The Case of Ward Churchill
I believe that in this case it is difficult to say whether or not the University of Colorado should have launched an investigation into Ward Churchill. However, it seems to me that they probably didn’t have much of a choice and that their hand may have been forced by public outrage. In turn Professor Churchill did not help his own cause by becoming louder and more outspoken, rather than toning down his rhetoric.
While dissent of this nature is protected and he should be allowed to speak on whatever he wishes, it seems to me that he was intent on martyring himself. He chose to make his opinions clear to all: America deserved 9-11, America is guilty, the 9-11 hijackers were justified, and possibly that America is evil. While he is entitled to those opinions the impression I got was that he was teaching his opinions as though they were “gospel truth” and that he himself was not a fan of dissent.
Once the investigation was finished it provided a convenient, logical, and proper excuse to fire Churchill. After the investigation revealed what it did I would have fired him in a heartbeat. As far as Mr. Horowitz goes I think that he is tacitly suggesting that Mr. Churchill’s opinions are Liberal in nature which is asinine. While I don’t consider myself a liberal I’m sure that Mr. Horowitz would and I in no way, shape, or form agree with Churchill. His opinions have nothing to do with liberal social values or a liberal approach to governance. However, I do believe that all students should be protected from a professor who grades them harshly because they have come to different conclusions on an issue.
A professor should have the freedom to teach from his own perspective but spreading one’s own opinions is not the point of education. In the case of Ward Churchill I think that he got exactly what he wanted. I’m sure that in his mind his firing vindicates him and validates all the things that he has said about this country so now he can die a happy man with the words “I told you so” on his lips. He is irrelevant. The sad thing is that too often we as a nation and a culture do not take responsibility for our mistakes, failures, and yes, even crimes. If Ward Churchill hadn’t been such a self-serving pontificator he may have been able to open some American minds, influence some of our behaviors, and in doing so he could have helped to prevent some of the seething hatred of America that led to the attacks of 9-11.