View Full Version : Ward Churchill has his day in court.

Magda Hassan
03-12-2009, 12:58 AM
> Wednesday, March 11, 2009
> Ward Churchill's Day in Court Arrives
> Denver
> The trial in Ward Churchill?s lawsuit against the
> University of Colorado
> got under way here on Tuesday with lawyers for the opposing
> sides
> painting starkly different pictures of both the
> controversial
> ethnic-studies professor and the circumstances surrounding
> his dismissal
> by the university in 2007.


> Yes, Mr. O?Rourke said, Philip P. DiStefano, who was then
> the interim
> chancellor at Boulder, launched his initial investigation
> of Mr.
> Churchill to determine if his essay had overstepped the
> bounds of his
> speech rights as a public employee. But Mr. DiStefano had
> fairly quickly
> concluded that the essay was protected speech under the
> First Amendment.
> The university started a second investigation of Mr.
> Churchill,
> examining his scholarship, because in the course of the
> first inquiry,
> several scholars in his area of expertise had raised
> concerns about his
> work, Mr. O'Rourke said. The university is obliged to
> investigate such
> allegations, he said, because people in academe build on
> one another?s
> work, and scholarly misconduct ?tears down what
> universities stand for.?
> In a brief submitted to the court, the university argues
> that a ruling
> holding the investigation of Mr. Churchill to be a First
> Amendment
> violation ?would deny public employers the ability to
> make informed
> decisions.?
> The brief cites a 2006 U.S. District Court decision
> involving one of Mr.
> Churchill?s own supporters, a Colorado public employee
> who had claimed
> he was subject to a workplace investigation after
> expressing support for
> the controversial professor on a radio program. The judge
> in that case
> had reviewed applicable legal precedents and concluded that
> the courts
> had never viewed an investigation of an employee as, in
> itself, an act
> that can be viewed as retaliatory.
> In respect to Mr. Churchill?s dismissal, the
> university?s brief argues
> that the law requires him to prove that his
> constitutionally protected
> speech played a substantial role in the university?s
> decision, and not
> simply that the chain of events leading to his dismissal
> was triggered
> by his remarks.
> Moreover, the brief argues, Mr. Churchill cannot prove
> retaliation under
> the law by showing that some of the regents acted against
> him out of
> retaliation, but instead must show that a majority of the
> board had such
> an unlawful retaliatory motive. ?Because the Board of
> Regents acts as a
> whole, and no single regent has the ability to act on
> behalf of the
> board, Professor Churchill cannot establish causation,?
> the brief says.
> In addition, the brief argues, the courts?out of a desire
> to prevent
> employees from manufacturing constitutional arguments to
> thwart their
> managers?have called for defendants like the university
> to prevail if
> they can show they would have taken a challenged action
> anyway. The
> court, the brief says, must side with the university if it
> can show it
> would have fired Mr. Churchill for alleged scholarly
> misconduct in the
> absence of his controversial remarks about September 11.


Peter Lemkin
03-12-2009, 03:27 AM
One only has to listen to a speech of Ward Churchill to understand why most University Administrators would feel it their patriotic duty after 911 [some even before] to find a way to remove him. Having been an undergrad at that university and knowing Ward (and liking the radical message he speaks 99% of the time - and certainly his right to say it!) I'll be following this trial closely..... Many professors over the last few decades have been removed for speaking up and out against the Beast behind the Society - some 'Academic Freedom' - some 'Free Speech'! 'They' want professors to turn-out obedient, complient, non-questioning little clones to do the academic nuts-and-bolts for the Oligarchy without questioning why/what/who/how or the historical/eithical perspecitive. Ward is uncompromising. They felt he had to go! He broke NO rules, but to think and speak his mind and heart - I forget which part of the un-Patriot act that is outlawed by.....

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3635196624060447939 speaking

His book A Little Matter Of Genocide here (http://books.google.com/books?id=1AbmOu-FRisC&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=ward+churchill+american+holocaust&source=bl&ots=UIJoYexOxZ&sig=Hq05BafhM7AloEwTlCuM9dik1G8&hl=en&ei=wIG4SYr6EYmR_gaIs-CDBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result) (On the Genocide of the Native Americans, for which he has been MUCH criticised - speaking the unspeakable truth!). Everyone knows the Native Americans were 'nicely' asked to 1) get the **** off of the land and 2) become Christian. If they resisted, they were slaughtered.

Magda Hassan
03-12-2009, 07:27 AM
Yes, it will be interesting to see how it all goes for him and I wish him well.

There is also the recent case of Joel Kovel at Bard College. Apparently because of his outspoken position in support of the Palestinians in the recent genocidal attack by Israel. The college admin is saying otherwise of course. Weasel words. Below is a letter in support of Joel from some one who used to work at Bard years ago. Seems like the management has a bad record.

Author : Chris Townsend

I led the organization/unionization of the service staff workers at Bard
College more than 20 years ago. The workforce had suffered for decades
in a captive company union, set up and run by Bard. From the time we
started organizing until the day we triumphed we were witness to every
despicable tactic imaginable by the college. Countless bogus NLRB
delaying tactics, attempted terrorization and alternate bribery of
workers, surface bargaining, you name it. We finally shoved Mr. Botstein
off-balance by revealing our intent to publish an ad in the NYTimes
revealing the fact that he was a member of the American Federation of
Musicians (at least back then) and that, among other things, his college
paid women "cleaners" one dollar per hour less than male "janitors" for
the same work. He seemed concerned enough about it to order his
underlings to settle a union contract with us. I never had much faith
or trust in liberals, and nothing I experienced with the Bard management
changed my mind.

Good luck in your struggle, Joel!

Peter Lemkin
03-12-2009, 08:45 AM
September 11 and the Politics of University Teaching
by Robert Jensen

At various time in my teaching career -- more than ever since Sept. 11 -- I have been advised by faculty colleagues that I should avoid being "too political" in the classroom. To the degree that the advice is simply pragmatic -- avoid being political to avoid being criticized -- I can understand it. But I find the suggestion hard to reconcile with my conception of what higher education should be in a pluralist democracy. Embedded in that advice are several key reasons for this culture's intellectual and political crisis, and in the particular the failure of the contemporary university.

Teaching is political.

I teach in a journalism department, where I have a role in training people who allegedly will provide the information citizens need to participate in a democratic system of governance that is based on the idea that those citizens are the sovereign power. Most journalists practice that trade in large corporate institutions that are themselves at the heart of the system of power in the society. Is there a way to imagine teaching journalism in a manner that isn't intensely political?

I use the term "political" not to mean partisan -- for or against any particular politician, policy, or party -- but instead to refer to the play of power in a society. Everyone lines up in some relationship to power, either in defense of, or resistance to. Claims of taking a neutral stance -- especially when made by privileged professionals -- are illusory; neutrality is simply another way of supporting the existing distribution of power. (Just imagine how we would examine a claim by Soviet academics that they were neutral as to the system of power in their nation and were teaching so as not to take political positions. What would we say about them?) To challenge power is political. To support power is political. To avoid the question is political.

Take the question of the forces that shape the news. One approach to that issue is Edward Herman's propaganda model, which highlights the role of ownership and ideology in the formation of mainstream news. I teach that model in my introductory journalism class because I believe it is the most compelling way to help explain how commercial journalism works. My decision is informed by my intellectual evaluation of the work, but no doubt my politics play a role as well. If someone consciously rejects the model and refuses to teach it, that decision is political in the same sense. And if one claims to be neutral and avoids the issue, that too is political.

So, it is not the case of some professors being political and some not. We all are political, which affects both what we take to be relevant intellectual questions and how we frame the presentation of those questions. In a healthy system, there would be ongoing engagement about such intellectual and political matters among faculty members, who are bound to have differing views. One or another of these views might emerge as more compelling than others. One or another might emerge as dominant based on the interests of power. But all the positions are equally political.

How does one come to hold political opinions?

A deeper problem with the advice to avoid being political is the notion that intellectual work somehow separate from politics. But we should ask: How does one come to hold a political position? Is it arrived at randomly? Is it based on wholly arbitrary assertions? Or, does one have a clear argument with credible evidence to support those opinions? If so, is there not always intellectual work behind a political position?

This culture too often treats political opinions as if they were merely subjective judgments. Certainly some component of our political decision-making includes statements that are subjective in some sense -- they are about principles that cannot be proved by reason and evidence, such as the answer to the question "what does it mean to be a human being?" But statements of such first principles are the beginning of a coherent political argument, not the end. The formation and articulation of political viewpoints requires intellectual work if those viewpoints are to be of value in public dialogue.

So, if most of what we talk about in a journalism class is inextricably political, and if it is important to provide a coherent argument for one's political judgments, professors should make clear their own political positions that are relevant to the class and explain to students how they came to hold those positions. That is not the same thing as proselytizing. It need not be coercive but can be a healthy process in which professors model an intellectual method that can counter the shallow, superficial political discourse that dominates in news coverage, television talk shows, advertising, and political campaigns. This should be one of the central goals of a university.

That task can, of course, be done badly. Professors can lose sight of the need to create the most open atmosphere possible for that intellectual work and political thinking. We can lose track of the central goal of helping students develop their own critical thinking skills. We can forget that our job is not simply to tell students what opinions they should hold but to challenge them to think deeper about their own positions, or in some cases to think enough to form opinions for the first time. I assume every professor, myself included, at some point has made such mistakes. At that point, the crucial question is whether students feel free enough to challenge the professor. Has the professor created a truly open and engaged classroom so that the class can help the professor correct herself or himself?

The bargain professors make

I take most of these points to be not terribly controversial. I have made these claims often and have yet to hear a colleague offer a serious rebuttal. If that is so, then why do people keep telling me to avoid being political in the classroom?

It may be that the advice is shorthand for "you do a bad job of teaching material that has controversial political content" or "I don't like your left/radical political positions and I wish you would stop teaching material related to those positions." If the former, then I would ask that my critics tell me what they think I am doing wrong so that I can have the chance to evaluate the criticism and make necessary changes. If they mean the latter, then I would ask them to critique my political positions (and defend their own) so that we could have an intellectual and political discussion that might be valuable for all concerned.

After a dozen years of teaching, I have come to believe the reason for that advice is much more troubling, and is rooted in the bargain with power that allows us our privilege.

We should start by being clear that professors are an incredibly privileged lot -- at least those of us who have steady jobs at reasonable salaries with reasonable benefits. (More and more teaching work is performed by large numbers of adjuncts and part-time instructors who do not have those protections, but even they, by comparison with most of the rest of the population, have considerable privilege.) Professors are relatively autonomous and do work that is generally invigorating and enjoyable. I feel privileged, and I'm grateful for the privilege.

As is almost always the case in hierarchical systems with unequal distributions of power, such as the contemporary United States, people are given privilege with the expectation that they will serve that system. It is my experience that values such as a sincere belief in the value of free thought and liberal education motivate people to join the university enterprise. But it is equally clear that the system has its own demands. Because it is a liberal pluralist institution, not a totalitarian monolith, there is some variation in how successfully individuals can resist the demands of the system. But in general, to the degree that professors accept the existing configuration of power they will be accorded the privileges with minimal interference. To the degree they challenge that power, rewards will be less forthcoming and the potential for interference enhanced.

Rather than confront this, it is much easier for professors to imagine that they are outside that system of power and can evaluate the world from some more-or-less neutral position. It's easier to say things such as, "I try just to teach the facts, not my political opinions" and ignore the way in which every decision in teaching -- from the choices of subject matter and texts to the way the course is organized and the way power is distributed within the classroom -- is deeply political.

Teaching is about our opinions. The relevant questions are: How well can we defend our opinions? How well can we articulate the unstated assumptions that frame our questions as well as our answers? How willing are we to subject our teaching to scrutiny? How well do we listen to feedback from colleagues and students?

September 11

All of these questions have been very much on my mind since September 11, but they also were very much on my mind on September 10. In that sense, nothing changed for me in my teaching. But because of my antiwar writing and speaking, and the heightened level of public visibility that has come with those activities, the questions are also quite clearly on the mind of my critics and, I assume, my students. Because of the intensity of the emotions around the events of September 11, it has been more important than ever for me to foreground these questions in my classroom.

Based on reactions in and out of class, I know that many students are angry about things I have said or written outside of class, and about some discussions we have had in class. I am well aware that I have made many students uncomfortable. I do not consider that to be a problem, for I can't imagine a meaningful higher education experience that does not make students uncomfortable at some point. One shouldn't attend university simply to have existing beliefs reinforced. Students should confront alternative explanations, including those that conflict with their own deeply held beliefs. Inevitably, if one is dealing with topics that are important, that will mean students will be uncomfortable.

More than ever, this semester I have tried to monitor whether I present material in a way that makes it difficult for students with contrary opinions to speak. I have not always been sure I did all that I could to create the ideal classroom. I have on some days left the classroom wondering whether I talked too much and shut off student discussion too early; on other days, I fear that, in the interests of airing the maximal number of views, I let some students ramble on too long in a manner that bored others. I thought about those questions regularly before September 11. I hope I will continue to ask myself those questions as long as I am teaching.

I cannot speak for my students; I do not know for sure that I have taught in a way that makes the discomfort they might feel intellectually and politically productive. But I do know that at many moments I have felt uncomfortable. I assume that if I am in territory that challenges my own beliefs and forces me to think more deeply about what I am saying in class, then at some level I have succeeded.

Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, a member of the Nowar Collective (www.nowarcollective.com), and author of the book Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (www.peterlangusa.com). He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu. His writing is available online at http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/freelance.htm.

Magda Hassan
03-14-2009, 02:27 AM
A couple of links to keep up to date on this trial.

Peter Lemkin
03-14-2009, 05:51 AM
Thanks for that. Read it all and it looks to me as if things are going well for Churchill in the trial.....so far...but he was shafted and it is all coming out now....fairly plainly, IMO.

Peter Lemkin
03-24-2009, 07:20 PM
March 20th update March 22, 2009

From the eminent Ken Bonetti. Unfortunately, this’ll be the last one, as he’s off to the wild.

To my mind, this day was the most important of the trial. The testimony I had been waiting for since this thing began had finally come and it met my wildest expectations. I knew when Cornell University’s Professor Eric Cheyfitz took stand, the trial would be effectively decided. I felt that despite the long and rather convincing testimony of Professor Robert Clinton, unless the jury was brain-dead, an irretrievable seed of doubt would be planted deep into their consciousness. I have included the Race to the Bottom blow-by-blow on both Clinton and Cheyfitz. However, this commentary will dwell on Dr. Cheyfitz and some of my experiences with him during the spring of 2007, when a small group of us were trying desperately to prevent the firing Professor Churchill and the grave damage that would do to academic freedom at the University of Colorado.

Here is Race to the Bottom’s description of Dr. Cheyfitz’s credentials: “Cheyfitz is an endowed chair of the American Studies department at Cornell University. American Studies is the history, politics, and social life of the United States, now expanded to include the Americas. His scholarship includes American Indian studies. He is familiar with Federal Indian law and general traditions and histories associated with his specialty: American Indian studies.”

I met Dr. Cheyfitz when he came to CU to present his paper on the CU investigating committee’s report condemning Professor Churchill. In April of 2007, a group of CU professors and staff, including myself, invited Dr. Cheyfitz, along with a number of scholars from around the country, to a colloquium on academic freedom presented in the context of the charges of academic misconduct leveled against Professor Churchill. I was in charge of logistics and publicity for the event. No matter how I tried to publicize the event and interest the press, the Colorado Daily, Boulder Daily Camera, Denver Post, the Rocky Mountain News refused to publish our announcements or run press statements. The colloquium was lightly attended and universally ignored in the media. The only media follow up was yet another negative article on Churchill’s ‘guilt’ in the Rocky Mountain News followed by the usual avalanche of vitriolic hate letters to the editor.

At the colloquium, there were several presentations outlining the critical issues, examining the case against Professor Churchill and analyzing the political environment that occasioned his persecution, including the role of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) and it’s operatives in the CU Administration and Colorado state government. Dr. Cheyfitz had written a three-page essay deconstructing the investigating committee’s report against Churchill, point by bloody point. We felt Dr. Cheyfitz was so important that we gave him a separate venue and publicity. Again the media ignored us and few attended. Like his paper on the Churchill investigation, the talk was a straightforward and devastating indictment of each charge leveled by the CU investigating committee.

At today’s trial, investigating committee member Professor Clinton’s testimony was lengthy, well spoken and convincing to some, However, Professor Cheyfitz’s testimony eclipsed all that has so far transpired in Denver District Courtroom 6.

I will not attempt to summarize all of what happened in today. Race to the Bottom provides a masterful account of the court action that should make for delicious reading by those who consider the Churchill affair a travesty of monumental proportions.

Peter Lemkin
03-26-2009, 03:06 PM
It gets better
March 25, 2009

The jury questions for Todd Gleeson, the Dean of CU’s College of Arts and Sciences, as follows from the Daily Camera. I don’t wanna get over-optimistic here, but this is reading like an absolute slaughter for the good guys.

Todd Gleeson, dean of CU’s College of Arts and Sciences, fielded several blunt questions from the jury after he finished his testimony this afternoon.

The juror questions were submitted to Denver Chief District Judge Larry Naves, vetted by the attorneys in the case, and then posed to the witness by the judge.

One juror wanted to know if the friction that had developed between alumni and parents and the university subsided as a result of Ward Churchill’s termination.

Gleeson said “for the most part, the wounds have healed.” But he said he still gets questions about the Churchill controversy when he travels and that the matter still has an affect on the school’s reputation.

Another juror question addressed testimony given by several university faculty and administrators throughout the trial that stated that one of the reasons Churchill was dismissed was that he never apologized and owned up to his mistakes.

“Do you feel someone should apologize for something they dont find they did wrong just to satisfy others,” read the jury question.

Gleeson responded by saying if 20 or more fellow faculty members determined that his behavior was out of line, “I would hope I could swallow my pride and apologize for those acts and correct the record.”

Another juror asked if the school made it clear that it supported Churchill’s First Amendment rights after the hubbub over his 9/11 essay bubbled up.

Gleeson testified that then-Chancellor Phil DiStefano was very deliberate about protecting the professor’s free speech rights while the school tried to determine if he had overstepped his bounds or not.

Churchill attorney David Lane asked Gleeson if CU was really concerned about Churchill’s free speech rights.

He put up on the screen a February 2005 resolution from the CU regents and pointed out that it essentially said the school would investigate Churchill to see if it could find grounds for dismissing him.

Lane also showed the jury a couple of other proclamations from the resolution that stated that CU welcomed Churchill’s decision to resign his chairmanship with the ethnic studies department and apologized to the country for his “disgraceful comments.”

“Does that sound like a ringing endorsement of the First Amendment?” Lane asked.

I also hear that David Lane had this line for Gleeson during cross-examination: ”What are you an expert in again? Invertebrate biology? So, the study of animals that lack a backbone?”
Posted by Ben
Filed in Todd Gleeson, Ward Churchill
Go Natsu! March 25, 2009

Ward Churchill’s wife, Natsu Saito, took the stand today, and, naturally, knocked it out of the park. From the Daily Camera.

Ward Churchill rested his case shortly before 10 a.m., following 11 full days of testimony in Denver District Court.

The University of Colorado has called Todd Gleeson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at CU, to the stand.

Before Churchill rested his case, his wife gave highly emotional testimony while speaking about her husband’s work and the troubles the couple faced in the aftermath of his controversial essay on 9/11.

The courtroom was mostly empty, a sharp contrast to the packed house that was present during the last two days of Churchill’s testimony.

Natsu Taylor Saito broke down while describing how the University of Colorado effectively discredited her husband’s life work and his attempts to challenge the dominant version of history and give traditionally oppressed ethnic groups a more complex and thorough story of their past.

“He calls out the big lies in history, not these ridiculous picky things we’re aruging about here. The most harmful thing to Ward, and to me, is that it was an attempt to silence that history,” Saito said, her words disappearing in a flow of tears.

Saito, a professor of law at Georgia State University who used to work in CU’s ethnic studies department, said she remembered being with Churchill at her home in Atlanta on Sept. 11, 2001 when terrorists struck New York and Washington, D.C.

She testified that they kept hearing television commentators describing the attacks as senseless.

“Ward said, ‘Whatever these are, I don’t think they are senseless,’” she told the jury.

Saito said they weren’t surprised by the attacks and that Churchill felt like a valuable lesson could be drawn from the tragedy.

“If we want to stop violence from happening, we have to understand that its not OK for violence to be perpetrated by anyone, including our own government,” Saito testified.

Churchill attorney David Lane asked if her husband was cheerleading for the terrorists.

Saito said no.

Churchill wrote a controversial essay about the day in which he lambasted U.S. foreign policy and compared victims of 9/11 to Nazi technocrat Adolf Eichmann.

Three-and-a-half years later, when the essay was widely publicized and caused a firestorm across the country, Saito said her and her husband’s world became like “Alice in Wonderland,” where nothing made sense anymore.

She said the ethnic studies department received “thousands” of “ugly, racist” emails and letters, a couple of which Lane put up on the screen for jurors to see.

One read: “Tell Ward my ancestors killed a lot of Indians and I’m proud of it.”

Saito said professors, especially in the ethnic studies department, began to fear for their jobs because the tenure system came under attack from both the Colorado governor and the General Assembly.

“They were afraid, they were scared their protections would be eviscerated by this review (over tenure),” she told the jury.

She said CU afforded no protection to faculty against external pressure once the uproar was in full swing and never responded to a letter professors sent the school asking it to stand up against the racist assaults.

“All of the university rules were being completely turned on their head,” Saito said. “It was like every rule they had on the books was going out the door. It was exhausting and frustrating. There was a lot of sense of abandonment. All these people who said, ‘Yeah we got your back’ were suddenly nowhere to be seen.”

She testified that she left the university in May 2006, around the time her husband was found guilty of academic misconduct.

“I realized this was an untenable situation,” Saito said. “I was really upset because the university failed to take a principled stand.”
Can someone find O’Rourke a rock to climb under? March 25, 2009

Race to the Bottom has its coverage up of yesterday’s testimony. How do they think it’s going? Their overview of the morning testimony is subtitled Score one for the Plaintiff, and their overview of the jury’s questions is subtitled Bad News for the Defense.

And to top it off, from Race to the Bottom’s coverage of the afternoon testimony, CU then called a CU regent who just happens to be either the single dumbest man to ever public office, or the single worst liar.

On cross-examination by Mr. Lane, Regent Bishop seemed confused by the questions and the pressure exerted by Mr. Lane. He finally recalled that, as a state senator at the time (2/2/2005), he had not participated in the unanimous joint House and Senate Resolution to voice the General Assembly’s outrage over the 9/11 Churchill essay. He also stated emphatically that he did not take into account, whatsoever, the 9/11 Churchill essay in deciding to terminate Churchill. Pressed by Lane, Bishop said he not only did not read the 9/11 essay, but he does not know whether the essay compared the 9/11 victims in a favorable or unfavorable light. Both Lane and the jury seemed stunned and Lane pressed Bishop on this point several times—“for all you know, the essay could be comparing the victims to the Boys Scouts” and Bishop said “yes.” Bishop also said he did not read all of the Investigative Report trusting CU’s faculty on the committee investigating the allegations.

It’s also worth noting that while Mr. Bishop is here admitting he didn’t even bother to read the SCRM report, he had the following to say during examination by O’Rourke, only minutes before.

Stating he did not just “rubber stamp” the decision of the Investigative Committee and the Privilege & Tenure Committee, he came to the conclusion that Churchill could not be allowed to return to the classroom for the simple reason that CU expects students to meet the highest standards in regards to research conduct, then CU should expect and require that these highest standards are also met by CU’s faculty.

Got it. So he didn’t rubber stamp the decision, he just decided to approve it without EVEN READING THE REPORT.

If this is to be the caliber of CU’s witnesses, one wonders if they might just wanna rest their case right now and save themselves further embarassment.


David Guyatt
03-26-2009, 04:42 PM
I also hear that David Lane had this line for Gleeson during cross-examination: ”What are you an expert in again? Invertebrate biology? So, the study of animals that lack a backbone?”

Ah, academia - don't you love it. Is the World still square btw?

Peter Lemkin
03-31-2009, 07:35 PM
First page of one of his books...

“To Disrupt, Discredit and Destroy”
The FBI’s Secret War against the Black Panther Party
by Ward Churchill
The record of the FBI speaks for itself
—J. Edgar Hoover
Introduction to The FBI Story
Beginning in August 1967, the Black Panther Party was savaged by a campaign of political repression,
which in terms of its sheer viciousness has few parallels in American history. Coordinated by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation as part of its then-ongoing domestic counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO)
and enlisting dozens of local police departments around the country, the assault left at least thirty Panthers
dead,1 scores of others imprisoned after dubious convictions,2 and hundreds more suffering permanent
physical or psychological damage.3 Simultaneously, the Party was infiltrated at every level by agents
provocateurs, all of them harnessed to the task of disrupting its internal functioning.4 Completing the
package was a torrent of “disinformation” planted in the media to discredit the Panthers before the public,
both personally and organizationally, thus isolating them from potential support.5
Although an entity bearing its name would continue to exist in Oakland, California for another decade, as
would several offshoots situated elsewhere, the Black Panther Party in the sense that it was originally
conceived was effectively destroyed by the end of 1971.6 In this, it was hardly alone. During the 1960s,
similar if usually less lethal campaigns were mounted against an array of dissident groups ranging from the
Socialist Workers Party to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, from the Revolutionary Action
Movement to Students for a Democratic Society, from the Republic of New Africa to the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference. The list goes on and on, and the results were always more-or-less the same.7
The FBI’s politically repressive activities did not commence during the 1960s, nor did they end with the
formal termination of COINTELPRO in 1971.8 On the contrary, such operations have been sustained for
nearly a century, becoming ever more refined, comprehensive and efficient. This in itself implies a marked
degradation of whatever genuinely democratic possibilities once imbued “the American experiment,” an
effect amplified significantly by the fact that the Bureau has consistently selected as targets those groups
which, whatever their imperfections, have been most clearly committed to the realization of egalitarian ideals.
9 All things considered, to describe the resulting sociopolitical dynamic as “undemocratic” would be to
fundamentally understate the case. The FBI is and has always been a frankly anti-democratic institution, as
are the social, political and economic elements it was created and maintained to protect.10
Predictably, the consequences of this protracted and systematic suppression of the democratic impulse
in American life, and the equally methodical reinforcement of its opposite, have by now engulfed us.
These will be apprehended not only in the ever greater concentration of wealth among increasingly narrow
and corporatized sectors of society,11 but in the explosive growth of police and penal “services” over
the past thirty years,12 the erosion of constitutional safeguards supposedly guaranteeing the basic rights
of average citizens,13 and a veritable avalanche of regulatory encroachments reaching ever more deeply
into the most intimate spheres of existence. Again, the list of indicators could be extended to great
Such trends do not imply the danger that, if they continue, the United States “may become” a police state.
The United States has been a police state for some time now.14 Questions of how to prevent this from
happening are at best irrelevant. The only real question is what to do about it now that it’s occurred. The
answer, of course, is entirely dependent upon our ability to apprehend the precise nature of the problem
confronting us. Only thus can we hope to achieve the clarity of vision necessary to devise an adequate
response and, from there, chart a truly alternative course into the future.

Magda Hassan
04-03-2009, 05:57 AM
I have heard from a reliable source that the jury in Ward Churchill's case has returned a verdict in his favor!!! I can see nothing on the web sites following the trial yet so it is not confirmed yet so this may be the first place it is published. I wonder what the University of Colorado will do?

Magda Hassan
04-03-2009, 06:28 AM

Jury Says Professor Was Wrongly Fired

By KIRK JOHNSON (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/j/kirk_johnson/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and KATHARINE Q. SEELYE (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/katharine_q_seelye/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: April 2, 2009
DENVER — A jury found on Thursday that the University of Colorado (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/u/university_of_colorado/index.html?inline=nyt-org) had wrongfully dismissed a professor who drew national attention for an essay in which he called some victims of the Sept. 11 attacks “little Eichmanns.”

(http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/us/03churchill.html?hp#secondParagraph)http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/04/02/us/03churchill_190.JPG (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:pop_me_up2%28%27http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/04/02/us/03churchill.1.395-inline.ready.html%27,%20%2703churchill_1_395_inlin e_ready%27,%20%27width=720,height=600,scrollbars=y es,toolbars=no,resizable=yes%27%29) David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Ward Churchill, who was a tenured professor at the University of Colorado, left, walked with his lead attorney David Lane out of the courtroom after a jury ruled that he was wrongly fired by school administrators, on Thursday.

(http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:pop_me_up2%28%27http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/04/01/us/02churchill.1.ready.html%27,%20%2702churchill_1_re ady%27,%20%27width=720,height=600,scrollbars=yes,t oolbars=no,resizable=yes%27%29)
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/04/01/us/02churchill_190.JPG (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:pop_me_up2%28%27http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/04/01/us/02churchill.1.ready.html%27,%20%2702churchill_1_re ady%27,%20%27width=720,height=600,scrollbars=yes,t oolbars=no,resizable=yes%27%29) Pool photo by Mark Leffingwell
Ward Churchill, left, and his attorney David Lane after closing arguments in Churchill’s civil suit against the University of Colorado in Denver on Wednesday.

But the jury, which deliberated for a day and a half, awarded only $1 in damages to the former professor, Ward L. Churchill (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/ward_l_churchill/index.html?inline=nyt-per), a tenured faculty member at the university’s campus in Boulder since 1991 who was chairman of the ethnic studies department.
The jurors found that Mr. Churchill’s political views had been a “substantial or motivating” factor in his dismissal, and that the university had not shown that he would have been dismissed anyway.
“This is a great victory for the First Amendment, and for academic freedom,” said his lawyer, David A. Lane.
Whether Mr. Churchill, 61, will get his job back, and when, was not resolved. Mr. Churchill’s lawyers said they would ask Judge Larry J. Naves of Denver District Court to order reinstatement, in light of the verdict.
A spokesman for the university, Ken McConnellogue, said administrators would oppose the request. Reinstatement, Mr. McConnellogue said, would probably draw a sharp reaction among many faculty members, because a faculty committee was instrumental in his firing.
The verdict by the panel of four women and two men — none of whom wished to be interviewed by reporters, court officials said — seemed unlikely to resolve the larger debate surrounding Mr. Churchill that was engendered by the case. Is Mr. Churchill, as his supporters contend, a torchbearer for the right to hold unpopular political views? Or is he unpatriotic or — as his harshest critics contend — an outright collaborator with the nation’s enemies at a time of war?
The jury seemed at least partly undecided on what to think about the man at the center of the fight, whose essay made him a polarizing national figure.
While the panel agreed with the argument that an environment of political intolerance for Mr. Churchill’s views was a factor in his firing, Mr. McConnellogue, the university spokesman, contended that its decision to deny him financial damages also sent a message — that Mr. Churchill was not necessarily a figure to be revered, either.
“The jury’s award is some vindication,” he said.
Mr. Churchill, wearing sunglasses in the hallway outside the courtroom, said the size of the award did not matter. “I didn’t ask for money,” he said, “I asked for justice.”
The case has been seen as a struggle between freedom of speech and academic integrity, and it revived the longstanding debate about whether hate speech deserves protection by the First Amendment.
But the monthlong trial mostly focused on Mr. Churchill’s academic work. The jury had to decide whether he had plagiarized and falsified parts of his research, particularly on American Indians, as the university contended in dismissing him. His lawyers described the search for professional misconduct as simply a pretext for a foregone decision to get rid of him.
On Sept. 12, 2001, Mr. Churchill wrote an essay in which he argued that the United States had brought the terrorist attacks on itself. He said that some of those working in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 were not innocent bystanders but “formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire.” He described the financial workers as “little Eichmanns,” a reference to Adolf Eichmann (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/e/adolf_eichmann/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the Nazi who has been called the architect of the Holocaust.
The essay garnered little notice at the time but gradually seeped through the Internet, coming to light in 2005, and then creating an uproar.
In their closing arguments on Wednesday, lawyers for each side urged the jury to focus on the First Amendment.
Mr. Lane, Mr. Churchill’s lawyer, said his client had been a spokesman throughout his academic career for disempowered people and causes — a trait, Mr. Lane said, that never made Mr. Churchill popular with people in power. “For 30 years, he’s been telling the other side of the story,” Mr. Lane said.
What the university did in firing Mr. Churchill, he told the panel, was political payback, a rigged inquiry into his work that was a “charade of fairness.”
The university’s lawyer, Patrick O’Rourke, asked the jury to think about standards. The pattern of academic misconduct, Mr. O’Rourke said, was not in doubt.
“There’s the real university world, and there’s Ward Churchill’s world,” he said. “Ward Churchill’s world is a place where there are no standards and no accountability.”
Mr. Churchill, he said, was using the Constitution as a smokescreen. “You can’t take the First Amendment and use it to justify fraud,” he said.
Around 3 p.m. on Thursday, jurors asked the judge questions about damages.
First, they asked whether it was possible to award no damages. A few minutes later, they asked whether, if all but one jury member could agree on a dollar amount, that person could be replaced by another juror. (The answer was no.)
The jury then resumed deliberations for about an hour before returning its verdict in Mr. Churchill’s favor.
Kirk Johnson reported from Denver, and Katharine Q. Seelye from New York.

David Guyatt
04-03-2009, 08:00 AM
Last evening I watched the excellent film "Good Night and Good Luck" about the fight of Edward J Murrow and his fight against Joseph McCarthy and his bloody horrible and appalling Un-American Activities Committee.

This case strikes me as a modern repeat of this inherently mean, nasty and neanderthal attitude that seems to infest American political life from time to time.

Peter Lemkin
04-03-2009, 11:35 AM
Knowing Ward and having been a student at the University of Colorado this means a lot to me.....a victory in a sea or defeats!.....may it be the first of many!

Peter Lemkin
04-04-2009, 05:13 AM
And you’ll excuse me this moment of excess April 3, 2009

(Cover the kids’ ears.)

I’ve spent the last four years watching a good man get his name drug through the mud for making the eminently reasonable point that you ought not be killing other peoples’ kids. And that if you are in the business of killing other peoples’ kids, they have the absolute right to fight back in any way they can.

I’ve seen the most vicious smear campaign of my lifetime. A horde of shiteating columnists and radio shockjocks have made it their life’s work to destroy one man. They went after his life, his livelihood, his family, and his reputation. There is no level to which they haven’t stooped to ruin him.

I’ve watched Denver’s local media crawl like dogs to eat the shit of their canine superiors in the rightwing national media. There has not been a single article in the Denver media to actually interrogate the trumped-up charges of academic misconduct levelled by the hopelessly biased CU investigative committee. Not one. Like with their coverage of the Iraq war (or for that matter, the preceding sanctions), they have gone to incredible lengths to never actually investigate the shit they were more than willing to eat out of the paws of their presumed betters.

Moreover, in that so-called bastion of higher learning at CU, I can count on my fingers and toes those faculty members who were willing to actually stand up and point out the absurdity of the smear campaign launched against Ward Churchill. Almost to a man or woman, they refused to make any kind of stand for the principles they pretended, every day, to represent. Nothing has been more disheartening than the absolute, unmitigated cowardice of the faculty of my alma mater. I’ve met pedophiles and rapists with whom I’d rather share an occupation.

But, I’ve also watched Ward Churchill, with his family, put their stake in the ground and refused to back up an inch. That’s what courage is, and I’ve been proud as hell just to witness it. In the last round of McCarthyism, there were very few to fight back. I think of Dashiell Hammett, and I think of Ward Churchill.

So this one’s for CU. And for Bill O’Reilly, Caplis and Silverman, Vincent Carroll, and the rest of the Denver media.

Fuck you.