Churchill Clarifies 9/11 Stance In Hawaii
CU President Urges Caution In Churchill Investigation
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
"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
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
"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
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