Why would the University of Toronto Students Union (UTSU) invite Ward Churchill, a disgraced professor fired by the University of Colorado, to speak at what’s called “eXpression Against Oppression” (XAO) week in early February, and sign a petition against raising tuition fees?
What on earth has he got to say that has any credibility?
Angela Davis was on the same program, but she’s genuine – linked with Black Panthers, the U.S. Communist Party, civil rights protester, acquitted in the 1970 kidnap/murder of a judge, and today professor in the History of Consciousness(?) department of the University of California.
Students who are attracted to the likes of Angela Davis and Ward Churchill tend not to be open-minded, and are willing (if not eager) to denigrate and display their anti-Americanism.
When people like Christie Blatchford, Anne Coulter or Daniel Pipes are invited to speak, hints of violence result in invitations being canceled.
That’s the way it is with student groups, some more susceptible to intimidation than others.
Back to the original thesis: Why Ward Churchill?
The Students Union describe him as “an American Indian scholar and social justice activist,” but the guy is such an obvious phony and wannabe, that there’s no credibility to him, just mild curiosity.
Born in 1947, in Urbana, Illinois, Churchill has claimed to have been drafted in 1966 and have taken parachute training before spending nearly a year in Vietnam on Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol in enemy territory. Supposedly, this combat experience radicalized him to work with the Weather Underground on return to civilian life, where he taught the art of bomb-making.
Impressive to some, perhaps, except that none of it is true.
Churchill might have been in army public information, and/or as a truck driver. Ranger regiments say there’s no record on him ever doing Long Range Patrols in Vietnam.
Ward Churchill also presents himself as having Indian blood – another of his wannabe traits. The leadership of the American Indian Movement (AIM) has denounced him – even suggested he was working undercover for the FBI – and the Cherokees have said there is no record of him having Indian blood. (Churchill has variously claimed one-sixteenth to three-sixteenth Cherokee blood, one-eighth Creek blood).
When I visited Leonard Peltier in Leavenworth prison (three times), on each occasion he had harsh things to say about Ward Churchill, and wanted no part of “this phony.”
Parenthetically, when I last wrote about Peltier, I erred in saying that he knew teenage warrior wannabes, Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham, both convicted in 2004 and 2010 of the 1975 murder of Anna Mae Aquash.
When confronted with his claims of Indian genealogy, Churchill once replied: “I have never claimed to be goddamn Sitting Bull.”
Perhaps not, but he blamed the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center on American foreign policy and called victims “little Eichmanns.”
Although he had tenure at the University of Colorado (based on his Indian heritage claims and lectures on ethnicity), in 2006 the university’s Standing Committee on Research and Misconduct found that Churchill was guilty of “multiple counts of academic misconduct . . . (including) plagiarism, fabrication and falsification.”
The board of Regents fired him by an 8 -1 vote.
Clearly his background makes him attractive to the UofT students union. Disgraced British MP George Galloway gets a hero’s welcome when he speaks to students, but he’s genuine. Maybe a nasty bit of work, but real.
Churchill can’t make that claim. Pathetic, maybe, but no credibility.