Why is U of T Listening to Ward Churchill’s Nonsense?

February 7th, 2011 at 3:45 pm | 19 Comments |

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Why would the University of Toronto Students Union (UTSU) invite Ward Churchill, order 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.

Recent Posts by Peter Worthington

19 Comments so far ↓

  • GEValle

    Leftwing university students slipped into self-parody sometime during the 80′s…

  • Rabiner

    “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.”

    Sounds just like the fans of Coulter as well. The extremes on both sides aren’t worth bothering with. Also why should Americans care who the University of Toronto (in Canada) invites to their University?

    You’d be far better off talking about the “Irvine 11″ who protested the Israeli Ambassador at UC Irvine (in California) and are being sentenced this week according to an interview given by the OC Attorney General on NPR.

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Curious that Worthington relies on “authenticity” to distinguish the admittedly apocraphyl Churchill from the Real Deal leftwing sociopath Angela Davis, as if Davis’s authenticity (whatever that means) excuses her sordid actions and pronouncements. A conservative should know better than committing the “fallacy from authenticity” in a reasoned argument.

    I wonder why Ward Churchill thought it necessary to doctor his resume and biography in the plainly silly and detectable way he did. His activism, however wrongheaded, really didn’t need any genetic justification (“Indian Blood”) or even the added political crediblity that military experience typically does lend to anti-war activism. Additionally, his lies were tactically careless: even in the pre-Google world, it would’ve been very easy to catch him out; a few public information requests would’ve done the trick.

  • jquintana

    “When people like Christie Blatchford, Anne Coulter or Daniel Pipes are invited to speak, hints of violence result in invitations being canceled.”

    Well, didn’t you know that the 1st Amendment only applies to the Left?

    Anyway, let the moron talk…he’s bound to blurt out more nonsense that Beck and Limbaugh can use on their shows to bludgeon liberals.

    ‘Little Eichmanns’….LOL

    • lessadoabouteverything

      “When people like Christie Blatchford, Anne Coulter or Daniel Pipes are invited to speak, hints of violence result in invitations being canceled.”

      Well, didn’t you know that the 1st Amendment only applies to the Left?

      So Coulter, Pipes, and Blatchford are all cowards then I take it for not going? Anyway, with nuts on the right the only Amendments they care about are the 2nd and 10th. Democrats don’t worry about hints of violence, they worry about real violence directed at THEM. Need I also remind you that the Republican press secretary under Bush said people need to watch what they say…

      Democrats have universally denounced nuts like Ward Churchill, Republicans worship their nuts, like Limbaugh, Beck, Palin.

      • jquintana

        To equate Limbaugh, Beck and Palin with Churchill shows just how stridently leftist your politics are, and just how completely out of touch with reality you are. Limbaugh, Beck and Palin stand for free markets, limited government, low taxation, personal responsibility, rugged individualism, etc, while Churchill actually applauded the deaths of 3,000 innocent people.

        You’re out of your tree.

  • kevin47

    Also why should Americans care who the University of Toronto (in Canada) invites to their University?

    Because it gives a voice to an American who ought not have one.

  • Houndentenor

    @kevin 47

    The more idiots like this speak, the less credibility they have. Let them have the microphone. Free speech is a good thing. Let people speak and publish and then we can openly criticize or support what they have to say. Attempts to silence people with stupid or even dangerous ideas only drives them underground where their ideas will go unchallenged and can do more harm.

  • baw1064

    Of course, writing a column about this guy just gives his opinions more exposure than they deserve.

  • Houndentenor

    Just a thought. While many will complain about giving a platform to radical ideas, if it weren’t for bloggers on the right and left I’d have never heard of most of these folks (right and left). So who is giving them a platform here? UT at an event that will at most attract hundreds of people, or FF which is read by far more people?

  • Jamie

    The article here basically points out the obvious hypocrisy surrounding the various student union’s feelings toward exposing students to differing points of view. Left-wing radicals are fine because it pushes the student union’s political agenda. Conservative commentators only serve to challenge their ideological narratives, therefor they must be resisted. If they were a special interest student group, this would be fine. However, as they claim to have the best interests of all students in mind, while also forcing students to fund them, they should not be so openly ideologically driven and supportive of restricting the flow of ideas.

    I actually don’t mind that Churchill spoke, as he largely spews nonsense and it’s a good learning experience to witness crazy in person. However, let the students judge for themselves what are good ideas / arguments and what are not. It’s not the student union’s purpose to decide what information is beneficial to students and what is not. They should be facilitating dialogue and the exchange of ideas, not restricting them.

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Jamie: well, insofar as giving Churchill a platform allows him to showcase the idiocy and fraudulence of his ideas, I too am fine with U of T giving him a speaking berth. Same goes for Ann Coulter or (say) Glenn Beck.

    Here’s my burning question, as regards not merely the lecture series at UT but at ALL universities: why would serious, intelligent students invite a pseudo-intellectual poseur like Churchill (or Coulter) when a thinker or writer of real accomplishment and charm– say, Garry Wills on the left, or Matthew Scully on the right– would no doubt gladly accept their invitation? It boggles my mind that undergraduates who are ostensibliy more involved and informed about politics and general ideas than their peers cannot distinguish between a real intellectual and a fraud.

    • heap

      it isn’t just universities – ask yourself why Glenn Beck has a TV show and Matthew Scully is buried behind the scenes writing speeches and editing – it’s the same situation.

      best answer I have is that politics is largely facilitation of spite anymore. it’s less about what somebody can say that uplifts or agrees with your ideology, it’s more about really, really, really cheesing off those you oppose politically….so those willing to just call anything that moves a Nazi have a niche, while those who tend to acknowledge their political enemies aren’t scum worthy only of derision….don’t.

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Heap: There really isn’t much in your post for me to disagree with. Contemporary culture at-large– the universities, museums, television, publishing, film, music– is simply degraded and disgusting, a veritable philistine sewer. We are living in a world were the absurd has become accepted as normal: this is decadence as strictly defined.

  • Jamie


    To be fair, universities sponsor their fair share of “legitimate” speakers. I attended several during my university years. But you are right, it’s odd that students and student groups seek out these fringe or “provocative” personalities instead of more serious thinkers. I guess it makes sense to a point, in that (at least in the Arts) students are encouraged to adopt a more critical analysis of accepted theories and norms. Without exception, all of my TAs fell into one of the following categories: “Green Theory”, Feminism, and some variation of Marxism. It’s the diehards of like-minded students who organize these ridiculous events. Most other students are indifferent even though they essentially are the ones paying for it.

  • Donna Meness

    I remember watching TVO recently where Steve Pakin was falling over himself in discussion with Janice Stein about the “MUNK Institute” @ Trinity College in the University of Toronto is a recognized leader in interdisciplinary academic research on global issues that integrates research with teaching and public education.

    The Munk Centre for International Studies was opened in 2000. The Centre is named after Canadian business man and philanthropist Peter Munk, who made a $6.4 million donation to finance the construction.

    It was renamed the Munk School for Global Affairs on April 13, 2010 when Peter Munk and his wife made a $35 million donation. According to the University of Toronto..


    Looking to the future, the Institute also aspires to help advance national thought and dialogue regarding Canada’s First Nations: their standard of living, quality of life, and future in this country. The Institute’s Aboriginal initiative is in its early stages; discussions with progressive Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders, as well as a literature review, are underway. The Institute’s planned approach is to focus on the growing number of aboriginals who are choosing to live in Canada’s large urban centres.

    The Institute will consult widely with appropriate experts on topics for possible exploration. To help shape the Institute’s body of work, an advisory panel will be assembled incrementally over time. Projects that meet the guidelines for charitable contributions will be funded through the Tides Foundation.

    Michael Adams — Writer; Founder of the Environics Institute. … and Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs, U of T


    This study was built on an earlier 1981 study published by the Task Force on the Needs of Native People in an Urban Setting, a partnership between the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, the Ontario native Women’s Association, the Ontario Métis Aboriginal Association and government. It employed community-based research methods to examine several areas, including demographics, identity and culture, economics and employment, education and youth, homelessness, health services, women, and justice.

    The five cities included in the study were Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Barrie-Midland, Sudbury and Kenora.

    On Urban Aboriginal Migration – Executive Summary of the Final Report:

    A key finding in terms of the demographic trends in the five cities under study is that the urban Aboriginal population is young (approximately 45% are under the age of 25) and its numbers are increasing.

    The fact that urban migration is a long-term trend is reflected in the fact that a significant number of Aboriginal people (16%) have lived in the city for 20 years or more, with 63% indicating that they have lived in their respective cities for five years or more. Having said this, we also found that many Aboriginal people maintain important links to their communities of origin primarily to visit family and friends and for holidays.”



    also in relation to Canada’s G2o last summer:

    Many of the undergraduate students are being relocated to 89 Chestnut, which is in reality, closer to the fenced area in downtown Toronto than their current residences. While food services across campus will be closed, the Faculty Club will continue operating to feed “ancillary staff” throughout the closure. Graduate students have been provided specific instructions on access to their labs and a University spokesperson confirmed that the G8 Research Group at the Munk School of Global Affairs will remain open throughout the summits. These discrepancies have led many in the campus community to question what is really happening at U of T and to its purpose. And it has led to further speculation on whether students are being shut out to accommodate additional security forces for the G20 at University of Toronto. When asked, University administration representatives would not confirm or deny whether additional security was being housed in the residences.


    & related

    The Counter Intelligence Program COINTELPRO of the 70s has been adjusted to modern times. In 1974 in Lakota country the US started a political terror, surveillance and control operation to steal uranium for their politically connected corporations.

    AGENTS are law enforcement officers disguised as activists, friends and supporters. They have no obvious income or even too much money. Agents appear peaceful and friendly but are there to cause damage.

    INFORMERS provide information and are recruited from within or sent in. They discredit, provoke tensions and sabotage unity. Fear of infiltrators creates paranoia.

    INFILTRATORS are directed by cops or intelligence agencies.

    PROVOCATEURS disrupt and lead targets into illegal activities or violence; arrive just before events; volunteer to work on finances, membership, minutes and confidential files; get involved or start political differences; seek public attention on behalf of targets, give provocative statements and create controversies.

    BLACK BAG JOBS are burglary, copying keys, planting false evidence, placing bugs, cameras and computer hacking.

    COUNTER TACTICS. Governments break laws by cutting information to the public, punishing whistle blowers and various covert actions. They threaten democracy, civil liberties and social justice. Complain about covert intervention of human rights. Start bail fund. Train members to know legal system.

    Cointelpro was done before.

    Canada is still using it.

    Besides it’s well known in Indian Country:

    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 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.”


    Read Melvin Martin, Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota & Elizabeth Cook-Lynn Professor Emerita of English and Indian studies at Eastern Washington University

    “Such identity fraud is nothing new since the emergence of Native American Studies at Western universities some four decades ago, when such federal measures as affirmative action tried to bring American Indians, citizens of Indian nations with appropriate scholarly credentials, into the scholarly academies of the country. Since that time, a large number of non-Native academics have claimed Indian identity over the years to get appointments, grant money, Native authority and publications in the field, and they are assisted by universities like CU which generally refuse to go to the Indian agencies for authentification of an applicant’s citizenship.”


  • Donna Meness

    to conclude..


    “Melvin has a point about people who use pseudonyms rather than full names. You have to wonder what they’re afraid of. Why don’t you tell us your name, location, and tribal affiliation, if any? Then we’ll know how seriously we should take your “indigenist” opinion.”

    Donna Meness
    Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Community
    Algonquin Nation
    born member: http://www.idloa.org
    3rd generation Indian civil rights activist

    former AFN worker ( Education, switchboard, Treaty & Aboriginal Rights Library)
    former NCC worker (Aboriginal Childcare Commission & Aboriginal Justice Consulate )

    My family be involved in “Indian Rights” since late 1800′s when my grandfather’s mother brought them from Lake of two Mountains when the priests were being too bothersome & we settled along the Gatineau River near Maniwaki.

    My grandparents – newly married in the early 1920′s was requested to care/hide the wampum belts for the Algonquin Nation – a time when RCMP & the priests & the bootleggers were mandated to acquire – including using lethal force – all things aboriginal for museums & – lets be honest -personal wealth.

    It was no joke to be caught with sacred items- you were shot for holding onto family & community items. You were thrown in jail for “talking” about Treaty & Aboriginal Rights & or stripped of your right to lead your people by a stroke of the pen held by the Indian Agent – which happened to my mother’s grandfather when he supported my grandfather on my father’s side by refusing to shut up about T&A rights at the band meeting.

    When my grandfather died in 1970 I was 6 yrs old &I remember the RCMP busting down my 80 yr. old grandmother’s door & questioning her about the location of the belts. (She had my brother hid them in the bush, far from the house.) They came back a number of times …. Eventually a meeting of the idloa was had & it was decided that the belts would be passed onto William Commanda for safekeeping..

    For more information regarding the Wampum belts & Indigenous Bordercrossing Rights go to http://www.idloa.org

    Fighting Tuscarora: The autobiography of Chief Clinton Rickard by Barbara Graymont/ Syracuse University Press 1973

    It’s all there, describing the many struggles of the Rickards ( Tuscarora) & Martins ( Six Nations) Meness’ (Algonquin) & others had ” holding the line” as requested by Deskaheh regarding the Jay Treaty & the Treaty of Ghent.

    In regards to my community’s story please feel free to order a copy of :

    Since Time Immemorial: Our Story: The story of the KitiganZibi Anishnabeg

    copyright: 2004Kitigan Zibi Education Council ISBN# 0-9734910-1-9
    printers: Anishinabe Printing P.O. Box 317 Maniwaki, PQ J9E 3C9

    Also inquire about the following two (2) books detailing our comprehensive Landclaim…

    1) The Country of the Anicenabe: The Algonquin Nations’ …

    2) & “Kimamiwinini- Akinan” information package
    which details both Canada’s & Quebec’s historical truth dealing with my people.

    both available from Anishinabe Printing listed above.

    more info: contact 1-800-449-5170

    “We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves… The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined.”

    ~N. Scott Momaday

    ” We must act as a guardian of our rights.”
    ~Willie Littlechild, Cree

    “The power and strength of our people is going to come from inside of us.”
    ~Evon Peter

  • DavidLJ

    Funny thing about Angela Davis. When she was an acquaintance, back around the Summer of Love, 1967, we had been born on the same day, August 22, 1943.

    Last time I heard she’d turned eight years younger than me. Wow! Even Communists have feminine clocks.