The Right Coast

February 07, 2005
Campos on Churchill (Not Winston)
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Paul Campos -- a man of the centre-left, a law professor at the University of Colorado, and an old friend of several of us RightCoasters -- has it right about Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado "Ethnic Studies Chair" who cheers for Al-Qaeda and who calls the victims at the World Trade Center "little Eichmanns":
Should a serious research university consider hiring a fascist? This question doesn't have an easy answer.

After all, prior to World War II Europe produced several brilliant political theorists and philosophers who could be characterized as fascists, or proto-fascists, including Joseph de Maistre, Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger.
Campos rightly concludes:
But while the question of whether a brilliant scholar with a fascist streak ought to be considered for a place on a university faculty retains at least some academic interest, it has nothing to do with Churchill, whose writings and speeches feature an incoherent farrago of boundless paranoia, wildly implausible theories, obscene celebrations of murder, and atrocious prose.

The question of whether a serious research university ought to hire someone like Churchill is laughable on its face. What's not so funny is the question of exactly how someone like him got hired in the first place, and then tenured and named the head of a department.
Read the whole thing.

As Campos hints, of course, Ward Churchill's sentiments, although expressed unusually crudely and openly, are by no means unique among leftist academics. The Evelyn Waugh touch in this story is that Churchill, although hired as a fervid "Native American", may now turn out -- unsurprisingly, perhaps --to be perfectly without any American Indian ancestry. Quite white after all.

UPDATE: I have some sympathy, in a sense, for Ward Churchill. Like all too many other people in academia, he was hired, in effect, to be an extremist. Like many such people, he may really have precious little other academic or intellectual stock in trade. Until recently, you could be an extremist by talking like, say, Noam Chomsky. Now, much of the "mainstream" Democratic Party talks and evidently increasingly thinks like Noam Chomsky. This seems to be true for many Democratic leaders, as well as for a great many rank-and-filers. Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Michael Moore, Jimmy Carter,, the Daily Kos, the Democratic Underground: all fractionally different to one another, no doubt; none identical to Noam Chomsky or to International ANSWER. But there is in common the haranguing defeatism, the isolationism; prone to conspiracy theories, apparently or actually convinced of the utter evil of the opposition, and indeed of the America which the opposition represents. If this is the tired old mainstream Democratic Party, what can you say if you are hired to be an extremist? It has to be hard on poor Ward Churchill. How do you stand out when the liberal median is already so well along into what Richard Hofstadter called the "paranoid style"?

FURTHER UPDATE: Paul Campos has kept digging. It appears that Ward Churchill has been busy at more conventional academic fraud -- plagiarism and fabricating history -- quite apart from what appears to be Churchill's fantasy that he has American Indian ancestry. Poor man. Why on earth fabricate horror stories about American Indian history? The truth was tragic enough. As for Churchill's actually being Indian:
The saddest aspect of Churchill's case is that, in regard to his identity, he might not be guilty of fraud in the narrowest legal sense. According to the News, Churchill has been claiming to be a Native American since his high school days in Illinois. It may well be that by this point he has genuinely convinced himself that he actually is an Indian.

Of course some people believe they're Napoleon. But that's not a good reason for giving them professorships in French history.
Ouch. Read the whole thing.