U. of Colorado Faculty Rallies Round Professor
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
DENVER — As pressure mounts on a University of Colorado professor who ignited
a furor by comparing the World Trade Center victims to Nazis, colleagues
have come to his defense — on free speech grounds.
The Boulder Faculty Assembly (search), a group representing professors at
the campus, called Ward Churchill's (search) comments "controversial, offensive,
and odious," but also expressed support for his right to express them.
"The lifeblood of any strong university is its diversity of ideas which allows
for the environment necessary to educate and train young learners and advance
the boundaries of knowledge," said a statement released Tuesday by university
spokesman Peter Caughey. "Debate is a fundamental characteristic of a university."
The university's Board of Regents planned to meet in an emergency session
Thursday to discuss Churchill, who resigned as chairman of the university's
department of ethnic studies this week. He remains a professor.
Churchill failed to show up at a news conference scheduled Tuesday. Instead,
four professors from the university's ethnic studies department expressed
"unconditional support" for Churchill's "freedom of expression and First
In an essay written the day after the Sept. 11 attacks, Churchill said white-collar
workers in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of "little Eichmanns,"
a reference to Adolf Eichmann (search), who ensured the smooth running of
the infrastructure that enabled the Nazi genocide. Churchill also spoke of
the "gallant sacrifices" of the "combat teams" that struck America.
The essay and follow-up book, "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections
on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality," attracted
little attention until Churchill was invited to speak Thursday at Hamilton
College (search), about 40 miles east of Syracuse, N.Y.
Citing death threats, the school Tuesday canceled the panel discussion featuring
In a statement released Tuesday, Churchill said he was not defending the
Sept. 11 attacks, "but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results
in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some
of that destruction is returned.
"I have never said that people 'should' engage in armed attacks on the United
States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of
unlawful U.S. policy."
Gov. Bill Owens called on Churchill to resign his faculty position, saying
taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize his "outrageous and insupportable"
views that defy the facts of history.
Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald also said he should resign from
CU, saying he was compromising the school's reputation. Republican members
of the House also introduced a nonbinding resolution expressing sympathy
for the Sept. 11 victims and criticizing Churchill's comments