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February 12, 2005

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Well, it turns out that having a few stupid people in the group makes the group smarter.

So the presence of Goldberg makes bloggers as a group smarter, I guess.

Remember Roman Hruska? he was a Senator from Nebraska who defended Nixon's nomination of Harold Carswell to the Supreme Court thusly, "Mediocre people are entitled to representation too."

When there's that much of an ideological monolith, it's easy for wackos like Churchill to blend.

Ah. So a wacko like Churchill blends in perfectly with run-of-the-mill Democrats, does he?

Meanwhile, the author of a "history book" that's #16 on the NYT list and is being promoted like crazy all over right-wing radio, TV and blogs -- you know, a guy people have actually heard of and give money to voluntarily -- is a crazy neo-Confederate racist and anti-Semite.

Waiting for the Bird Dog Outrage-O-Meter to go off in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . nope, guess it" rel="nofollow">

I could barely have more contempt for Churchill, but at this point, every single additional word written or read about him is at best a waste of time, and at worst an effort to take the same "the facts are [email protected]!!" bullying from the right's outrage machine, that has been so successful in making journalists afraid to act like journalists, and extend it to universities. Churchill deserves it, but it will be overgeneralized to people and universities and tenure committees that do not deserve it. You can bank on it.

(This comment of mine falls into category "a". There's really no point in arguing with the people who still feel persecuted even when they run the entire country.)

Well, Phil, I'm outraged at the crappy Politically Incorrect Guide, but then, my weblog gets somewhere in the neighborhood of between zero and five visits daily, so I don't know that I could do much.

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Nice "look over there" response, Phil, to my so-called outrage. I never heard of Woods until you just mentioned him, but if Buchanan likes him, then he doesn't speak for me and he's automatically suspect.

So a wacko like Churchill blends in perfectly with run-of-the-mill Democrats, does he?

You're assuming the UC faculty are "run-of-the-mill" Democrats and that he perfectly blends, Josh. Your words, not mine. When a faculty is 97% Democrat, I suggest that a mainstream conservative might look more extreme to them than a hardliner like Churchill, and therein lies the problem with the faculty monolith.

Wow, this post sure went downhill. It started off on a reasonable enough course, noting how ridiculous it is that so much controversy has built up over some obscure academic with some silly ideas. Then it shifted to look at some of the relevant details of the situation to see how this academic got his job to begin with, despite his poor credentials.

After that, it swerved away from the details of this situation to some typical conservative boilerplate on liberal control of academia, even going so far as to claim that we can conclude that an institution has an "ideological monolith" based solely on the numbers of registered Democrats and Republicans who work there.

Finally, it crashed into Jonah Goldberg and his claim that stupid people make groups smarter. What, wasn't the University of Colorado doing enough on this front by hiring Churchill? Like the proverbial Lothar, he's plenty willing to raise unconventional ideas.

Seriously, do you really think that what academia needs in order to have a greater diversity of ideas and more willingness to raise unconventional views is more stupid academics? My bet would be that the main effect of affirmative action for stupid professors would be a reduction in the quality of teaching, not an increase in the fabled capacity of Common Sense that would let universities see obvious facts that everyone is missing.

I never heard of Woods until you just mentioned him . . .

Of course you haven't, and therein lies part of the rub. (But he's been on a lot of the talk shows you say you watch and listen to, and it goes without saying that he's been on FOX, specifically on "Hannity & Colmes," so . . . ) Nobody knows who the hell Ward Churchill is, and didn't until this imbroglio. Thomas Woods has a best-selling book that's being promoted heavily by the right-wing talking-head circuit and the blogosphere, and is full of lies and racist bullshit. But I'll bet the entire contents of my 401k that you won't spend a single minute writing lengthy posts investigating and condemning Wood.

When a faculty is 97% Democrat, I suggest that a mainstream conservative might look more extreme to them than a hardliner like Churchill, and therein lies the problem with the faculty monolith.

The responses I have seen from Democrats and left-wingers since this whole thing became the Outrage Of The Day can be placed somewhere on the following spectrum:

"Who the eff is Ward Churchill" <----------------------> "What a nutbag!"

Did you miss the entire comments section recently where Churchill's words were brought up and, aside from Don Quijote and maybe one other person, not a single left-wing ObWi commentor or editor did anything but condemn him? No, wait -- I know you didn't miss it, because you commented in it. So, please explain how and in what ways this 97% Democrat faculty might be inclined to act differently from the left-wing commenters and writers here.

If you want to criticize those who give Churchill an "undeserved platform," maybe you should include the right-wing outrage machine.

What audience did this looney have before he was publicized with such glee by Reynolds, etc.?

Seriously, do you really think that what academia needs in order to have a greater diversity of ideas and more willingness to raise unconventional views is more stupid academics?

No, unless you think that any right-of-center academic is stupid. I've seen the echo chambers at freerepublic and Atrios, and it's amazing how similar they are. The UC faculty situation doesn't look that different.

Incidentally, this Sangamon State doesn't sound too different in concept from New College in California, which has produced some of the sharpest people I know, many of whom would be eminently qualified to teach at the university level. So that in itself is not indicative of Churchill's qualifications. However, if he lied about his academic background or anything else relevant, he should lose his job, I certainly would lose mine if I were discovered to have lied about those things, and so should anyone else.

So, please explain how and in what ways this 97% Democrat faculty might be inclined to act differently from the left-wing commenters and writers here.

I hope you have a LOT of money in your 401k, Phil. For one thing, the department not only hired him but promoted him twice. The only UC faculty member whom I've heard speak publicly was Campos. Sounds pretty different to me.

What audience did this looney have before he was publicized with such glee by Reynolds, etc.?

Numerous college campuses, at $3,000 a pop.

Also, I'd like an answer to the following questions, the information for which I'm absolutely certain Charles has close at hand:

1. How many people who self-identify as Republican earn doctorate-level degrees each year in, and are qualified to teach at the university level, the following subjects: English, history, philosophy, political science, journalism, gay and lesbian studies, psychology, and values and social policy?

2. How many of them each year apply for jobs at UC-Boulder?

3. How does Charles believe that the average Democrat would react to the following statement? "The people in the WTC on 9/11 deserved to be attacked."

4. Has Charles read the entire 20-page whatever by Churchill that created this controversy?

I hope you have a LOT of money in your 401k, Phil.

So you're going to write an equivalent-length post about Thomas Woods? Should I wait for it now, or . . . ?

When a faculty is 97% Democrat, I suggest that a mainstream conservative might look more extreme to them than a hardliner like Churchill, and therein lies the problem with the faculty monolith.

Do you ever get tired spouting off on things about which you manifestly know nothing?

I mean, good grief...

So you're going to write an equivalent-length post about Thomas Woods? Should I wait for it now, or . . . ?

You'll wait a long time. Looking at the comments on Redstate and on Michael J. Totten's blogs, it looks as if Bird isn't even willing to admit he doesn't support torture except to a liberal audience he knows won't condemn him for it.

You're assuming the UC faculty are "run-of-the-mill" Democrats and that he perfectly blends, Josh. Your words, not mine.

Yeah, my words, because I have no idea whether the faculty at Boulder are run-of-the-mill Democrats, and neither do you. Which is precisely why I chose the words I did.

(BTW, and this is just a pet peeve of mine, it's "CU", not "UC". UC is in Berkeley.)

When a faculty is 97% Democrat, I suggest that a mainstream conservative might look more extreme to them than a hardliner like Churchill, and therein lies the problem with the faculty monolith.

All Democrats are the same, are they? And they're all equally incapable of making judgments about the extremity of someone's political views, whether on the left or the right?

I hold no brief for Churchill, particularly if his credentials were falsified.

Also, discussions of bias are always fun, but when they end up with quotes from Jonah Goldberg .. well?

One thing that needs mentioning. Paul Campos has a weekly column in the Rocky Mountain News of Denver. That's why, Charles, he is one of the few U. of Co. faculty memebers we've heard from. He's liberal (on a conservative editorial page) and the letters to the editor a few days later regarding his mostly liberal views are nearly identical to the white-hot outrage aimed justifiably at Churchill, minus the death threats.

There is no gradation of liberalism in this country that can escape total condemnation. which makes me determined to be as biased as possible. Might as well.

Incidentally, conservatives have given Churchill his free nationwide platform. You guys should be his agent.

I don't know, Jes -- I said I'd bet my 401k that he wouldn't, and he said he hoped I had a lot of money in there. Or maybe he was just sending good wishes for my future retirement? That must be it.

This is what really gets me. Sure, this Churchill guy sounds like a 70s relic way past his prime too enamored of failed far-left politics to be of much use. And may be an academic fraud. Good. Great. Release the dogs with the bees in their mouths.

But this Woods guy, this is what the people whose interests align with the party that controls the entire Federal Government, the people who support and encourage and act as mouthpiece for the current power structure, the people who Bird Dog voted for, this is what they are choosing to spend their time actively promoting, telling him he's doing good work and finally undoing a half-century of liberal lies, blah blah blah blah blah. And while he makes the talk-show rounds, and the people in the political party Bird Dog supports eat up the lies of a racist neo-Confederate, Bird Dog feels that a curt, "He doesn't speak for me" is sufficient.

Your party seems to feel he's not only sufficient, but necessary, Charles. What do you plan to do about it? Write about treasonous college professors and journalists some more?

Well, if you want a sampling of what several left-of-center academics made of Churchill and his work, you could do worse than look at what Cliopatria has said on the subject; for that matter, Timothy Burke (no conservative he) has a thoughtful, extended demolition of this particular essay and Churchill's career as a whole.

Has this guy ever said anything else that was outstandingly stupid? Was he being paid for speaking engagements on the subject of the 911 victims, or was he making just uncontroversial speeches in his subject area? His dumb remarks were made three years ago. The remarks are being made an issue now as part of the"demonize the liberals" campaign which rightwingers have been caring on for years. Charles is making himself part of the campaign by bring it up here, even though he tries to distance himself.
The lone wacko really isn't worth our time. Let's talk about Santorum who thinks there is no constitutional right to privacy and and wants Griswold to be overturned. Let's talk about hatred of gays being used as a get-out-the-vote ploy by the Republicans. Let's talk about that nutty Republican Senator from Okalahoma who thinks lesbians recruit in high school bathrooms. Let's talk about the House Republicans condoning crimes by DeLay. The purpose of making a big noise about the Colorado professor is to distract attention from the very large number of unreasonable and unethical people in the leadership of the Republican party.

A couple of comments on this tarbaby post. I've been reading some discussion of Churchill's academic output and it appears to me that you are cherry picking critiques. While some of the critiques argue that Churchill shouldn't have gotten tenure, others don't, so you are being misleading in lumping them all together. The question of whether tenure should be revoked if shoddy research or fraud occurs is not addressed in any of those critiques.

There are also a small number of scholars who argue that Churchill's work in other areas is solid. I've been trying to follow up on these, but I'm not sure if it is worth the effort as the kerfluffle has so much momentum and I have real world stuff to do.

I would also point out that the accusation of false tribal registration is one that has often been used against Native American activists. I don't think you have any idea how tribal registry works and how it can be manipulated. One has to know a lot more information than just if someone's name is on a list to figure out what is going on.

One also needs to determine what was written post tenure and pre tenure. It is a sad fact of human nature that when someone gets tenure, the urge is to say 'screw it' to a lot of things. This usually manifests itself in a blowing off of things like teaching, but political extremism is a less travelled road.

The link to Tim Burke's essay is worthwhile, but Burke seems to have confined himself to one aspect of Churchill's output on Indian identity. Interestingly enough, a number of people within the NA movement felt that Churchill was an FBI plant. I would also point anyone to Berube's partial post which has a very interesting quote about the nature of tenure.

Finally, in order to give Chas a head start on his Woods post, I recommend Eric Muller's blog for a number of links

A couple of comments on this tarbaby post.

And another much-needed term formally enters the lexicon. Ta, LJ (and sidereal, who I believe was the first to invoke the metaphor at ObWi).

sidereal deserves all the credit. I'm just an academic, so I can only analyse this stuff, I can't create it.

No, unless you think that any right-of-center academic is stupid. I've seen the echo chambers at freerepublic and Atrios, and it's amazing how similar they are. The UC faculty situation doesn't look that different.

Of course there are plenty of smart righties. I read some of their blogs. I only brought up stupidity to try to show that Goldberg's piece on the value of stupid people was incorrect, in addition to being irrelevant.

The difference between a university and a blog like freerepublic or Atrios is that those blogs are there for partisan purposes, closely aligned with the goals of one of the two main political parties, while universities are teaching and doing research in history, english, philosophy, etc. You cannot conclude that a university is an "ideological monolith" simply from the fact that nearly all of its faculty belong to the same political party, because most of what goes on at the university does not involve making ideological partisan arguments.

Ditto what Blar said. Academic opinion is actually far more diverse than party affiliation could ever indicate.

And there is almost no argument in the academy as venomous as the one that's been raging for at least twenty years now between the people who say "since I am a conservative/Native-American/gay/African-American/X, I deserve..." and those who think otherwise. Even in this fight, there's enormous gradation of opinion and method.

One fact-based quibble with your post, just something I noticed because I followed the Bellesiles controversy pretty carefully at the time: he fired because he had a skewed perspective but because he concocted data. The archives on which he based his findings (which many academics were excited about and wanted to be right) did not exist. There's a big difference between the wholesale manufacture of evidence and sloppy research. I'm not defending Churchhill, per se, and his work probably deserves review, but Bellesiles deserved to be turned out on his ass instantly. I think there's a significant difference between the two cases.

Charles: a few points in response to this.

I have, thanks to this post, read more of Ward Churchill's work than I had in the past, and I now think not just that one remark of his is idiotic, but that he is an idiot over long stretches of his work. (All the long stretches I've read. I devoutly hope never to have to read any more.)

I think you're right to ask why he got a job, let alone tenure, at Colorado. But the rest of your discussion of this question seems to me to consist of conjectures and criticisms, mostly from sources that are both partisan and badly informed (where what counts most with me is the second.)

There's no reason (or at least you don't give any) to think that he got his job because of his supposed Native American ancestry. I have no idea why he got a job without a Ph.D., and I think that's a serious question that someone should try to answer. I don't think the cites you gave show that his college was a 'joke'. There were a bunch of colleges founded around the same time as that one that had the idea that different sorts of pedagogical practices might either be better than the usual ones, or suit some students better. Some of them (e.g., Hampshire and Evergreen) are, I think, quite good. Others are not. The idea of having individual written evaluations rather than grades, for instance, has always struck me as one that might in theory be quite good, except for two problems: first, it would depend heavily on the quality and motivation of the faculty, and in particular on their willingness to uphold serious standards, and (b) students would not accept it since it would handicap them in job searches and grad school applications. But it doesn't have to be a joke at all. Not knowing anything more about this particular college, I can't say anything about how it, in particular, implemented these ideas.

Fraud: you note various critiques of Churchill's work, and then write: "From this reader's eye, the sum total of distortions and factual errors indicate fundamentally dishonest and fraudulent scholarship by the beleaguered professor." Plagiarism and academic fraud are extremely serious charges, and the fact that someone has been accused of them does not make those accusations accurate. If you checked the various sources referred to in the articles that make those charges and reached your own conclusions, that's one thing. But if you didn't, I don't think you're in a position to say one way or the other.

I am not saying this to stick up for Churchill, or to denigrate his accusers. I am not competent to judge the charges they make. I'm just saying that while I can tell based on what I've read that he's an idiot with the moral sensitivity of a flatworm, the question whether he is, in addition, a plagiarist or a deliberate falsifier of history is a separate matter, and one that can't be judged without going back to the original sources.

(For what it's worth, since I'm going through your post, I would want to see evidence that he consorted with Bernadine Dohrn. Someone who makes up an ethnicity might well embroider his radical past.)

About the U of C and its ideological blindspots: I would not trust either Accuracy in Academia, George Will, or Jonah Goldberg on this topic. At all. They are uninformed, and they have an agenda. In particular, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans tells you next to nothing about any 'ideological agenda'. Most of us do not spend a lot of time talking about politics. We talk about our field. And politics often has nothing to do with it.

To take an example I know about: the UC department of philosophy -- twelve to nothing! -- has been moving, over the past decade or so, from a department that had a sort of joint focus on ethics and what we call 'hard-core analytic', which (take it from me) is completely apolitical, to hard-core analytic pure and simple. It has, that is, shed the only piece of itself in which political questions might conceivably so much as raise their little heads, in favor of such questions as the following: suppose you have a good reason to think that the clock before you is accurate, and therefore you think that it is, as the clock says, noon. Suppose further that, unbeknownst to you, the clock is broken, but that as luck would have it, it is noon. Can you be said to KNOW that it's noon? Or: suppose that there were a world exactly like this one, except for one thing: water has a slightly different chemical composition. It still looks, tastes, etc., the same, however, and it's still usable for drinking, washing, and all the other stuff we use water for here on earth. Suppose further that there are inhabitants of that other planet who have independently come up with English, and that they call their stuff 'water'. Does 'water' have the same meaning there that it does here? I have absolutely no idea what it would mean to teach these questions with a liberal or a conservative bias. And yet the party registration of people who teach these subjects is, according to Accuracy in Academia, supposed to prove something.

Why academics tend to be Democrats is an interesting question. I don't know the answer. But it doesn't follow from that fact alone, or from anything Will or Goldberg say, that they are teaching in a biased way.

Last point: there are idiots who get university jobs. The system does not work flawlessly. Ward Churchill is, as best I can tell, a perfect example of its failures. But all that notwithstanding, we have the best universities in the world. Only the UK is even close. And we have the best universities in the world in large part because our universities, unlike (for instance) some European university systems, have not been politicized. I would hate to see that change.

As a recent CU graduate (who never dealt with Churchill on any level) who is still in contact with several professors there I have to say that all of these comments about the political demographics and the ideological blind-spots, etc. miss the reality of the institution by a wide mark. The CU faculty I have spoken with regarding the whole Churchill fiasco unanimously condemn his rhetoric and irresponsibility. They are, by and large, not given to bringing politics into the classroom and then they go out of their way to provide both sides. Yes, there are a handful of activists, but they are a small minority.

brief aside--I know one former professor who was denied tenure on political and pedagogical grounds because he was too radical for the (pedagogically conservative and politically neutral) department.

Really, the only reason why Churchill gets any support from the faculty (outside of the small group of activists) is because the state government is using the whole incident as an excuse to attack academic freedom, and so they are forced to fight for someone with whom they disagree in order to defend the freedom guaranteed to them in their contracts from a government that only contributes 7% of the total CU budget.

I can't believe that so many conservatives are so up in arms about a 'radical' school that can only manage a couple hundred protesters for any given cause with the same 6-10 professors involved in each one. More people show up to smoke pot on Farrand Field every 4/20 than ever show up for a protest.

It's a decent, second tier school with an apathetic student body and a lot of professors trying really hard to compete with the call of the ski slopes.

The only reason we are spending any time talking about Churchill is because of the right-wing lie that he is somehow representative of academia/democrats/liberals/whatever...

How can anyone be "fascinated" by his story, unless you buy into this lie.

I don't know anything about his academic credentials (they may be sound or they may be nonsense), but there is nothing unusual about otherwise sound professors being nut jobs on the side -- William Shockley comes to mind.

Just googled Shockley. I already knew the technical stuff, but I had no idea he was such a wingding.

because of the right-wing lie

Heh. Your objection is noted, but aren't you really doing exactly the thing that you're criticizing?

Charles,

I am one Democrat who as not heard of Churchill before the VRWC started this brewhaha about three year old remarks but my sentiments are aptly expressed by Animal House's Otter:

But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

That's funny, before this whole manufactured outrage, I've never heard of this Ward Churchill. Should I have? I mean, there wouldn't be such a fuss if he wasn't an opinion maker and well respected member of the liberal left, right?

Dave Neiwert weighs in, and is particularly incisive on this subject. I await Charles' upcoming posts about James Kibler or Kevin MacDonald.

I think Churchill is a wingnut who should never have gotten tenure. I'm not thrilled by tenure either--It think 10 year contracts would probably protect things almost as well without some of the more freaky sidenotes. I think we shouldn't try to tar the entire left with Churchill, we have freaks on the right too.

Ugh. Charles Bird, you suck so bad that I'm taking this site off my blogroll.

Charles: There are things that I, as a liberal, am unaware of. Until recently I assumed the assault weapons ban was worth fighting for, but Mark Kleiman informed me that's not the case. That there are shoddy profs with bad ideas and big mouths is not news to me. I'd like to hear more of the former sort of thing from a conservative perspective than the latter. (Was going to add another unsought suggestion but a personette from Porlock wanted to hear and discard my opinion about some wedding photographers.)

The efforts to change the subject well the velocity of the effort was impressive.

As a CU alumni, Churchill as a professor doesn't bother me, universities should cover a broad spectrum of views including conservative viewpoints, department head well that is a different story.

bullying from the right's outrage machine, that has been so successful in making journalists afraid to act like journalists, and extend it to universities.

Katherine, we just want journalists to act like journalist, you know separate one's opinion from one's reporting or leave opinions off of the front page and back in the opinion section where they belong.

As for universities, diversity is the key word, diversity of opinion which the institutions lack at the moment, well actually they have lacked diversity over the last two decades. Tolerance is another key word but I will refrain from any comment on that subject, as intolerance creates such an ugly world.

before this whole manufactured outrage, I've never heard of this Ward Churchill. Should I have?

doesn't matter - he represents you. and you'd be wise to choose your representatives better, next time - if you want to stay in good standing with The Real Leaders of America, that is.

While some of the critiques argue that Churchill shouldn't have gotten tenure, others don't, so you are being misleading in lumping them all together.

I'm not aware of the critiques who argued that Churchill should have gotten tenure, LJ, so how is that misleading? You are making a wrong assumption that I have certain knowledge (which I don't) that I'm deliberately withholding. That is a serious charge, and it's one that I reject. Berube talked about the importance of free expression for the tenured. I don't disagree with that, as long as the tenured person has not been fraudulent in his/her work. I don't disagree with Burke either.

About the U of C and its ideological blindspots: I would not trust either Accuracy in Academia, George Will, or Jonah Goldberg on this topic. At all.

You can choose to trust or not trust, hilzoy. But let me ask you this: If the 97% figure is indeed accurate, is that not something to be concerned about? What would be your opinion of a humanities faculty that is 97% Republican? Would that not concern you? If diversity is a highly important goal for a university, it seems self-defeating to have a rainbow of skin colors and sexual orientations all conforming to the same small area on the ideological spectrum. If ever there's a place that should accept, tolerate and strive for a broad range of academic thought, it should be in an institution of higher learning.

The only reason we are spending any time talking about Churchill is because of the right-wing lie that he is somehow representative of academia/democrats/liberals/whatever...How can anyone be "fascinated" by his story, unless you buy into this lie.

Poor reasoning, dm. I know Churchill isn't representative of "academia/democrats/liberals/whatever" and, like I said, my main questions deal with CU, not Churchill.

Let me add one other thing. If Churchill gets fired for his statements and his ideological beliefs, it would be an injustice. Tenure means something. Personally, I think there are grounds for his termination: professional and academic fraud.

Sebastian,

Take it from a professor--ten year contracts are not as good as tenure, especially if the professor is in his thirties.

Churchill's comments are indefensible--but the bigger issue is the attempt to fire a tenured professor for what he has said. This is part of the Right's next phase of the scorched earth campaign--intimidate university faculty who offer one of the few radical critiques of the right-wing agenda that has now become mainstream. Anyone interested in democracy should oppose efforts to silence ANYONE.

You are making a wrong assumption that I have certain knowledge (which I don't) that I'm deliberately withholding. That is a serious charge, and it's one that I reject.

I don't mean to sound snarky, but I don't think that I am suggesting that you have certain knowledge. What I am suggesting is that many of those critiques are, as I think someone (maybe it was Tim Burke, maybe someone in response to Burke) said, pointed to the fact that Churchill needs to get his butt kicked in the free market of ideas, which is how things are supposed to operate, not have his tenure taken away. After all, your links to the critiques of Churchill are under the following header

Have Churchill's peers and superiors at CU-Boulder seen the critiques of his work, and if so, why have they done nothing about it?

I assumed that doing something about it is not refusing to give him invitations to faculty cocktail parties, but turning him out on his ear. Since you are against having Churchill fired for his beliefs, what do you propose CU-Boulder faculty and staff do about it? I admit there is a lot of things one can do (take away campus parking would be the meanest) but I'd be interested to know what you thought of doing.

Charles: "About the U of C and its ideological blindspots: I would not trust either Accuracy in Academia, George Will, or Jonah Goldberg on this topic. At all.

You can choose to trust or not trust, hilzoy."

Actually, I was advising you not to trust them. You might give me similar advice about people who write about your professional world. Since academia is mine -- and I have spent more time in it than most people my age, since my parents and most of their friends were academics as well -- I get to form my opinions about this particular little corner of the world first-hand, rather than having to trust anyone. (I do read a lot about it as well, of course.) Speaking first-hand, I also gave you some reasons not to trust them; it wasn't just a sort of unsupported order or anything.

The thing is: we do value intellectual diversity. But the form this usually takes is valuing people who have different approaches to the subject we're teaching. When hiring decisions come up, we often talk about the need to hire people who cover a field we aren't strong in, and/or who have a general approach unlike our own. But political diversity is a different matter, since what we teach (except in political philosophy) doesn't have much to do with it. And even in political philosophy the main questions are things like: what are the criteria by which the legitimacy of a government can be judged, and how would you justify them?, not: should we all be on the left/right/whatever?

It is not part of our job to talk about politics. (That is, for the record, why I am anonymous: I have no problem with anyone here connecting what I write to my name, but ever since I learned that some of my students google me -- and why they do this I have no idea -- my general caution about talking politics with undergraduates has extended itself into the internet.) We would think worse of someone, on pedagogical grounds, if s/he tried to indoctrinate students with any set of political views: our job is to teach people to think critically about our subject, not to convert them to anything. If they do not try to convert their students to something, their politics are of no concern to us. And this is why, in a career that includes many, many job interviews and search committees, seen anyone consider people's politics in deciding who to hire, or who to tenure, or anything like that. The subject just doesn't come up.

That being said, there are a few fields in which it would not amaze me to learn that the situation was different. "Ethnic studies" is one of them. There is, I think, something very worthwhile to be done that falls under the general heading "ethnic studies", but my not terribly well-informed view from outside that discipline is that what is actually being done in UC-like departments is very much a mixed bag: some good, some not. Also, that it is much more politicized than most departments. But such departments are the exception, not the rule. When they are done right, they are great; when they are not, they tend to turn into little enclaves on the campus, and their effects are accordingly reduced.

It is also true that there are departments in which some sort of conformity rules. In my experience (counting here my personal experience and also stuff I've heard), this is (in my field) usually not political. Instead, it tends to take one of two forms: (a) the assumption that there is some one philosophical school that is right, and adherents of other schools are bad philosophers. (b) Social conformity (you need to "fit in" in some sense that goes beyond being a basically decent person who does not make the lives of students and colleagues a misery.) Philosophical conformity, like most sorts of purely academic conformity, is usually apolitical: accepting a particular account of meaning or knowledge, for example, has nothing to do with politics at all, except maybe in the sense in which if you trace connections far enough afield, everything has something to do with everything else.

Social conformity, in my experience, has a slightly stronger indirect connection with politics, since it tends to work against the sorts of people one's older colleagues have never worked with before and are not fully comfortable with as colleagues, and it's easy for this to mean, in practice: women and minorities. When you are the first woman or African-American or whatever that your department has ever hired, it's easy to find yourself muting your views on related questions. But that's a pretty indirect connection.

The general point, though, is that it's hard to infer much of anything from the ratio of registered Democrats to registered Republicans in a given department. Honestly, most of us just don't care how someone votes, at least for professional purposes.

Timmy the Wonder Dog: Katherine, we just want journalists to act like journalist, you know separate one's opinion from one's reporting or leave opinions off of the front page and back in the opinion section where they belong.

This might be true for you individually (I haven't followed your position, if any, on the Eason Jordon witch hunt) but it is manifestly untrue for the right for whom you appear to be speaking. Jordan was railroaded not for his reporting but for personal opinions expressed outside a reporting context.

ever since I learned that some of my students google me -- and why they do this I have no idea

I think they do it for the same reason that people google dates: one would rather know more than less.

A graduate teacher of mine pointed out that one big problem that students had when they wrote scholarly papers was that they wanted to write a history of where they got the idea, why they thought of something, but this teacher pointed out that while this might be interesting (especially to the student), it is not what gets published. The idea is not the route of how this idea got into your head (and students tend to do this to justify the idea, I think) but to act as if it was evident, and anyone should have realized it, and you just tripped over it. This may be a quirk of my field, but it says something about students, in that they want to know why you say the things you do. Hence, the google.

About the U of C just for the record, it is referred to as CU, always has been.

Jordan was railroaded not for his reporting but for personal opinions expressed outside a reporting context.

I missed the railroading, then again I missed Jordan's request to release the tape. Jordan misspoke, and it isn't the first time on this particular subject, failed to apologize and wasn't able to bury the story. Jordan decided to exit, you will have to ask him why.

My problem is the MSM failed to cover the story, one way or the other it was news.

what do you propose CU-Boulder faculty and staff do about it

Take away his deparment.

The general point, though, is that it's hard to infer much of anything from the ratio of registered Democrats to registered Republicans in a given department. Honestly, most of us just don't care how someone votes, at least for professional purposes.

It is not at all hard to infer when you combine it with the comments, actions and history of the faculty. I've known liberal professors at CU who were very tolerant, excellent teachers as well, and others who were not. The "liberal establishment" at CU-Boulder was alive and well 25 years ago and I doubt anything has changed.

Poor reasoning, dm. I know Churchill isn't representative of "academia/democrats/liberals/whatever"

Well, I glad your fascination with this non-issue stems from some other motive, which you unfortunately do not share with most of the right wing, which has been trumpeting this non-issue for this reason.

What is so fascinating about this? The only issue seems to be how this guy got as far as he has at CU. Another issue is tenure versus firing peole for being nut jobs, but that is hardly the issue as to Chirchill, as it seems there are plenty of other reasons for taking job action against him. If speaking out has brought attention to these other problems, so be it.

Timmy: My problem is the MSM failed to cover the story, one way or the other it was news.

The media in the US have failed catastrophically to cover the story that Eason Jordan was referring to - the large number of journalists who have been killed in Iraq since the invasions began, of whom 12 were certainly killed deliberately by US soldiers (who may or may not have known that they were shooting at journalists). This story has been covered outside the US: why the US MSM isn't interested in journalists getting killed by US soldiers is a question no one on the right-wing, even now, seems to be asking.

I posted a link to a summary of the story on the "This is a test" thread.

I suspect that Colorado Boulder got exactly what they wanted in hiring, tenuring and promoting Ward Churchill, and, as I discuss in my own online column, it seems a bit disingenuous for university officials in 2005 to express shock at Churchill's controversial statements and activities, when those very activities were the ones that made him so attractive to the university in the first place.

An eyewitness report of a talk by Ward Churchill at the University of Hawaii, 22nd February.

Heh. symbolic language...where's that bullpoop operator when you need it? No, I don't think there's more than one or two people in the world who imagined that Churchill actually thought that the "little Eichmanns" were actually Eichmann. No, most of us got the abstraction just fine; it was the abstraction itself that was objectionable.

But it's evidently far more difficult to defend one's points than it is to just imagine that critics don't get the thick, rich complexity of one's prose. I wish I could say "nice try", but it really wasn't.

If 9/11 had in fact been carried out by an Islamic fundamentalist organization then I would agree 100% with Churchill about the bourgeois turds in the WTC and their brainwashed fascist brethren in the Pentagon getting what they deserve. However, more than a cursory look at the events of 9/11 proves easily that it was instead an inside job. Some glaring giveaways are if one watches the video footage of the WTC twin towers (and 47-storey WTC # 7) "collapsing" it is plain to see they were controlled demolitions. It is so obvious one can even see the camera (on a tripod) shake when the ground shook from the explosives in the sub-basements going off and seconds later at least eight separate fireballs from cutting charges can be seen just below the level of the smoke and 'squibs' or jets of dust can be seen shooting out of windows. Or the fact that the buildings each disintegrate in ten seconds, the same rate an object falls through air unopposed. Another obvious giveaway is when Bush is told by Andy Card that a second plane has hit (remember, he was in the elentary school?) so he knew it was no accident. If 9/11 happened as per the "official" hogwash story then Bush and his Secret Service staff would have had to assume Bush might likely be a target too, and would have immediately whisked him away to a safer location. But did they? Hell no, he sat there being read to for several minutes, then walked around and talked with teachers, THEN he gave his pre-scheduled press conference at the school regarding his "No Child Left Behind" act, not leaving that school until about AN HOUR after Card told him the news. This can only mean one thing: Bush KNEW he wasn't a target for 9/11. And the ONLY way he could have known that is if he knew the plans, meaning it was an inside job. Also, consider that the "hijacked airliners" had over an hour to fly adter turning around and heading towards their targets, al lwith NO HINDRANCE from the most expensive air force in the world in the most heavily-watched airspace in the country (the Northeast), one even hitting the Pentagon (!) which didn't fire ANY surface-to-air missiles in its own defense!Or seven of the "hijackers" turning up alive and well days after 9/11 wondering why they were being wrongfully accused. Or the total lack of wings, tail section, luggage, body parts, etc. from the "airliner" that struck the Pentagon. Or the FBI's confiscating of the security camera footage including from a gas station across the street from the Pentagon strike within MINUTES of it. Or the fact that airliners won't make the kind of high-G turns required to strike the South Tower and Pentagon, nevermind the fact that the "suicide pilots" couldn't fly Cessnas or Piper Cubs worth a damn even. Or a "hijacker's" passport being "found" intact near the WTC rubble when we are told the flames incinerated all the people and evidence, even the flights' black boxes we were told. Or the hot spots (of molten steel) found under the WTC rubble still hot weeks after 9/11, consistent with massive use of thermite explosives. Or the fact that exactly NONE of the "hijackers" names were on ANY of the four flight manifests (even though at least one would have had to use his real passport for it to have been "found" in the rubble!). Or ask yourself: Just what are the odds of the CIA and air force to have exercises scheduled for 11 September 2001 that involved "simulated hijackings", planes "crashing into a building" and false radar injects?? FEMA was even carrying out an "exercise" in Manhattan the day before and was still in town "coincidentally". So was the company called Controlled Demolitions Incorporated, specializing in removing rubble from you guessed it, controlled demolitions (like the WTC). Or the record amounts of "put" orders (betting a stock will lose value) purchased on United Airlines, American Airlines and Merrill Lynch (they were at the WTC) stock in the week just before 9/11? This means someone or several someones in high places knew beforehand and the S.E.C. will do exactly NOTHING about it. Or how San Francisco mayor Willie Brown and several others were warned the day before to avoid flying and avoid the WTC. There is a mountain of evidence pointing toward no other conclusion than 9/11 being an inside job.
Some good websites to check out:
http://www.wtc7.net/
http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/thermite.htm
http://www.plaguepuppy.net/public_html/collapse%20update/#videos
http://wtc.macroshaft.org/mov
http://www.serendipity.li/wtc.htm
http://thewebfairy.com/killtown/pentalawn.htm
http://www.pentagonlawn.net/home.htm
http://www.counterpunch.org/leopold02192003.html
http://emperors-clothes.com/indict/indict-1.htm
http://emperors-clothes.com/news/airf.htm
http://www.rense.com/general66/pre11.htm
http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/JohnJudge/WrongQuestion.html
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/june2005/270605insidejob.htm
http://www.pej.org/html/print.php?sid=2736
http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20050613-102755-6408r.htm
http://www.911weknow.com/
http://www.question911.com/
http://www.public-action.com/911/robotplane.html
http://911review.com/means/remotecontrol.html
http://wwww.sysplan.com/Radar/CTS
http://www.americanfreepress.net/12_24_02/America_Pearl_Harbored/america
_pearl_harbored.html
http://www.shout.net/~bigred/PHarbor.htm
http://www.antiwar.com/orig/weiner6.html
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/june2005/140605tenquestions.htm
http://members.surfeu.fi/11syyskuu/soldier5.htm

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