Ward Churchill is not a likeable man. He also says unpopular things. And he may well not be a perfectly careful scholar or a star as a teacher. Most of his public persona seems well-tuned for annoying the hell out of almost everyone, and particularly for being a huge headache at the University of Colorado for everyone.
Unfortunately all of this has badly muddled the discussion of his academic trial and dismissal. Because his deliberately provocative political style hit the national media scene, he became an embarrassment to the University. He was then purged and his dismissal recommended by a committee of his peers at the request of the Administration. An unreasonable standard was applied to his scholarship. The microscopic attention and rigid standards used to convict him would in my estimation fire about ten percent of the nation’s tenured faculty, minimum. I say this as someone who grew up the child of a professor at a good university and has heard 30 years of watercooler talk about and by professors.
This was a political lynching. To draw an analogy, they treated him the way a really angry state trooper would treat someone who insulted him after a traffic stop. Let’s find out exactly what we can do to this guy: search the car, run all the computers, write up every possible traffic violation.
A number of academics seem to agree, thank goodness, and have published an ongoing petition. This isn’t some useless petitiononline thing, I think. I hope a lot of academics sign it.
At a minimum the University of Colorado deserves to be publicly shamed and blacklisted for this. At this point I personally consider them to be unaccredited.