Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Wednesday, 2020.04.08
Familiarity breeds attempt.


Psycho Ward – Hijacking the Hijackers

Ward Churchill, the latest mushroom to sprout from my alma mater’s1 manure heap of unintended consequences, is a model for how to milk the random moments of fame foisted upon the equally random few.

Are Churchill’s arguments right or wrong? No one seems to be getting far enough to ask that, yet it is Churchill who carries the burden of blame for this. Interjecting parallels to Nazism without extensive context taints all preceding and subsequent arguments made by the author with irrationality and crudeness. As measured with Godwin’s Law2, it can be said that Churchill’s paper attempts to vaguely (and, having read the essay, I’m being generous here) relate his arguments to Nazism but is basically seeking to be insulting and inflammatory. At this point, all prospects for rational debate and discussion related to his central thesis are effectively over.

Like a fart in a crowded elevator, its unmistakable and offends everyone with the exception of the scatologically inclined. Most people want to exit the elevator as quickly as possible, others may want to linger with the fumes and complain while an unfortunate few will have no choice but to follow the fumes all the way to work. One of the problems Churchill is struggling with is he cannot un-fart, no matter how hard he tries. (It has been great entertainment watching him try.) The stink is out there and it is his.

At best, Churchill’s ideas rise to the level of fashion. Certainly not of the suit and tie variety, nor the pasty Goth, body pierced flair. Rather something more like a sheep in wolf’s clothes. He attempts to cloak his shame pocked self-image with a thinly stretched claim to a Native American heritage. Just how much of a Native American Churchill is has been the subject of speculation and Churchill himself has been evasive on this point. 1/8? 1/32? 1/64? One wonders if the fraction is so small that if Churchill were to wear his Native American-ness to the official ethnic black tie affair, he’d be the guy dressed in the Speedo. It’s likely Churchill is no more a Native American than a teacup terrier is a wolf. Whatever. Flip the fractions and you have someone who is 7/8ths white. Or is it 31/32nds? or 63/64ths? Ward Churchill must loose sleep over this ratio. Geneticists have traced the mitochondrial DNA of every human being on the planet back to a single female humanoid in Africa – the so called “Eve” of the human race. Does that make us all Afro-Americans? But I digress.

The effort has been made to frame Churchill’s controversy as a free speech issue. What a dodge. Of course Churchill has the right to freedom of speech. I’d gladly turn SUV’s over in the streets, shoulder to shoulder with Ward Churchill, as barricades to fight against any government attempting to remove this right. But because he has the right to speak his mind doesn’t automatically make his ideas any good. Nor does holding a tenured position at a major university. For all the fanfare and froth while pontificating, his ideas miss their goal and are nothing short of ugly. This, it has to be said, is a trait Ward Churchill unwittingly shares with his Nazi strawmen. I find Ward Churchill’s ideas lack originality, depth and persuasive presentation. As evidence mounts casting serious shadows of doubt on his scholarly competence, I’d be reluctant to cite his work for anything other than noise pollution.

Churchill is a zealot and as such undoubtedly lacks a sense of humor. Observe how seriously he takes himself. His inflated sense of self-importance allows no room for a good laugh. Without this skill he cannot possibly achieve the requisite sense of perspective required for scholarly work. He is, however, gleefully sopping up this windfall of fame as fast as he soaks up his salaried federal reserve notes. The idea that capitalism is a world phenomenon, that the stocks brokered by some victims of the WTC attack involved oil owned and willingly sold by Arab countries, is simply more than Ward Churchill’s ossified world view can hold. Such a large concept doesn’t fit in such an incredibly small space. Carrying such a colossal chip on his shoulder has left Ward Churchill with an unconscious blind spot the size of western civilization. Such a handicap, it can be argued, is incapable of scholarship.

I can agree with one thing Churchill says in regards to the US government’s efforts to erode civil liberties: “Sheeplike, the great majority of Americans can also be counted upon to bleat their approval, at least in the short run, believing as they always do that the nasty implications of what they’re [ed. I’m assuming Churchill is referring to the US Government.] doing will pertain only to others.”

Maybe George Carlin said it best: “Why do people who know the least know it the loudest?”
1University of Colorado at Boulder, class of 1984, Bachelor of Arts – Biochemistry, Bachelor of Arts – Molecular Biology
2Information on Godwin’s Law can be found on Wikipedia as well as the Godwin’s Law FAQ

[Edit History]

2006.05.16 – Finally, there looks to be some meaningful official response. Michelle Malkin has a good summary and related links, more depth at Pirate Ballerina and CU’s official word here.

2006.05.28 – A refreshing breath of clean air from within the ranks. One of CU’s professors, Professor Robert Pasnau, responds to the investigative committee’s report concerning allegations of academic misconduct against “Professor” Ward Churchill

2006.06.13 – Getting closer to some sanity.

2006.06.26 – Sweeeeeeet. It took them a while, but I think they got there.

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