So how come?
by Dani Newsum
February 26, 2005
"Critics are alleging that embattled University of Colorado Professor Ward
Churchill doesn't brush his teeth."
"One of Ward Churchill's colleagues, who didn't want to provide her name,
says she�s observed the fiery CU ethnic studies professor walking a poodle."
"He just flipped man, he started talking Vietnamese, shooting his rifle in
the air. He said he was Crazy Horse," says a vet who did kitchen duty with
Churchill in Vietnam in 1967.
"He was just a horrible dancer", claims Mary Alice Smith, who says she attended
the Elmwood Community High School junior prom with CU Professor Churchill
Okay, I made up those quotes. But they're no more ridiculous than the inane
stories published over the last three weeks by The Denver Post and the Rocky
Mountain News about Ward Churchill.
I know Churchill from community and civic work, but couldn't call him a friend.
I've got no reason to sing his praises, or lead a witch hunt either, unlike
the press. Guns cocked and ready, they've been firing rounds relentlessly.
No petty rumor, professional or family feud, or self-interested C.Y.A. has
escaped these news hounds.
They've attacked his writings, speeches, academic credentials and award of
tenure. Groveling in the gutter, they've challenged his claims to "Indian
Blood," all the while completely oblivious to the racist nature of the question.
Exactly how Irish/German/Mexican/African/Chinese are you?
Still hanging out in the gutter, the press has also published:
And the newspapers have given plenty of ink to Colorado Governor "Big" Bill
Owens, who like so many political bosses in Colorado history, is calling
for Churchill's head and threatening CU if he doesn't get it.
- one-sided details of Churchill's feud with a former sister-in-law;
- quotes from other self-identified Indians with long-standing grudges
against Churchill who are thrilled to tell anyone who will listen that behind
the shades and the beads the CU prof is just another white man;
- fancy genealogy charts supposedly proving that Churchill's a liar (all
they really illustrate is that the editors who approved them are in need
of a serious lashing);
- the allegations of a professor who claims Churchill threatened to punch
her lights out;
- a ridiculous story about the inability of the University of Illinois
to locate Churchill's masters thesis (the clear implication being that he
didn't write it, instead of that the university might have lost it.)
- stories raising doubts about the nature of his actual service in Vietnam:
did he drive a truck, walk point, or write army press releases?
Now, Ward Churchill can fan flames with the best of 'em - he can fight his
own battles. But why are the papers helping the governor fight his?
Which brings me to my final point.
The Post and News have seen fit to publish the most half-baked, self-interested,
and just plain stupid allegations against Churchill, and are giving mega space
to the heavy-handed invective being tossed about by Owens. But they won't
publish a word about the allegations and rumors swirling over our governor
in the hallways of the state capitol, in downtown offices, in suburban restaurants,
at cocktail parties and basketball games.
Everyone knows what I'm talking about. The governor's separation from his
wife, and worse. Rumors? Maybe. Substantiated? Who knows? The papers won't
Normally that kind of intimate information should remain private, even for
But when the politician at issue is someone who regularly preaches to others
about morality and immorality, denounces same-sex marriage and affixes himself
to the noxious "family values" cabal currently running amok over our private
lives, I say let the games begin.
How come Owens gets a pass, but every Tom, Dick and Sally who wants to throw
some dirt on Churchill, gets a welcome mat and big black ink at the Post
Dani Newsum, a former civil rights attorney
in the Colorado Attorney General's office, appears weekly on KBDI Channel
12's "Colorado Inside Out" (8 p.m. Fridays)