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Indybay Feature
Tue Feb 1 2005
Ward Churchill Comes Under Fire for Expressing His Views of 911 Causes
Academic Freedom Questioned When Speaker About US Govermment Intervention Abroad is Cancelled
February 1, 2005: University of Colorado Boulder Professor and longtime American Indian Movement activist Ward Churchill has come under increasing criticism recently because of his exposure of fundamental yet controversial questions about September 11th and his political view of why such events happened and could occur again. Prof. Churchill was scheduled to speak at Hamilton College in New York state this Thursday, and family members of people who died in the 9/11 incidents have been protesting his right to speak. The Kirkland Project website was changed this afternoon to indicate that the panel, "Limits on Dissent", has been cancelled. The College cited threats of violence as the reason for the cancellation. Churchill is scheduled to speak on Friday, March 25th at the Women's Building, and at the San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair on March 26th.

The content of Churchill's speeches, essay, and book entitled "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" became a national controversy in the leadup to the withdrawal of the event. On January 31st he resigned his post as Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies, but not his professorship — because he did not want the attention focused on him to reflect on fellow department members.

Voices of September 11 has protested, "We are extremely disturbed that Hamilton College has intentionally provide a platform for an individual whose viewpoints could compromise the emotional and psychological well being of individuals in its community." One student at the College is the son of a man who died in the World Trade Center in 2001. Hamilton College has stated, "We expect, as a matter of civil discourse, that the members of this academic community, as well as visitors, respect the dignity of reasoned and principled debate." The Interim Chancellor of Colorado University benignly said on January 27th , "I...must support his right as an American citizen to hold and express his views..." It has come to light that Hamilton College will be conducting a review of the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture, which is the organization that is bringing Churchill to speak on campus: "(B)ecause of its timing, this review could send the signal that it doesn't support the Kirkland Project. So it looks like a veiled attack on free speech," the current Kirkland Project director stated.

In defense of "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" Ward Churchill says "...if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned...such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy." In his January 31st statement, Churchill acknowledged that some people do not agree with his analysis of the situation. He said his analysis "presents questions that must be addressed in academic and public debate if we are to find a real solution to the violence that pervades today's world. The gross distortions of what I actually said can only be viewed as an attempt to distract the public from the real issues at hand and to further stifle freedom of speech and academic debate in this country."
Read more

Churchill's essay | "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" | Ward Churchill's 1/31 statement regarding Roosting Chickens | On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality | Hamilton College's Spectator newspaper | Indypendent review of "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" | NYC Indymedia Article About the Controversy
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Related Categories: Education & Student Activism
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