The case of a professor or any other American exercising the right of free speech is always important to us. We support that fundamental right more than any other and believe that even the extreme views of others (which sometimes become mainstream) must be defended against any force that would silence our First Amendment rights as citizens and as free human beings.
The nature of Churchill's decidedly offensive remarks, however, forces us to critique in general the injurious approach to scholarship and basic human decency. We defend the right to broadcast and publish, but propose it is reprehensible to excoriate innocent human beings who have suffered great loss by rubbing salt in deep wounds simply to prove a political point and simply to strike (one more time) a political posture on behalf of the far left and under the guise of American Indian sentiment. Wrapped intimately with American Indian themes in his writings and lectures, and shielded apparently by his own American Indian Movement (AIM) security team, Churchill projects the image of the quintessential American Indian activist and/or warrior - angry, defiant, insulting, forceful and accusatory. Churchill sometimes captures the historical truth of a thing, but only to load it like deadly ammunition into his ideological machine gun.
Stunning words coming from a people that Churchill has identified with for decades…
…we submit that any reasonable and decent human being would find them to be disgusting and cheap words, a callous insult to the dead and wounded in the horrific events of that fateful day.
Interestingly enough, it is now coming to light that while Churchill may have been given something called an “associate certificate”, his Indian status has never been – nor, apparently can be – verified:
Churchill's Indian status is not verifiable in the usual ways of checking into tribal membership. We are expansive here from a national position on recognized and non-recognized tribes, southern nations and global indigenous people, but the question of relations and proper belonging in the tribal circles in the United States and Canada is generally verifiable for Indian observers and such appears to be completely lacking in Churchill's case. He has claimed membership in the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee, but reliable representatives from the tribe deny Churchill is or ever was, or has blood relatives on their rolls. He was granted an ''associate certificate'' by a former leader of the tribe (later impeached) for services supposedly rendered, not due to blood relations - but even the tribe declines to exactly identify what that means.
Some very revealing comments flow through the editorial over at Indian Country:
Discerning indigenous identity is not an exact science, but it has its rules….
So far, nothing whatsoever has surfaced that gives evidence to Churchill's claims to having Cherokee Indian origins…
Given the intense antagonism and attention focused on Churchill, his biography in this context is likely to be further scrutinized by the University of Colorado, the media, and others who were led to understand he was an American Indian professional at the time of his hiring…
Wait! Don't tell me that Ward Churchill falsified information on his employment application??
To endlessly cite the misdeeds of the American Empire - while layering the legend of Nazi Germany over it - has the constant method of the Churchill scholarship... One can argue Churchill has projected the image of an angry Indian who became notorious for being in the face of non-Indians as much as possible - even though the evidence builds that he is, himself, non-Indian.
Churchill has made a reputation and a career out of these themes and in some circles has come to represent the Indian view to various national and international publics. This is unfortunate for the vast majority of Native people who do not at all share in his opinions about the brutal murder of some 3,000 innocent people during the events of 9/11.
Here is what we read in his original article, perhaps the more troubling for his own admission that it was written in a ''stream of consciousness'' expression. Churchill, about the victims of 9/11:
''True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire - the 'mighty engine of profit' to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved - and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to 'ignorance' - a derivative, after all, of the word 'ignore' - counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in - and in many cases excelling at - it was because of their absolute refusal to see.''
The victims' crime, according to Churchill, was to be ignorant of the crimes of the American Empire. This ignorance of real international reality, he further recriminates, was ''likely ... because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants.'' For this, the logic apparently follows, they deserved to be murdered.
This is the clincher of Churchill's troublesome message, which has him now running up a tree from the barking dogs: ''If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.''
In our opinion, Churchill hurts himself with this kind of callous thinking. This is not the way to represent American Indian peoples…
We will defend a good Indian argument in these pages any time. But, again, there is no evidence that Churchill is Indian...
Ward Churchill would do himself some good to express a profound apology to people he has offended and misled. He should also come clean about his appropriated American Indian identity. This is not advice he will likely take. Churchill has jumped on the cougar of controversy ever since he came onto the Indian scene as Russell Means' main speechwriter in the early 1980s. Churchill thrives on riding that controversial cougar, but this time he poked it in the eye.
Interesting stuff indeed...guess the game's up, huh Churchill?