Ward Churchill is the University of Colorado professor who thinks the victims of the 9-11 attacks deserved their fate. He resigned Monday as chairman of the ethnic studies department; though, he will retain his teaching job. This seems absurd to me, so here is a message to Elizabeth Hoffman, President of the University, and to all other leaders of that institution.
When I consider that a University should be a place where diverse ideas are freely expressed, considered, and debated, this man does not come to mind. By all appearances, Ward Churchill is deranged and dangerous. He clearly harbors intergenerational feelings against the "white" man, for wrongs committed against native peoples. This obsession has apparently led him down a dark and vengeful path.
There is no room for such vile conduct under the auspices of higher education, regardless of free speech concerns. We are free to express ourselves, but we are also free to hold each other to account for the ideas we express. Thinking as Mr. Churchill does, Jews could justify the execution of German people at will. Fortunately, nobody would stand for that, not even the Jews who suffered directly.
As long as this man holds a faculty position, my children should not come within sight of any CU campus. In terms of parental responsibility, that would be akin to renting an apartment for my daughter next door to a known serial rapist. I say, Madam President that whatever the consequences may be, you should bite the bullet, pay the money or whatever price is necessary to extract this rotten tooth from your institution.
There are plenty of Native Americans who have rightly and properly assumed their full claim to the American experience. We all, to one degree or another, have hardships and disasters in our ancestry. Propagating grudges, especially beyond relevant time frames, is of no benefit to anyone. The past should be examined and discussed so that mistakes or missteps can be avoided. However, teaching a message of hate and vengeance toward any group, especially based on the alleged sins of generations past, should not be tolerated.
America has demonstrated this with great effectiveness since the tragedy of September 11. We are fearful, and we may even be prone to preemptive actions. However, we do not believe that people of Arab decent are worthy of hatred, nor do we wish evil upon them. Americans cried, cheered, and rejoiced with the Iraqis as we watched them celebrate their first free elections. Perhaps this is the best lesson to teach, in the field of ethnic studies.
Copyright ©2005, Phil Harris - All Rights Reserved