Ward Churchill, Bill O'Reilly, and freedom of speech

Ward Churcill has attained sudden fame as the author of an essay claiming that the victims of 9/11 deserved their fate, because of their implication in America's Evil System. His speaking dates on campuses like Hamilton College in upstate New York have aroused controversy and have caught the eye of Bill O'Reilly, the Big Foot of cable news programming.

Bill, whose cable show is now available in Canada, where I live, has a tremendous opportunity with this story.

While it is tempting to dismiss Ward Churchill, professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Colorado, as a fanatical fringe character of no particular significance, he is in fact a prolific and influential author on topics such as white genocide against aboriginals, the FBI Cointelpro program against black nationalists, and the American Indian Movement (AIM).

Churchill has been a foremost spokesperson on aboriginal issues since the 70's. A student roaming the Internet for information about the FBI and its Cointelpro program will encounter Churchill's point of view and very little else. The history textbooks used by public schools today owe more to Churchill's point of view on the colonization of the New World than say, Dinesh D'Souza's.   His world view would hardly raise an eyebrow in any major newsroom. Of course Western Civilization is a catalogue of repression, genocide and torture. Yawn.

His radical credentials are impeccable, but old acquaintances from his activist days say that he is not an Indian at all, but a white wannabe hiding behind his Foster Grants.

He claims to be a Vietnam combat veteran and a former roommate of slain Black Panther Mark Clark. It would be interesting to know if Churchill's biography is a fraud, but what mainstream journalist would ever bother to look into the matter?

The problem is not so much that Ward Churchill has freedom of speech, the problem is that there has been so little effort made to rebut his sloppy scholarship and paranoid, conspiratorial pronouncements. He should be challenged. The point is not to try and convince him —— he's beyond persuasion. But his books could be used to teach young students of history not to fall for every anti—Western diatribe they read. Or they could be used to teach journalism students to do proper fact—checking.

If the University of Colorado isn't embarrassed by Ward Churchill's opinions, then perhaps they should be embarrassed by his transparent bias and shoddy scholarship. In the end, it's not so significant if Ward Churchill turns out to be a white man posing as an Indian. But it is significant, and reflects badly on the university system where he's been allowed to pose as a scholar for so long.

Example: In his book "Indians are us," Churchill listed the names of over fifty Indians who had died in a three year period at Pine Ridge, site of the Leonard Peltier shoot—out. He suggested that the murdered were all supporters of the radical American Indian Movement and that the murders were not investigated because they were carried out by and for the federal government. He is refuted here, he argues back here and is further answered here.

Exposing this sort of possible flim—flammery would make for great television. Bill O'Reilly, please put your crack research and editorial staff to work on the story. You report, we'll decide.

Lona Manning observes American politics from Canada.

Ward Churcill has attained sudden fame as the author of an essay claiming that the victims of 9/11 deserved their fate, because of their implication in America's Evil System. His speaking dates on campuses like Hamilton College in upstate New York have aroused controversy and have caught the eye of Bill O'Reilly, the Big Foot of cable news programming.

Bill, whose cable show is now available in Canada, where I live, has a tremendous opportunity with this story.

While it is tempting to dismiss Ward Churchill, professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Colorado, as a fanatical fringe character of no particular significance, he is in fact a prolific and influential author on topics such as white genocide against aboriginals, the FBI Cointelpro program against black nationalists, and the American Indian Movement (AIM).

Churchill has been a foremost spokesperson on aboriginal issues since the 70's. A student roaming the Internet for information about the FBI and its Cointelpro program will encounter Churchill's point of view and very little else. The history textbooks used by public schools today owe more to Churchill's point of view on the colonization of the New World than say, Dinesh D'Souza's.   His world view would hardly raise an eyebrow in any major newsroom. Of course Western Civilization is a catalogue of repression, genocide and torture. Yawn.

His radical credentials are impeccable, but old acquaintances from his activist days say that he is not an Indian at all, but a white wannabe hiding behind his Foster Grants.

He claims to be a Vietnam combat veteran and a former roommate of slain Black Panther Mark Clark. It would be interesting to know if Churchill's biography is a fraud, but what mainstream journalist would ever bother to look into the matter?

The problem is not so much that Ward Churchill has freedom of speech, the problem is that there has been so little effort made to rebut his sloppy scholarship and paranoid, conspiratorial pronouncements. He should be challenged. The point is not to try and convince him —— he's beyond persuasion. But his books could be used to teach young students of history not to fall for every anti—Western diatribe they read. Or they could be used to teach journalism students to do proper fact—checking.

If the University of Colorado isn't embarrassed by Ward Churchill's opinions, then perhaps they should be embarrassed by his transparent bias and shoddy scholarship. In the end, it's not so significant if Ward Churchill turns out to be a white man posing as an Indian. But it is significant, and reflects badly on the university system where he's been allowed to pose as a scholar for so long.

Example: In his book "Indians are us," Churchill listed the names of over fifty Indians who had died in a three year period at Pine Ridge, site of the Leonard Peltier shoot—out. He suggested that the murdered were all supporters of the radical American Indian Movement and that the murders were not investigated because they were carried out by and for the federal government. He is refuted here, he argues back here and is further answered here.

Exposing this sort of possible flim—flammery would make for great television. Bill O'Reilly, please put your crack research and editorial staff to work on the story. You report, we'll decide.

Lona Manning observes American politics from Canada.