Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ward Churchill: Poster Child for Affirmative Action

While the University of Colorado very slowly, via a committee, looks at charges of misconduct against incendiary “multicultural” professor Ward Churchill, the Rocky Mountain News has uncovered much additional evidence of his unethical behavior.

In brief outline form, the paper’s findings are as follows:
At issue

Did Ward Churchill falsely accuse the U.S. Army of using smallpox as a weapon of genocide against American Indians?

Our findings

His claim cannot be supported by the sources he has cited.

At issue

Did Churchill commmit plagiarism by publishing the work of others as his own?

Our findings

An essay he “prepared” for a book was actually taken from a Canadian scholar.

At issue

Did Churchill mischaracterize two important pieces of federal Indian law?

Our findings

His contentions about the Dawes Act of 1887 and the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 are incorrect.

At issue

Did Churchill misrepresent himself as having American Indian ancestry?

Our findings

His assertions that he is descended from Cherokee and Creek ancestors aren’t supported by extensive genealogical records.
An editorial in the paper gives one example of Churchill’s plagarism:
If anything, reporter Laura Frank has unearthed the most alarming example yet of possible plagiarism by Churchill, involving a 1972 document by an environmental group that the CU ethnic studies professor seems to have gradually appropriated over the years as his own. This case differs from the others in two respects: First, the content allegedly lifted is out of date and discredited - the equivalent of a conspiracy theory that no serious person, let alone a reputable scholar, would want associated with his name. Yet Churchill didn’t mind.

And second, Churchill seems to have no link whatever to the actual authors or their project. He might as well have affixed his byline to the 9/11 commission report.
The Churchill case is important less for what it says about one academic sleazeball than what it says about “diversity” in academia. Churchill is the poster child for academic affirmative action. Thinking him to be an Indian, the university hired him in preference to white candidates who had much better credentials. He was promoted to full professor, and made chair of his department in spite of an academic record that (even assuming that none of it was plagarized) was far below standard.

And now that his ethical failures are out in the open, the University of Colorado can’t proceed in any effective way against him. One of the members of the committee that is reviewing charges against him, for example, was among 200 faculty members who opposed even investigating the charges against Churchill.

The implications of this are clear. The message is: “he’s an affirmative action hire, and not only do we not care that he’s no good as a scholar, we don’t even care much that he’s dishonest.”

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