. What happened to morals? What has happen to integrity?


  5. Hey, that’s life on the public tit. If the public doesn’t like it when Ward Churchill insults them, they have every right to bounce his incompetent pinko ass off the public payroll.

    The scandal here is that the standards of the U C system were so low that they ever hired him in the first place. One more argument for the abolition of taxpayer-funded universities.


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