Churchill Clarifies 9/11 Stance In Hawaii

CU President Urges Caution In Churchill Investigation

Associated Press
February 23, 2005


HONOLULU -- A University of Colorado professor who has been criticized for his comments likening some Sept. 11 victims to Nazis defended his position before an overflow crowd Tuesday night at the University of Hawaii.

Ward Churchill emphasized he did not advocate the attack on the World Trade Center, but insisted it was inevitable, given U.S. international and economic policies.

"One does not advocate the volcano," he said. "It requires no advocacy from mere mortals. One points to the volcano and attempts to make sense of it."

Churchill spoke of U.S. atrocities in Japan, the Philippines and in the United States against Native Hawaiians and Native Americans.

About 200 people, who were barred from entering the auditorium packed with a mostly supportive crowd of more than 400 people, listed to Churchill speak on an audio feed set up outside.

It was Churchill's first university speaking engagement outside Colorado since his essay comparing victims of the World Trade Center attacks to Nazis was discovered on a Web site late last month.

Churchill wrote that some "technocrats" killed in the World Trade Center were like Adolf Eichmann, a high-ranking Nazi official who orchestrated the extermination of 6 million European Jews in the Holocaust.

Churchill reiterated his contention that people who function in investment and brokerage trading further economic policies in Third World countries that lead to mass misery and death.

Some 20 students, including members of the Hawaii College Republicans, protested outside the campus auditorium before the speech. One held a poster with photos of the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks over the label "Churchill's Gallant Combat Team."

Kimberly Craven, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii College Republicans, a 12-member club that formed last week, said she was outraged that the university was welcoming someone like Churchill to speak.

"It's not a matter of free speech, it's a matter of common sense," the UH senior said. "We're in a war on terror and you shouldn't bring a supporter of terrorists here."

State Sen. Fred Hemmings also criticized Churchill's appearance.

"I think it's awfully sad Hawaii has to host a person such as this," Hemmings said.

The Windward Oahu Republican said the furor surrounding Churchill's statement is neither a partisan issue, nor a question of free speech.

"This is about fraud, deceit and hate speech," Hemmings said. "You can say anything you want, but not using the goodwill of our university as a cover."

Earlier, Hemmings said the school's decision could threaten grants and other funding to the university.

Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie of Vermont, who was vacationing in Hawaii, was among those who turned out.

"I support and welcome free speech, but those are my friends (firefighters, police office and other victims) Churchill was referring to," Dubie said.

Perry Reghi flew in from Princeville, Kauai, to support Churchill.

"I think the reason Mr. Churchill is so controversial is because he hits on a nerve," Reghi said. When people hear the truth, some of them, it scares them."

"The quote the press is all up in arms about, that might have been a little bit extreme, but I think he made the point that America has committed acts of genocide in many different countries, and that's starting to come back on us," Reghi said.

About two dozen campus groups and departments expressed support for Churchill's appearance, including the Center for Hawaiian Studies and the William S. Richardson School of Law.

Hawaiian Studies professor Haunani-Kay Trask has called the University of Colorado's investigation into Churchill's teaching credentials a "witchhunt" and likened the probe to House Un-American Activities Committee hearings and communist fears propagated by Sen. Joe McCarthy about 50 years ago.

"I am urging public support of Professor Churchill's struggle as if it were our own, that is to say the native people of Hawaii," said Trask, also an outspoken Hawaiian activist.

University of Hawaii President David McClain opposes Churchill's views, but defended his appearance as an expression of free speech. McClain did not attend Churchill's talk, spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said.

Colorado lawmakers, including Gov. Bill Owens have urged the University of Colorado to remove the tenured professor of ethnic studies from his position and also have threatened to retract state funding from the university.

University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman told lawmakers on Tuesday that rushing to punish Churchill could land the university in court and make the embattled teacher "a very wealthy man at our expense."

Some members of Colorado's Board of Regents have suggested reviewing the university's policy of granting tenure, essentially a lifelong appointment.

Churchill's inflammatory essay, "Some People Push Back," attracted little notice until last month, after Churchill was invited to speak at Hamilton College, a private liberal arts school.

Hamilton and several other colleges and universities have since canceled Churchill's appearances.

His next university engagement is scheduled for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Assembly voted to condemn Churchill's comments and urged the university to cancel the speech.




Return to Ward Chuchill's Essay "Some People Push Back"